Steven Hill’s Journey Workshop 2023- 2024

Alison Palmer Studio, South Kent, CT

June 2-8, 2023October 6-8, 2023May 30-June 2, 2024

 My journey began with a summer workshop in 1972, taught by Peter Sohngen. Since the early 80’s, I have shared MY aesthetic and techniques in over 300 workshops. This workshop is different; it is about you and your relationship with clay. This journey is YOURS. – Steven Hill

You are inspired,

You are motivated,

Begin your journey… now!

What inspires you? Art? Music? Nature? Technology? Architecture? Each of us is capable of expressing unique individuality in our ceramic work. Is your work as personal as you would like it to be or does it seem more like a collection of techniques learned from others? 

Your journey begins with 6 ½ days exploring your relationship with clay at Alison Palmer’s Studio. Through a combination of individual critique, group discussion and hands-on experimentation, you will set in motion the search for personal expression. You will leave The Journey Workshop with a plan for the upcoming year and return to your studio with focus, renewed motivation, a group of peers and a mentor to help keep you on track.  

Who is a Prime Candidate for the Journey Workshop?

This workshop is perfect for the professional who feels stale, for the amateur who wants to develop their body of work, or anyone who wants to take their pottery or sculptural work to a deeper, more personal level. It is helpful to be comfortable with your basic techniques, as this workshop is not technically oriented. In the past, however, people at all levels of expertise have benefited greatly from taking the Journey Workshop. 

Workshop Structure:

You will NOT be learning Steven Hill’s techniques in The Journey Workshop. Instead, this workshop is designed to help you find YOUR voice in clay. Steven will push you to go deeper and discover personal ways of expressing yourself. Yes, it is true there is nothing “new” in art, but that doesn’t prevent you from bringing your own unique spirit as a potter, sculptor, artist and human being to your personal work.

The Journey Workshop DOES NOT INCLUDE firing at Alison Palmer’s Studio, unless you would like your work to be bisque fired to take with you. The work made for the show at the end of the Journey Workshop will be made and fired in your studio throughout the upcoming year

For Returning Students:

Several past participants have expressed interest in a second or third year of the Journey Workshop. I think it is a fabulous idea to expand on what has been gained during the first year within the structure of another workshop. Much of what I have learned as a potter, during my many years of also being a teacher, has come through the process of working with students. I believe one of the added benefits of a signing up for a second year is working alongside first year students and interacting with them.

Second year participants will be asked to prepare a presentation and present it to the group. It could be a PowerPoint presentation or actual pieces you bring to talk about. This should include your experience in past Journey Workshops and work done since. Your presentation could be based on a written essay, in which you discuss your work, direction, and goals for the upcoming year, or presented more spontaneously. I leave it to each of you to present in the way that best works for you.

Workshop General Schedule:

  • June 2-8, 2023 – Initial weeklong workshop at Alison Palmer’s Studio. The workshop will begin on Friday, June 2, at 6pm, with a welcome session.
    • June – October 2023 – Studio work and preparation for mid-year critique.
  • October 6-8, 2023 – Mid-year critique at Alison Palmer’s Studio.
    • November 2023 – May 2024 – Studio work and preparation for show.
  • May 30-June 2, 2024 – Journey final critique, show and celebration at Alison Palmer’s Studio.

Preparing for the Workshop:

Items to bring with you and things to think about… 

1. Digital images (slides or photographs are a second choice) of your current work. We will assemble everyone’s work for a presentation on our computer. It would also be nice to see an actual piece (or more) if you can bring it with you. 

2. Gather images of ceramic work, either historical or contemporary, that you find meaningful or influential. 

3. A sketchbook you have been working on or a journal of ideas. If you don’t have either, then please spend some time thinking about, sketching, and writing down ideas as a starting point for our discussions. 

4. A sketchbook and notebook to have available to use during the workshop. It would also be helpful to have a laptop or tablet computer with you (or a smartphone if you can’t bring either of the above). 

5. Think about what inspires your art and/or life and bring as much support material as you can, including images, written material, CD’s. We will use this as a starting point for personal discussion. Your inspiration should feel personal, but could include music, nature, architecture, art, family, or ANYTHING ELSE that inspires… It doesn’t matter if your classmates or teacher relate to your inspiration, only that you do. This is a key aspect of making this workshop successful! 

6. All ceramic tools you think you want to work with during our first week, except for wheels, bats (wheels and bats could even be an option if it makes you feel more comfortable), and slab rollers. Don’t forget a banding wheel if it is important to your work. This class will NOT include a glaze firing, since you will complete your body of work with the kilns that are available in the studio you normally work in. We will discuss glazing and firing but will only work on form and surface during the workshop. Bisque firing will be available for those who plan on taking the work they produce with them. 

7. If you would like to ship clay to Alison’s studio, make sure your supplier marks the boxes clearly with your name. You can also bring your own clay with you if you drive. My #1 recommendation is for you to use the clay you expect to be using during the year during this week. If you plan on purchasing clay from Alison, please let her know ASAP. 

Reading List for the Journey Workshop 

There has recently been an explosion of books on creativity! These are 4 that I think could be beneficial. 

I’m not expecting anyone to read 4 books… If I was given that assignment I would rebel! I encourage you to look at all of them and pick one or two to add to your library. The new book on the list this year is The Creative Act by Rick Rubin. If you are a repeat student and have the others, I recommend this book highly. 

