NCECA Across the Table, Across the Land – Challenge

NCECA Across the Table, Across the Land – Challenge

Periodically during the fall we will be issuing challenges in the form of assignments to inspire immediate ways to get involved with the Across the Table, Across the Land project. Please refer to the NCECA Across the Table, Across the Land site at and click on “Field Guide” for more information.

First Fall Challenge: Opportunity: Clay Could Make This Better

Opportunities to move hand-crafted ceramic objects into the world by connecting food and community are all around us. From restaurants and bars to weddings and food festivals, private and public events – we want to see where you think ceramic objects could add value to social situations.

For example, a potter I know is thinking about how a tradition of “wedding whiskey” takes place in North Dakota. This handmade whiskey, made by the family of the wedding party, is as much about tradition and experience as it is about “tyin’ one on”. How could a special hand made ceramic whiskey flask make this traditional ceremony even more memorable?

Consider situations in culture where clay might amplify, alter, or challenge the experience or encounter. Share an example to get us all started– no solutions necessary – just opportunities to inspire all of us to think in new ways about what we make and how it enters the world.


  1. Consider all of the places in culture where food is served and how ceramics can add value.
  2. Take a picture of this “situation” where you think ceramics should be present.
  3. Visit the Across the Table web app– at the menu, click on “Challenges”
  4. Click on Challenge: Clay Could make this better
  5. Click on the + in the upper right corner to upload your image, complete the text prompts, and voila! You are now part of the collective “think-tank” and the project.
  6. You can repost the challenge to your social media. If you tweet, instagram, or Facebook your submissions, be sure to tag it with #ncecaacross, #nceca, #acrossthetable and any other specifically appropriate hashtags so we can track the conversation and boost the signal!

Think of this as a collective brainstorming session, lets imagine together… new avenues for our work to exist.

  • Namita and Michael
NCECA Honors and Awards—Nominate Now!

NCECA Honors and Awards—Nominate Now!

The nominations for NCECA Honors and Awardees always seem to fall right around the time that the Emmy’s recognize excellence in the television industry. I have a close relationship with someone that’s been trying to get me to go for years but I always decline because the NCECA Honors and Awards ceremony is my own personal “CerEmmy” experience and there is no award ceremony that can match it. There is nothing like seeing a beloved and revered individual from our membership receive recognition for their impact on our field. Watching last years recipients: Mary Barringer and Leopold Foulem as Honorary Members, Keith Williams as Fellow, Linda Arbuckle and Wayne Higby for the Excellence in Teaching Awards, Lisa Blackburn and John Hartom for Outstanding Achievement and Harriet Brisson for the Regional Award of Excellence was the absolute highlight of the conference for me.

The theme of our next conference: Makers, Mentors and Milestones, really says it all. As you consider heading to Kansas City for this 50th anniversary conference help us to identify those important makers, mentors and milestone markers. Our community has the opportunity and responsibility to honor, recognize and acknowledge individuals in the field who have made incredible contributions. These are folks who have left a lasting impact and legacy with their work, service, teaching/mentorship or outstanding projects. We all know someone who has contributed in ways that change the way we see and think and left an impact that surpasses the walls of their studios to our great collective benefit. We want to celebrate these individuals and we need your help in the process. We will have programming at the 50th conference in Kansas City to celebrate the 2016 Honors and Awardees. It is a moment to hear from our award winners about their contributions to our shared discipline. Please consider submitting a nomination packet for those you think are especially deserving of these prestigious awards and allow our community the occasion to recognize and celebrate their legacy. Go here to find out more specifics on the list of NCECA Awards. Nominations are still being accepted and online submissions will close on SEPTEMBER 16, 2015, so nominate now. As always, please contact me if you have any questions at all about the Honors and Awards at

Wildly Exciting News regarding NCECA elections!

Wildly Exciting News regarding NCECA elections!

Yesterday we heard from NCECA’s Past President, Patsy Cox on the open board positions that we will need to fill at the next conference.  However, you may be wondering about that open Treasurer Seat….will it be appointed or elected?  We did just have a big ballot measure to determine the fate of the NCECA Treasurer and the NCECA Secretary positions.  But some of you may have noticed that we have not announced the result of this vote publicly.

