Exciting New Maho Bay Clayworks Classes Kicking Off in January

Mermaid, by Les Andeson

Ready to get those hands dirty and learn something new for the New  Year?

Look no further than Maho Bay Clayworks where owner Gail Van de Bogurt is kicking off three new exciting classes this month geared for each skill level, from true beginner to advanced.

Saturday, January 7, is the first class in the new “Sculpting the Figure from Life in Terra Cotta” series, being led by well-known St. John painter Les Anderson. While many residents are familiar with Anderson’s realistic portraits and vivid Caribbean landscape paintings, this is the first time the East End artist will be leading a class in clay.

“Les has been coming to the Clay Studio for a while now and working on a bunch of different projects,” said Van de Bogurt. “He brings his knowledge of art, art history, the human figure and anatomy to the clay studio for this class which features a live model. This is a great opportunity to work with a very experienced artist with a wonderful understanding of anatomy.”

“He loves the human figure and has a great understanding about it,” she said. “It’s really fun to work with Les.”
Participants will ideally have some experience with clay and figure drawing, Van de Bogurt added.

“First of all to work with a live model you have to have a certain level of maturity,” she said. “And it would be really helpful if people had some experience with clay and drawing the human figure. It will be really hard to start completely from scratch for this class.”

Van de Bogurt is hoping to attract some local artists who may not have worked much with terra cotta, she explained.

“We’d like to attract some artists like Les who normally work two dimensionally,” she said. “Many of the great artists in the past, like Degas and Picasso, worked in clay and bronze and different three dimensional materials. It would be a great class for artists.”

Anderson’s figure class, with assistance by Van de Bogurt, starts on Saturday, January 7, and runs for four Saturdays. Each class will meet from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Maho Bay Camps pottery studio. The class fee is $250 which includes materials, firing and four additional open studio sessions.

For those with no experience with clay, mark those calendars for Tuesday, January 10, when Kaye Thomas will start a four session Potter’s Wheel for Beginners. The class will meet from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. over the next four Tuesdays and students will learn the basics of the pottery wheel.

“The class will cover centering and making tumblers, mugs with handles and bowls on the potter’s wheel,” said Van de Bogurt. “It’s geared totally for beginners and students will learn all of the steps to  make stoneware they can actually take home and use.”

The tuition cost is $200, which includes clay, glaze, firing and four open studio sessions in addition to the classes.
Anyone interested in true fine art recycling will not want to miss Van de Bogurt’s special four day workshop on Vegetable Oil Firing. Maho Bay Campground’s dedication to recycling inspired resident “technical wizard” Dan Kreofsky to construct a kiln burner capable of firing stoneware pottery operating on used vegetable oil from local restaurants, explained Van de Bogurt.

“Dan designed a burner made of plastic pipes and things you can pick up right at the hardware store which uses compressed air and used vegetable oil to fire the kiln,” she said. “The great thing about it is that it has a much smaller carbon footprint and doesn’t produce as many carbons as burning wood for the firing. And it’s a great way to recycle used vegetable oil.”

Van de Bogurt and Kreofsky used 60 gallons of used veggie oil from Cruz Bay restaurants to fire their first trial and watched as the temperature rose to over 2,340 degrees, according to the Maho Bay Clayworks owner.

The workshop runs from January 18 through 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and costs $200. Participants will learn about burner design, ideal glazing, kiln loading decisions and hands-on oil firing. There will also be a firing party and kiln unloading, set for January 23.

Veggie Oil workshop students should bring their bisque ware, or once fired pieces, to be glazed and fired. For more information on any of the classes or to register call Maho Bay Camps activity desk at 776-6226, extension 212, or call Van de Bogurt at 514-6594.