All posts by Jonathan Barnes

Ceramics Program Holds Second Annual Empty Bowls

Father and son eating lunch at Empty Bowls

St. Petersburg College Ceramics faculty and students, along with local business partner Highwater Clays, are putting on an Empty Bowls luncheon Oct. 28 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. to benefit RCS Pinellas.

The luncheon will feature soup served in bowls made by SPC students, faculty, and local artists. Attendees will choose a bowl, and enjoy a meal of soup, bread and dessert. The bowl is yours to take home as a reminder of all the empty bowls in the world.

Through this event we are helping our ceramics students to see that they can make positive change through their art and make a big impact in their local community.
This event is to raise funds for RCS, which provides food to 60,000 residents of Clearwater, 17,000 of whom are children.

Empty Bowls Flier

Empty Bowls began in 1990 in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., where John Hartom, a high school teacher, his wife Lisa, and his students wanted to support a local food drive. One year later Empty Bowls developed into a project to support food banks, soup kitchens, and other organizations fighting hunger. John and Lisa formed the Imagine/Render group as a nonprofit organization to promote Empty Bowls.

Over the next 20 plus years, Empty Bowls has spread across the United States and other parts of the world. Last year’s event at the SPC Clearwater Campus raised more than $3,000 for RCS. This year we would like to raise significantly more!

We invite you to attend this fundraiser event. Tickets are available at the door or in advance.

Event details 

When: Saturday, Oct. 28, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Where: SPC Clearwater Campus; 2465 Drew St., Clearwater; Room ES 104
Questions: Contact Jonathan Barnes at

Want to help?

Interested in getting involved with great event? Please get in touch with Barnes, the Humanities and Fine Arts Chair at the Clearwater Campus, via email at

Empty Bowls at the Clearwater Campus

Preview student art that will be available at Empty Bowls Pinellas for RCS this Saturday from 11 am – 2 pm in ES104 at the St. Petersburg College Clearwater Campus. All proceeds support RCS in its mission to feed the hungry in Pinellas.

Posted by St. Petersburg College on Monday, October 23, 2017

Design students use digital fabrication technology to design and build chairs

During the summer of 2015, Jonathan Barnes and Kim Kirchman (SPC Clearwater Faculty) built two X-Carve CNC routers to teach students about digital fabrication technology.

James O'Leary assembling his chair
James O’Leary assembling his chair

These pieces of equipment are computer controlled routers that cut wood based on lines designed on the computer in Adobe Illustrator.  The machines are open source, upgradable, modifiable, and will be used in the Design 2 curriculum at the Clearwater Campus.  We  want to ensure that our design students have a strong digital fabrication technology experience before they transfer to a University to complete their Bachelor’s degree.

Learn more about St. Petersburg College’s Arts & Entertainment program.

Digital fabrication technology and design are becoming more mainstream in studio art curriculum, so for the fall semester of 2015, Kirchman had her Design 2 students work in groups to design, and build, a chair.  The parameters of the assignment were aesthetics, construction, comfort, and teamwork.

The design students were broken into groups of three, and set forth designing their chairs.  Most had no experience using Adobe Illustrator, hand or power tools, or CNC routers.  Through countless hours of design, cutting, problem solving and teamwork, they constructed 9 chairs- one for each student.  There were many challenges along the way, the CNC’s proved to have steep learning curves and there were some miscalculated and inaccurate cuts.  We went back to the drawing board a few times, but that is the design process,  and the students solved the problems, and came up with a great design for a chair.  Here are a few pictures.

Design 2 is offered at the Clearwater Campus in the fall and spring semesters.  ART 1203C meets 9:30 am – 12:10 am Monday and Wednesday with Kim Kirchman.

James O'Leary testing his chair
James O’Leary testing his chair
Emelle Tunceren testing her chair
Emelle Tunceren testing her chair
Emelle Tunceren testing her chair
Emelle Tunceren testing her chair

Former SPC student enjoys successful arts career


Eric Boynton graduated from then St. Petersburg Junior College and went on to USF to earn a BA degree in Studio Art.  I recently received the following update from him, which I thought I would share with our blog readers.  I thought his story was a great success story about pursuing studies and an arts career.

