I taught for 39 years at Juniata College, originally (1967) directing the freshman composition program and teaching American literature and writing, then from 1972-2006 I became part-time and taught ceramics in the art department. Teaching helped me keep learning and gave me a ringside seat at the art arena, where people amaze themselves and others by using clay to make their dreams (and occasionally their nightmares) come true.WorkshopsI usually do 4-6 workshops per year, some of which are hands-on and involve firings. If you are interested in participating in one of these, or booking me 6 months to one year ahead, please contact me.
I enjoyed thinking up ways for people to exercise their originality while they gained an understanding of the science, craft and art of ceramics. The link above shares a few of my favorite assignments. Teaching several workshops each year keeps what I know from just informing what I make; it’s a way to maintain an ongoing dialogue with others about why and how we are challenged and fulfilled by our work in clay.
I have taught more than 185 workshops at such places as the 92nd Street Y in New York, Penland School of Crafts, Laloba Ranch Clay Center, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, the American Ceramic Society’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, and many college and university art departments.
I believe that good pots have timeless, dynamic qualities that outlast their makers. An awareness of historical pots and the people who made them can be a rich source of inspiration for what we make. How can we invest and discover such goodness in our work? In my workshops I often include a slide talk drawing from the 20,000-year heritage of potters to relate our own quest for meaningful pots to some of the accomplishments of earlier ceramists. The following is a description of a recent workshop:
THE EXPRESSIVE POT
A demonstration session will emphasize the evolution of personal forms — pots with a unique identity. Using the cup as a take-off point, Jack will demonstrate several phases of his own development as a potter, showing how the cup reflects his concern for functional and aesthetic values. Some of the points he will illustrate include surface decoration, tactile qualities, inside-outside considerations, spontaneity and control, as well as focusing attention on the cup as a whole: lip, foot, body, handle. Thrown cups will be altered by faceting, carving, paddling, and stamping. A slide talk on contemporary Japanese teabowls will follow.
Jack will also demonstrate a simple means of extending the scale of work, and will apply a variety of altering techniques to thrown forms so as to keep them from becoming generic pots — the white bread of the ceramics world, as well as making one of his original designs — a squirrel-proof bird-feeder.
Pitchers, jars, bowls of various scales will be thrown and altered.
Slides will trace the influence of traditional pottery and the natural world as a source of inspiration in his work.
Jack Troy’s anecdotal style of information-sharing covers a wide range of topics, including, technical and aesthetic issues in ceramics, personal goals, sources of inspiration, and the dilemma of being a literate potter while knowing that most of the world’s best pots were made by people who couldn’t read, write, or do glaze calculation. He welcomes questions and dialogue.
The aim of all this is to encounter ideas that will help extend our present knowledge of potting so that we can make informed choices about our work, and put life into the clay we use.
Slides will trace the phases of Jack’s work over the years, showing its relationship to nature as a source of inspiration.