This month's feature......
Peep Show Comes to Clay Place at Standard
The latest show at Clay Place at Standard offers an eyeful for gallery goers and they don’t have to peer through a hole to see something beautiful and exciting. On display are nearly 100 uniquely created ceramic peep hole plugs. A peep hole plug is used to close off the small hole in the side of a kiln that allows one to check on the progress of a firing.
Five years ago, Skutt Ceramic Products, Inc. launched a contest for artists and students to make artistic peep hole plugs. Skutt’s David Gamble works with the company’s educational programs. Each year, he represents Skutt at a booth at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) and the National Arts Education Association (NAEA) conferences. "I always wanted to have some art in our booth, but the space is so small," he says. "So, about five years ago, we came up with the idea to make artistic peep hole plugs." Gamble asked a few potter friends to join him in creating interesting peep hole plugs, which he used as decoration at the Skutt booth. He distributed cards, announcing a contest for the following year. The idea was well-received.
Each year, at the NCECA and NAEA conference, entries are displayed at the Skutt booth. At NCECA, contestants are adult potters. A well-known artist judges the entries and awards cash prizes. At NAEA, contestants are students. Teachers submit entries and visitors to the booth vote on the best peep hole plugs. The prizes are awarded to the students’ teachers, to use as they please. Gamble says the contest has grown, with contestants coming from far and wide - even from Europe. The contest has been especially popular among schools, providing a venue for creativity that is well-defined and manageable. It underscores the bridge between functionality, good design, and beauty. The popularity of the program has led to a demand for Gamble’s peep hole plug workshops, which he offers several times a year at various state-level art education conferences.
With a few years of peep hole plug contests, quite a few peep hole plugs have accumulated at the Skutt offices. Gamble decided to put together a traveling show. "We loved the idea of calling it a peep show, to have some fun with it," he says. The show will feature nearly 100 peep hole plugs from previous years. Both adult and student entries are included. Gamble says that the student entries are just as good as the adults. Several local artists and students are represented in the show. (See sidebar.)
Peep Show will run from January 13 through late February at Clay Place at Standard. The gallery is open from 9 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and is located at One Walnut Street in Carnegie, Pennsylvania.
There is still time to submit entries for the 2014 contest. Deadline is January 31. Visit www.skutt.com/peepshow/register1.html for NCECA Potters division, or www.skutt.com/peepholeplug/register2.html for NAEA K-12 division for more information.