Mayhew has ten years of teaching experience in ceramics and holds an MFA from the University of Cincinnati (2000) and a BA from Coe College (1997).
His technical expertise is broad, including management and installation of ceramic public art projects, class instruction in handbuilding, wheel throwing, low to high fire claybody and glaze preparation, kiln loading and firing for both electric and natural gas equipment. His non-clay form building skills include carpentry, welding, moldmaking and foundry casting.
His most recent art instruction positions include Foundations teaching at the Art Academy of Cincinnati (2002 - present); Visual studies in 2D and 3D design at Northern Kentucky University (2000 - present); Coordinator of the Ceramics program at the University of Cincinnati (2001 - 2002) which required him to maintain all the responsibilities foa tenured professor for undergraduate and graduate level courses.
He has participated in artist group activities ranging from service as a representative of graduate students at UC to fulfilment of support positions for the National Council for the Education of Ceramic Arts. He has been exhibiting his own work regionally since 1998 and frequently collaborates with other artists for gallery instsallations.
Aside from his commitment to teaching and creation of his own studio work, he is interested in the discovery of other cultures and has travelled to Asia (China and Japan in 1999), Europe (Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg in 1995 and 1989) and Iceland (1989).
Anguished, he twiddled his thumbs
Kirk Mayhew's Technical Notes - Synopsis of Preparation for Operation of an International Workshop
A group of international artists to collaborate for five weeks upon a highly technical ceramics public art project ...
Imagine seven master ceramic artists from three different continents with very little English knowledge, an experimental format with an extremely short deadline.
Expect physical stress and occasional diplomatic strain
Regardless of the extent of technical preparations, with such a gathering of so many points of view, it was sure that things were bound to change, many times over, sometimes in one day.
The importance of flexibility, the necessity and firmness
Making a foundation for something to be built.
Preparing a comfortable working studio with knowledgeable, polite and generous staff
The necessity of preparatory materials and eager helping hands, establishing an understanding of the project goals, problem solving through written plans, diagrams, speaking, sketching, demonstrating.
The importance of rapid bonding of minds of Cincinnati artists and seven strong culturally varied artists
Establishing and demonstrating trust, mutual respect - Circle of Clay exercise
Early on, instead of confusion and fear, humor and listening
Feed them lunch, dinner, stay together, celebrate often
Unification of separate mindsets, separate working styles, and separate imagery
Willingness to work together in a unified manner towards a common goal still allowing for invention
The importance of asking questions, listening and waiting for clarity.
Working together to understand needs and wishes.
Putting out fires - Never panic, just listen, repeat and think. Ask for more time when necessary. Be patient, expect patience.
(The anticipated barriers came down quickly.)
Without their continued willingness, this amazing intellectual and technical cooperation could have been impossible.
Clay Color and Fire Technical Report
Limits set by:
Continuous tests and a number of technical books that I returned to again and again. Use of the facilities and information that Roy Cartwright has made available to the UC ceramics department. Truly immeasurable support - thanks to this arsenal of information.
Regardless of the extent of technical preparations, with such a gathering of so many points of view, I could be sure that things were going to change. This made the day to day energized with promise and possibilities.
I would have liked to do more color tests prior to the artists arrivals.
The artists shared things that I did not know, which made it possible for me to meet their needs.
Anticipating certain conditions:
visiting clay professional, limited language skills, unknown level of experience in making tiles and mosaics, no knowledge of the Western way to do these things.
Enabling the artist to make their conceptual design, melding the art director's vision and systems with the artists ideas and wishes
With a smile I politely facilitated
It is as if I have been training for this my whole life, my materials, my studio work, long hours, politeness and respect.
Balancing the feeling of pushing the other vs. being pushed (being at the wheel or along for the ride) leading or following/chasing the project. Trying to stay one step ahead, trying to catch up.
Drawings-it soon became clear that these were detailed brainstorms. The Cincinnati staff's predictions were not always dead on. The importance of asking questions, listening and waiting for clarity. Working together to understand needs and wishes. .
Materials clay slip oxides/mason stains
Three types commercially bagged clay standard and Columbus Clay Company local houses (and only pleasure working with in the past)
So we would not have to worry about mixing, preparation, and proper aging
(one of the discussions that I would have like to have had with Marjorie)
Standard # 112 Brown with speckle
Standard # 153 Cream stoneware
Columbus # 124 Speckle Tan clay
All mason stains 10% of slip
Rhodes basic slip damp formula ^6-11
EPK Kaolin 25
Ball Clay OM 4 25
Custer Feldspar 20
Flint Silica 20
Basic palette with in-house oxides and mason stains additions when requested by the artists were only an order away. I know that I over ordered all of those materials concerned that once it was used by one of the artists that all might want to use that same material for a part of their piece.
