Friday, November 28, 2014

Craft Sales are for Listening

Last Saturday I was at a local craft sale with my pots, at the Lindbergh-Schweitzer Elementary School.This is one of several low-key, small sales before Christmas, a fundraiser by the school's PTA. One woman passing by checked out a small box I've made, this one.

She stopped to tell me about her box. After her husband died, she glued a picture of him to a box, and put in it small pieces of paper on which she wrote about her feelings of anger, I suppose at his dying. She said when she was "done with my anger", she transformed it into a gratitude box. Each evening, she writes something she is grateful for that day, and puts it in the box. At the end of each year, she empties the box and cuts papers for the next year's notes.What a lovely reminder to notice occasions for gratitude. What a new year's celebration. What a transformation from anger to gratitude, when she was ready. Altogether marvelous.

Standing on the street or the schoolyard behind my pots, I am available more than usual, just there to respond to whoever stops, and to whatever they want.  I think I go to sell pots and see how people respond to what I make. Not necessarily.  Other things can happen too, in this open situation. People often share bits of their personal lives; this story might be the most wonderful offering anyone's made. And my intention certainly need not be the only relevant reason to participate in craft sales. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Lots of New Pots! Any Good?

It's great just to see new and finished pots, a process come to its end and an object from my hand, eyes, mind.  The latest batch has a few I find really good, some flops and several acceptable and not exciting ones. Done is not at all the same as good.


This I like. It's cute, friendly and works. It sold the day after it came out of the kiln.

This one? Not so sure. It's the same idea, a bit too heavy and chunky, wide in the base, maybe off in the handle. I like the somewhat wild glaze combination, but I've still got the pot; maybe other people don't. Aesthetic success is a matter of slight differences from aesthetic blah or failure  --  the right differences.

A set of bowls, not bad, better actually in person.  They've got some of the quality of grace and looseness I'm after.

This little stem and seed head really has it! If I could make pots that float like this, I'd be making what I can see.

Then there's technical success and failure. The figure on the pot above is a picture of one of those ancient British chalk horses,carved into a hillside, maybe in the Iron Age? This is one of the chancier pieces I've made. The slip that paints the figure did not stick completely; is that a problem, or does it just look more ancient? The orange circle is a mystery, some effect from the glazing and firing, not my doing; but it adds quality. But, oops, the plate really warped:

Here's another, also a slip transfer, from Ellen Fager's class. This a a paleolithic era horse in a cave painting. Nice, but...

The plate cracked all the way through. My fault, some strain on the pot from the way I attached the footring to the back.

I like this glaze and the way flowers stand out against it.

 But not this one, with glaze much too thin. It's probably salvageable. Actually the picture looks better than the pot.

I've been learning about adding slip to the surface of pots. That's a way to add color, drawing  and texture.


Ah, better. I lifted the idea of smearing slip across the pot from Stephen Hill, a wonderful potter.

It makes a loose, random texture that enhances the variability of glazes that look different when they are thin or thick and that run interestingly. I'm surprised to like this so much; I thought I prefer smooth surfaces and elegant shapes.

Now here is an ugly shape much improved by the glaze. Why?

And I like this one, an exploratory form, and an interesting glaze combination. Sometimes they work!

 It's all a bit confounding. So much to understand.