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#1 Stephen

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 10:17 AM

I would like to address something that is troubling to me. I see threads on this and other forums where potters put down other potters (pros and hobbyist) for using automation type tools.

 

I really think perfectly nice people are not thinking this through (mean people you can't reason with so this thread will mean nothing to them).  If you find yourself doing this I really think you should ask yourself why you are doing it? Is it to make yourself feel superior or are you purposely trying to make others feel bad about their choices? Do you realize that many chose centering and opening tools because their age and/or health dictate it to be able to continue to enjoy their craft. Splash pans, bats and trimming aids are all choices folks make for many reasons the least of which may be the skill needed to not use them. 

 

Hamada used coil throwing for even cups, I wonder if he was ridiculed as not knowing how to center and pull. 

 

Me I just think its awful and hate to see it. I'm a pretty confident guy and really don't give a crap what others think about how I chose to pursue my passion and I will happily and boldly tell someone to their face or in a thread the same BUT I was the one of the bigger guys in school that beat the crap out of bully's when I saw it happen (yeah that makes me feel good about my younger self as a kid) but I think it is shameful when I read it because so many people on this planet are not strong enough or confident enough and when they get put down it really hurts them. Often it hurts them a lot. 

 

OK off my soap box but this board is a professional board read by many thousands of artist and I hope maybe a few may rethink it before they throw that jab at a fellow human being just trying to enjoy something that is so much fun and will fight the urge to take the shine off their day just to feel smug or worse just to be mean.



#2 No Longer Member

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 11:00 AM

I hear ya brother. I use crap tools and equipment mainly as a statement. As an educator, we make it a point to celebrate each piece a student makes/likes regardless of skill level. Often times I'll walk into one of our classes and a student will ask me what I think of their pot.

 

"I think it's not my pot, therefore; my opinion doesn't matter. It's your pot, what matters is if YOU like it or not." Do you like it? Great, I think it's a wonderful pot". I always look for something positive to point out about a student's piece.

 

 

""The beauty of an object can be measured by the amount of joy it brings the creator"

 

    - can't remember who

 

 

All that being said, I  do purposely berate equipment and manufactures for a reason. Don't say something "is the" when it's not. Don't tell people how wonderful your product is when it's crap and plagued with problems. Don't tell me I'll be contacted after testing with an estimate for repairs first, then tell me I owe $90 but can't/won't give me a straight answer how you came about the conclusion it needed a service without being testing first.

 

I'm shocked at the amount of BS some BIG NAME manufactures feed their customers in order to drive sales. Much like you in high school, I have no problem with taking a big name manufacturer to ask over outright lies. It's one thing to be mistaken, it's a completely different matter to outright lie to people and know it.

 

 

...and off to the wood shed we go.... ;)

 

 

(NOTE: I never do that when contacting a manufacturer on behalf of another person or entity)


Either I'm getting better looking with age....or my vision is getting worse... :lol:


#3 flowerdry

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 11:27 AM

I am one of those people who loves to joke around and tease.  I sometimes get myself into trouble because other people take things more seriously.  I suspect that some of the posts referred to by Stephen, but definately not all, are really only meant in good fun.  Some of the giffin grip jibs, for instance.  At any rate, "in good fun" is the way I choose to interpret most of  it. 

 

On the other hand, maybe the old german saying applies:  "In jedem Witz liegt ein graenchen Wahrheit."   In every joke there is a grain of truth.


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#4 Denice

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 12:25 PM

Comments about using specific tools, kilns and wheels I just ignore.  All of my equipment is old and most of it was used when I bought it.  We have several friends that are OCD  and they are almost rabid about equipment they own.  I figure there are probably some potters out there that are a little OCD, they can't help it.  Just smile  and agree with them and it will pass.   Denice



#5 ayjay

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 05:09 PM

I've been a tool user since I started dismantling mothers bicycle (for parts for my own) at about age eight: :D

 

I've also spent my entire working life (retired now) as a carpenter so I know a bit about using tools.

 

If i see someone using a tool incorrectly or inefficiently I'll try and advise them differently. If they have really rubbish tools I'll probably try and let them know diplomatically (unless it's carpentry and then it's no holds barred).

 

A woman in my class was trying to hollow out a sculpted form with a knife. I handed her a loop tool and suggested she try it.

 

She couldn't quite believe the difference.  Should I have kept quiet?

 

I make most of my own pottery tools, not that there's many,  mostly trimming tools and ribs, they may not look as polished as bought tools but covered in clay they all look the same, and they work.



#6 No Longer Member

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 06:22 PM

A lot of you guys would be shocked at what I use for "tools".

 

Everything is a "proper" clay tool, you just have to know how to find the right uses for it. ;)

 

I took my bike completely apart at age 4. (By completely, I mean gutted the rims of bearings too but not the crank as I was still too small). It looked like it exploded  next to the house. I got it apart but didn't know how to put it back together. Surprisingly dad didn't say a word and just put it back together when he got home from workI moved on to "basic electricity" later in life by announced after dinner at around age 5, that I was going to play with the wall outlet.

 

I jammed mom's tweezers inna outlet.....

