Hi all! Today, I’d like to cordially introduce you to one of the best teachers of the ASI Craft Center, Jane Benedict. Jane was the first person I ever met in the studio, and she’s been someone to look up to and learn from ever since. A great artist, student, and person, here’s all about Jane, and how she’s teaching a whole generation of potters.
In the Beginning
Jane Benedict first stepped onto Cal Poly soil in the 2013-14 school year as a Freshman Mechanical Engineering major. As a freshman, she took a ceramics class in her very first quarter, and loved it. She worked in the studio each day, and soon caught the eye of the great artists who worked there as a potential teacher.
“With pottery, there comes a point where you have to be done. I can’t go back to fix it, there’s an end point, not like with acrylics or pottery.” -Jane
Jane had always thought of herself as an artistic person, and pottery provided her with an outlet. This particular outlet also had a certain end point as well; she had tried her hands at others such as acrylic and oil painting, and found herself never finished. With pottery, as one can learn from this post, once a piece has passed the glazing stage, it cannot be undone or really changed. It provides closure for many artists.
Starting to Teach
Jane started teaching in the craft center in her sophomore year in Spring quarter.
“It’s really weird, because I’ve never considered myself a people person but keep finding myself in teaching positions,” Jane said. “I like giving people a hobby that is nice and easy and relaxing.”
Jane has joined the ranks of peer teachers, a method which has been found to be a much less stressful and valuable way to teach students.
In the craft center, everyone is on equal footing. Of course there’s a natural hierarchy of talent, age, and skills, but everyone teaches around here, and Jane definitely gets asked the most questions.
Her Other Duties
As a teacher, Jane reconstitutes clay for her students, keeps the machines running and polices the general area, but the most important part of her duties is the movement of pieces along their paths through the kilns. With the recent influx of students, the kilns have been very impacted, and Jane now has to work very hard to a) pack the kilns to capacity and b) fight off the comments and and special requests for piece completion.
“The poor kilns have been working so hard, “Jane said. “I think it’ll change next quarter though, as we’re adding new shelves.”
Besides moving pieces, Jane is also a glaze connoisseur, and mixes and tweaks each color a million times before it’s released to the masses. The craft center has over 20 glazes, slips, and stains, with endless combinations, and Jane’s work is never done: she is currently creating a key of all possible combinations.
The Impact of More Students
“It’s doable. We’re managing,” Jane said of her new workload. The Craft Center is offering 8 classes this quarter, and there is hardly a weekday when the wheels aren’t filled. By teaching 2 classes of 14 people since her first days of teaching, Jane has taught over 224 people how to throw and create beautiful pottery, not even including those she teaches through working and creating an example. For yours truly, seeing Jane’s work has given me so many ideas and taught me skills such as reactive glazing, crackling, and handle-making, and I expect this won’t end.
In the end, I’m so grateful to have Jane as an unofficial teacher, and how she’s handling her recent workload has been a wonderful example to me in time management. One must always make time for something loved, and to work in the studio is to be truly happy for me and so many others I see, talk, and laugh with every day.
With that, I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting Jane, and I’ll leave you to it; I need to go to the studio!