Anne Currier, Professor Emerita,
Alfred University -
After years of teaching ceramic materials courses in a traditional classroom lecture, Matt Katz developed and designed the Ceramic Materials Workshop specifically for online educational access. These innovative courses have proved highly successful; student evaluations consistently praised Matt for his knowledge of ceramic materials and their applications and applauded him for his concise and personable presentation of challenging technical content. The online format proved exceptionally conducive to robust group interaction and discussion. I highly recommend these classes.
John Lipsky -
Matt gives an outstanding workshop. We just finished a 3 day workshop at Wesleyan Potters in Middletown, CT and my head is spinning from all that I learned, especially learning that there is so much more to learn.
Saila Milja-Smyly -
So you want to make some pancakes, and following your recipe, start by mixing and measuring pancake mixes from five different boxes because you have a vague idea that one of them contributes some egg, the other some milk derivative, and yet another some baking soda, and that all have some proportion of flour. Not! Because you want waffles instead, and reach for some of the same boxes but have to run to the store because the recipe calls for a boxed mix that has the same ingredients but in different proportions. That’s what I was doing with my glazes by merely trying to find and follow recipes based on composite raw materials, before learning here how to mix glazes based on the UMF. Now, after taking the brief introductory class and the first full glaze class, I can start with my own idea of what I want the glazed surface to look and feel like, tailor the recipe for my electric cone 8 single-firing process, and use those materials that work best to achieve the specific result. I’m also making more work because glaze testing and development takes so much less time now. These classes are packed with more information I could have ever hoped for, and I’m looking forward to the next semester already!
Soojin Choi -
For me, this class really helped me to understand about ceramics, especially glazes. I'm a beginner in ceramics, so I was really curious a lot of things in glaze. I just mixed glazes based on formula before because I didn't know about anything. But now, I understand about chemistry in the glaze and know it better and use it better! Just I hoped the class to be longer because I needed more time to understand each lecture before next one started. As international student and who doesn't have basic chemistry information, it was little bit tough haha. But I'm really glad that I took this class and learn a lot of things about glazes. And I like so much how Matt Katz, who is the professor in this class, taught about chemistry and basic information of glazes. I really hope to take another class (maybe about clay) next time with him.
Sarah Snavely - greyhoundsculptor.com -
I found out about the availability of this class on Facebook. I was amazed to have this opportunity to sign up and learn online. I live in a small town in southwestern North Dakota. It is both rural and remote (180 miles to the nearest Starbuck's kind of remote). I've taken all the ceramics classes offered by the nearest college, Dickinson State University. Of course, they don't offer enough classes and, while the instructor does her best, the depth of knowledge is what it is.
This class was so valuable to me and the experience was beyond my expectations. The opportunity to take a class like this from a respected institution with a knowledgeable and thoughtful instructor from my computer at home so beneficial.
I loved the way Matt Katz structured this learning experience. If I didn't understand the concepts I'd re-watch power point lectures (sometimes over and over). I loved that I could post questions on the discussion board, that they were answered quickly and that I had the opportunity to discuss those questions (and hear other student's questions) on the twice-a-week google hangout online meetings.
If another online ceramics class is offered I would love to take it. I'm going to tell all of my clay friends to take this class! What a fabulous experience.
Derek Au - Glazy.org -
These past few years of exploring glazes felt like wondering around a strange city without a map. I bought glaze books that offered some great recipes, but I felt I was just sightseeing. Through thousands of tests, I gradually became familiar with various neighborhoods like Celadon and Iron Red. But what I really needed was a vantage point from which I could see where I was and how the various regions related to one another. Of course such a "map" already exists- UMF and the Si/Al Stull Chart. While there are many books and websites that explain how the basics of UMF, the explanations are often dry and technical. It wasn't until I listened to Matt's lectures and talks that I began to truly understand things. I now have a "map", and my glazes have vastly improved.
Sue McLeod -
3 years ago, I was a lonely, confused and frustrated studio potter. Signing up for glaze calc with Matthew Katz was the beginning of a real purpose in my life and set me down a very specific lifelong path of learning. I wouldn't want it any other way. So much to learn. I think my life would end if I ran out of things to learn or even the desire to learn them.
Justin Crowe -
Matt Katz is not only a brilliant glaze chemist, but he is an artist. This makes him sympathetic to ridiculous requests for material performance and quality standards (but how to I make the porcelain WHITER?!?!). Matt helped my memorial product company create a glaze made from cremated remains. The glaze went on to be featured on the Today show, the Guardian, NPR, BBC, The Times London and more. We could not have done it without him. I highly recommend his expertise.
John Tilton - John Tilton Pottery -
I have been taking a couple of online glaze courses, and am really happy about them, and want to let people who are interested in glazes know about them.
I think Ted Secombe said it best when he said, "I am not a chemist, I am a cook." That probably describes most of us -- we learn to add and subtract materials and we develop a collection of recipes that work for us. And this cooking is an incredible tool, because we develop a feel for what materials do, and we learn how to use our particular ones, which are often unlike ones with the same name.
