Welcome back from the long holiday break, and welcome to 2016!  NCECA is closer than you might think and despite the freezing temperatures, things are really heating up in the Greater Kansas City Area!  One of the wonderful things about our conference is all the vast opportunities that surround it.  Exhibitions all over the region pop up in all sorts of unexpected places and whole communities gain a greater understanding of and interest in ceramics.  And all of this actually starts before the conference even begins.

That’s right, today I’m writing to you about one of my favorite NCECA-Adjacent Phenomena…the Pre-Conference workshops.  Pre-Conference Events are put together by nearby institutions, arts centers, and other ceramics businesses.  Many folks find pre-conference workshops to be a great place to meet new clay friends as well as supplement their conference clay-exploration/innovation/inspiration activities.

Let’s start with NCECA Conference Eve

…you have two evening engagements from which to chose.

IMG_7664 (1)First is the fabulous 6th annual NCECA Gallery Expo Opening Reception from 6:30-8:00 in the Resource Hall. Enjoy the first opportunity to purchase ceramics from 10 top galleries from across the nation!  Cash Bar, free and open to the public.

Or if you are 21 or older and want to feed your hunger for great pots while also filling your belly, consider attending The Heartland Table: Celebrating the Crossroads Connecting Functional Pottery, Artisanal Spirits, and Culinary Arts at Tom’s Town Distillery in the Crossroads Arts District.  Along with cooking demonstrations featuring Cook on Clay flameware pots, guests will enjoy a wonderfully diverse tasting created by six Kansas City chefs and paired with artisanal spirits and locally brewed beer.  Learn more and get tickets here

If you’ll be in town by 9am on Tuesday before the conference, you could be one of the fortunate four who get to attend a Clay Formulation Workshop with Ron Roy  Topics to be covered:

  • Overview of clay body materials and their purpose.
  • Formulating a Cone 6 and Cone 10 clay bodies
  • Using software for clay body formulation (Insight and GlazeMaster).
  • How-to tips on mixing test batches of clay, measuring absorption, shrinkage, and expansion.
  • Analyzing fired results, and tips for adjusting the clay to meet your needs.

As in all of Ron’s workshops there will be plenty of time for student’s questions, for more information or to sign up, contact mugrevolution@gmail.com


ChinYuanChang2013-1There are three two-day pre-conference workshops beginning on Monday  2 1/2 hour south of Kansas City, in Springfield, Missouri at Missouri State University, Visiting artist Ching-Yuan Chang, Professor of Art, Tainan National University of the Arts, Graduate Institute of Applied Arts, Taiwan will demonstrate his advanced wheel-throwing and hand-building techniques. He will present a lecture on his creative work during the workshop as well. For more information and to sign up, contact keithekstam@missouristate.edu or  kevinhughes@missouristate.edu.  Two hours east of Kansas City you have the opportunity to see a demonstration of two artists’ approach to making work, specifically work for wood firing at Making: Dan Murphy and Jason Hess. For more information or to sign up, contact Bede Clarke, 573-881-1525, clarkerb@missouri.edu.  Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 7.44.31 PMWant to stay a little closer to the heart of Kansas City?  323 Clay in Independence is only 20 minutes away, and if you have a Penchant for Pitchers, this is your place.   In addition to defining its function, the spout and handle animate a pitcher to give it sculptural presence. In Pitchers – Functional Form / Sculptural Presence,  Jennifer Allen, Simon Levin, Deborah Schwartzkopf and Steven Hill will demonstrate their unique aesthetic and technical approach to this timeless form.  For more information and to sign up, visit www.323clay.com




I have to openly admit, that this pre-conference workshop is a definite soft spot for me.  If you decide to extend your NCECA trip to a full week of wonderful clay experiences, consider a trek to nearby Lawrence, KS and take in three methods of making, Handbuilt. Thrown. Cast…the foundation of ceramic processes, presented by Ryan LaBar, Linda Lopez, and Peter Pincus.   This tremendous trio will join forces and share their mastery of each of these techniques during an interactive workshop.   Join the conversation….after all, It Could be Anything.  In addition to the workshop, you can take in tons of exhibitions in Lawrence and mingle with artists from the other Lawrence Events.  To learn more or sign up visit brackers.com


Chris Gustin

Enjoy a Legacy of Making at Red Star Studios, is proud to host a two-day demonstration workshop featuring three Kansas City Art Institute alumni who represent 20 years of the ceramic department’s dynamic legacy: Chris Gustin, John Balistreri and Matt Long. All three were non-traditional students who made a career for themselves by thoughtfully pushing the limits of ceramics through insightful hard-work and risk-taking.  For more information or to sign up, contact Tommy Frank, tfrank@redstarstudios.org.


ceramics_symposium_2016The Lawrence Arts Center will host Lisa Clague, Ayumi Horie, Sergei Isupov, Steve Lee, Roberto Lugo, & Liz Quakenbush in a symposium on topics central to contemporary ceramics. This rare opportunity offers a chance to interact and observe ceramic artists working in the top of the field. Over the course of two days, this select group of artists are active in studios at the Lawrence Arts Center demonstrating sculpting processes, wheel throwing, surface decoration and glazing, representing a diverse range of techniques and approaches to ceramic art. The six artists are paired up in three studios at the Arts Center, to demonstrate their techniques and encourage dialogue with the audience. For more information or to sign up, visit lawrenceartscenter.org

A week ahead – Wednesday through Monday

The University of Kansas Ceramics department will host a pre-NCECA conference March 9 – 14. Everyone is welcome to attend. Events planned include workshops/demonstrations, artist talks, exhibitions, wood firings and more. We welcome a great mix of national and international artists including; Linda Christianson, Josh Dewesse, Julia Galloway, Louis Kittelson, Carla Martinez, Lorna Meaden, Mat Rude, Robert Sanderson, James Tingey, Lisa Orr, Scott Parody, Diego Valles.  Events include Wood Firings (4 kilns), demos, slide talks, performance kilns and a fire spectacular.  For more information and to sign up, visit the Lawrence Pre-Conference Website