Saturday, May 23, 2015

Carving the Rim -- First Results

Several months ago I started carving the rims of pots and loving the new forms that made. Here are some, finished. Time for critique.

Hmmm. If the glaze is a bit dull (not as intended), the form does stand out. I like it. Perhaps better if the rim is consistently a different color.

Maybe not that much. Too wide a white edge for the proportions of the bowl. Maybe too interesting a glaze for the carving to be conspicuous.

 Not as intended either, but it does work. Does this look require a fairly uniform and unexciting glaze job?

 Now that's a flop. Certainly a very dull glaze. And a thick rim, so the whole thing is heavy and ugly.

This one? Good shape, a glaze that breaks so the rim is emphasized a little, would be better without the horizontal throwing lines.

Same here. It's my favorite rutile blue glaze. Not as effective as it usually is; I think it fights with the carving for attention. And the carving was overdone for so shallow a bowl. The one above is better.

Yes, this works. A quieter glaze combination, and it lifts my eye, at least, to the rim.

This is tricky stuff for me. Perhaps it is part of an art education to know where the eye looks and how the parts of a piece add up to reinforce the desired look. I don't know this yet, at least for this form.
So much to learn and develop! Definitely part of the attraction of making pots for me.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

"Why Do You Like What You Like?" and Other Interesting Questions

Last Saturday I attended a workshop by Gay Smith. She is a fine potter and teacher. Here's some of her work from her teaching last week.

Her website is

She talks well about the work she does, both technique and ideas. That's not required; making pottery is not a verbal field. But I like it, and understand better when I have words for ideas, choices, feelings, tastes.

Among the best things I've gained from the workshop are two tough questions she asked us. "Where do you want your pots to end up?" "Why do you like what you like?" 

I can answer the first one easily. I want my pots to end up on your table. Also, but not only on my table. I haven't even thought I might want them in a museum. Ah, so that's a direction for future development. I'd like my pots in home stores, not galleries.

Why do I like what I like? I can say what I tend to like, though there are always exceptions and surprises. I like pots that are smooth, graceful, ergonomically good, pleasant to handle, and something I am now calling friendly. How are pots friendly? They don't exactly wag their tails. Here are some of mine I find friendly, and an effort to articulate what makes them so.

I think this is a friendly teapot. The rounded shape and something about the spout. It's not pretentious, like some long and elaborate ones. Maybe it's even a joke. Hmmm.

This bowl feels good in the hands. The shape and size fit hands, and the glaze is smooth over the slight ribbing of the slip underneath.

Another one for the hands. And a mug is an individual, intimate thing always. Between you and me.

I haven't made these silly fish for years. They have that friendly quality though. Perhaps humor is an aspect of friendliness, like it can be in people. And that short teapot spout.

So this is why I choose to be The Village Potter. I knew the name before I could articulate the content of it. I choose to make domestic, functional, friendly pots. They feel right.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

May is for Craft Sales

I'll be at 3. Come and see.

 The Talmadge Art Show, May 3 at the Liberty Station Convention Center. That's a new location for them, if you have the habit of going. It's a new show for me, though I've certainly been there as a customer.

The Ocean Beach People's Organic Food Coop, May 9, 11-4, on Voltaire St just south of Sunset Cliffs Blvd.

The North Park Festival of the Arts, May 16, 11-6, on University Ave and adjacent side streets near 30th St.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

How about contributing to Empty Bowls this Year?

Empty Bowls is a lovely fundraising event, for services for homeless people, spreading internationally. Have a look at the calendar on the empty bowls website to see that it is all over.

In San Diego, the next 2 events are April 16, at Coronado High School, for dinner, 5-7 pm

and May 7 at La Jolla United Methodist Church, for lunch, 11-1.

Potters contribute bowls, restaurants and bakeries contribute soup and bread, everyone who wants to contributes $20, chooses a bowl, eats a meal, keeps the bowl. I hear you should arrive early for your choice of the best professional bowls.

I really like participating in this. My bowls go to the La Jolla event, as Coronado High School pretty much makes their own. As usual my bowls are unready so far.

It's not the last minute yet!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Bringing New Pots to the Roland Street Fair

Hello.  Come by if you like. It's a cheerful neighborhood event. I'll be at the Rolando Street Fair on, where else? Rolando Blvd. in San Diego, on March 29, 10 to 6.

 This is the most fabulous glaze. The more I think of to add to its runniness, the better it gets.

That's a shape to repeat.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


The beginning of a breakthrough at least. I've been focused on that narrow base, with no separate foot, for the smooth curve up and out. Now I've tried working with the top of the bowl.

Thursday I flopped around a pottery class, not knowing what to do with myself. Friday I found this:

YES! This is where I want to go. There's development yet to do, but I'm in a new place. So far I have learned
  --  Fewer, bigger moves/changes/gestures are better than more and smaller ones.

That's boring.

That's interesting. 2 views I think of the same bowl, but it's clear that it becomes better with more depth in the cut.

  --  The line should keep flowing. The one above does, not so sure about the next picture.

  --  The heights and shapes should vary. The relatively flat part above doesn't work so well.

Several years ago, I made a bowl to remember a trip in Arizona. Now I see what its weak points are.

I was thinking of cliff tops, where streams fall over the edge, and carve the beginnings of canyons. I like that part, but not so much the wide bowl base and the rest of the top.

It all repeats the same heights, not good.

Is this new? To me, sure, and it feels like an invention. I  have, though, stopped to look at every pot with an irregular rim for years. In Craft in America, I noticed a Richard DeVore pot that does it wonderfully, looked up more of his work, and bow and step back. Not my invention; he made whole galleries full of marvelous pots with these qualities. He was after something else though, finishes like skin, pots like bodies. Interesting.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Where's That Good Bowl Shape?

 New bowls! I've been trying to get into my hands a form I see occasionally in others' work and have in my mind's eye: bowls that lift and flare from a narrow base, up and out. It's a gesture, like flinging out your arms to the sky. I see I wrote about this in October; what a long time til I have concrete, well, ceramic, results. And these are an intermediate effort, not a consistent success.

Is this it? It's got some of the quality, but I think loses the energy of the flare because the top turns inward.

This one? Yes, more lift.

Maybe even better with the top edge turned outward. This adds open hands to that arm gesture.

Here's a rounder bowl, with the narrow base and not much flare. I like it but it's not the same shape at all.

A little more of the flare. Better, definitely. Very small differences make a significant difference in quality. And I am only looking for one quality here. The rounder bowls have other kinds of quality  (I am exploring adding slip for texture and I like it in these 2 bowls.) Very complicated.

What about functional quality? Yes, the bowls seem well balanced with such a narrow base, though I've made wider ones that tip. There is a limit to the width that works.

The top edge seems to look equally appropriate, whether it is level, wavy or cut. So this is not a difference that makes a difference. 

And the glazes? These bowls are  also an exploration of cone 10 glazes I have available.

How about that wild combination? The bowl is a bit tippy, but I like the colors.

Oh yes, though not news. I really like this rutile glaze on porcelain, even better with some texture to enhance the runny effects.

Conclusions? Just keep at it. There is an endless amount of subtle variety in this field, and an endless amount to learn.  Fun. Perhaps every subject is open like this, and so full of possibility that you never come to its end. The world is BIG!