Before I leave the topic of workshops, I had a few more thoughts I wanted to share.

Craved Foot on Altered Jar

In addition to time and money, there are several things to consider about going away for a workshop.  The first is distance.  Basically this is an issue of logistics.  If the workshop is too far to drive, potters must consider how to transport tools (usually requires checking a bag) and how to transport pots (usually requires a lot of bubble wrap and UPS).  I flew to a workshop in Pittsburgh and it was well worth the minor casualties my pots suffered.  Otherwise, driving is preferable because you can take all your tools and pots can be easily transported when leatherhard.

Slip decorated plate

Another consideration is whether to attend a workshop alone or with other potters you know.  I have attended workshops alone and more recently, Julie and I travel to workshops and room together.  This works for us.  However, it is a lot of time together so if you choose to travel to workshop with company, be sure you are comfortable with them.  I also attend workshops by myself (usually because the topic doesn’t interest Julie).  Don’t sacrifice what you want to do because you are afraid to do it alone.  You will get more out of a workshop you attend by yourself than you will get out of a workshop you attend with some one who puts demands on your attention.

Handle placement on a pitcher

Workshops have a rhythm.  After you check in, there is studio orientation when you are shown the studio space, select a wheel, and get clay.  Once those formalities are done, the instructor explains her process/aesthetics and demonstrates a form.  After the demo, there is time to practice the techniques.  Typically, there is another demo after a break or lunch and then more time to work.  Take the breaks when you need them (even if they are more often than the others seem to need).  If the studio permits after hours work, potters often come back the studio to continue working on class projects or their own projects.  Again, work at your own pace.  I have learned to call it a day even if the studio is still available – I am happiest when I am balanced.  If the workshop is long enough, there may be a bisque firing.  My advice is to avoid rush drying and take leatherhard pots home to be fired.  It isn’t worth loosing work because you rushed the drying.  The last day is often a day reserved for a critique and studio cleaning, which means that there isn’t much time to work.  So projects should be finished before the last day if possible.  The critique may be scary but it is often worth overcoming the fear.

If you have the opportunity to take a workshop, it can be well worth the time, money, and effort.