Saturday, November 14, 2015

"The Beautiful One"

My daughter and I were looking at a case full of pottery in a Navajo crafts store. "Ooh, look at that one!" I said. "Which one?" she asked. "I said "the beautiful one!" She looked at me doubtfully. The saleslady stood behind us, with an odd smile on her face. I think she's heard it all.

For me, one pot in that case was clearly the beautiful one. It jumped out of the background, into my attention and admiration. For my daughter, it was not different from the others. For the saleslady?

I was at the San Diego Potters Guild show this morning. Such variety of work, all with technical skill and in one medium and place and time. Some were wonderful, some I found ordinary or uninteresting, some I actively disliked.

When I sell my pots at a craft sale, I find particularly discouraging the people whose eyes slide over all I'm offering and snag on nothing.

What makes a piece jump out as the beautiful one? Why is that effect so different for each of us? Why don't you see what I see?

Unanswerable questions, for me at least and now.

I have a fairly good sense for my own taste in pottery, but often find I like something outside the ways I'd describe that taste. Here's a mug, right down the center of my preferences, by Roberta Klein.

Oh, her glazes!

And this small plate by Ellen Fager; I love the delicacy of the decoration, on a background that is strong and simple.

These questions are probably the same we could and do ask about people: what makes one person stand out from a crowd? Some affinity, some connection ...

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Need Christmas Presents?

If handmade pottery comes to mind, I'll be at craft sales the 3rd weekend in November:

Lindbergh-Schweitzer Elementary School in Clairemont, San Diego
November 21, 9-3. This is a friendly PTA fundraiser, lots of varied crafts, fairly low priced.

Talmadge Art Show, Liberty Station, San Diego
November 22, 10-4. Very classy crafts, some pottery and glass, lots of jewelry and beautiful clothes.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Carving the Tops, Take 3 at Least

All this year I've been trying variations on carving irregularities into the tops of bowls and vases. Here are the latest versions.

 I am learning that it works better on pots with certain proportions: relatively narrow tops or something I haven't figured out yet. I like these vases. I think I like the bottom one best, the rounded shape and the complicated carving. 

These are glazed only on the inside. The more interesting the clay, the better they work. Or do the variations in the clay color (mix different colored clays), and the horizontal lines from the clay moving on the wheel actually distract from the emphasized top rim?

Perhaps they look better, taller. I'll try that next. How marvelous that there is no end to possibility and learning.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Talmadge Art Show, Del Mar Taste and Artisan Stroll and custom pots

Come show and stroll!

 I'll be at the Talmadge Art Show pop-up sale next Sunday, September 20. That's 10-4, at 2211 Avenida de la Playa, La Jolla Shores. Not the park by the beach but a small one a few blocks inland. It's still warm enough to swim, there are discounts at local restaurants...

And at the Del Mar Taste and Artisan Stroll, October 4, 9-4. That's on the 101, the Coast Highway, yes in the middle of the street. Also a tasting event by local restaurants.

I usually make pots to my pleasure, exploring shapes and glazes and ideas. I'm also very glad to make pots to your pleasure. We can work out a design together. The pictures here are this summer's (do I have to say last summer?) custom pieces. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Craft Revived

Several months ago I went to an exhibit of pottery at the Portland Japanese Garden. These are pots from Mashiko, a traditional Japanese functional-pottery-making town. In the 1920's, their craft was stimulated by Shoji Hamada (Hamada Shoji, I suppose, in Japanese), a great leader in recreating studio pottery. Who needed handmade pots in the 1920's? Only people who chose them. So the traditional manufacture of pots there was shrinking. Under Hamada's influence and teaching, Mashiko became a center of pottery as art to live with. Here are some of the exhibited pots that grabbed me.

And I realize that I have heard this story several times before, from other places.  With Bernard Leach, Shoji Hamada recreated British studio pottery, also nearly disappeared for lack of need or desire for handmade ceramics. Sometimes, they are said to have revived all of European studio ceramics. I'm not so sure, after visits to French pottery towns, where the work has gone on since the Neolithic Era. And where Picasso made art on ceramics. Certainly there has been a great flowering of ceramic art in the industrial age, in these industrialized countries.

And Maria Martinez, in San Ildefonso Pueblo, looked at the history of her dying craft and revived motifs and techniques that set off a boom in Pueblo ceramics as much appreciated art.

And Juan Quezada in Mata Ortiz started absolutely from the beginning. He taught himself to make pottery, with careful observation of potsherds at a nearby archeological site, revived the ancient local styles, and gave his whole town its current occupation and a new/old art.

Wow! From Mashiko.

People often say there are no new ideas in ceramics and that we may borrow (steal?) freely from each other. Each of the pieces from this exhibit looks to me, outside the Mashiko tradition, wildly individual and creative. They are, but also there is the whole local history behind them. Both created and revived.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

"I'm Go glad I Bought It From the Potter."

I've been enjoying the pleasure of customers who like what they've bought. Recently I've heard comments like this from several. "I'm so glad I wandered into the sale and by your booth."

They make me think about the link between the maker and the user. Perhaps it could be the same in all fields, between the cook and the eater, the performer and the audience, the builder and the resident. I think we are more aware of that link when we are in the same place or when you take the product from my hand into yours. It's a more personal link then. How many of us know the people who built our houses? Perhaps all those links were equally personal in the very old days when we all lived in villages, and all production was craft production.  Now we almost have to hunt for it. And we find it special when we are that close to each other  --  in small venues, where we can see the dancers sweat!

I first learned to like selling pots in a sale of student and teacher work at the UCSD Craft Center; working my "shift" I looked up when someone said in great delight "I'm taking THIS one", and saw the person waving my pitcher. The pot then stands on its own, goes on from my hands into a sort of life of its own, joins your life.  Wonderful!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Art in the Village in Carlsbad

I'll be at Art in the Village:
        Grand Ave. in Carlsbad
        Sunday August 9
Come and call it a workday.

With new pots?  But of course.

How about a white glaze?