There is good reason for this.  We actually don’t have a result yet.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Yes, the voting opened, yes, it was announced and explained and discussed at length in social media and here on the NCECA blog.  Yes, we made a big push to encourage voting.  Yes, the vote closed on July 30.  Yes, the votes were tabulated. Unfortunately, our bylaws require a vote of at least 10% of our membership.  That means we need 384 votes.  We got 85.   We have reopened the ballot and are now using Survey Monkey.  Any NCECA member who did not ALREADY vote on this issue should have received an invitation to vote in their email.  If you feel you should have received a ballot and did not get one in your email, please contact

Interested in understanding this on a deeper level?  Read on to get the full story, complete with parliamentary procedure references:

NCECA’s Board of Directors recently put forth two bylaws amendments to its membership regarding the method of selection of the Secretary and Treasurer. Currently the Board is required to put at least two candidates forward for each of these two positions to stand for election before the membership. If these amendments pass, the Treasurer and Secretary would be identified through a submission process reviewed by the Nominations Committee. The committee would review and select the candidate they deem most qualified for each position and gain approval of 2/3-majority of the Board.

NCECA posted an e-ballot on these amendments over the summer. The ballot was open for several weeks and was programmed to close on July 30. When this voting period ended, only 85 votes were cast for each ballot. The margins were 61% in favor 39% opposed, and 62% in favor, 38% opposed and one abstention.  As we prepared to make an announcement that the amendments had been passed by the membership it was with a sense of chagrin that such a small percentage of our eligible members had voted.

In further reviewing the current bylaws language we found that there is more than one description of what number of votes constitutes a quorum. After consulting with member, Shoji Satake who has some experience with NCECA’s bylaws and expertise with parliamentary procedure, we came to the conclusion that the small number of votes cast makes it imprudent for us to declare these amendments passed despite the margin of support in the votes cast.

Roberts Rules of Order state that in the absence of a quorum, any business transacted is null and void,” other than four actions which may be legally taken:

  • To fix the time to adjourn
  • Adjourn
  • Recess
  • Take measure to obtain a quorum by reopening the vote until a quorum is met.

Although only small number of members voted, there were a significant percentage of votes to pass the amendments. After discussion within the Executive Committee, the NCECA Board unanimously voted to approve a reopening of the ballot until September 30, 2015 or such a time as a quorum of the 10% of eligible voters is met. Previously cast ballots will remain in place and 299 additional votes are needed. A link to the reopened ballot will be delivered via email only to those members who were eligible to vote but did not previously cast ballots on the two amendments.

If you are a member of NCECA and did not cast a vote on this important governance decision, please watch your inbox for a message that will provide a link to the ballot. The message will come from, and we ask that you add this address to your email system’s white list so that it does not inadvertently become caught up in your spam filter. This message will be a personal invitation for you to cast votes on these measures. The link to the vote will only work from your personal inbox and will not work if forwarded to anyone other than the recipient. We encourage all remaining eligible voters to visit to review the amendments and the Board’s rationale for putting them before the membership for approval.

(OK, so maybe it wasn’t quite WILDLY exciting…..)

NCECA Open Volunteer Board Positions—Nominate Now!

NCECA Open Volunteer Board Positions—Nominate Now!


2013 NCECA Board hard at work in Providence.


2015 NCECA board hard at work in Kansas City.








Over the years some amazing individuals have come forward to serve NCECA. We’ve been incredibly fortunate that our tables have been set by such intelligent and caring advocates who have worked diligently to create the experiences we share each year. We’re in need of a few great folks to join the NCECA board to continue to advance our mission and goals. The NCECA volunteer board members come straight from the membership, people just like you and me. It’s an incredible time as we put our birthday hats on to celebrate our big 50th anniversary and we’re looking for individuals that have the desire, skills and willingness to help lead us into the future. The NCECA board has four board positions to fill in the upcoming year.

