NCECA is going to be a blast! The pic above shows the rotunda of the Wisconsin Center, the main convention space. There are MANY off site locations. The exhibitions that are going on in and around Milwaukee are just as important as what happens inside the center. 

Typical of a clay worker, I am making my tools and my plan. I know it won’t turn out exactly as I plan, but it doesn’t need to. Even though the daffodils are putting out green leaves here in southern Illinois, unpredictable weather is typical in southern Wisconsin in March. I will be bringing lots of layers for a few days of snowstorms or freezing rain. My list includes a winter coat, a scarf,  two pair of mittens, two winter hats, and a dry change of shoes. Also, it helps to have a plan to dry ice-encrusted outer clothing. Besides that, I will be keeping half an eye on my friends. Because weather can change quickly, it's good to have a plan about getting back to your hotel before a night out.

One of my most important tools for the conference is my itinerary. It is based on the conference program and exhibition guide PDFs from the website. NCECA always has many great topics, workshops, and panels that overlap. It is not possible to see all the topics that are most relevant to your work. Planning ahead lets you make your best guess.

Apparently, the demos, presentations, and exhibitions can all blur together into a chaotic and confusing swirl. Printing out a copy of the program an exhibition list will help me make the most of the event. Here’s an abbreviated list of what I plan to see and do:

Wednesday, March, 19th, 2014:

9am-1pm:  Check in to the exhibition hall and help set up the SIUC table in the Resource Hall (Hall A.) Drop off a cup for the 22nd Annual Cup Sale (Room 201 A-B.) Roam and attend Gallery Expo talks.

This morning’s bus tour visits Kohler, Sheboygan, Lynden, and Vanguard. I won’t be taking this tour, but I may have to carve out time to visit the Kohler Design Center (101 Upper Rd., Kohler, WI) and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (608 New York Ave., Sheboygan, WI, 920-457-6144,

1-5pm: Hang out at the SIUC table in the resource hall.

6pm-7pm: NCECA for New Members by Cindy Bracker (102 A-C)

7-7:15: Opening Ceremonies/Welcome (Ballroom)

Thursday, March 20th, 2014:

8-9:30am:  Roundtable Discussion: Handle as Bridge: Creativity, Learning, and Purpose (Ballroom C) This roundtable springs from a great quote from the popular book RED BRICK BLACK MOUNTAIN WHITE CLAY which I thoroughly enjoyed reading the summer before I started grad school.

9am-12pm: Michelle Erickson and Ayumi Horie Demonstrations (Hall B)

Lots of demonstration, panels, and workshops to choose from

5-9pm: Flow, bus tour of exhibitions. (Route B Central) For me, the highlight of this tour may be seeing new wood-fired work by some of my favorite Wisconsin potters at the Frank Sadler Gallery. It is a must-see show on my list!

Friday, March 21st, 2014:

10:45-11:45am: 50 Friends: a Platform to Discuss Digital Communities with Cindy Bracker (102 E) I will be there to learn more about blogging on crafthaus and NCECA.

2-2:30pm: Relief Printing on Clay Using Soft-Kut Linoleum and Polymer Plates by Leanne McClurg Cambric (Ballroom A)

3:15-4:45pm: Panel: Where Are the Studio Potter’s? by Mary Ann Steggles(m), Tony Clennell, Lisa Hammond, Mark Hewitt. I am hoping to hear Lisa Hammond talk about her efforts towards a pottery apprenticeship program in England.

5-6:00pm: Using a Die Cutter for Ceramics by Linda Arbuckle. This shop-talk group may easily be my most important hour at NCECA, since I am working with the same technologies.

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014:

8:30-11am: Merchandise Sales in the Main Lobby ends at 11 today.

10:35-11:35am: Closing Lecture: A Passion for Clay by Cynthia Bringle. I am so excited to be able to hear her speak!

My schedule is much more detailed than this. To make it all possible, I will be driving so that I can visit galleries as my schedule allows. Plus, I will be able to spend as much time as I need to see the work. The galleries can be very packed during the bus tours, which happen daily and in the evening. Viewing can be rushed on the tours. However, the Thursday evening Flow bus tour has many gallery openings on it, which means that many of the artists and gallery owners will be there. Also, the bus tour has a positive energy of its own. I plan to see as many of the exhibitions as I can. Had I needed to fly in, I would consider renting a car or sharing cab rides in addition to taking the bus tours.

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