The Seaside Civic and Convention Center was overrun by china last week. No, not the world’s most populous country, but rather hordes of white porcelain dishes, plates, vases and other items, much of which were decorated or in the process of being painted during the Oregon World Organization of China Painters’ annual Oregon Porcelain Art Retreat.

The four-day porcelain china-painting seminar, which took place from May 5 to 8, has been held at the convention center for 14 years.

The purpose of the annual school, according to President Jo Thackery, is “to try to further educate our students in porcelain art.” About 100 students, most of them women upwards of 50 from across the United States, joined together at the convention center to take classes from 12 instructors, each with a different style or theme.

Students could pick which instructor’s class to take, and all the students in one class created the same image, such as black roses, portraits, flowers, grapes, roosters and more, on a piece of porcelain, such as a vase or tile.

Participants had to purchase their class project porcelain from the school store in order for it be accepted for firing. Over the course of four days, under the instruction of their teacher, the students went through the process of adding a layer of paint, having the piece fired to temperatures exceeding 1,000 degrees in a kiln each evening, and repeating the steps four times.

The students also explored various techniques, such as luster painting, pen work, stamping and inlaying with fiber glass or other materials.

Additionally, many of the teachers hosted demonstrations in the evenings for further education, and students could have their demo pieces also fired at night for additional charge.

A banquet was held the evening of May 8 as a final opportunity for camaraderie, and the event featured a raffle drawing and auction for artistic works and porcelain painting supplies.

The school also included an exhibit that was open to students and the public throughout the week. The exhibit displayed works crafted by the teachers, past and present OWOCP presidents and members of the five china-painting clubs represented in Oregon. The five clubs include the Chehalem Valley Club in Newberg; Fernwood Club in Portland; High Desert Club in Lakeview; Petal Pushers Club in Longview; and Rogue Valley Club in Grants Pass.

The annual Seaside school is unique because, besides drawing in students and teachers from throughout the states, all the classes happen in the same facility.

“Everything is centered here,” Thackery said, which allows for a greater sense of fellowship and increased socializing, as well as access to the school’s various aspects and activities.

Thackery, who is from Clatskanie, started practicing the art about 20 years ago after developing an affinity for watercoloring. One of her favorite facets about china painting is that since the paint doesn’t dry as fast, it allows the artist to be more meticulous and take her time.

She has overseen the art school seven years. The number of students each year has stayed mostly consistent, Thackery said, but she acknowledged china painting “is a dying art,” which accounts for the elevated ages of most students.

Some cities have clubs or groups open to younger people, but there are none in Astoria or Seaside, Thackery said. Because the process of creating a china painting takes several days, it requires a patience many other arts forms do not.

There are teachers and members of the Oregon clubs, however, who have regularly scheduled classes in their homes. The Oregon World Organization of China Painters can help guide individuals to a club nearest their geographical area to help answer questions regarding china-painting classes, seminars and workshops.

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