Jason Burnett Leads Dynamic Surface Design Workshop

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Plate surface design by Jason Burnett

A week and a half ago, Watershed was brimming with the energy and excitement of Jason Burnett’s surface design workshop. Fourteen artists arrived from many corners of Maine, as well as many corners of the country, to join Jason as he shared a wide range of techniques and tricks for ceramic surface design.


Jason demonstrates slip transfers on tiles


A participant experiments with applying slips using newsprint

During the three-day workshop, Jason filled the factory with his southern warmth and charm, and kept the group laughing as they learned everything from making and applying decals to inlaying with slips, burning screens to applying screen printed images with under glaze inks, repeat pattern design to simple Photoshop techniques, and much more. The group walked away from the warm fall weekend at Watershed excited to try many of these methods in their own practice.  


Jason shows how to apply and layer decals

Jason’s work has been shown and published extensively, in a number of publications including Pottery Making Illustrated, Ceramics Monthly and American Craft. In 2015 he wrote and published a book: Graphic Clay: Ceramic Surfaces & Printed Image Transfer Techniques. He is known for his functional ceramic pieces which layer slips, stamps, screen printed images, decals and lusters to create bright and fantastical objects that tell stories through their surfaces.


Jason’s enthusiastic teaching style kept everyone engaged and excited throughout the weekend.


K-12 Teacher Residency Wrap-up

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workshop cropIn mid-July, Watershed hosted a one-week residency session for K-12 art educators. This pilot project provided a rare opportunity for teachers from Maine and beyond to connect, learn new skills and strategies, and work on their own art. Over the course of the week, we (Liz Proffetty and Malley Weber, Watershed’s teaching artists) led morning mini-workshops on a range of topics relevant to classroom art teaching. Participants then spent the afternoons working on independent studio projects.

During the first day of the session, Liz shared surface decoration techniques including sprigs, sgraffito, terra sigilatta, silk-screen, mono-printing from newsprint and digital decal transfer techniques with the group. Amaco kindly donated teacher’s palette glazes and underglazes for the participants to use throughout the week.


Raku firing

On Tuesday morning, Liz wowed the educators with techniques and tricks to create thrown and altered forms that could be taught to middle and high school students. In the afternoon, some participants collaborated on a raku firing, others made a break for the local swimming hole, and a third group joined Watershed summer staff member Megan Stevens for an impromptu glaze mixing lesson.

During the Wednesday morning session, Malley shared information about Potters for Peace, a nonprofit group of ceramists whose work addresses the impact of the global water shortage. By partnering with factories around the world, the Potters help make effective ceramic filters for those without access to potable water.

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Malley Weber’s water filter demonstration

Inspired by their efforts, Malley used a multidisciplinary STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) approach to develop a lesson on creating ceramic filters from Maine clay.  She demonstrated how to create a filter for the group and received helpful feedback from the teachers on how they might adapt the lesson to use with their own students.

Later in the week, Studio Manger Reeder Fahnestock discussed how to repair electric kiln elements and thermocouples. He explained how to tackle basic repairs and helped the group better understand the inner workings of electric kilns.

Each day after lunch, teachers shared lesson plans and/or ideas with one another. Some seemed reluctant to share at first, but they received enthusiastic support and encouragement from their colleagues.

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Participants share a meal

The group’s final day in session was filled with excitement as participants unloaded their final glaze kilns. Many tests, experiments and creations were “oohed” and “ahhed” over, and last minute notes were taken before the artists parted ways. Perhaps the most valuable part of the residency was the community that formed so quickly. It was clear that participants developed friendships and contacts that will benefit them personally and professionally for years to come.

We are grateful to The Belvedere Traditional Handcrafts Fund of the Maine Community Foundation, who provided support for the session. We also extend a special thanks to the art educators who put so much of themselves into teaching the next generation of artists. It was a pleasure to work with all of you!

Why Watershed’s Fall Residency is for You!

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During the Fall Residency, a dynamic group of artists forms a close community over the six-week session that runs from September 6 to mid October 14. Artists have continuous studio access, comfortable living accommodations, and full use of Watershed’s kilns, kitchen, and other facilities. There are no deadlines or requirements, just time and space to create and experiment. Each resident artist decides on a structure that works for him or her. Here are a few great reasons to join the residency this fall:


It provides time to complete a project or commission

Residencies_2Some artists come to Watershed to work on a specific project that would be challenging to complete when surrounded by the distractions of daily life. The residency provides ideal conditions to focus on your work while receiving support from a small community of artists. 


