Report: Winter Social 2016


The WCA started the new year in high spirits with the Winter Social event billed as the ‘Day of Clay’. I was glad I got up early and made it down to the Burien Library for all the talks. The first one was on Materials Safety with Dave Waddel. This was quite an eye opener. To summarize, I’d like to share some thoughts- I thought I had diligent studio upkeep habits but, after hearing this information, I realized I needed to step it up. If you don’t have continuous fresh air cross ventilation or fans always pulling out all the dusty air from your studio – and most of us don’t in the winter, you are risking lung damage with every breath you take. OSHA doesn’t consider a typical amount of air-born clay or glaze dust in a busy ceramics studio to be at all safe. This is because clay particles are so fine that just a little part of a crumb that gets crushed and puffed up can fill a cubic meter filled with a cloud of microscopic shards which can get stuck deep in your lungs. Many common glaze materials are quite toxic and should never be inhaled. If something happens that gets your studio filled with air-born dust, open doors and windows and walk away for a while to air it out. Use a professional dust mask with the dry materials, sponge up glaze drips right away, and be very careful about testing your glazes for proper hardness and vitreosity, especially with the ones which have high amounts of metallic oxides in them if they will be in contact with food. Don’t scrape that dry clay off of your bat or floor- wet it down first. Mop often and don’t sweep vigorously. Sand things outside. Always. You literally can’t be too careful!

Day of Clay

Next, we were informed about many opportunities that are available to us and were encouraged to apply to several organizations that offer grants, by Katy Hannigan of Artist trust. For a WCA Member, free talks like these are a great benefit and you get motivated to think big! Then we took a break and went to see the gallery shows up and down the street, which the exhibiting WCA artists worked really hard on, and were beautiful, and which brought the awareness level for ceramic art up a lot for the good people of Burien.  Upon return to the library, we were treated to sculptor George Rodriguez (our treasurer) sharing his experience exhibiting with the Foster/White Gallery at SOFA Chicago. Images of the show were projected and narrated by George’s balance of humble yet shameless self promotion in his very entertaining fashion. Well done!  And then Carol Gouthro followed, with her talk on teaching a workshop in Turkey. She had many unexpected challenges to resolve in terms of the clay that was provided and strange kilns, and the language barrier too, yet somehow it all came together, as things sometimes miraculously do in our profession!  The final presentation was by Cappy Thompson and Claudia Fitch, both offering up a rich tapestry of experience from their personal history of commissioned public art projects. They were not of ceramic art but it was quite interesting to see how it all related and was connected to their ceramic art. Very impressive! Well then we had a little time to kill, so I went to Value Village, scored a bunch of new CD’s, well, new to me anyway!  Then I hit up Trader Joe’s for a potluck item. I got one of those round breads that you cut off the top and hollow out, the fill with heated up spinach dip. Yum! The Social at Moshier Community Arts center was very well attended, and we had a really great potluck and gift swap! It was good to see many new members people returning to WCA events. Many thanks to all participants and President Deb Schwartzkopf, whose mad skills made such a great day happen!