art department logistics
Curriculum Q and A
1. My students have been asking about paperclay, and I can't put them off any longer. I know the benefit is far beyond just a dab for a healing patch. Where is it's right place proving to be in a ceramic art curriculm plan?
The paradox is that beginners and very advanced clay workers, handbuilders, and sculptors benefit most from the extended permissions of paperclay ceramic. Therefore, educators have a responsiblity to introduce correct information about it from the start, especially at the, secondary, university and college level. Plus there is ongoing need for advance in research in this field for students who cross disciplines. In addition to this site my textbook/dvd can help speed the learning curve.
2. How did you integrate both the traditional and the the paperclay construction rules without confusing the students?
I struggled with when to introduce paperclay to ceramic students at first. I was loyal to my beloved teachers and felt responsible to teach the traditions. By 1990, I was called to put 20 years of habit and hard earned skill to the side. Fortunately, both forms of ceramic share and draw from the same heritage, so eventually I integrated both gradually.
In brief, what worked best for me was to start my beginners with paperclay then let them advance to traditional clay AFTER they practice and get confidence with the basic hand skills (pinch, coil and slab, joins) and see the start to finish process (making, trim, drying, handling, glazing, firing).
We use the paperclay rules that allow us to keep working and alter at bone dry state because: a. We save the expense of firing a pot that is a dud, as poor joins can be sent back to be redone; b. We save loss due to beginnners sometimes rough handling greenware before they have time to understand what the making process involves; c. When a student does advance to traditional clay, they already have some hand skill in proper joins, handling, trimming, all of which give them a head start and less frustration. Everyone involved more time and creativity to focus on the quality and content of the projects; d. We can do mid-process evaluation at the bone dried state before fire, when there is a chance for alteration at bone dry if maker so desired.
While I introduce the paperclay, I just mention rules for traditional clay as I go along, so I prepare the student in advance for what to expect when or if they work with tradtional clays for joins and so forth. As students advance further into ceramics and clay work, or wheel, the idea is to use whatever type of clay is appropriate.
3. And what changes will be helpful for paperclay in the the shared studio, ceramics lab, or classroom?
The simplest change is to have a separate bucket or box or even empty claybags, just for bone dried paperclay scraps to be collected and (maybe) reclaimed later. Having a plaster slurry or clay drying bats, and some smooth surface portable plaster work boards can be helpful. Plaster board drywall is not so helpful for drying. If a few paperclay scrap trimmings mix with tradtional clay slurry it won't harm, but it may contribute to smell over time. No heavy stinky slurry buckets are needed whatsoever with paperclay and easily possible with a bit of forethought. Another change in policy is to bisque at cone 04 as then include both traditional and paperclay in the same kiln.
Paperclay sludge is best to let settle, then pour excess water off the top and either recycle it on a plaster drying bat, or remix, or dry it out completely, not down the sink. Pulp water leftover from from recycling paper but it shouldnt be allowed to sit for weeks on end. I have a specific bucket only for this use. more info >>>>>