Tuesday, September 3, 2013


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.

After a NCECA convention in Las Vegas about 18 years ago, an email discussion group that would evolve into CLAYART was formed to carry on the dialogue that had been started by the conference. The initial group wanted to continue the flow of information about all things clay. And we wanted to keep up the network that had begun 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" http://visi.com/~melpots/) runs it most of the time along with a couple of other volunteers and serves as a basically hands-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 discussion has included the question of making donations to charity. (You cannot write off the price of the piece you give, contrary to common folklore; only the cost of your materials can be taken off your income taxes. The discussion suggests how to say, 'no' politely and some win-win solutions for dealing with organizers.)

Make a visit by joining. (link below) Get your toes wet. 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 also a sub-community that meets within the yearly NCECA (National Council for Education in the Ceramic Arts) convention.  

Depending on the year and circumstances, CLAYART secures a large meeting-type room at the location for the group meeting place  throughout the time of the convention in order to relax, talk, show our work, trade, present mini-programs and meet in real-time with members  manifest in the flesh who we have come to know from the ether. 

At the end of the convention, we have a mug exchange drawing which is great fun.

We all walk around NCECA with our nametags showing a red dot as a way of recognizing each other amid the masses. (People involved in clay are for the most part a truly friendly lot anyway.) 

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