There’s been a buzz of excitement recently in the ceramics community on the East End: a new public kiln has been installed, giving potters a place to work. The scene of the excitement is the new ceramics studio at Applied Arts School in Amagansett. Since November, ceramicists have been gathering, making new works, and taking advantage of the electric kiln.
This month, Applied Arts is launching a series of workshops that let beginners try their hand at the basics and experienced potters sharpen their skills on advanced techniques. The first workshop was held last Saturday, a sold-out class on treating surfaces by Sue Papa that will be repeated on February 28.
In the meantime, an introductory class begins on January 18 with Rudolph Serra; that series continues through February 22. Sculptural Figure classes will be offered from January 17 to February 21. On January 27, Jackie Fuchs will lead a workshop on Architectural Slab Construction for all levels.
Overall, the new ceramic studio has infused the entire school with new energy, said school director Elizabeth Dow. Applied Arts also offers courses and work space for photographers, painters, printmakers, sculptors and other creative types. There is a darkroom and digital lab. Life drawing classes are held every Monday.
A lot of the new shared enthusiasm emanates from the new ceramics artists brought together by potter Hillary Wyler, who met with Ms. Dow to help jump-start the new studio. Within one month, the ceramic studio was created: new shelves were built and sections for wedging, slab rolling and general workstations were installed. Pottery wheels were purchased, the studio was rearranged for optimum work flow and finishing touches applied.
Within short order, Ms. Wyler found 22 members for the newly-formed studio. A wait list for membership continues to grow. The group provided input into the studio’s layout, cementing their attachment to their new home. Members currently hail from Southampton to Amagansett. Most members also belong to the Clay Art Guild of the Hamptons, Inc., which is based at the Celadon Gallery in Water Mill.
Some members have kilns in their own studios but enjoy the camaraderie of working side-by-side with other potters, said Alana Sims, Applied Arts School administrator and coordinator. Several have taken life drawing classes on Monday and then created sculptural works in the ceramic studio based on their sketches, Ms. Sims said.
“There’s definitely a social aspect to the studio,” Ms. Sims said. “They enjoy working with other people. They trade ideas and inspire one another.”
Separately, Ms. Wyler agreed. She spoke passionately of the long-standing need for area potters to have a public kiln. Sometimes the price tag keeps committed potters from purchasing one for their studios; other times, the issue is space. Beginners are not usually prepared to transform living space into a working studio.
Another feature that has area potters excited is the size of the kiln. The Bailey electric kiln is large: at 7.5 cubic feet, the kiln, which was donated by a community member, can accommodate pottery as tall as 36 inches or 32 inches wide. A second, smaller kiln was also donated and waits in the wings.
Ms. Dow pointed out that the new studio and kilns are only the beginning. More classes are being planned and ceramics will be part of the school’s summer programming for kids.
“We’re just getting started,” she said. “We’re excited about the possibilities. Having a ceramic studio fits our mission to serve the community. That’s what Applied Arts is all about—being a community center for the arts for everyone.”
Information on the new ceramic studio, ceramic workshops and other course offerings can be found at www.appliedartschool.com, or by calling 267-2787.