Thursday, November 5, 2009


Jeremy and I are presenting at EDUCAUSE tomorrow at 8:10 am. Here is our presentation as it stands:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Twitter: good for lots of news

Since our redesign, coming up on a year ago, the news portion of our home page has been this blog. And while we've had some wonderful things to report, we haven't exactly had a great number of things to say. This was especially true over the past summer. We reported the NEA grant award on April 30th, and then nothing else until the word of Margo's retirement in late September. Because of our blog drought, one might think that not much has happened with accessCeramics over the summer. Of course, that's not entirely accurate: our collection grew by about 33%, or nearly 600 images.

Whenever an artist contributes images to accessCeramics, it's news-worthy. But perhaps based upon our limited time and resources, it wasn't necessarily blog-worthy. But thanks to Twitter and its API, that has changed. Now when Miranda accepts submitted images into the collection, a Twitter post is generated for each contributing artist to our Twitter feed via a PHP script and the Twitter API, and is logged in our MySQL database. And now that our home page news is based upon our Twitter feed instead of this blog, we can effectively promote new images on accessCeramics without any additional work.

We'll still maintain this blog for announcements that extend beyond Twitter's 140 character limit, and will reference any relevant blog posts on our Twitter feed. But with this new model of news, we can hopefully do a better job at promoting the artists and their new works on accessCeramics without extending our already limited resources.

And in case anyone wants to follow our Twitter feed directly, it's

accessCeramics co-founder Margo Ballantyne retiring

Margo Ballantyne, one of the original founders of accessCeramics, will retire next week from her position as Visual Resources Curator at Lewis & Clark College. Margo has been at Lewis & Clark for 19 years, and has admirably brought the College's visual collections into the digital age. She has been an active leader in the VRA community at a local and national level.
Margo has contributed a great deal of enthusiasm, energy, and fun to the accessCeramics project. While she still may be involved at some level, her influence, great humor, and ability to keep some of our crazy ideas in check will be greatly missed.
Stephanie Beene, a recent graduate of the University ot Texas-Austin's School of Information, will take Margo's place as the Visual Resources Curator at Lewis & Clark. She will also serve on the accessCeramics curatorial board, and will almost certainly bring fresh ideas to the project.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

accessCeramics receives NEA grant

We're pleased to announce that accessCeramics has been awarded a 2009 National Endowment for the Arts - Access to Artistic Excellence grant in the Visual Arts category. The $10,000 award will support the continued expansion of accessCeramics as well as the introduction of master artists' works into the collection over the 2009/10 academic year.

According to the Arts Endowment website, the Access to Artistic Excellence grant program "encourages and supports artistic creativity, preserves our diverse cultural heritage, and makes the arts more widely available in communities throughout the country." In other words, a great fit for accessCeramics and specifically our goal to make images of high quality contemporary ceramic art widely available to the arts education community.

Thanks to the Arts Endowment and a hearty kudos to the accessCeramics team!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

accessCeramics at the Northwest History and Heritage Extravaganza 2009

On April 18th, the accessCeramics project was introduced to community leaders, staff and volunteers from historical societies, museums, schools, historic preservation commissions, humanities groups, professional historians, and archaeologists, who attended the NW History and Heritage Extravaganza conference in Portland, Oregon. Margo Ballantyne, a member of the accessCeramics team, participated on a panel about providing access to digital images that are housed in visual resource collections, libraries, and archives, or other venues that make use of modern electronic tools and practices.

Session Title:
DAM if you do. DAM if you don’t: Digital Asset Management &
Delivering Access to Image Collections

Session Chair: Tiah Edmunson-Morton, Oregon State University.
Margo Ballantyne, Lewis & Clark College
Julia Simic, University of Oregon
Karin Whalen, Reed College

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

accessCeramics at NCECA

Look for accessCeramics at the upcoming NCECA 2009 Conference "Ceramic Interface: From Dawn to Digital" April 8-11, 2009 in Phoenix, AZ.

We'll have a table at Booth T35 with a representative who can answer your questions about using the collection. We'd also love to work with artists interested in submitting to the collection.

For more information contact: Miranda Costa (

Thursday, March 19, 2009

accessCeramics in Toronto!

Margo Ballantyne presented on the accessCeramics project at the Visual Resources Association annual conference in Toronto today. The presentation was part of a panel entitled "Outside the Canon" about "recent and ongoing projects that often push the boundaries of traditional content areas in visual resources."

Outside the Canon


  • Laurel Bliss, San Diego State University
  • Melissa Lamont, San Diego State University

  • Rodney G. Obien, Worcester Polytechnic Institute - George C. Gordon Library
  • Bill Kirby, Director, Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art
  • Birgit Plietzsch, University of St Andrews
  • Margo Ballantyne, Lewis & Clark College

Friday, February 27, 2009

accessCeramics at College Art Association

Margo Ballantyne and I presented on accessCeramics at the College Art Association Annual Conference in Los Angeles yesterday to a crowd of about 75 people.

We told the story of the accessCeramics collection, explaining how the idea evolved from a conversation across a slide light table to a successful project. It was part of a panel presentation called "You can do it, we can help: building digital image collections together."

All of our co-presenters focused on collaboratively-sourced digital collections, and besides ours, all incorporated ARTstor.