It’s a great opportunity to build your portfolio

Organize-a-residency-3Having six weeks of solid work time proves invaluable for those interested in creating a cohesive body of work. Plus, whether you’re applying to juried exhibitions, graduate school, other residencies or post-bac programs, or simply furthering your practice, you’ll have artists at all stages of their careers working alongside you to help generate ideas and provide feedback.


It’s a chance to connect with others

...the space encourages participating artists to exchange ideas and offer each other feedback and support.

After completing formal schooling, artists and craftspeople have few opportunities to work in group settings. The Fall Residency gives you the chance to form an engaged community with other makers. Throughout the session, a number of additional artists come to Watershed to participate in workshops and group firings. Many fall residents develop professional and personal friendships during their time at Watershed that last for life. 


It’s a place to focus

Organize-a-residency-2Maybe you have an idea that you’ve wanted to explore or you want to recommit to your creative work, but life keeps getting in the way. There are errands to run, chores to do, and social or family obligations that keep you out of the studio. The Fall Residency offers the chance to get away and find the necessary time and space to devote to making work without distraction.


It’s the most beautiful time of year in Maine!


Don’t tell the tourists, but September and October are (arguably) Maine’s most splendid months. The crowds are gone and you can explore the beaches, lakes, mountains, and coastline without fighting traffic or crowds. Numerous fall festivals and celebrations provide a great opportunity to get to know the area, including many events within the arts and crafts community.

Are you ready to sign up? Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis. The residency runs from September 6 to October 14. Click here to learn more and apply!



Summer Days at the ‘Shed

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We can’t believe how fast the summer is going!  So many talented and dynamic artists have brought energy and life into the studios during the first three summer sessions.  Currently, we have a group of K-12 ceramics teachers here for a one week session and the studio is buzzing with activity and ideas.  We wanted to share a few studio shots (with a couple of scenic vistas for good measure) as we look forward to the final two sessions of the summer.

5 Reasons to Organize a Residency

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Every year, several of Watershed’s summer residency sessions are organized by artists—who propose a theme related to clay and recruit several other artists to join them for a 2-week residency. We call these Artists Invite Artist (AIA) sessions. The lead artist and group of invited artists collectively shape a creative retreat without the pressure and preparation involved in leading a typical workshop. We’ve compiled a list of the 5 best reasons to organize a residency:












As an AIA Leader, you invite 4-8 artists to participate in the residency with you.  6-10 other artists join the session, drawn by a shared interest in the theme. 




Some groups like to plan wood firings, cup swaps and group trips.  Others like open-ended time with no plan – it’s up to you!




Members of your AIA group get 15% off their residency fees.  Everyone likes a bargain!




100,000 tourists from Massachusetts and New Jersey can’t be wrong!



Beast Feast Slide II

Need we say more?

Watershed is accepting applications to organize a 2017 residency until June 15, 2016. 




Meet Liz Hafey: Watershed’s 2016 Salad Days Artist

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Liz HafeyLiz Hafey spent last summer at Watershed, making over 500 plates for this year’s Salad Days.  Liz completed her BFA at Massachusetts College of Art in 2013 and earned a post baccalaureate certificate from UMass Darmouth in 2014. She spent the following year participating in residencies at Truro Center for the Arts in Massachusetts and The Cub Creek Foundation in Virginia.  She also apprenticed with Andrew Appleby, a master potter in Orkney, Scotland. 

The relationship between the natural world and the built environment is central to Liz’s work. Through her studio practice, she strives to reinterpret the impact of nature’s influence on human-made structures and objects. 

Hafey PlatesFrom a young age, Liz was fascinated by industrial and urban decay she found in and around her home town in Connecticut. “Growing up on the New England coast, I encountered rusty washed-up boats and buoys on the beach, houses overgrown with grasses and fractured by tree roots,” she explains. “To me, seeing man-made environments overtaken by nature is a beautiful version of alchemy.”

During her time at Watershed, Liz was able to continue exploring the Atlantic coastline and found inspiration for her plates in the colors and forms of discarded lobster pots and vintage boat hulls scattered along the shore.

At first glance, Liz’s plates evoke the bright color palette of 1950’s mass-produced kitchen wares and vehicles.  However, the fiesta-ware feel of the surfaces is interrupted by Liz’s decorative details that expose Watershed’s terracotta earthenware clay, highlighting the handmade nature of the work and referencing the rusty brown of antique rivets and bolts.