We’re seeking nominations for Student-Director-at-Large, a two-year position, currently being held by superstars Jennifer Chua and Shalya Marsh. SDAL’s inherently share student perspectives in their role as board members. We’re also seeking out nominations for Director-at-Large. These past few years have been fortuitous with exceptionally gifted folks serving in this three-year position. Roberto Lugo, Dandee Pattee and Jane Shellenbarger are our current DAL’s and you can see the impact they’ve had on everything from the Gallery EXPO to Emerging Artists and International Residencies to Topical Discussions and NCECA Connections.

It’s a big year as we are also looking to fill the position of President-Elect, a leadership experience that is incredibly rewarding and currently filled by Christopher Staley who will transition to NCECA President at the end of the conference in Kansas City. Our beloved Lee Burningham will be completing his last year with the board and we are looking for nominations to fill the position of Treasurer. We all know someone who would be a great fit in any one of these positions and we hope that you will help us to identify or to come forward yourself for the experience of serving our membership. Go here to find out more specifics on the open board positions. Nominations are currently being accepted and online submissions will close on SEPTEMBER 16, 2015, so nominate now. As always, please contact me if you have any questions at all about the open board positions at

Field Guide to Kansas City: Part II – National Toy and Miniature Museum

Field Guide to Kansas City: Part II – National Toy and Miniature Museum

toytisserie star

Where there is wonder, there is a way…

The National Toy and Miniature Museum (T/m) on the campus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City has just reopened to great acclaim following an 18-month, $8 million renovation. With more than 72,000 objects in its holdings, the T/m Museum is a microcosm of our world in the truest sense. It’s a place to marvel at fine-scale miniatures ranging from 1:12 to a staggering 1:48 scale, tap into our inner-child through the toys of our youth, and be reminded of the role of playthings as instructional devices to prompt curiosity and prepare young people for the future. The Museum opened 33 years ago thanks to the vision of two Kansas City collectors and philanthropists. In the newly reinstalled galleries, visitors can experience the collections in new ways: x-ray historic toys like Betsy-Wetsy to learn how they are made, discover the process of making miniature maiolica pottery (spoiler alert—it’s exactly the same, but on a small scale) and more. Explore online at or visit 10-4 any day except Tuesday. Located at 5235 Oak St, just one mile from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the T/m Museum has ample free parking right in front.

A few fan favorites (at least for this fan) are the miniature architecture classroom, the optical toys, and of course, countless clay objects.


It is no small wonder that ceramic objects and objects that include ceramics are found at every turn. Here are just a few examples:

The gallery of micro-curiosities showcases the Museum’s smallest objects: a painting of a panda on a grain of rice, for example, and this ceramic chair fit for a flea. Here’s a photo of the chair as seen from outside the microscope, and by holding my iphone camera up to the eye-piece.

Toy tea sets became fashionable in the mid-to-late 1800s, which coincided with technological and scientific advances in porcelain production. The T/m blog notes that the lack of documentation for these play objects make it hard to determine their origins. This yellow-glazed earthenware set, however, is marked “Montereau” and “LL” confirming its association with a Montereau pottery shop in the Oise region of France.tm7

Among the most mesmerizing dolls in the collection are the “automotons”, dolls brought to life through a key-wound clockwork mechanism. At once haunting and hilarious, these dolls feature delicate porcelain or bisque heads which contrasted with their rather slow, not-so-smooth movements. Patented in 1878 by E. Martin, the T/m blog notes, the swimming doll pictured here and named “Undine” according to the patent, performed the breaststroke, likely for the amusement of adults at social gatherings. Her body was made of wood and cork to counterbalance the heavy porcelain head and allow her to float.




Miniature interpretations of extraordinary ceramic works throughout art history are impressive feats, from these Talavera-inspired tibores made by Frank Hanley and Jeffrey Guéno of Le Chateau Interiors, to these Native American pots by Teresa Wildflower, to Lee-Ann Chellis Wessel’s Renaissance maiolica masterpieces (to say nothing of her miniature egg tempera Renaissance paintings). Chellis Wessel faithfully employs the maiolica process down to every detail.



With this parting shot of play furniture fashioned out of wishbones, I send you best wishes for your travels to and around Kansas City


All photos from,, and