New Pottery Workshops Available at Makers Station in West Creek
Makers Station Gallery owner Albert Gomez has made good on his promise to build an artists’ studio where he would teach pottery and ceramics. Applications are still being accepted to fill a second series of workshops starting March 6.
Gomez’s undergraduate degree is from the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, and his master’s in ceramics and glass is from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has taught at both Tyler and Stockton University.
His plans to offer glass blowing classes are well underway as he and his studio helper Jon Hem, a fine arts student at Ocean County College, continue spackling the walls of what will be the glass studio.
The first thing to notice about the new ceramics studio is how spacious, airy and clean it is. Gomez and Hem made the wooden tables, which can accommodate up to 20 students. Ten electric potter’s wheels are ready for use, and students can choose between hand-building and wheel-throwing instruction.
There is a huge Hobart clay mixer where Gomez creates his own stoneware, and a pug mill that shapes the clay into manageable squares that can also be sliced for tiles; a separate room is dedicated to various high-fire glazes. And the propane gas-fired kiln is big enough for tall pots. Stoneware figures called “Gods” or “gremlins” are a traditional decoration over the kiln door to protect the objects inside from cracking or exploding.
His own work is rooted in the principles of the American Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th century that has been experiencing a resurgence since the 1970s. He believes in making functional art forms that enhance the beauty of everyday life, with creations ranging from hand-thrown and glazed stoneware sinks to tiles, teapots and tables that capture the colors and textures of the Jersey Shore. His signature “Big Pots” are sometimes 4 feet tall. He makes his own glazes from formulas he has collected and conceived over the years.
None of the glazes used in his studio contain lead, he noted.
“The stoneware clay body is a modified clay made from the original Tyler clay formula; modifications had to be made as certain clay mines closed,” he said.
Gomez shares the glazes with his students, and the only cost above the workshop fee is for additional clay over the 5 pounds that come with the class. So there is no charge for firing and glazing.
Gomez hopes to attract students with a wide range of experience in ceramics, from experts who have degrees in ceramics to beginners with less than a year’s experience in working with clay.
In the first classes he has held, he had almost 20 people in each class ranging in age from 17 to 75. “We had a really good time, people really enjoyed it, and some are coming back and new people are signing up. It’s looking good.”
Makers Station is located at 206 Main St in West Creek. Stop in or call 609-296-2042 for more information. Or Google Craftmarket@aol.com.