Left: Master class: Mario Rochine
teaches the ceramic technique of mocha diffusion
Middle: Watercolor by Shoshi Shmuel,
a student on the ‘introduction to painting’ course
Right: Master potter Avraham Peled instructing a student
in one of his wheel-throwing courses
Currently there is an Arts and Crafts movement sweeping the English speaking world, people are turning to the traditional materials of wood, iron or clay to express themselves. Workshops and studios, or the term now used ‘Makerspaces’, are being established in America, England, Canada and Australia. A makerspace is a place that provides creative time and a location where people can gather to create, invent, explore and discover using a variety of tools and materials.
Why now have these ‘makerspaces’ started to appear?
I believe that this new phenomenon stems from a very human reaction to the modern pace of living that is overwhelmed with so much electronic media. Many of us spend long hours in the world of cyber space. We sit in front of computer screens writing and sending texts, becoming part of the ‘paperless society’, a prediction for the future. However, from my view, teaching ceramic programs and courses, I see quite a different perspective on this future world – people have a need to touch materials, to hold something of substance in their hands, to have a few hours in their week when they make things from physical matter in ‘real time’.
Computer technology and applications to download information on mobile devices have speeded up the classical concept of time, which is ticking hour after hour. Today we can ‘fast forward’ and glean information in seconds, we can text question and answer messages at express speed. At a certain point, this type of ‘time’ is exhausting. All over the Western world, people are now searching for the opportunity of a ‘real’ time activity, and hence the mushrooming of ‘makerspaces’.
At the Haifa Center of Ceramics and Art our wheel-throwing classes illustrate this point of ‘real’ time. You cannot rush when working with clay; it has its own pace. A lump of clay placed on a moving potter’s wheel, can only be turned into a pot if the maker works slowly pulling the clay into shape. Too fast and the pot bends and gives way under the strain. You cannot ‘fast forward’ the drying process, blowing a strong artificial heat on to a wet pot will crack it. So the students in our wheel throwing classes have no option but to work at the pace of nature, at the rhythm of life before the digital revolution. Three hours in a weekly class does wonders to relieve the stress created from intense working environments. Whilst watching the hypnotic turn of the wheel, following the circling clay with their eyes, students learn an age old craft that is relaxing but, in addition, ceramic pots are the end result.
Since opening four years ago in the Neve Yosef Community Center, eastern Haifa, the Haifa Center of Ceramics and Art has grown from strength to strength. Our ultimate aim is to positively influence how all people, youth and adult, think about art and crafts and to ‘get making’. To this end we are involved in many community programs, the aims of which are to arouse public interest in the possible uses of clay as an agent for learning and social interaction.
Perhaps you are not part of this hi-tech world. Perhaps you want to develop the creative thinker that is in you. From the many years I have taught creative thinking, I have learnt that every single one of us has the potential to create. The secret is to start students making or painting or designing just for the fun of ‘doing’. My method of nurturing creativity is like an unturned funnel. The long thin nozzle of the funnel is the tuition that gives the technical skills necessary for working with confidence in any particular media. The bowl of the funnel represents the blooming of creativity, once students have gained the skills to express themselves.
See also the Facebook link - https://www.facebook.com/HaifaCeramics/