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!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Making Pottery in Old Age

What does it take to keep making pottery into old age?

 I do know people who have had enough and stopped potting, when conditions in their lives suggested a change. Most of us seem to love it, though, and want to keep going indefinitely. Bodies don't keep going indefinitely. Besides all the rest of life and health, there are health problems that come with making pottery: carpal tunnel problems from repetitive motion of hands and wrists, elbow troubles, tendinitis. We all know we should not breathe clay dust for years, but how scrupulously careful are you? Glaze chemicals are sometimes dangerous, too. If you would like to be scared/warned, check out Beth Peterson, Is Pottery Dangerous.

The inspiration for thinking about this is an article in last Sunday's LA Times on Dora De Larios. She is a major potter and sculptor now in her 80's and working busily. Perhaps it's more design than hand work at this point, but she seems still to be carving her pieces herself.

And I think of Eva Zeisel, my hero these days. She died almost exactly 3 years ago at age 105. A few months earlier she was still designing, though I think she shifted away from hand work in the 2000's sometime. Early in her long career she started designing ceramics for commercial production, and at the end of her life, began designing pieces in other materials. Never stopping, always creative.

Locally, and more accessibly, there's Jeri Unitt, who continued to take classes at Clay Associates into  her 80's. Over the years, she has not only made lovely indoor pieces, but has created her whole garden, the tiles for the back porch, the edging for planting areas, and table tops and flower pots.

And me? I started potting far too late in life to expect to give it up.  And I love the example of these people, carrying on long in delight and commitment and ability.