Tuesday, April 14, 2009


How can I explain CLAYART? It is an internet community of people involved in clay: Artists, publishers, gurus, authors, equipment experts, educators, amateurs, gallery owners, hobbyists, newbies and old hands.

The physical boundaries have no end. Anywhere that an internet and computer are available, CLAYART exists. It is one enormous club. There are no dues, no initiation, no jury, only the requirements of civility and everyday grace you would exhibit and experience with fellow creatures of this planet.

CLAYART started as an outgrowth of NCECA and the personal computer. About 13 years ago, an email discussion group was formed in which people could dialogue about all things clay. It was the result of NCECA and the desire to continue the flow of information and to network with other potters.

Today it has grown into a huge population with a daily traffic that can amount to around 100 messages or more. (I really don't keep track.) That could be daunting if you set out to read every word of every email, but you quickly learn to pick and choose what is relevant to your own environment and delete (in my case, mercilessly) that which you judge can be eliminated. Most of the time, the Subject Line and the sender will tip you off as to whether you choose to read or not. I pass up raku or woodfiring, for instance.

And, a subject-word-keyed archive can be used to research a particular question that might arise, so elimination of messages doesn't usually mean they are gone forever.

Additionally, once you are enrolled, you can address the CLAYART "Brain" to ask an open question. The avalanche of replies or opinions will almost fall from the screen. We are a helpful and giving folk in the main.

It is helpful, as in any new environment, to sit back and observe the protocols and 'lurk' until you're comfortable, but it you have a bad problem or want to respond right away, that's okay too.

Mel Jacobson (or "The Mayor") runs it most of the time and serves as a basically hand-off moderator yet knows when to 'send us to our rooms' when things occasionally get too hot or protracted. In other words, telling us to 'ride that dead horse outta here.' But in a good way.

Current discussions this week have included the NCECA experience plus the discussion of the cost of attending. And what to see, where to go and the best places to eat in Philadelphia.

Take a visit. Get your toes wet. Google Clayart, click on ABOUT to get the complete background. Go to www.acers.org/clayart/ to find out how to enroll. Follow the directions and wait. It won't be long until your mailbox will be bubbling with a plethora of subjects.

Beside being an internet discussion group, CLAYART is a sub-community that meets within NCECA. Mel arranges with another hotel beside the convention hotel (after all, they have their own fish to fry) and secures a large meeting type room for us to have available throughout the time of the convention to relax, talk, show our work, present mini-programs, meet and talk in real-time with the people manifest in the flesh who we have come to know ethereally. It's nice because you feel you know them already. We all walk around NCECA with our nametags showing a red dot as a way of recognizing each other amid the masses, although people involved in clay are for the most part a truly friendly lot.

Each year the CLAYART room is something different. This year Mel arranged to have a room that was equipped with a very long bar where we could set up an example of our work. It was great to be able to see the work of many of our members and connect the work with the names.

Pictured: A wonderful teapot by Gerry Wallace on display at the bar.

Also this year, the CLAYART room presented a supurb collection of work from the American Museum of Ceramic Arts--absolute benchmark pieces marking the history of 20th Century ceramic art with works by masters of the craft. A sister show from the same collection was set up in the gallery area of the Marjon Clay Company of Phoenix. Just stunning work! (A lot of the shots from the previous posting came from that show.)

One evening, a presentation by Tom Coleman and Frank Boyden about their journey working in collaboration and their new book.

Check out CLAYART before the next NCECA.

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