This course is about another tool, one which allows us to understand the structure of the glaze from the perspective of chemistry. It is taught by Matt Katz of Ceramic Materials Workshop, who also teaches glazes at Alfred University, a unique place, in that it is renown in both Ceramic Art and Ceramic Engineering.
I think Matt is an exceptional teacher. He is able to explain things in a clear way and his enthusiasm is infectious. He really knows a lot. I have no way of quantifying this because I'm not there yet. But a lot. He has devoted his life to this. The videos are very enjoyable.
So what am I learning? I learned how to calculate the Unity Molecular Formula for a glaze, learned how to use the automatic UMF Calculator that he provides, so that I don't have to do that calculation too many times, but most of all, there is a chart that was developed by R.T Stull in 1912, and if you look at the UMF on this chart, you have a good idea what the glaze is going to do, and if that turns out to be something that you don't want it to do, you have a path to nudge it in the correct direction.
Part of the course is looking at glaze faults, and this has also been helpful with my stoneware glazes. How to look at the basic ingredients of a glaze, and see the relationships that need to exist to have a strong, functional glaze. There is much more than this. I'm just trying to give an overview.
The courses I'm taking are "Glaze of our Lives," (Understanding Glazes for the Beginner), and "Glazed and Confused," (Understanding the Unity Molecular Formula).
They are introductory courses but I've been making pots for almost 50 years, and there was a lot there for me.
Owen Dearing - mugrevolution.com -
"I cannot say enough in regards to how amazing this is"
Read Owen's full review of his experience taking Introduction to Clays at his blog.
Sue McLeod -
Greetings from British Columbia,
I recently completed Matt Katz’s online Glaze Calc course and just wanted to express how valuable this course has been for me. The content of the course far exceeded my expectations and I am amazed at how much I learned in just a few months. He is a really great teacher and he really knows and cares about what he is talking about. That makes a huge difference for me. I’ve not been taught any glaze chemistry by someone who knew so much about it and feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity. There isn’t anyone teaching anything to do with ceramic science in the city where I live so in order to further my education, I would have had to move cities for a semester or two. I had already looked into this but unable to make the move at this time. The online format was such a great way to learn, especially with chemistry that sounds like a foreign language sometimes and I was able to go back and rewatch the videos, sometimes a few times over. I probably spent on average 6 hours on each 2 hour video, just to get through from start to finish and get all my notes written down. And only because there was so much information to take in, not because I wasn’t understanding it. The video interface was great, being able to type notes right into the timeline of the video and I have copied and pasted those notes into a document for myself. I’m sure I got a way better understanding from what I was learning than I would have in a regular face to face lecture. The Google Hangouts twice a week were really helpful too. What a great way to deal with questions, rather than solely by email. A face to face interaction with the teacher in a digital format course is a real asset to the overall feel of the course. Being able to check in and interact with other students was a nice touch too. It felt more like school than just taking any online course, which I have done in the past. I did really well in the course and am very pleased with every aspect of it. I hope there will be more courses in the future. I would love to take Matt’s level 2 glaze chemistry course as well as his clay course online. I also know some other people who would like to take the course I just took. Hopefully I will be notified if these classes or any other ceramics classes are being offered in the future. Thank you for this opportunity, it has really enriched my life and career path.
Ray West - Sequoia Pottery -
I have recently been taking online courses by "ceramics materials workshops" instructor, Matt Katz, a knowledgeable and effective communicator. Not the more advanced one yet, just the two more beginning ones. You'd think after almost 50 years of making pottery I wouldn't have much left to learn but you'd be wrong. Being mostly forced away from my workshop and home (although I get to go up today) appears to be developing a silver lining. The following is part of the discussion after one of the lectures:
"Just a couple of thoughts. Yes, we use mined material, we use energy to fire our work, and some of our materials are toxic, particularly by breathing, at the mine, in the communities around mines, in our workplaces, schools, homes, and communities. We contribute to the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, to airborne particulates, to methane leaks, to hydrocarbon emissions. Even though, as you say, artisan ceramics is a tiny, tiny part of the larger stream of these materials and pollution, we are in a special position because part of what we do is symbolic that has meaning beyond obvious function. We celebrate the elements, material culture, material itself, by suffusing them with beauty and meaning. What we do is important.
So here is what in part we can do to address these things. Make work that will last, that will not break or deteriorate unduly. Make glaze and clay that together are durable in themselves and in complementing each other. Make beautiful and /or meaningful work that will last and be appreciated for generations. Use local materials where possible. You pointed out that the vast majority of kaolin is used for paper in a modern infrastructure that does not need paper to communicate, as you are showing here.
This is the point. Thank you so much, Matthew Katz for these workshops, for potentially contributing to artisan ceramics' continuing journey into excellence. The time is right."