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I just finished up a long string of teaching at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago. I taught a three week class called Just Rings, then a two weeker on Metal Corrugation and yesterday was the last day of a four week Beginning PMC class.

Two students were in two of the classes, which was fun.

This last one was a big class –12 students! I haven’t had a class that large in a while. With two kilns, I managed four firings yesterday. We used Lillstreet’s kiln and my Paragon SC2, which I like to bring because it heats up so quickly and I can load it cold at least once.

Loading hot kilns — not my favorite thing. I have perfected the technique for taking a warm-ish kiln out to the car. It involves welding gloves and a wheelie cart. I let the kiln get down to 200 or 300 degrees, close the door, use the gloves to put the kiln on the cart, take it out to the car, reverse the process.

This has been a hard winter in Chicago. Long and cold. Snow lost its charm at least a month ago. We’ve been through all the variations — horrible slushy snow, mountains of snow in parking lots that turn black from car exhaust, then it finally melted and we all thought, terrific, the snow is gone! But then we saw what the snow was hiding — plenty of cigarette butts and garbage.

So these three classes have all been during this horrible winter — there I have been, wheeling my kiln through the snow! From further and further away, as plowed snow piled up and ate up more and more parking spaces.

Then, just in case there wasn’t enough going on — there was a huge water main break that blocked off the main street going right past Lillstreet!

It’s definitely been the kind of winter that tests one’s dedication to teaching. (or at least, to the idea of bringing a kiln with you.)

Here’s the upside.

It’s always fun to see how I teach the same thing to everyone — and everyone makes such different things. I love the students’ enthusiasm and excitement not only at learning something new, but specifically, PMC, and how it opens up possibilities for them, artisitically.

I’ve taught metalsmithing since 1992 and PMC since 1997, and they’re very, very different. I definitely enjoy teaching both, but PMC students are much more enthused. Teaching metalsmithing involves answering the question, “How much longer do I have to sand this?” a lot. (I say that with affection.)

Now I have a short break from teaching, about a month off until my next class, one on patinas at the Indianapolis Art Center.

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