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2009 Workshops

Connecting to Place:
Exploring Local Ceramic Materials

Instructor: David Peters and Tim Stepp
May 29–31, 2009

This three day workshop will introduce participants to a breadth of possibilities and meaning that local materials offer to a ceramic artist.  Discussions will include how the various geologic origins of clays directly affect their working and fired characteristics and how these traits are controlled and standardized by industry through milling and blending.  Historical ceramic examples will be used to discuss how geology has traditionally played a large role in shaping the quality of the objects made in a given area. 

Participants will be taking small field trips around Helena to learn about the geologic processes that formed this ancient island-arc terrain not unlike that found in Japan.  During these trips techniques for prospecting and collecting materials will be taught.  Simple testing procedures as well as firings will be employed to learn about the unique properties and possible uses of various materials.  Participants will leave with a deeper understanding and appreciation of what local materials can contribute to modern ceramic art, as well as the basic knowledge and skills to begin using them in their own work.   





David PETERS received his BFA from Utah State University and has studied in Jingdezhen, China and most recently he is the 2008-2009 Matsutani Fellow at the Archie Bray Foundation. His research of historical wares made by various indigenous cultures has inspired him to challenge himself to create his pottery exclusively from local materials.   

Tim STEPP is a Helena ceramic artist who explores his sense of expression through wood and atmospheric firing. Stepp is a full time geologist who received his BS in Geological Engineering from Montana Tech, his MS from Ohio State University in Geophysics and is a PhD Candidate at Ohio State University.