Surface to Surface

Surface to Surface is a two-week intensive workshop, immersing students in surface decoration and pattern development through a variety of decorative techniques. Through slide lectures presented by celebrated ceramics educator, Walter Ostrom, the class will examine the use of decoration across time and cultures. Acclaimed ceramic artist, Ursula Hargens, will lead the group in daily demonstrations and experimentation with slips, underglaze, stains, and glazes. We will discuss strategies for pattern generation, unifying form and surface, and developing decorative motifs that are personal. We will explore and combine a wide array of techniques, including inlay, trailing, resist, and overglaze painting at each stage of the ceramic process. The workshop will also provide students with one-on-one critiques. We will use low-fire, earthenware materials, but many of the techniques and concepts covered can be applied to higher temperatures. Walter Ostrom and Ursula Hargens will present a public lecture on their art practice. This is an advanced class, experience necessary.


Students should bring:

  • Tools for throwing and handbuilding (ribs, sponge, pin tool, wire tool, wooden knife)
  • Fettling knife
  • Square ruler (12” or larger)
  • Sgraffito tool (Kemper wire loop tool or Kemper wire stylus detailing tool)
  • Exacto knife
  • Scissors
  • Decorative stamps or punches (large sized and simple scrapbooking punches are especially good)
  • Soft, hake brush (1.5, 2 or 3” wide. Often sell at ceramic supply stores or Blick for encaustic painting. The brush should be around $10. Don’t buy an expensive one!)
  • 3-6 brushes (1 small round + others of different widths and softness)
  • Fine tipped permanent marker
  • Pencils
  • Drawing pad (9×12” with pages that can be removed)
  • Hand towel
  • Apron
  • Images of own work (we will have a class presentation of work so digital images are best)
  • (optional) A few pieces of own work
  • Images of surface design (wallpaper, pottery decoration, fabric patterns)
  • Images of 1-5 of your favorite pots

About Walter Ostrom, CM, and Ursula Hargens:

About Walter Ostrom, CM,
Emeritus Professor Ceramics NSCAD

In 1997, he was awarded an Honorary Professorship at the Jingdezhen Ceramics Institute in Jingdezhen, Jianxi Province, People’s Republic of China. On February 5, 2007 he was invested into the Order of Canada in recognition of his teaching and creativity in ceramics. In November 2008 he was given the Portia White Award in recognition of his leading contribution to the arts in Nova Scotia. In 2014 he was appointed a Regis Master at the Northern Clay Center in Minneapolis, MN. Ostrom was appointed a ’Life Fellow’ in ceramics by NSCAD University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, at it’s spring 2017 convocation. An outstanding educator, he is committed to Craft practice and theory.

Walter is regarded internationally and in Canada as a technical and academic expert in low-fire maiolica, an ancient ceramic technique that he has personally tailored through innovations and decorative methods to reflect the geography of the places where he has lived, whether Nova Scotia or the Far East. His body of work has developed across many aspects of ceramics in the span of a nearly 50-year career, from experiments in high conceptualism in the 1970s to a contemporary focus on the exploration of the vast history, hybridization and social foundation of ceramics.
He has extensively exhibited and lectured internationally. His work has appeared in numerous books and periodicals. His work has been collected by many public collections, including the Museum of Civilization, Ottawa, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

About Ursula Hargens

Ursula Hargens is a ceramic artist and educator in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. She is co-founder and Program Head of Minnesota New Institute for Ceramic Education (MN NICE), an advanced certificate program in ceramics, developed in collaboration with Northern Clay Center. She received a MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University; a MA in Art & Art Education from Columbia University, Teachers College; and studied ceramics at Nova Scotia College of Art & Design (NSCAD). In addition to working as a studio artist, she has taught at art centers and universities throughout the United States, including the University of Minnesota, Haystack Mountain School of Craft, Maine, and The Chautauqua Institution, New York. She is a three-time McKnight Artist Fellow and has received additional awards from the Jerome Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board.