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Friday, February 20, 2015

NCECA 2015: An Insider's Guide to New England, Part 3: Other clay and craft stops

There is so much to see during your visit to Providence besides just NCECA! It makes me want to squeal with excitement! Once you're up to date with the conference itself, check out the "Special Events" section over on their website. It includes info about the Collectors Tour, Pre and Post Conference Events (including a workshop by yours truly), and a few other events happening in or near the event hall. The biggie to look at is the Exhibitions, Tours, and Shuttle Bus Guide, which you can download to view during your travel time. The downloadable guide is lengthy, but even a quick eye scan of the document will make you excited.

Molly Hatch at the MFA

Up near my old stomping grounds of Boston, a 45 minute drive from Providence, there are some other happenings that aren't on the guide. One is "Nature, Sculpture, Abstraction, and Clay: 100 Years of American Ceramics" at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, who recently had a large expansion to the facility. After you leave one of my old places of employment (yep! I was a Member and Visitor Services Rep!), head on over to another. I worked at The Potters Shop inside of Gorse Mill Studios, and the gallery at GMS is hosting an exhibit of clay artists from Massachusetts, The Diverse Vessel. The opening reception is the last day of NCECA, March 28.

If you aren't heading to The Potters Shop building for that exhibit, or John Baymore's workshop, or my workshop (you're a hard sell, aren't you?), you HAVE to go for the books and videos! If you are interested in clay and books to any degree, I promise your jaw will drop when you see the selection. No matter what type of clay book you are interested in, you will find yourself a fix. Instructional, historical, rare/out of print, biographies, even fictional involving a clay theme. In the thousands of titles there, you will find something to be insanely excited about.

DeCordova Sculpture Park
The downloadable NCECA guide linked earlier mentions an exhibit at the Fuller Craft Museum. This is one of my most favorite museums of all time. It is small, but always incredibly impressive with both content and quality. As craft people, I highly encourage you all to go. My other favorite museum in the Boston area is DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. The facility is large, having expansive space both inside and out. The guide also mentions Pucker Gallery in Boston. You. Must. Go. Hamada pots. I don't even need to say anything else.

If you're around the weekend before NCECA starts up, CraftBoston Spring is being held. Taken from the website, "Presented by The Society of Arts and Crafts, CraftBoston Spring and Holiday are New England's premiere juried exhibitions and sales of contemporary craft. This twice annual, well-established show features the most outstanding artists of our time, showcasing one-of-a-kind and limited edition pieces in baskets, ceramics, decorative fiber, wearables, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather, metal, mixed media, paper, and wood." Sounds like something crafty folk may enjoy as well! There's a bonus: I will be exhibiting at the event for the first time! Come say hello, see some of my work, and meet before NCECA just down the road!

Stay tuned for Part Four in the Insider's Guide series, where traveling in the area will be discussed. If you'd like to catch up on Part 1: The Environment, and Part 2: Food and Drink, follow the links to get up to speed with the NCECA tips. And if you've got another event or place of interest to share, please do!

Monday, February 09, 2015

NCECA 2015: An insider's guide to New England, Part 2: Food and Drink

In last week's post, Part 1, I mentioned a few small details about the environment to help visitors get situated during their trip to NCECA in Providence, Rhode Island. This week I'm going to give a few tips about food and drink that I'd like to know if I was traveling that direction for the first time, from morning to evening.

1. You will not want for coffee or doughnuts
New England 101: Dunkin Donuts is everywhere. Like, eeeeeverywhere. These people are damn serious about their coffee (the real star of the chain in N.E.'s eyes), and is considered a pride and joy of the region, often placing two storefronts across the road from each other. Even the arena next door to the Convention Center that NCECA is being held at is the Dunkin Donuts Center. It is serious stuff and omnipresent. In your groggy morning state, don't worry where or if you will find a coffee for yourself. You will. Just pick a direction and head on down. 

