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.