Meet our pal, Ammie Williams, known in the industry for her brush lettering, informative technique sheets and videos, and her social media appeal.
By: Danielle Kearns
Don't mind us as we fan girl a little bit over here, but we're still riding that Convention high and thinking about all the rad things we saw and experienced. We'd love to highlight one of the our favorite artists who works the PYOP circuit like no one's business: Ammie Williams from Atlanta, Georgia. You may have seen her featured on our social media before because when we do get to see Ammie at industry events, it's like a college reunion for us.
Between visits, though, we are avid viewers of Ammie's Insta-story. This is probably the best place to follow along with her. Each month, Bisque Imports, one of the leading distributors in the industry, sends her a box of goodies to paint and experiment with. Sometimes, these finished products will be used for the item photo on the website. Other times, it will be a detailed tutorial video with technique sheets included. All in all, it's a great union of tips, tricks, and new products with our favorite southern bell whose style is best described as "something chaotic in the best way." That is because her pieces end up absolutely COVERED in color, cursive, and creativity... and let's face it: splatters galore!
Some call her the brush lettering queen. Her natural talent is just enhanced by the hours of training and practice she does from notebook doodles and iPad sessions on the couch. She has and inspired styled and has inspired us to be more passionate about a piece and less stiff about the approach. We would love to thank her for her dedication and enthusiasm she brings to the arts and would love to give her a public shoutout here to influence her brand new crop of fans.
Get to know Ammie on the Internet:
Bisque Imports Technique Sheets
Contributor of BI's Blog Spot
Annual Ceramic Art Studio Convention took place in Buffalo, New York this week with over 300 members participating in professional development classes and enrichment.
By: Danielle Kearns
Hello from Buffalo, New York! I am currently writing this between classes, trying to figure out what and when lunch is today, and grabbing my laptop for my business class later. I am overstimulated, under-caffeinated, and absolutely loving every minute of it. And I'm the newest of the new kids on the block here this weekend.
Not only is this my first ever Convention, but I still haven't had my first birthday in the "paint your own pottery" world yet! But that doesn't mean I'm not soaking everything here up with a synthetic pottery sponge.
Let's just say, we are fired up as a staff -- and not just because kilns are a main topic of conversation around here. Did you know that paint your own pottery (PYOP) studios are most often a part of the CCSA - the Contemporary Ceramic Studio Association. They are responsible for much of the professional development in our industry and provide a wealth of knowledge and materials to set each of our studios up for success. This year, the national Convention is being held for one week in Buffalo, and a few of us staff members are currently in the thick of it! This weekend is FILLED with classes, tutorials, trainings, product debuts, paint demonstrations, mentorship -- and our favorite -- a SNEAK PEAK of so many NEW bisque pottery options.
As a first time attendee, this has been an overwhelming but thrilling experience for me. Never have I ever been in one place with so many PYOP enthusiasts who have the same small business mindset and dedication to the arts as we have. Classes are offered daily, covering all the heavy hitting topics: ordering, hiring, human resources, marketing, techniques, planning, finances, and of course, general art tricks and tips. Since four of us went this year, a record for The Claypen, we were really able to spread out and hit as many of these classes as possible, gaining a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm for the future at both The Claypen and The Firestone.
We hope that you have been following along with us on social media. If you have any questions about the benefits of being a CCSA member, feel free to comment below.
Join the organization
Contemporary Ceramic Studios Association
Great for FAQs + finding a studio near you
Paint Your Own Pottery
A big thank you to all the sponsors + contributors that made this weekend so special, especially:
By: Danielle Kearns
Let's talk about glass, baby! A few weeks back, we did a blog on bottle slumping -- an option that is available for glass fusing here in the studio. You can read all about that here. But there's a lot more available in terms of glass. Most notably, draping and slumping. Both options will allow the glass creation to take on a shape that will slowly melt in the kiln to create a fold or curve to the edges. But before I go there, let me break down where it all begins.
Glass fusing might be a term that confuses some. It most often get confused for glass blowing or stained glass, but glass fusing is a little bit different. It is an art form that basically means you do the arrangement of glass and the kiln does the fusing for you. We teach you how to (safely) cut and assemble glass in the forms of scrap, pebbles, frit, or rods. These will all go on a base tile, which will ultimately determine the final piece's shape. Your job is to create a visual you like by arranging the glass fragments and keeping them attached to the glass base using either hair spray or school glue, believe it or not.