We received many inquiries about the project following the presentation.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

accessCeramics at College Art Association Conference

Members of the accessCeramics team were invited to the College Art Association's annual conference to participate in a session called You Can Do It, We Can Help: Building Digital-Image Collections Together. Margo Ballantyne and Mark Dahl will talk about our experiences creating accessCeramics with a little time, some freely available tools, a little grant money, and lots of help and cooperation from artists. Given the current economic climate, it's likely our low-cost approach to creating an image collection will generate some interest.

The session will take place at 12:30 on Thursday, February 26th, 2009.

Friday, February 13, 2009

AccessCeramics welcomes New Curatorial Members welcomes new members to the curatorial board. Richard Burkett, Thomas Orr and Namita Wiggers will join accessCeramics co-founders, Visual Resource Curator, Margo Ballantyne and Assistant Professor of Ceramics Ted Vogel in selecting new artists for the website.
Richard Burkett is Professor of Ceramics at San Diego State University and has exhibited, lectured and presented workshops internationally. He has been an early developer of online ceramic education tools and developed the “Ceramics Web”, co-developed the list-serve “ClayArt”, is the author of the “Hyper Glaze” a noted glaze and clay calculation software and is co-author of the 6th edition of “Ceramics: A Potter’s Handbook” one of the most popular ceramics text books. In addition, Richard has served on the board of the National Council on Education for the Ceramics Arts (NCECA) as 2003 San Diego Conference Liaison and most recently as the Director of Communications.
Thomas Orr is Professor of Art and Head of Ceramics at the Oregon College of Art Craft. He received his MFA in Ceramics from Claremont Graduate School in California. Thomas has taught at several universities and lectured and exhibited his work internationally. Most recently he presented a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in Portland, Oregon and was a resident artist at the International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemet, Hungary. Thomas has served on the Board of Directors for the Contemporary Crafts Gallery and Museum and the LH Project, a ceramic residency program in Joseph, Oregon and was co-liaison for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) 2006 Portland, Oregon Conference.
Namita Gupta Wiggers, is the Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in Portland, Oregon. She received an MA in Art History from the University of Chicago, has conducted research for E-lab, a product design firm and has produced a line of sterling jewelry sold through galleries. Namita has published on museum education and art in journals such as “The Journal of Museum Education”, and she was instrumental in the creation of the 2008 catalog “Unpacking the Collection”, the first publication to focus on the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Craft. Since coming to the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, Namita has curated numerous ceramic exhibitions, such as the “Patty Warashina: Real Politique and Drunken Power Series” and Antonio Prieto: A Family Collection” exhibited during the 2006 Portland NCECA conference. Recently, she curated the “Generations: Ken Shores”, “The Ceramics of Gertrud and Otto Natzler”, “Toshiko Takaezu: Recent Gifts” exhibitions and hosted “ Eden Revisited: The Ceramic Work of Kurt Weiser” curated by Peter Held.
The curatorial board is responsible for selecting images for and will provide direction to improve the ongoing development of the web site. If you are interested in submitting images or know clay-based artists that you feel should be included, please send five or more (e-mail sized) images and a current resume and/or a portfolio link to Margo Ballantyne (
For questions concerning the curatorial process of, please feel free to contact Ted Vogel, Assistant Professor of Art, Program Head of Ceramics at or by calling 503-201-0400.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

New Site Design Launch Today!

One of the major goals we hoped to achieve with the help of our NITLE grant was to improve the site design. Today we can cross that off the list, as we unveil our new site.

In addition to the clean new look, this site has a few additional features:

  • a search box in the upper-right corner

  • new browse lists, with the ability to view 'tag clouds' of field values

  • a new "thumbnail/large image" view (here's an example)

  • selected blog posts linked from this home page

We owe a big thanks to Zoe Anderson and Mike Lindsey for their help with the redesign, and to NITLE for the means to do this. And, of course, the site is nothing without the wonderful art images. Thanks artists!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Today is a big milestone, as we've reached 1000 images!

Thanks to all of you for your help and contributions. We truly appreciate your patience, and the time you’ve spent helping us build the collection.

Our new website design will be up and working by February 13. Check it out!

Thank you!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Flickr API improvements could yield more collections like accessCeramics

Last month Aaron Straup from Flickr announced four new API methods for machine tags (and also happened to mention our project!). One of these methods in particular, flickr.machinetags.getValues, inches Flickr closer to the idea of 'Flickr as database' for metadata storage.

In the past, if you wanted to find all the unique values of a given field (artist, for example), you had to query Flickr to get all the photos with 'artist' as a field, then make a call for each photo to get tag values...and then use a language like PHP to extract unique values. Once your collection gets past a few images, this sequence of events quickly becomes impractical.

With flickr.machinetags.getValues, you can get all unique values for a given field with just one call. This paves the way for creating UI links for browsing different values for fields. It also lessens the need to store metadata in a MySQL database, like we currently do.

As others have expressed interest in creating collections like accessCeramics, we've begun development on a more generic tool for cataloging Flickr images. We're also working on a companion presentation tool for viewing these catalogued collections. Thanks to the new API methods, the presentation software should run quickly, and shouldn't rely (much) on an external database. We'll post more information about this project as it becomes available.