Meet Liz and take home one of her colorful plates on Salad Days, Saturday, July 9 and visit her website to learn more about her work.

Exploring the Figure: Creative Growth and Expression

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Summer Residency Session VI, August 14-26, has been organized by Lisa Merida-Paytes and will feature guest artist Kelly Rathbone.  Paytes shared insights into the development of the session theme and the plans she has for the residency. 


Kelly Rathbone

When I proposed this residency, I had three things in mind; to escape the daily practices that overwhelmed me, to have uninterrupted time in the studio and to work along side other artists I admire.

This unique residency grew from those ideas and brings a diverse group of sculptors to a salon-centered session where they will work perceptually and expressively using a live model. The residency will allow the group to discuss contemporary figuration while working in a classical format not often found in the ceramic community.

During the residency, the artists will work with live models during morning and afternoon sessions, in order to explore the figure through diverse approaches, materials and concepts. The rest of the time the artists have to interpret the figure poses into their own work. This particular group of artists’ work ranges from wheel thrown and large hand built ceramic forms to mixed media installations, all inspired by the figure. Thus the techniques used will range from solid modeling to hollowing, and construction using coil, slabs and the wheel.  We plan to hold group discussions and critiques as we learn from one another in the studio.


Lisa Merida-Paytes

About the Session Leader:

Lisa Merida-Paytes holds an M.F.A. from the University of Cincinnati (1997) and a B.F.A. from the Art Academy of Cincinnati (1991). She has exhibited her work regionally, nationally and internationally for the past 19 years.


Alone Together: An Invitation to Collaborate; Guest Post by Lauren Herzak-Bauman

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Summer Residency Session V, July 31-August 12, 2016, has been organized by Lauren Herzak-Bauman.  Here she shares her process for choosing the session theme and plans she has for the 2 weeks at Watershed.  A limited number of spaces are still available in this session.  Register here or apply for a scholarship to attend.

Several years ago, a good friend of mine, Casey McDonough, invited me to join the Romantic Robots, a collective of artists connected by the common threads found amongst their work in clay. In 2012, the Romantic Robots attended a residency together, with the intention to collaborate on studio projects and plan an exhibition. We learned that we not only enjoyed each other’s work but we also enjoyed working together. One evening, over tacos, after a mini storm and a double rainbow, we found ourselves scribbling out charts and patterns for a small sculpture exchange and group exhibition. This small seed of an idea sprouted an ambitious collaborative show that included over 200 small-scale ceramic sculptures.

Romantic Robots

Pieces by The Romantic Robots

Ceramics as a medium encourages collaboration. Firing a wood kiln is a perfect example of the collaborative physical labor and mental power needed to get a good result. But how does one collaborate within their work, something that can seem like such an individual endeavor? What happens when we make the communal nature of the process the focus of the work? And what happens once the collaboration is over? These questions inspired me to organize a Watershed residency and explore the impetus to collaborate.

I attended a residency at Watershed once before in 2003. It was the summer before my last year in undergraduate school and I found myself questioning my next steps. Watershed provided me with a beautiful and safe space in which to work out ideas and clarify my goals. Thirteen years later, I’m thrilled to return to Watershed and lead a residency focused on collaboration. The Romantic Robots will also reunite at the residency and we are looking forward to sharing ideas with other artists and seeing where the two weeks takes us.

Field, Cropped

Field by Lauren Herzak-Bauman

I encourage session participants to come with an open mind and explore how their personal practice changes through collaboration. In advance of the residency, I will send out materials and readings to better prepare for the session. I will come armed with books, more readings, discussion topics, and studio plans to help us work collaboratively. I look forward to seeing how our processes merge and how each artist’s work develops over the two weeks together.

Any artist is welcome to join Session V.  Click here to  register for the session or apply for a scholarship.

Reflections on the Farm & Fire Fellowship

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Last July, Rebecca Zucker lived and worked at Watershed and neighboring Dandelion Spring Farm as part of our new Farm & Fire Fellowship program. The fellowship enables college juniors and seniors to explore their dual interests in farming and ceramic art while living at Watershed. Zucker and two other fellows spent half their workdays assisting in the Watershed studios and the other half working in the fields and gardens next door at the farm. Zucker shared her thoughts on the fellowship with us:


Rebecca Zucker

My experience working at Watershed and Dandelion Spring Farm changed the way I think about myself, the way I work, and the things I care about. I grew mindful of Brick Hill Road (the dirt road shared by Watershed and the farm) as a fertile space where people come to work in earnest–where the work is tied to the rich soil and clay of the area and to the energetic and generous communities that flourish there.