Learn more about St. Petersburg College’s Arts & Entertainment degree offerings.


After graduating college in 1998 I took an opportunity to  teach Outdoor Education in Massachusetts through a company called Natures Classroom. Here children would arrive and stay for a week. We would teach Science, Art, Orienteering, and Team building classes which we could teach from prepared curriculum or create our own classes based on our interest and teaching style.

My Next adventure after teaching for a year was to move back  to Florida and work in a ceramic tile factory in Sarasota. I was the sole production staff on the work floor slip casting decorative tile, pouring molds, repairing the kilns, forklift operating, and casting polyester rubber master molds. It was during this time that I learned about an apprenticeship program at the Moravian Pottery and Tileworks In Doylestown, PA.

Now the summer of 1999, I began the apprenticeship that would lead to my ceramic career. I spent three months working side by side with the staff in all areas of production. In addition I was provided a studio space to practice the techniques on my own work and designs. I decided I liked the area and wanted to stay and see what developed after the apprenticeship program.

I was lucky enough to find employment with the Bucks County Intermediate Unit working in classroom settings with Hearing disabled children. Sign Language was another skill I learned while studying at SPJC and even though the children I worked with had Implants and hearing aides the Sign language skills came in handy. My second school year with the Intermediate Unit was working with residential treatment for emotional needs children in the classroom. My art education came in very handy here too when i needed to improvise and create learning tools and projects to engage the kids.

In the summer of 2001, a full time position opened up at the Moravian Pottery and Tileworks and I was awarded the position. I have now been working at the Tileworks full time for about 14 years and have developed specialties in the areas of “Cinder staining” which is a sagger firing technique, and Mosaics.


My Wife and I saw a cute store front available in our little town, walking distance from our home. After much discussion we decided to take a chance and open a gallery on a trial basis for 3 months through the holidays just to see what it was like and if it worked well we would keep it open. In order to keep the doors open and keep our day jobs we needed more people involved. We decided to open up opportunities for local artist friends of ours and invited a hand full to join. The best model for this, since we didn’t have the income yet to pay hourly rates was the Co-Op model. We had been involved in a small Co-Op in Allentown previously and based our working contracts on theirs. Commissions were set on a sliding scale based on the number of days per month the artists kept the doors open. We started with the two of us and 8 friends and have grown to represent over 30 local artists.


Take every opportunity to learn every skill you can — you never know what will come in handy. Don’t give up just because it doesn’t happen over night, for most of us it takes years to get to the point where we make a living at it. Take the time to experiment and have fun, before you know it you can end up being a chochky (STUFF) factory. Make what you love to make, there will be someone out there who appreciates it. Make connections and relationships!!! The best way to sell art is to create a relationship with your patrons. Get out and represent yourself. There is no one who can do it better! Finally, in the words of Robert Pipenberg “ If all else fails Make Cofee mugs”.

Eric C. Boynton
Mr. Clay Rat

Learn more Clay Rat Studios or visit them on the Clay Rat Studio Facebook page.

Tarpon Springs Student Art Show winners announced

St. Petersburg College’s Tarpon Springs Campus hosted the 13th Annual Student Art Show Charrette, April 29-May 2. Best in show was awarded to Linda Sanchez for her Drawing, Reversal Conduct, (above) which will be on display at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art (LRMA) for the next few weeks. (Other winners are listed below.)

Students in the fine arts studio classes at SPC’s Tarpon Springs Campus submitted, prepared, and exhibited the entries.

“Every year I think the shows couldn’t get any better, but they do,” said Maria Edmonds, Chair of the Hispanic Leadership Council and one of the three judges for the event.

Other judges for the Tarpon Springs student art show included artist Denis Gaston, Florida Artist Group member and exhibitor at LRMA, and Rod Davis, Assoc. Provost at the Tarpon Springs Campus.

“I’m overwhelmed and deeply impressed by the talent of our students and the dedication of our faculty,” said Dr. Kevin Stanley, Academic Chair, Humanities, SPC Tarpon Springs Campus.

