Tuesday, November 12, 2013

testing 123


I have been using Amaco Velvet underglaze on stamps and carving and I knew that it worked under the gloss green and blue glazes. I decided I would test it on some of the other glazes. The one I really wasn't sure about was shino (first on left) but it looks fine. Second from the left is my wheat glaze that started giving me trouble with pin holing after I mixed a new batch nearly three years ago. We have tweaked our reduction schedule so I decided to test it again. It looks good so the next test will be a little bigger... a sponge holder.

Speaking of sponge holders, as you know I was resistant to making them. But I did make them and they sell quickly. Very quickly.
Just when I was starting to get over the "I can't believe I am making sponge holders" thingy, I read Carter Gillies blog post about the prejudice of this item, along with others... soap dishes, soap dispensers, oil lamps, etc... you can read that post here. It's a very interesting read on "item" making with equally interesting comments.
Later in the day I watched the short documentary "A Potters Meal", about Utah potter Joe Bennion, whose work I so love. In the film Joe talks about only making the things you love or else you will lose the excitement and making pots becomes a chore.
I read and watched all of this while spending a quiet day minding the Co-op shop of which Jeff and I are members. I definitely had too much time to ponder all of these thoughts. By the time I got home I was feeling pretty bad about those sponge holders. I shared my feelings with Jeff and as usual he made me feel better... this is what his response was, I am paraphrasing here:
Making sponge holders (or insert soap dishes, oil lamps, yarn bowls, whatever "item" you make) brings in the money that allows us to make a living in pottery. It doesn't diminish our art, it allows us to live a creative life.
Jeff is right. There are times when all that gets made are orders and items that sell well at shows. In between we set aside time to create new work. We both love to have our hands in CLAY, isn't that's what it's all about?

9 comments:

  1. I loved his article - very well thought out. I've seen that kind of "form prejudice" out there and always thought it was silly - just as silly as the color "blue" prejudice. If we are functional potters then whatever products we can make to make their daily lives better and easier, makes us useful contributors to our fellow man in our own way. People love blue. Heck, I love blue. Blue sells and one of the arguments to support the "blue prejudice" is that it's such an easy color to make. Do they think that blue is any easier than green, brown, black,white etc? I think not. Next time I throw I've got to make some of those sponge holders.

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  2. you have to make what will sell, but if is too much of a chore making a specific piece, it will show as lower quality work....it is all about keeping a balance.
    testing, testing...looks good!

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  3. I have pretty much quit reading and listening to what people say about clay.
    I never came into this to be an art potter. I make what I like and what I don't always like but it is not fully about me.
    In the long run it is about the customer.
    Otherwise you might as well give it away or rent a storage building.

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  4. I don't know Joe from Utah, but that is exactly what I am fortunate to do. I realized last year that I would rather dog walk and cat sit for extra moola than make a dish set to somebody else's specs. Does that make sense? I really prefer to do exactly what I please in the studio, put it out there for people to buy or not, and figure out the rest later, and I am very privelieged to live this life.

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  5. Nothing against Carter, but I quit reading his blog for this verry reason. I think I have quit working with clay for the same reason too. The pottery snobbery when you are trying to make a living selling gets very tiring mentally, I'm over it! Make what you make, don't worry about the elitist potter status, do you like the sound a cash register makes when it rings up a sale?
    I think you make everything with quality and craftsmanship in mind, you make it with love, and for heavens sake, we all need a sponge holder, why not have a pretty one? At least you offer people a chance to buy a hand crafted item at a good price.

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  6. Nothing against Carter, but I quit reading his blog for this verry reason. I think I have quit working with clay for the same reason too. The pottery snobbery when you are trying to make a living selling gets very tiring mentally, I'm over it! Make what you make, don't worry about the elitist potter status, do you like the sound a cash register makes when it rings up a sale?
    I think you make everything with quality and craftsmanship in mind, you make it with love, and for heavens sake, we all need a sponge holder, why not have a pretty one? At least you offer people a chance to buy a hand crafted item at a good price.

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  7. Thank you all, great comments!
    If you read Carter's blogpost you will see he is defending the so called "lowly" items, some of the comments were probably what made me feel like I was a "lowly" maker... as well as the reminder that there are lots of pottery snobs.

    Gary, I think it's great that you have found other jobs that fit your schedule, and that you really enjoy doing... thus giving you the freedom to make what you want.

    99% of what I make is what I WANT to make... and I really don't mind making sponge holders. They are sort of mindless and a great throwing exercise.

    The funniest thing is that my most recent commission is for a SPONGE HOLDER. This guy wants the tree of life carved into it and a coaster for it to sit on. It's going to be the most creative sponge holder you ever did see.

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  8. Jeff is correct. I mean no offense to my friend Carter but he earns a portion of his living teaching. I'll bet he's an outstanding teacher, he's very smart and it seems he love it. So he doesn't have to make pots that sell but are less artistic. It give him a freedom. You and Jeff and I don't have to deal with University politics in order to earn our living but we do have to make some sponge holders.

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