Workshops at Oficinas do Convento


Text by João Rolaça


WORKSHOP 1: Find, collect and prepare clay for ceramics by Ana João Almeida

Ana João Almeida is a ceramist with wide experience in collecting clay and other ceramic materials from nature, to use in utilitarian and artistic ceramic objects. In the workshop, the theoretical aspects of the formation of clay and its different qualities – plasticity, strength and heat resistance were observed and explained with charts, images and samples shown to the participants.
In the afternoon, everybody walked to the fields around Telheiro and collected some clay from the ground, brought it to the studio and processed it to be used in modelling. This is very important workshop to the project, since it taught participants the principles to
collect local clay from any place and gave them the knowledge and authonomy to develop more sustainable ceramic projects.

WORKSHOP 2: . Earth techniques for art and sculpture by Caterina De Viti 

Caterina di Viti is an architect that is working for Cru Atelier – an architecture studio based in Montemor-o-Novo, specialized in sustainable architecture, particularly earthen and similar materials. Although her focus is in architecture, we thought this could be an interesting, experimental and innovative approach to use earth as a material for art practice – sculpture, installation and other. Caterina shared the principles of some basic and fundamental earth techniques, such as rammed earth, adobes, fibers and other and showd images and
references on artists and architects that have used earth in ancient and contemporary art projects.

WORKSHOP 3: . Introductory workshop on 3D Modelling and Printing for Ceramics by Maurício Martins

Maurício Martins is an engineer and maker that builds machines and gadgets and has been collaborating with Oficinas do Convento for a long time in several projects, including the design and building of the 3D printer used in the workshop. He shared digital drawing tools and the printing settings, adjusted to various applications and specifications.
We thought this workshop would be interesting within the project for balance more elemental techniques with modern technologies.

WORKSHOP 4: Ceramic Sculpture Workshop by Liliana Velho

This workshop was monitored by the sculptor Liliana Velho who has a very experimental approach to ceramic sculpture, mixing many plants and other materials to create textures and pieces that defy gravity and representation.
The basic techniques for building sculptures with clay were shared, such as coil building, slabs and dipping plants in slip to register natural elements in ceramic forms. These techniques are very versatile and can be used in almost any project that the participating artists want to develop during SEEDS project or in future works.

WORKSHOP 5: Wood firing by João Rolaça
Basically, with the workshops, we tried to share several materials, techniques and approaches that the artists could use to produce their artworks, always paying attention to the local materials and resources available, that explore the materiality of earth and clay, with sustainability in mind.
So, after the first 5 workshops, the artists made several works to be fired in a wood firing kiln, existing in Telheiro of Oficinas do Convento.
We decided to experiment and combine regular wood firing (terracotta) with Obvara Raku (a technique, in which the pieces are taken out of the kiln while very hot from the firing, and are dipped in a sollution made of yeast, sugar and flour, to create an organic waterproofing layer
and decorative effects. Most participants got really interested in this technique because of their interest with fermentation, organic materials and because it is something they can easily replicate in their homes and studios.

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