Monday, September 30, 2013

Benchmarks

I encourage new students to spend a lot of time filing and perfecting their work before they send it to the kiln. Even after they tell me it’s, “Good to go,” I send it back for closer scrutiny and a second go around. I point out things that they never considered an issue and remind them there are no Kiln Fairies to come in and magically smooth out rough, un-sanded areas.

When I go back and look at the first pieces of PMC I made way back in 1998-99, I have a really good laugh! I thought they were so good back then.  Now I realize how rookie they were and how much more time I needed to devote to detail. But they were my benchmarks. 

I’ve kept those pieces, and while I’m not artistically proud of them, I am proud of my progression in learning to deal with a new medium. After all, I’d worked with metal, not clay, so it was a whole different set of rules…and tools. I hold those first pieces up against my current work and have a humble laugh at my own expense. 

So, point out the areas in your students’ work that need refinement and teach them the best method of achieving it. 

1. There are sandpapers and sanding pads that go to fine, super fine, and micro fine. Give a lecture and demo the various qualities of each grade and why and when they are useful in our work.
2. Files: one size does not fit all. Again, show students the various grades and uses of files, especially the micro-mini files which are beneficial in getting inside bails, etc.
3. Explain that most sanding and filing should be done before the project is ever assembled.
4. Point out the benefits of a Baby Wipe or a moistened finger in wiping down and filling in an area that has a scratch or is uneven. Every teacher has his or her favorite method for getting at those bothersome areas.
5. Teach them to work slow……to file, fill, dry….then do it again.
6. Use eye cheaters or another form of vision aid so you can see the fine details.

Remind your students to hang on to the work they do as they progress from beginner to more advanced. Someday, a student may look back on those early pieces and think they look like something she made at fifth grade art camp. When this happens, remind her that these pieces are benchmarks. Each new piece represents growth in artistry and skill and it’s good to occasionally remind ourselves how far we have come.

Creative blessings,
Linda

by Linda Kline
Director of Education





   


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