Revered ceramics instructor Jane Rekedal retires this summerby Jan Janes on Jul 6, 2018
Happy is the potter in the warmth of a ceramics studio, surrounded by familiar tools and supportive colleagues, creating the next inventive, sculptural idea.
For almost 40 years, Jane Rekedal has guided Gavilan College students through this creative process. Her guidance comes to an end this summer.
The mood in the studio? Upbeat, with a dash of bittersweet.
"I became acquainted with Jane Rekedal when she was teaching classes in Morgan Hill, back in 2005," said Kimberly Liese. "Jane is a terrific ceramics instructor. And much, much more. This a deep community she has built."
Every student echoed that sentiment, no matter when they were enrolled in classes.
Cindy Blanton holds 'Work in Progress' in the Gavilan College ceramics studio.
"I've been taking ceramics classes on and off for years," said Blanton.
"Cindy is an artist, a painter," Rekedal stated, admiringly.
"But I don't throw," said Blanton. So, Rekedal countered, just make something by hand.
"And because of taking classes with Jane, now I throw," said Blanton.
Hang out in the ceramics studio, and dozens of conversations flow just like that one.
As a demo for a student, ceramics instructor Jane Rekedal added to the
top of a thrown bowl, then shaped the bowl's foot.
Rekedal stepped into the teaching position when two adjunct faculty worked for two years each, then moved on. After almost four decades teaching, she will scale back to working in her own studio, Family Gooey Pottery Studio.
"Without this job, I might have become a hermit, just working in my own studio," she said. "It has been interesting, working with the students. Plus the gift of seeing all their ideas."
Sophie Lastra discovered ceramics in 2016, her final year at Gavilan before transferring to UCSC.
"Jane sits down with you, helps you the whole way," said Lastra. "She is willing to give demos all the time, and to work through ideas you have, open to students with her wisdom and knowledge."
Lastra worked at the UCSC foundry, and before then at the SJSU foundry. "It's great to put a functional piece of art into someone's daily life."
Katie Johnson, master glazer and ceramics studio volunteer, examines the results
of the glazed avocados for her ceramic fruit bowl.
Rekedal established the volunteer program in the ceramics studio as students maxxed out taking the available classes. Arriving when the class does, before for prep or staying late, studio volunteers manage a number of tasks – loading or emptying the kiln, cleaning equipment, preparing materials, working one-on-one with new students–that free the instructor to focus on individual instruction in the classes.
Ceramics student Tracey Torres etches designs in slip, a technique
called sgrifitto, on a hand built bowl.
After showing a new student how to throw a basic form and experience a
successful first time on the wheel, Jacqueline Kiel works on a pitcher.
"She's the most informative ceramics teacher," said Reba Oswald. "She shows, tells, demo's. Plus lets you be an individual, doesn't try to mold you."
Sophie Lastra strategically fills the kiln at the Gavilan College ceramics studio.
Once completely filled, student work will transform from matte finish to
reflective glazed works.
"Unloading the kiln after firing is like opening a really big present," said Lastra.