Artisan Lab

Liz Hand FaviconArtisan Lab encourages craftswomen & men “to do a thing well for its own sake”. Through direct experience, participants build skill to invent their futures. “Learning-by-doing” develops self-esteem, perseverance and patience. The belief that direct experience builds a balanced and versatile mind and nurtures the ineffable is a guiding principle. The experiential learning of Artisan Lab blends appropriate technology & traditional skills to fire the subtle geometry of self-reliance. Myriad facets of individual intelligence, guide hands and mind to build community & compassion.

Our Mission is to inspire personal growth by blending craftsmanship and technology—model the benefits of experiential education and learning, stimulate the creativity of local and global communities, and serve all races, genders and ethnicities.

Artisan Lab is a place where losing track of time—either making or pondering countless other abstractions—is expected and welcomed. It is a place to explore personal aspirations normally impeded by the rumble and roar of your everyday life.  A place to receive experienced support doing what you have never done before—or doing what you already do well—in a fresh & positively distracting circumstance. A sometimes busy, frequently quiet environment with abundant resources to facilitate creating your seminal ideas. A functionally organized or energetically messy make-it space jammed with tools and materials: as rum to a sailor or nip to a cat.

Friend and Apprentice Nancy Werth — Sink Detailing
Friend and Apprentice Nancy Werth — Sink Detailing

With Kurt Hahn’s example—if we can find a way to “encourage both thought and action—not one or the other” we will sleep well.  Artisan Lab is an unconventional educational—we are a mentor-facilitator type of place—how-can-we-help-without-mangling-your-pudding enterprise. Our goal is to fan your smoldering spark—to be your friend and collaborator. We will honor and tease you. Should intuition prove ineffable, we will (nevertheless) provoke it.

Though Artisan Lab is intensely focused on ceramic media & processes  our scope, in terms of materials and equipment and attitude—is diverse and inclusive. Though it may seem an oxymoron—we are Artisan Engineers who see that product (whether machine- or hand-made) is the result of process. Materials, tools, and sequence create result. Custom tooling (including our fingers and toes) create unique processes and unique results.

A curious creature  Artisan Lab is not for everyone. We are certainly not against conventional education, but our experiential basis emphasizes a mind/hand focus. This is not conventional. We will support you in myriad ways, but you will be responsible for the success of your experience and enterprise. We believe path (active learning) is always more important than result. We are not inclined to teach or inspire, but rather to listen and encourage and collaborate. This does not mean we will not support you with 50 years of tool and material experience! But first, we will be responsive to your needs and we will do our best to avoid imposing counter-productive expectations. In the spirit of collaboration, we expect to learn as much from you as you will receive in turn. As pip-squeak, polymath, autodidacts, we encourage you to wander the cracks beyond convention with us.

Artisan Engineer Dan Weaver — Tig Welding Double Auger Pug Mill

Artisan Lab Programs — offer opportunities to practice thinking and making as you interact with a community of others doing the same. Our Residency and Workshop programs explore the gap between thought and action—so we may experientially understand the powerful interface—and fluently use them together.

“I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self denial, and above all, compassion.”
— Kurt Hahn

“Kids 50 years ago were information-poor and experience-rich.  They worked on the farm, or with their fathers as fishermen, they mended nets and hauled traps. Now they’re information-rich and experience-poor. As Justice Douglas put it, ‘Our culture turns out doctors of philosophy but no philosophers.'”
— Lance Lee

“We believe that experience leads directly to the development of character traits such as will, resourcefulness, patience, excellence, perseverance, and a practiced, rather than professed integrity.”
— Lance Lee

It takes courage to do what you want. Other people have a lot of plans for you. Nobody wants you to do what you want to do. They want you to go on their trip, but you can do what you want.
— Joseph Campbell