I don’t want to get down and dirty, but I cannot help myself…..
In a few weeks (Nov. 6) the WNC Pottery Festival in Dillsboro will take place; and amongst the fabulous potters proudly presenting their wares on this beautiful fall day will be two booths – one filled with Southwestern Community College’s Heritage Arts ceramics students’ works and the other filled with Western Carolina University students’ works.
There is no official ‘competition’ between these two schools’ ceramics programs, though I must admit that we at the community college like to look at our university neighbors and think quietly to ourselves, “WOW! Our students are just as good as our university neighbors and receiving just as good, and much less expensive, education in the ways of wheel-thrown clay!”
Uh-oh! I may be getting myself in hot doo doo for saying that, but it’s true! We pride ourselves on the fabulous facilities here at Southwestern Community College: 3 computerized electric kilns, 1 small sitter kiln, about 30 electric wheels of different manufacturers, a Thomas Stuart kick wheel, one updraft gas kiln, 1 Manabigama fast-fire wood kiln – for soda firing as well as wood, one Olympic Raku kiln and other kiln parts ready for use in experimental capacities. We also have 2 North Star slab rollers and 2 mounted extruders. Add one de-airing Peter Pugger to that list….. Hmmmm… a fully stocked glaze lab with both digital and weighted scales, air compressor for glaze spraying…. I’m out of breath! I probably forgot something, too!
And did I mention the fine instructors? OK, I admit I am a bit biased being one of them, but seriously…. JoeFrank McKee and I are both members of the Southern Highlands Craft Guild and have had good training at the University of North Texas and the University of Florida respectively. Classes include wheel-throwing, handbuilding, craft fair creation and operation, glaze chemistry, history of ceramics, production pottery techniques and more!
Lastly, we are all so proud because the students ROCK! These are mostly older students eager to learn a new skill, whether for hobby or next career. We have even had several WCU students brave the 1/2 hour drive to take classes at SCC! Several students have completed or are completing their Master Potter Certificate and truly it shows in their wares. A number have begun selling their pottery in galleries around the area. YEA!
So… come out and visit the WNC Pottery Festival and take a look at the Southwestern Community College booth. Then mosey on down to the Western Carolina University booth. You tell me…. who should be so proud?!