The glass will then go into the kiln for its first load. This round will actually be the fusing step where the top layers will melt and adhere to the bottom base, ultimately "fusing" your piece as one. For many, this may create the final project. This is perfect for sun catchers, wall hangings, night lights, coasters -- or really anything that can be flat. But if you want to make things a little more interesting, you can opt to have your glass shaped. This requires a second go around in the kiln where a mold will be used to achieve that shape.
A slump is the most basic. It uses a mold in where the glass will be laid and the kiln will do all the work. The temperature is the perfect rate where the glass will take the shape of the mold, creating subtle, smooth curved edges. This allows the piece to be slightly more functional in your house -- this a soap dish, appetizer dish, or even a catch all. The "slump" technique is also how we achieve those bottle slumps everyone loves.
A drape makes for a more exaggerated shape. In this process, the glass is put on a mold that resembles an upside down tumbler. The glass will then melt down in the kiln, creating more dramatic edges. This sort of piece is most often used to create a candle holder. The final form will never be exactly the same every time and the weight of the piece will play a part. Check out the rainbow glass in the photos below to see the crazy curves that came from this drape.
Want to know more about glass fusing? Send your questions to us in the comments section below and we'll be sure to answer them. Glass workshops are live on our website. Register for them here.
You heard it here first! Glass fusing will only be available at our West Hartford location for a couple more months. During the holiday season, glass fusing will move to The Firestone, our new sister studio in Manchester and will no longer be available on a walk-in basis at The Claypen.
School is back in session, but that doesn't mean the fun has to be over. Keep your kids stimulated with creative art projects right here at The Claypen!
By: Danielle Kearns
Can you even believe it? Summer flew by in a flash and most Connecticut schools are back in session. The college kids are gone til Columbus Day. And the nights are getting chillier by day.
We know it takes a minute to get back into the routine of life, but we're here to help make that transition a little easier for you all -- especially those stay at home parents who are looking for educational fun during the day and after-school creative options for the older kiddies as well.
This September, we'll be offering many kid-friendly classes to meet those needs, starting off with a jam-packed Labor Day! This Monday, we will be offering TWO kids classes since it only took 3 days of school to warrant a day off. (You'd think they would have thought this school calendar through a bit more by now, right?) Here's what we have on the calendar:
Toddler Time: 10:30-11:30am, September 2nd
Theme: Baby Shark
Age Group: Perfect for 5 years old and younger
All of our Toddler Times include a read aloud story, take home craft project, pottery craft project, and nut-free snack. This particular event is bound to have a sing-a-long too. The shark scrubby holder is the pottery piece of choice this time around. It's both cute and functional. The perfect addition to any kitchen. If you love this event, look out for our Toddler Times, offered throughout the month.
Register Online here.
Kid's Drop Off Event: 1:00-3:00pm, September 2nd
Theme: Llama Plate Workshop
Age Group: 7+ [Drop off event]
Llamas are so trendy these days and kids love them! This workshop will allow some of our older kids to learn some more complicated pottery techniques to achieve the effects seen in the sample below. This carved out 2 hour time-slot will also allow parents the opportunity to grab lunch in the center, kid-free.
Register online here.
Toddler Time: 10:30-11:30am, September 10th + 18th
Theme: Pumpkin Painting
Age Group: Perfect for 5 years old and younger
This event is perfect for Fall and will incorporate sensory play for your youngin's by painting with strips of burlap. As always, our Toddler events will include a story and snack time, as well as a same-day craft project.
Register online here for September 10th or 18th.
For more information on these or any of our other events, reach out to Cait, our Events Coordinator, via email. Don't see what you're looking for? Contact Cait for suggestions for upcoming classes your kids will love. As always, stay in touch with us on social media for new classes and updates. Spots are limited.
Note: All pottery is ready for pick-up one week after event. Registration cost includes 1 adult and 1 child.
Danielle is a CT native, She started at the claypen in 2018 as a Studio Associate and quickly became a Team Lead and our resident blogger on staff. Her previous experience includes teaching, writing, and photography. You can find her on Instagram and LinkedIn or reach out with questions via email.