Ceramics workshop includes displays, demonstrations

By Eric Butler: PNT staff writer

Sure, it was easy to admire the artists’ works on display during the past week at Eastern New Mexico University’s Runnels Gallery.

Still, for most observers, the people who made the ceramics pieces were little more than names on placards.

For many, those names came to life through workshops at ENMU on Friday and Saturday.

Five of the artists with objects on display came to Portales to demonstrate various techniques in creating ceramic art.

“I think it’s kinda fun. Just seeing the show, you get an idea of what’s out there. But actually coming into this workshop and seeing them work, seeing them demonstrate and letting you try different things, it really opens more eyes up more to art,” said Roberta Herrell, 29, a graduate student in education. “I was never an art person before and I kind of shied away.”

The workshops, held at the Ceramics Studio at Eastern’s Technology Building, wrapped up what was dubbed the week-long Tex-Mex Ceramic Invitational. Throughout the week, professors from universities in New Mexico and West Texas displayed their creations at Runnels Gallery.

Five of the art teachers came to Portales at the end of the week to demonstrate and be part of a closing reception and dinner.

Some of the techniques taught to workshop participants included throwing, aluminum casting, molds and hand building and alternative firing techniques.

Juan Granados, an art professor at Texas Tech University, showed how to transfer an image from a photograph and embed it on ceramics.

Granados said many people aren’t aware of the image transfer technique until he introduces it to them.

“We have three-dimensional objects, where you can put photos and this can become a three-dimensional window of a short story or family event,” he said. “It’s very, very durable; it’s just as durable as acrylic painting. ”

The permanency of this particular technique has some contemplating creating their own gifts as the holiday season approaches.

“That’s what I’m thinking. That’s something I might try later on — see if I can get it to work correctly,” Herrell said. “It sounds pretty easy. You just get a picture and you cover it in the gloss and let it dry. Then you take the paper off the back of it and find an object you want to put it on.”

Herrell said she hadn’t really fashioned a ceramics piece since she was in third grade. But the availability of material through the university — along with her newfound knowledge thanks to the workshops — might send her to the ceramics studio more often.

“As a student at Eastern, we pay a $90 lab fee and that goes to all the clay purchase. The department can purchase a lot of clay from all the students’ contributions and that gives the students a lot to play with,” she said.