2. Seafood is a must
In addition to coffee, east coasters take their seafood very seriously as well. You can essentially walk into any type of restaurant and know that they will have at least a few seafood offerings on the menu. No matter what you are into, you can find it without much searching. Clams, oysters, lobster, fish. I'm pretty sure you're not allowed to leave New England without having at least one cup of clam chowder (if there's corn in it, leave the restaurant immediately), and of you really want to treat yourself, go for the lobster bisque, always a rich and delicious indulgence. My personal favorite that I'm really looking forward to is a lobster roll. They are a true regional treat, and sorely missed by this west coast girl. 

3. You're probably going to need a beer
After spending the day at NCECA, you'll be ready to unwind with your new clay friends you've met, discussing all the nerdy ceramic stuff you have in common. The good news is that there are two brewpubs across the street from the convention that you can nerd out at! I recommend Trinity Brewhouse, a small brewery I've been to many times. The food and beers have always been good, and the atmosphere has been relaxed during my visits. There's also John Harvard's, a chain of local brewpubs. I haven't been to the Providence location, but my experience with locations in Massachusetts have always been positive, also serving up good food (the Mediterranean salad!) and beer. I'll be the girl holding the stout or porter if you'd like to come nerd out with me!

After all the calories and culinary memories, take a stroll through the culinary arts museum in town. It will help you get loosened up for some of the other museums to hit that I'm going to share next week when I give hints on clay and craft stop in the area. Stay tuned for Part 3!

Friday, February 06, 2015

Post-NCECA workshop!

I'm going to be teaching a post-NCECA workshop up the road from Providence on 3/29. It will be on screen printing on textured thrown and altered forms. I hope it interests some of you!

"Karen will demonstrate her personalized techniques developed to create rope impressed and screen printed thrown and altered functional ware. Beginning at the wheel, Karen will demonstrate and discuss altering her thrown forms, and refining them through the drying process. Over the course of the day Karen will share the tools, materials, and techniques she uses to keep crisp divisions between imagery, texture, and smooth clay. Participants will leave understanding how to make and successfully use an original screen print image on various clay forms, and how to incorporate this type of surface decoration with texture. Workshop registration is $75. Call 781 449 7687 or email for more information and registration."

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

NCECA 2015: An insider's guide to New England, Part 1: The Environment

Since I first found out NCECA was going to be in Providence I was super excited. At the time, I was living in MA, so it was just a skip down the road, but have since moved I will be coming back to the area for the conference. After seven years of living in New England, I've got a few tips for potters traveling to the region that I'm going to share over the next few weeks. NCECA is super exciting in itself, but it's always nice to squeeze more into a trip if possible. Who knows when you'll be back? For Part 1, I've got three hints about the environment of the region for newcomers to the northeast.

1. It will rain
I am no meteorologist or clairvoyant, but I promise you, in March, it will rain while you are there. New England springs get messy, sometimes raining everyday, all day, for a week or two. The things about these rains are that they tend to be strong, ensuring you are soaked in no time at all. If you plan to do much traveling outside, bring an umbrella, raincoat, and/or rain boots, depending on your sugar content/ability to melt when wet.

2. You will get lost
Before I moved East, I thought I had a good sense of direction, but it turns out, I had always lived places with grid streets. While New England has many charms, figuring out where you are and how to get where you are going is not one of them. Roads twist, turn, dead end, and change name frequently. They aren't big on road signs, or paint on the road itself to help clear things up. And do not make the assumption that because you got somewhere a certain way, that you can return the same way, tis not always the case. You will get lost, so keep that phone charged so you can use that GPS.

3. Head to the ocean
While you are on the coast, you may as well go to the coast, no? The Atlantic offers up many things to do if you're interested. There are numerous types of boat tours, restaurants to eat at, critters to see, shores to discover, and beauty to take in. Newport, New Bedford, Cape Cod and the islands are all nearby and notable coastal areas. Take a stroll and find some shells and corals as a small souvenir from your trip east. Those strong spring storms wash some beautiful gems of the sea right up to your feet.

Check back over the next few weeks to help make the most of your NCECA visit with small tips about food and drink, travel, and other clay and craft interests. See you then!