Tuesday, March 31, 2009

non beau tankerous bowls

Howdy all! I have decided that it is just as easy to make a new post in order to respond to comments. That will be my way of giving you feedback for the issues that come up outside of class time. So please don't hesitate to raise any questions that you need my help with.

These are only some of the bowls we looked at on Monday. I wasn't able to get the other images to work well enough to post, but they are still in Julie's space should you need to look at them.

So, the assignment is to explore a few bowl forms this week, paying attention to a broad range of details and how they effect perception and use of the pot. Try as many ideas as you are interested in. There is no such thing as a mistake if it is something you learned from, so be adventurous and attempt things that may even seem extreme to your normal approach to pot making. Next Monday we will see what folks came up with and decide what worked best, what didn't, how some things may be tweeked, and what elements are worth taking as a starting point for further investigation. The next week's assignment will be to explore those qualities and details that appealed to you. Have fun and don't hold back! Its only clay after all.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

some ideas for Juana

This is a tea bowl by the artist Steven Colby. You can find more of his work on his blog. I almost forgot that he would be a good potter for you to check out, but I have discovered it is never too late to edit a post! Unfortunately it plunks every new image at the top, so this is the new intro to the post. I think you can get some good ideas of what he does from this pot. His decorating is a little 'busier' than the other three artists, but minimalism isn't the only direction you can take this theme.

Juana, these are some artists that I think you might be interesterd in. They all seem to be doing the kinds of dark clay light slip/glaze contrast that you are working with and have some interesting takes on how to decorate them. I think your design instincts are perfectly suited to this method. The top three (2cups, bowl, & bowl) are all by the Australian artist Jane Sawyer. I absolutely love what she does and am sorely tempted to be inspired to finish my own work the same way. Maybe when my latest series of cone 6 glaze experiments run their course I will.

This is a cup by Ron Philbeck, the artist I had recomended you look up the other day. His blog is always interesting and he makes some really fine pots as well. Personally I am less interested in his particular imagery, but I love his sense of playfulness and the character of his forms. I think you could learn a lot by looking at what he does and the choices he makes. It was really interesting to read some posts recently where he credits both Ron Meyers and Michael Simon as inspirations for what he does. Small world, eh?

This fine artist is Ayumi Horie, and she also has a great website. She is obviously very talented both as a thrower and a decorater. You should talk to Alya about her some time. She is one of her favorite artists for very good reasons. I think her pots are really interesting for the most part and her imagery is often quite captivating.

These are all artists worth paying attention to. They all work in low fire clay, slip and clear glazes with occasional highlights of other colors. I think you should try to put a few of your pieces through the electric kiln with some clear glaze on them just to see if the results are worth pursuing. One great advantage of this is that your turn around time is only a couple of days. No need to bisk fire, glaze and wait on the gas kiln to get fired. Just make the pot, let it set up some, pour slip inside and dunk the out side, let set up some more, decorate, let dry and then glaze and put on the low fire shelves to get fired. Done in a few days! Have some fun!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Great class last night (I thought). Some of you made extaordinary progress. There was a good deal of technical acomplishment and some real skill breakthroughs. There was also some real conceptual advancement for some of you in how you look at your pots and understand the issues involved. I thought everyone learned some important lessons, regardless of how many pots came off the wheel successfully. As is always the case, what you get out of any endeavor is related to what you put in. I am proud of all of you and the hard work that you have done. Making pots isn't easy. It takes patience, focus, commitment, a willingness to experiment, a certain amount of fearlessness, and a great deal of practice. Keep up the good work! We will be starting on bowls next class, but in the mean time you should make as many mugs as you can before then. We will wrap up mugs by discussing any issues you may have encountered, but feel free to raise them as comments on the blog here. Also, have some ideas for what you want your bowl inspiration to be. Bring something in for us to look at if possible. Till then....

Howdy all!

One thing I forgot last night was to remind folks about/talk up the Geoff Pickett workshop on saturday. Geoff is a fantastic potter with a huge amount of experience and a great perspective on things pottery related. He is a much better thrower than I will ever be, and he puts it to good use making a lot of really high quality pots. Some of his forms are truly breathtaking, and even his larger porcelain pots are light as a feather. There is a lot to admire about what he does, so I encourage you all to join us and experience it for yourself. Next week we start working on bowl forms and I plan on bringing several of Geoff's in for you to look at. His bowls are really great, some of my favorites to use in my kitchen. These are a quick sample. Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Howdy all! First off, I wanted to reiterate that I am commited to making this class enjoyable for each of you. It seemed likely that a few of you felt slightly intimidated about the assignment for the class. And while I feel that some of you should jump in no holds barred, there may be some whose time is better spent focussing on the basics and the fundamentals of getting your pots to just stand up. I don't want anyone to feel that they have been thrown into the deep water and still don't know how to swim yet. The point I tried to emphasize last monday was that as long as you can get your basic shape thinned out you won't really risk it to start exploring the creative detail making. It may seem like you need to focus on only one thing at a time, but I will guarantee that you can have way more fun when you start to investigate the more creative and imaginitive part of the process. Maybe leave it just a bit thicker than you might otherwise until you get the hang of the new technique or shapping requirements.

So here is my advice to you all: Choose something that you are intrigued by that will challenge your abilities as you understand them. I will help you figure out how to approach making it, so don't fear that you are all on your own. The point of this exercise and the point of the class as a whole is that unless you are used to looking at other people's pots, and unless you are used to playing around with ideas that other people have tried, you will be limited to mining your inspiration from a very narrow source. Your ideas will only extend as far as what you already know. You will end up needing to 'reinvent the wheel' every time you try something new. Looking at what other people have done gives you an idea of what is possible. It gives you grounds for exercising your abilities at problem solving, and tests your relationship with the clay by introducing new techniques and ways of working. Eventually you will have looked at so much that the way you look at your own pots will be influenced by this background. Your developement as artists will be more sophisticated the broader your awareness of the potentials you are working with.

I understand how daunting this project may seem, especially as it takes you away from your 'safe zone', but I encourage you all to have fun with it. Don't feel like every lump of clay has to be something special and survive as a successful pot. As long as you are learning it has served an important purpose. And have fun with it! Don't get too worked up with expectations. Take the long view that every pot you make adds to your experience. And the more experience you get the more you understand the clay and your own abilities. The better this understanding the easier it is to make what you want. The better able you are to make things successfully the more fun you will have. So think of what you are doing as having a long term goal. Relax and have fun with it!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mug Assignment

Howdy folks! I thought having a place outside of the classroom for discussion would help us all out. Also it makes sense for you to have access to some of the things we looked at as a resource for continued inspiration/contemplation.