Friday, August 23, 2013

Ode to Monitor -- Amanda Syler

1.    What is your name? 
Amanda Syler

2.     When did you start coming to Lillstreet? 
1994 or 95 (yeah... it's been a while)

3.    What brought/brings you to Lillstreet? 
I can't stop making stuff out of clay! And I’m kind of starting to be a kiln rat.

4.     What is the nature of your clay work -- functional or sculptural? 
99% functional. I admire the hell out of sculptors, but there's something in my background (German/Swiss type A-ness) that keeps me coming back to the wheel. I want to make everything more functional, more ergonomic. And in the process hopefully make it beautiful.

5.     What is your process? Do you sketch, prototype and conceptualize? etc.
Usually I have an idea of what i want to make when I sit down. But sometimes I’ll see something (another pot or some kind of art) that makes me think "I can totally make that" or "I can do better" OR someone says "you should make this." I usually do a quick sketch, or play with fonts on the computer until I design what I’m thinking of. Then I go to the wheel and make prototypes until I feel like I’ve got the form down. After that I might paint on slips or colored underglazes, bisk it, and maybe add an image or type transfer, and finally glaze (usually just a liner for soda firing).

6.     What or who influence your work? 
Other clay artists, graphic patterns, textures, typography, nature, architecture; modern, mid-century and rustic types of design.

7.     Do you work with other medium besides clay? 
graphic design, drawing & jewelry

8.     What are your duties as a monitor? 
I’ve been a clay maker and a regular monitor in the past. Now I’m a monitor on the soda team, so we load, fire and unload the soda kiln, and take care of it (the soda kiln needs lots of TLC). I also mix slips & glazes, answer questions (if I know the answer), teacher-assist, get clay & tools, and clean & organize of course (or whatever Karen needs me to do). And I design signs & labels for around the studio.

9.     If there’s one thing you absolutely have to inform the Lillstreet clay community that would make your work easier, what would it be?
Getting students to use best practices when wadding their work for the soda kiln. we spend a lot of time re-wadding pieces and it makes the loading process (which is already long) much longer. I’m working on doing a sheet with drawn examples that we can put up, but it will say this: make sure you're wadding your work for STABILITY on the kiln shelves, and for SUPPORT of your piece. Little tiny wads on a huge piece, placed only in the very center? Not good - your piece may warp, crack, or even fall onto someone else's. ask your soda instructor or a soda monitor if you're not sure.

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