Sunday, October 2, 2011

Patrick L. Dougherty Sinks And Sconce Workshop That I Attended

I try to maximize the vacation days I get, so I use them as sparingly as possible.  I like the end of the year to come around and still be able to count some days to spend on broadening my horizons.  My favorite way to spend a vacation day is to take an out of town workshop. 

There are many reasons to attend a workshop.  It takes very little effort to learn something you've been wanting to know how to do.  With an open mind you can even learn something unexpected and make a real breakthrough in your personal artistic journey. 

Sadly, it's been quite some time since I attended any ceramics workshops.  As my pendulum of interest has been swinging back towards pottery I felt it was time to refocus, catch up on current events and reinvest in the pottery side of my studio.  I hunted down a few workshops that would fit my interests and my fall schedule. 

 The first place that I looked for inspiration was from Patrick L. Dougherty of Cincinnati, Ohio, my former university pottery professor who has lived his life as a studio potter and whose work continues to be more
Patrick L. Dougherty working on  bowl sink
double wall sink

double wall sink with mirror and dispenser

exquisite with each passing year.  He is a great teacher, so I was pleased to discover he conducts workshops.  I have been interested in Architectural Ceramics, but I was amazed he was offering a Sinks and Sconces workshop, two items I have never even imagined making.  In two days' time we covered bowl sinks, drop in sinks and pedestal sinks, then, once these were well under way, we also worked on a set of sconces that were shaping up nicely.

Patrick L. Dougherty and I are about to set the slab.

While there wasn't time over just two days for attendees to make a sink to take home, I learned The fine points of what I needed to know to make a sink on my own. Sinks are a fantastic large scale functional ceramic form that will help me expand and explore in a new direction.  It's been years since I worked with such large surface areas, so it's a new way to go back to large scale work, and the unique function opens up new possibilities for exploring forms, surfaces and decoration.
Drop in sink with overflow and bowl sink

To say that Pat's pottery is a source of artistic inspiration is an understatement.  I have no doubt that the value of his past and present work will grow in leaps and bounds.  It has to.  He is not a minimal effort person.  He is one of the few people I know who are not trying to make more by doing less.  So many people I know working in the Arts tend toward either technical skill on one end of the spectrum or else expressive decoration on the other end.  Patrick Dougherty defines and fills a spectrum all by himself.  His technical knowledge and craftsmanship is impeccable and his artistic decoration is vivid and unstinting.  The totality of his work is amazing.  Photos can not do it justice, but if you want to see more of his work check out his web site at

I have learned many things from Patrick -- and there is not enough room here to cover all of it -- but his attention to detail is permanently etched into my mind.  In the case of the sinks, it is amazing to see the care that he places on details that only the plumber will ever see. Another thing he demonstrated is how, in large functional work, the thickness of the piece needs to be increased proportionately.  I've always been a make-it-as-thin-as-possible type of a potter and I've run into disasters when I wouldn't allow myself enough clay to support the mass of what I was trying to make.  Pat, of course, has studied, developed and tested production methods that work beyond the conventional wisdom of introductory pottery workshops.
Bowl sink with faucet coming out the mirror.

But the topic is never just the pot with Pat.  It's the mindset and the dedication to the craft.  His workshop style was fluid, fast and interactive.  While he was very considerate of the needs of the workshop attendees to grasp a functional knowledge of what he was demonstrating, he went beyond and got inside my head and challenged me to recognize personal barriers I've put in place that have kept me from accomplishing more.  Without his probing insight I would have continued to think that the Answer was to be found in a different material or method.  I've been to many hyped-up business "Success Seminars" without effect.  Coming away from his workshop I feel capable of being more of me. 
 I can't wait until I can attend another of Patrick's workshops.  Whatever the topic may be, I am ready to learn!  In the meantime, I am pumped to do something new.   


  1. Sounds like a fabulous workshop from a great teacher. Impressive, beautiful and inspiring sinks!

  2. How fortunate for you to have had such an inspiring teacher, and it sounds like it was a great workshop. I probably could have used a workshop like this when I made a simple bowl sink (carved and decorated of course:) when we renovated a bathroom in our home. It works, but I made it way too small! I definitely will be making another. Thanks for the great post!