Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Last Post

I'm going to stop writing this blog. It feels out of date, and I often have nothing to say or share. Feels like an end. Thank you for reading.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Traditional vs. studio potters

I've been in India the last few weeks. Generally when I travel, I like to visit potters. Couldn't figure out how to do that there. There are still traditional potters, making standardized ware for practical use. I say a few vendors by the roadside, mostly selling large round unglazed pots, maybe water containers. And I've heard of pottery neighborhoods in city slums, where people  have moved together from pottery-making villages and resumed their pottery businesses.

I thought there were few studio potters, art potters. I'm not sure. I did not find any. On the other hand, several years ago in San Diego, I heard a studio potter from India talk about her work, and her uneasy relationship with the traditional potters. She wanted to encourage them to keep the work and tradition going, as a national treasure. At the same time, she knew it was a low-valued  village craft, and low paid. How could she succeed as an artist and encourage people not to switch to some better paid work to support their families and be respected?

And in a Mumbai newspaper, I saw an article about an award winning studio potter.

There is both, evidently. In many other countries with continuing pottery traditions, the potters expand their markets to hotels and restaurants and tourists, and some traditional makers are appreciated as artists. Perhaps that is beginning in India. I get the impression though that the poor are very poor and cut off from opportunity, and that village knowledge is not much respected in cities. Not modern, not sophisticated, low tech. What baggage we carry!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Sylvie Enjalbert Lives in Her Pots

In the October Ceramics Monthly, there's an article about Sylvie Enjalbert, by Lucie Brisson. That's usual; they often profile a potter/ceramic artist, or several, in an issue. But I found this article very moving.

 She finds her life as a potter quite separate from her previous way of life. I am moved by the continuity. "In the early 2000s she was an avid mountaineer and paraglider living and working in the tourism industry in the Atacama desert of Northern Chile...a long-felt desire to be creative with her hands caught up with her and she found herself enrolled in a local pottery workshop where she learned coiling. Clay turned out to be a powerful encounter in the breathtaking, arid landscape of sand and adobe houses." She let herself follow an internal push to where she wants to go, then and since: "Now I keep getting closer and closer to who I think I am, thanks to clay." This is wonderful and inspiring, her intuitive openness and patience. Perhaps it didn't have to be clay that led her, but it is. For me, too.

I am moved by her quietness, the more so because I read the article after returning from a craft sale, which is social, noisy and oriented to selling. "'I came back to the basics: my hands, a few wooden tools, the quiet, the slow working pace. '" It is an achievement to keep that going in the modern world.

And "the sources for her work include 'all the hands that have made things before mine...This is what moves me. Humanity.'" Oh, yes.

""My working motions were short and tight." Given an opportunity to make big pots, "'Suddenly I opened up...Involving my whole body was such pleasure.'" She is still an athlete.

And I would call hers desert pots.  It all connects, beautifully.

I like many of her pots, the minimalism, the beautiful lines.

And so I am moved by this description of her working and what she says about it. Is this really her, or am I projecting an image I like? I don't know. Her website is as quiet and private as she seems, and I've never met her. True or imagined, I find her story impressive and inspiring.


Monday, October 14, 2019

Going to Escondido; Want to Come?


 On Sunday, October 20, I will be at the Grand Avenue Festival in Escondido, 9 to 5, on Grand Ave. between Broadway and Kalmia. Come stop for a seat and shade if you are there. This is my first time there,so I don't know what it is like. Looking forward to it. New pots, of course, and some old ones.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Eye Training

We all learn to make pottery as a handcraft, needing training for the makers' hands. True, of course. To the extent that it is also art, or that the potter wants to make beautiful pots, it takes eye training too.

These days I am watching nature's design work to train my eyes to see form, proportion, color combination...

I see beauty, but also a kind of inevitability. This plant can grow only this way, and has to produce only this beauty.

Perhaps pottery made in a tradition also must look as it comes out traditionally, and feel inevitable.

From Traditional West African Pottery Kuli Village, by Terry deBardelaben.

 I work as a studio potter in the US, where it is all open-ended, where we can borrow from everyone who allows us to, where creativity and inventiveness are valued.  How do we come up with pots that are so right they are inevitable? We need to develop a quality of seeing that sees rightness.

By Heesoo Lee. How did she see that edge?

I'm working on it.

What a pleasure.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Kate Tremel, oh, wow!

Look at this! I just stumbled over this advertising page, in the latest Ceramics Monthly. And I stopped reading, stopped breathing, and my eyes popped. Ooh!

This is a response to art, to the pure beauty of the thing.  It's marvelous, the form, the thoughtful asymmetry, the contained looseness, the organic references, the quiet of it. Oh, and the technical quality.

Who would check if it is a functional pot? But that is what she makes, and the function matters to her. Even better.

It is in all ways to my taste, checks all my aesthetic boxes.

And then I like her attitude towards making pottery (quotes from her website):

"My interest in the vessel is rooted in its relationship to the body...getting dirty is important."

"I have always liked the connection to the history of makers that ceramics affords."

"My fascination with forms in nature and the everyday...nature of pottery provides me with the inspiration for a quiet meditation on the beauty of simple things."

Yes!! Check it out. katetremel.com

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Of Course Salt and Pepper Shakers are Cute!

I bought this one several months ago, from Ely, in Heraklion, in Crete.


Definitely cute, and oh, wow, the cork doesn't have to be on the bottom. That has put me off making shakers: how do I know how far the cork will stick out, to make a bottom that sits flat? Clearly, I made myself unnecessary difficulty with that idea.

Since then, I've made several others. They are just out of the firing and available to try.

Aah, they work. That's fun with something new. My cutest are definitely the accidental ghosts.

I didn't realize they were people until I made the pouring holes and saw faces. Ghosts in sheets, of course, and I glazed them white.

But Ely's is best. The cork as flirty tail wins the cuteness contest.