Thursday, November 29, 2018

Artisans Alley next week

On Saturday December 8 I'll be at he Artisans Alley Craft Fair, Village Elementary School, 600 6th Ave in Coronado. I can't tell you what it is like, never been there before. It's a fixture in Coronado, its 46th year as a fundraiser for music in the schools, so a good event. 9-3, costs you $2 to get in.

Christmas shopping? Can I tempt you with new pots?

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Beautiful Line

Hearing the slow movement of the Dvorak Cello Concerto, I realized how important is the line, to what I find beautiful. It's a lovely melody, not much adorned by the orchestra. I listen, following the line (the melodic line, technically).

I love Picasso drawings, especially the simple ones, for the drawn line.

What about pots? Yes, it's the line that attracts me.  We all trim pots looking at the profile as a line, and trim until it looks right.

This marvel is by Jennifer Lee. Check out

This is a painting, The Winter Road, by Georgia O'Keeffe.

What if it were the profile of a pot? Wouldn't it be marvelous?
The top edge of a pot can also be a wonderful line. I carve them sometimes and like the flowing line. In a master's hands, that can be gorgeous.

That's Ashraf Hanna's.

 How about the bottom? There was a period when people often made pots with an irregular, pushed up bottom.

From 500 Cups.

Yes, more interesting than a basic, standard, flat foot. Part of the beauty of Martha Grover's pots comes from the surprising line of her pot feet. See

Are these line qualities the same thing? Drawn line is 2 dimensional. Pot profile is 3 dimensional: a line swung around the center on a wheel. Melodic line is drawn through time. You listen, following. But you look all at once. But you shape or pet a pot, following in time.

I am confused here. Don't understand, but I do see and hear. Perhaps that will do.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Tis the Season

for craft fairs. Not quite Christmas, but part of the run-up to it.

I'll be at the Lindbergh-Schweitzer Elementary School Craft Fair, on November 17, Saturday, 9-3.

It's a low-key, homey fair, not  too expensive, friendly. Come by if you like. Address: 4133 Albertine Av in San Diego, just off the 805 and Balboa Ave.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Carmel Valley Artists and neighbors

Hello. I'm at the Carmel Valley Artists show on Sunday. They've joined the Talmadge Art Show, so the geography spreads.

If you are interested:

And new pots of course. Some so new I'll be opening the kiln on Saturday.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Humility and Letting Go and Pottery

What heavy duty issues to associate with making pottery! In the February 2018 issue of Ceramics Monthly, Roelof Uys wrote an article about exactly this. He works at the Leach Pottery in St. Ives, UK. Yes, the pottery factory/studio founded by Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada, the fathers of us all studio potters.

"Humility is the one thing we can teach to all about the art of making objects from earth and fire." Other than the example of better work, I have never thought to learn humility in learning to make pottery. But  I believe him.

In the "factory" part of the Leach Pottery, the making is really shared: "We maintain our standard by working as a team, relying on each other to do assigned tasks with care and consideration. One person will throw the pot, another will trim or handle that same piece, and someone else will glaze it and load it in the kiln." Imagine! Yes, they make standardized pieces for sale from the pottery, and do not so share their individual art pieces. But still, I've never met a potter, that I know of, who would let someone else choose a handle for their pots, or glaze them with a different eye.

In the shared studio where I work, we donate pots for fundraising sales, and sometimes leave these unsigned for anyone to glaze. We have already let them go after the making stage. I never do that, I sign mine to indicate that I want to glaze them, carry them all the way through the process before letting go. And there are people there so attached to their work that they find it difficult to donate their pots. That's extreme attachment.

Once I saw a pot I made in someone else's house, and said, without thinking, "oh, that's mine." No, it's not, it belongs to the people who own it and use it. I still felt it continues to be mine. Ongoing attachment.

They must get over the attachment and holding on, at the Leach Pottery. "One of the greatest revelations in working as part of a team in this extraordinary place is the way it has affected my personal practice. Preconceived ideas are constantly challenged and the immediacy of feedback from peers encourages quick development and forces you to experiment. " Before he worked there, Uys thought "The beautiful simplicity of their forms and the lack of ego with which they approached their work allowed the materials and processes to speak for themselves, producing pots with a sort of carefree swagger but with a mindfulness that always respected the user."

That's worth learning.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Playing in the Mud

If you are not a potter, do you know how messy it is to make pottery?

For the past two weeks I've been reclaiming used clay, and I'm not done yet. This is the messiest possible part of the craft, definitely playing in the mud.

When you handbuild,with slabs or coils of clay, it never gets very wet, very muddy. This is the cleanest version of potting.

Throwing clay on a wheel requires the clay be slippery and slide between your hands, so it is always wet at this step. We do call it mud. And throwing is very much my favorite part of the making, other than developing ideas. I like playing in mud.

There is always leftover and reusable clay, pieces cut off a slab as you make the right shapes, throwing mistakes to toss in a bag and reuse later, dry chips from trimming pots to refine their shapes. To reuse it, the leftovers all have to have the same malleable wetness, and be blended into one mass. This is reclaiming. And yes, I've been sloppy and let it wait, and accumulate.

I also have new or reclaimed clay I haven't used in too long, which has just gradually dried in the bag until it is too hard to work well and with pleasure. Reclaiming involves wetting it all, waiting til it is malleable, mixing, drying until it can be wedged and bagged again. So satisfying when done, like a fine collection of nuts squirreled away for winter.  Such a wet mess in process.

I've got 9 types of clay to reclaim. Oof.

It seems necessary to me. If I threw away used clay, I'd never dare make a mistake. In a shared studio, used clay can be reclaimed collectively, with a pugmill to do the heavy work. At home, I do it myself, with hands and water.

Hard work, sore hands when the clay is heavy or hard.

And it messes up your nails.

 But I love the mud --  it's protean, changeable, elemental, responsive and all about hands. I love throwing, and I'm not at all interested in 3-D printing with clay.

I love getting something out of nothing  -- including pots as good as I can make them, made out of scraps and mess.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Deep Lessons of Street Sales

I spent Sunday at Art in the Village, in Carlsbad, offering my pottery to people walking by. It is an art sale on the street, a pleasant Sunday outing. Some passersby were shopping, some were walking their dogs, and everything in between. It did not feel like a situation for deep learning. Of course in some way, every situation can lead to depth and understanding and development. I wasn't expecting it here.

It is a pleasure to offer my pottery to people who like it, even get enthusiastic about it. I knew that, and that pottery is so tactile that I am suspicious of online sales for it. I like craft sale events.

At a sale like this one, I set up tables and shelves and pots, and wait. I am in a very passive stance, as I am not going to hustle you. The whole day is a practice in accepting what comes. Easier of course when you come, and want a pot, than when you walk by chatting and looking elsewhere.  I watch though, notice where people look and what attracts them away from their conversations and dogs. And I hope, so a lack of interest makes for much stronger practice in acceptance.

Some makers are so attached to their work that they do not want to let them go. Pots as children. I love handing mine on, seeing buyers consider and choose and enjoy.

So I had a fine time. Even so, and with lots of happy buyers, I found myself encouraged by frequent sales and discouraged by long times between them. That's another part of the practce: patience,  and not feeling needy for appreciation.

As always, it's easier to enjoy the event when I get what I want, and much more of a lesson when I do not.