Cash prizes and ribbons were awarded to these winners:

Best In Show

  • Linda Sanchez

Design I

  • 1st – Claire Fils-Aime
  • 2nd – Benjamin Walzak
  • 3rd – Eric Hipp

Drawing I

  • 1st –  Tyler Ahern
  •  2nd – Zoila Rose
  •  3rd – Julie-Anne Calhoun

 Drawing II

  • 1st – Claire Fils-Aime
  • 2nd – Matt Rush
  • 3rd – Linda Sanchez

Mixed Media

  • 1st – Jessica Fagan
  • 2nd – Susan MacLeish
  • 3rd – Matt Rush

The event, funded and hosted by the Tarpons Springs Campus Student Government Association and the Humanities & Fine Arts Department in partnership with LRMA.

NCECA 2015 conference, plus art and technology

Two weeks ago Kim Kirchman and I had the pleasure of going to the National Council of Education on Ceramic Arts Conference (NCECA) in Providence, RI.  We try to attend the conference every year so that we can stay current with trends in the ceramics world, both with education and studio practice. This allows us to learn of new technologies, emerging artists and new products that we can introduce or incorporate to our curriculum.


Changing society through ceramics

One of the highlights for both of us was meeting Roberto Lugo. Lugo is a clay artist from Philadelphia. He was nominated this year to be an emerging artist and gave a fantastic presentation on how he is using his work in ceramics to create change in society.

I highly recommend you check out his video on the NCECA blog. Lugo’s work has strong influences in hip hop and graffiti culture, along with tackling ideas of multiculturalism.

Art and emerging technology

Another fantastic experience was the “Hifire RESolutions: 3D printing in Clay” exhibition. This exhibition featured 3D-printed ceramic pieces, designed by potters. The pieces were outstanding.  Here is a link to the exhibition.

3d print2

This got me thinking that we need to incorporate more emerging technologies into some of our studio art courses, which we are currently working on. Stay tuned for updates on that.

One last thing is this all ties together with an article I heard on NPR on April 6 about high-tech industry companies having artist residencies.  I encourage you to have a listen.

Artist Eva Champagne visits SPC Ceramics

On March 19 and 20, the St. Petersburg College’s Ceramics Studio at the Clearwater Campus of SPC hosted Eva Champagne,  a visiting artist from Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fl.

Eva Champagne's Little Porcelain Sculptures
Eva Champagne’s Little Porcelain Sculptures

During her two-day workshop,  Champagne worked on a number of ceramic pieces, including two large sculptures. She shared her construction techniques and decoration methods in which she uses layers of underglaze, wax and glazes to create surfaces of great depth. Both SPC students and community members in attendance learned a lot and had tons of great questions.

During both days, Champagne also shared stories of growing up in Hong Kong,  as well as her number of ceramic residencies including Gaya Ceramic Art Center in Bali and the Red Lodge Clay Center in Montana. It was wonderful to have Eva Champagne conduct this workshop,  and she joins the list of other artists who we have hosted in Ceramics including Trevor Dunn, Josh DeWeese and Tara Wilson.

For more information about Champagne, check out her website and artist statement below:

Eva Champagne demonstrating with students
Eva Champagne demonstrating with students

Eva Champagne is an American artist who grew up in Hong Kong, one of the great cultural melting pots of the world. She received her B.A. in Studio Art from Humboldt State University and completed Post-Baccalaureate study at the University of Florida. In 2009 she earned her M.F.A. from the University of Montana-Missoula. Since then, she has been a resident artist at AIR Vallauris in France,  Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center in Denmark, Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts in Maine, Red Lodge Clay Center and The Clay Studio of Missoula in Montana, and most recently at Gaya Ceramic Art Center in Bali, Indonesia.

As an educator, she teaches successfully in both the academic and workshop setting. Ceramic subjects include wheel throwing, handbuilding, soda firing at low, mid and highfire temperatures, low-fire ceramic surface techniques, as well as thematic sculptural topicss. Other media courses include beginning and advanced drawing, figure drawing, painting, 2D and 3D design and understanding visual arts. For the 2012-13 academic year, she was visiting artist and adjunct professor at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Florida where she taught drawing and painting. Currently she is adjunct professor at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Florida, which is ranked in the top ten of community colleges nationwide for the second year in a row. Her work is shown  nationally and internationally.