Watershed welcomes artists at all stages in their careers. We joined one another as peers, sharing space, materials, and ideas. It was easy to approach someone I didn’t know and discover we had much in common during a casual conversation. Over the course of the residency, my experience working with the studio staff emboldened me to take on unfamiliar projects and helped me develop new skills, confidence and connections.

IMG_6722I had never worked on a farm before, but I took to it quickly and was warmly welcomed into the community. My intuition and hand-skills used in the clay studio easily transferred to farm work as I found a rhythm in the repetition of seeding and picking. The farm crew consisted of bright women from all over the country and world who were willing to answer my questions and help me gain familiarity with the tools and chores. I looked forward to walking down the hill each afternoon to find Dixie, the farm’s pet lamb, curled in Brie’s lap or to learn about medicinal plants from Beth in the herb garden.

IMG_6707-600x450Some of my favorite moments occurred when life at the art residency and farm bled together. I loved finding cucumbers, squash, and garlic scapes on the Watershed dinner table, knowing that we had harvested them just days or hours earlier for a truly farm-to-table meal. Conversations about food over a lunch at Watershed spurred resident artists to visit me in the greenhouses after our meal and find inspiration from the forms and tastes of the farm. Some evenings, the farm apprentices would come visit me in the studio for a post-dinner wheel throwing lesson. Farmers and artists would often gather around the campfire, sharing stories and ideas late into the night.

I particularly responded to the sense of community found on Brick Hill Road, and to the similar ways that ceramic artists and farmers use their hands to process earthen material and create from it. Working with the soil produces a similar magic to watching an object take form on the wheel–tiny seeds germinate as their energy pushes through the earth to generate something new. These parallel experiences informed my creative practice during the residency and I anticipate that they will contribute to further developments in my life and work in the future, as will the community that I found during my time in Maine.

Watershed is accepting applications from current college juniors and seniors to participate in the Farm & Fire Fellowship program in July of 2016.  Application deadline is March 31.

Learn more & apply


Bringing Bricks to Life

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This past fall, artist and architect Tim Mitchell paid homage to Watershed’s history as a waterstruck brick making facility by creating a body of work based on the old wooden brick molds found piled high on the ground floor of the Watershed studio.

Mitchell developed an interest in the molds as a summer artist-in-residence in 2013. When he decided to return for last year’s fall residency, he did not have a set plan, but he knew he wanted to pursue a project that utilized the molds.

“I looked at the process as an experiment, realizing there would be many variables that I had to grapple with as I went along,” Mitchell explained.

He spent the initial days of the residency taking stock of the variety of mold shapes and sizes, and ultimately decided to work with the uniquely shaped custom molds that had been used for cornices, arches and friezes. He also visited the Morin Brick Company in Auburn, ME to learn more about the brick-making process.

He then experimented with traditional methods of making waterstruck brick, which utilizes a relatively wet clay body. However, the drying process proved challenging in Maine’s humid September weather, just as it did for Watershed’s original brick makers. After several days of waiting for bricks that weren’t drying, Mitchell decided to put the solid pieces aside and construct works from slab that matched the dimensions of the molds. As the work continued to evolve, Mitchell also added sculptural elements and cut away pieces from the forms.  

When it came to choosing a surface treatment, Mitchell chose to experiment with mason stains. His table was covered with an array of stains as he mixed colors in yogurt cups, arranging and re-arranging the pairings of colors.

“I don’t usually use a lot of color in my work, so I spent lots of time playing with color combinations before applying the stains to the sculptures. I felt like a kid in school again using the color wheel as much as I did,” Mitchell said.

Before the end of the residency, some of the cast bricks finally dried enough to be transformed into sculptures as well. The resulting work is in two series, one made of hand-built slabs and another of solid units cast directly from the Watershed molds.

The final pieces reference their architectural origins but also have playful figurative elements. Mitchell refers to the works as “creatures,” noting their life-like qualities and obvious personality.  Plans are underway to mount an exhibition of Mitchell’s pieces and he continues to work on the project in his own studio.

See more photos of Mitchell’s sculptures.