(The materials listed as 2-5/100 should read as percentage such as 2-5% of slip recipe)
Cobalt Carbonate 2-5/100
Yellow iron Oxide! 4/100
Copper carb 3/100
All the most basic proportions have come from textbooks that have always been part of a ceramics studio - Rhodes, Peterson, Zakin
Fast, safe drying of the tiles
One of the systems from Chicago worked rather well for most of the healthy sturdy tiles. If it had been up to me, the parts would have stayed longer in their plastic wrapping perhaps using the newspaper tenting when the tiles had dried to their inflexibility
The relative thinness(1/8") of Eva's tiles warranted stricter attention for covering during the uncovered duties of carving and numbering. There was some warpage during drying and many tiles had to be snapped in half to be glued into position.
All oxidation gas vs electric - repeatable accuracy
Very Slow and careful.
Surprised by Philippe's habits of going into the kiln leather hard and coming out fine. Only a few sentences were
exchanged between Philippe and I about firing and in loading the kiln. He was more concerned about shelf placement than I was which caused us to have to unload an almost 3/4 loaded kiln. But the shelves have remained flat for both of our diligences.
I have to thank Ikuhiko for being very patient with my well-wishing slow procedures.
Our discussions of ramping temperatures astounded me. He pops his kilns at temperatures that sent shivers up my spine. Naturally well made pottery work can withstand much more abuse than sculptural forms and those constructed by beginners. I am a most paranoid firer… although I seem to have been confused by lack of sleep what I saw in the peep hole during Eva's second set of tiles. The cones great, the ramp pretty damn close to on schedule - great ! the reduction!???? What part of milky had I
forgotten to pay attention to? At the end of the firing the ease that had settled in between my ears was a little unsettling… On track, I thought, but it's going too easy, isn't it? Nah, I thought, you're just getting the handle of it all.
Studio space, special situations, easels, shelving -
To make something that we had not expected was not a complete shocker. It was to our benefit that for the first week we had plenty of translators to get around first technical.concerns Thank goodness for Jan, Benedicte, Beth, Betty, Sasha, Miki!
Fact finding and technical meetings and their outcome -
We spelled out what we thought was possible and most beneficial, and then the artists asked questions.
There was never a outcry against our suggestions only occasional quiet personal rebellion, where sometimes they did it their way despite our plan. Most of the time they asked my permission and wondered if what they were thinking was feasibile - Many times theirs was the way to go.
I only balked when there was an absolute limit involved.
Sometimes I would need to direct assistants who wanted to change plans.
The way the clay was applied was completely natural to me but with some elements of foreign confidence, perhaps just master-level knowledge. The ability to watch the concentration upon each artist's face was a pleasure. However a luxury that I did not take often.since there was so much to do. I would rather have been caught working than watching!
Once it was established that we were attempting to leave the clay alone as much as possible, the use of the slab roller with boards multiple layers of canvas and proper measuring became the norm of usage the apprentices and assistants helped enormously, helping each artist prepare and assemble all of their sheets of clay. For all of the precautions the clay was definitely handled in a much rougher manner than we had anticipated. Some wedging and grogging by Philippe, Steven and He, and lots of attaching to surfaces for high relief…I prefer to be more cautious, but many of the artists carried their slabs just in their hands without any support from boards.
The one person I regret having not watched was Vladimir. From my position in the workshop his easel was always facing away from me.
Most folks brought what they needed and found or invented what we could not buy at the ceramic supply shop. A massing of tools at the start helped a great deal - the most clunky items: rulers, rolling pins, spray bottle
Planning for the grout joints and spacing through natural shrinkage of clays -
Accounting for shrinkage we made a number of calculations. As a tech team we did not have time or space to make a full size mock up.. Did not anticipate/could not predict the handling/ change in the material for each of the seven artists to make all predictions.
Wanted to match the matte natural aesthetic of existing pavilion building materials colors. Did not have time prior to the artists' arrivals to experiment with greater firing range to account for variables.
Slip/clay on clay would be a better finish than glaze on clay, due to the outdoor installation and risk of spawling. But it was not possible to predict the outcome of 7 different kinds of handling, not to mention the participation of a dozen-plus assistants!
What might have happened differently:
|Previous||Back to Clay Color & Fire||Next|