My assignment from the above books is to be prepared to share with the class 1 or 2 concepts you feel might be helpful for your creative process that were clarified through reading. To be perfectly honest, reading books on creativity is not essential to being creative, but the right words can potentially inspire and help motivate. 

I also recommend you check out a series of videos from Washington St Studios (available on YouTube) that covers just about every aspect of ceramics, from technical through aesthetic. The videos range from basic to more complex, but the information is clearly presented. This series features potter/teacher, Phil Berneburg and I can attest to their value in helping to understand the various complexities of our field. They are divided into 3 groups, Understanding Pottery Series, Potters’ Round Table, and Pottery Shorts. Highly recommended, and easily accessible!!! 

Journey Facebook Page:

I believe everyone has been invited to sign up for our private Journey Facebook page. If you haven’t received an email or if you have misplaced your invitation, please contact Steve Katz ( The purpose is to help build community amongst the group by posting your successes and failures and encouraging discussion with your peers. I will occasionally check in and respond to questions and work you’ve posted, but the main purpose is to encourage communication within the group. 

In the next few weeks, I would like everyone to go to the Facebook page and introduce yourself. Post a few photos and discuss your history with clay / art. You might also talk about your motivation for taking the journey workshop.

Private Critiques :

I am available for FaceTime or Zoom critiques throughout the year. Most of the time it works best for me at 9 or 10am or after 7pm CST / CDT in the evenings. Critiques can be set up in advance, but most of the time I’m available within a week. Please have the work you would like to talk about in a well-lit room and have a banding wheel available. A phone camera is quite adequate. The cost is $90 an hour and payment can be made through Venmo, PayPal, or with a personal check. 

If you have a question specifically for me, the best way is through text or email ( / 8168101563). If I don’t respond within a day or so, feel free to send a reminder. 

I am thrilled to welcome Jon Townley (jonctownley on Instagram) as my assistant and a participant in this year’s Journey Workshop. He will draw on his vast design experience to present a couple of ceramic design lectures during our first week. Jon is well known around Alison’s studio for his insightful workshops, his beautiful functional pottery, and his powerful sculpture. Jon and I have been good friends for the last 14 years and I look forward to working with him this year. 

As our class approaches, I will discuss the schedule of our first week in some detail. 

Additional Reading:

To find out more about Steven’s philosophy on these workshops, read the May 2007 Comment in Ceramics Monthly, Rethinking Ceramics Workshops. The Eight-Month Workshop: A Journey of Discovery, Steven’s article about the first Journey workshop that began at the Metchosin’ International Summer School of the Arts in Victoria, BC in July of 2007 and ended at Center Street Clay in March of 2008, is in the June 2008 issue of Ceramics Monthly. PDF’s of these articles can be downloaded at: These two articles are feeling somewhat dated, as the process has evolved over 5 earlier Journey Workshops, but they are worthwhile reading nonetheless. 

***A brand-new article discussing Steven’s philosophy on teaching, as far as it applies to Journey Workshops, Finding Your Voice: Influences and Guidelines, is currently waiting on a publishing date from Ceramics Monthly.

If you have additional questions about the Journey Workshop you may contact Steven Hill directly: 

Steven Hill 

 Journey Workshop – Alison Palmer Studio 2023-24 

There’s a story in your eyes that needs a witness” – Alejandro Escovedo 

Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert 

“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?” 

Approximate Day to Day Class Schedule

(subject to change and with plenty of allowance for spontaneity!) 

  • • Each day, 9am – 5pm with approximately an hour for lunch. Please note, the first and last days of the workshop vary from this schedule. My suggestion is for everyone to be as flexible with their schedule as possible. Some might start their day early and some might stay late. The studio will be open 24 hours a day. 

Friday, June, evening 6pm – 10pm 

  • • Student introductions – Everyone is invited to bring 1 or 2 small pieces (or images) of their work to show and discuss the motivation for taking this workshop. o First year students – Summarize your experience with ceramics. 
  • Second year and beyond students – Discuss your experience with past journey(s) and your incentive for signing up this time. 

Saturday morning 

  • • Please arrive with an idea of something to work on that will carry you through the day. I will be holding individual conferences all day, so you won’t be able to interact with me other than in your conference. Jon Townley will be available for answering questions that arise as you are getting set up. 
  • • Individual conferences with each student about influences and direction. I will begin with first year Journey students. 
  • • Work time while not in conference 

Saturday afternoon 

  • • Finish individual conferences – It might take into the evening to get through everyone. 
  • • Work time 

Sunday morning 

  • • Discussion: The concept and benefits of a personal contract – Contract will be due on Wednesday. 
  • • Work time / critique 

Sunday afternoon 

  • • Discussion of “Finding Your Voice” handout. 
  • • Work time / critique 

Monday Morning 

  • • Class discussion on critiquing 
  • • Work time / critique 

Monday afternoon 

  • • Discussion of “Big Magic”, “Steal Like an Artist”, Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, and “The Creative Act: A Way of Being” o My assignment is for everyone to be ready to discuss one specific idea you got from reading. It could either be a new concept for you or simply a reinforcement of something you have already incorporated into your studio practice 
  • • Work time / critique 

Tuesday morning 

  • • Jon will present a discussion on Shape Language and the use of design principles in ceramics. 
  • • Work time / critique 

Tuesday afternoon 

  • • Classes to consider taking during the year.