 

.....only once... :D

 

Since then I've tried to stick to DC current as much as I can. :)


Either I'm getting better looking with age....or my vision is getting worse... :lol:


#7 Pres

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 09:57 PM

Tool elitist? Equipment frowning? I really don't recall a whole lot of that here. Am I blind? I have often stated my opinion on the type of wheel I prefer, the type or brand of kiln, and the pros of the line I use or have experience with. However, I taught HS for over 30 years and most of that was with a poor budget when it came to equipment and tools. This also included upkeep for the equipment that I was lucky enough to get a hold of. So I had to do a lot of improvising, by making a lot of wooden and metal tools using the wood shops and a torch and old saw blades, band saw blades, packing straps, old silverware, and other "found/rescued" materials. Far from being an elitist at the use, or the dis use of equipment, I would often make mistakes that would make an elitist cringe at even the mention of it. However, in the past I have admitted to almost every way under the sun that I have erred. 

 

During those years as I had little budget I started teaching adult classes on Saturdays to boost my budget with an account that did not follow the regular budgets-where it ended at the end of the school year. I saved, and bought wheels, and other equipment from a variety of manufacturers and distributors. Work benches from Sam's club, potters wheels from Bailey, other equipment from Bennett. Always at low price, most bang for the low buck. I was able to experience a variety of wheels, a few different extruders, slab rollers, and other equipment when dealing with my classroom needs and my grad student time at PSU. My own studio has a CXC in it for the main wheel, but also an Amaco used motorized kick that I used for many years, because it was all I could afford. 

 

I still make some of my own tools, but have been able to purchase a wide variety of trimming tools, ribs, and other tools. I still work with pieces of broken plates for throwing bowls, or chop sticks for trimming tools or incising tools, hack saw blades to trim bottoms even, and even an occasional found object for decoration. Nothing to me is sacred, when it comes to adapting something to the studio. Elitist, hardly, and most of us here are the same as I.

 

Now then, where did I put my Griffin Grip, I need to trim some chalice stems!

 

 

best,

Pres


Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . . http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/

#8 Mark (Marko) Madrazo

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 10:48 PM

There are so many ways to be a potter, but the best way is what works for you. And we all do some kind of reinventing the wheel; even a pottery wheels. I try different tools, I buy and some I make. It's all a personal fit that matters. If I was a teacher, and someone asked me how to make a pot, I would ask them what they would like to make. And then, I would say practice, practice, practice. Ask questions and do not feel ashamed of what you do. There is a learning curve we all have to get though. And push the clay to till you find it's limits. Learn from mistakes. Do not get discouraged; get going, and have fun learning. I still make mistakes, but I still keep learning. I might even step away and come back later. So, do not tear down anyone, lift them up with positive feed back and encouragement. 



#9 Babs

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 10:53 PM

Seems tool is now a derogatory term and when directed at me by some useless tool :D Like a non tool , I smile and thank the "person" as I think of my giffen grip which allows me to turn so many pots quickly!

Like Pres, I find this forum is supportive of many different people, haven't seen many putdowns here, just a gentle teasing. The advice given often is learn how to do something then go do what's easiest and most effective for you using whatever you find.

A lot of folks here are second hand store specialists..



#10 Stephen

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 11:21 PM

Well actually I was not referring to anyone putting down others equipment due to age or quality. I changed that first sentence to be a little more clear what i was talking about, sorry I've been in the studio all day and just came up for air. I actually think the opposite is true as we potters are a cheap bunch and brag about saving a buck or getting 50 years out of a kiln :)

 

I was referring to tools that people use to cut corners such a centering and opening tools and trimming tools like griffin grips. To be clear what I see is usually deadpan comments inferring potters should learn how to do it the 'right' way. Like flowerdry pointed out, some comments may just be teasing. But teasing will still make someone feel bad, especially if they already feel a little less because they need a certain tool.

 

In retrospect 'bullying' I guess is a little harsh (I can't edit my topic title) but shaming isn't and I was just hoping to get folks to consider that people use these automation tools for various reasons and no one likes to feel their work is somehow less because they either choose to or have to use a specific tool to help them get the job done.



#11 GiselleNo5

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 11:33 PM

I use whatever tool works best for me. If I can't find or afford the tool I want or need, I make it. I think how deeply broke I was when I started out was really good for me and taught me that the fancy tools don't make good work, I do (or don't, as the case may be). I freely recommend the tools I use to anyone who wants to know.

I've experienced some shaming, more about the fact that I use commercial glazes than for any other reason. I know why I use them and I don't care what anybody thinks. I've also had people offer me unasked-for and unkind criticism of my work. Again, it matters more what I think and what I want to make so I take what is useful and ignore the rest.

This being said, I have experienced FAR MORE kindness and encouragement on this site than any other kind of interaction.

Oldlady, you have a dry sense of humor that I enjoy.

Marko, you are one of the kindest people I've ever met.

Babs, you are spot on.

I create order from chaos. And also, chaos from order.

 

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#12 Stephen

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Posted 19 September 2016 - 11:50 PM

ditto on this being a great board with a lot of wonderful, helpful potters helping each other.



#13 Mark C.

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 12:34 AM

I started with low fire in High school. I still have a few of those pieces.

I think folks should use whatever works for them.For myself I tried to learn all I could about ceramics and the tools of this trade.In ceramics its a constant learning.

I have so many tools that I do not use anymore-I like the simple ones now.A stick a sponge and a wire and some water.

My most treasured are tools from my mentor (long deseased) that he made when Hamada came thru in the 60's (copies from Hamadas tools) and taught at the collage for a very brief visit-this was all before my time but I have those tools from him in a box.


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#14 JBaymore

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 07:56 AM

Tools are just that.... tools.  It is about the HUMAN behind the tools. 

 

Skill development is what the human part is about.  The goal is to use your tools (whatever they are) skillfully.

 

Evaluating the performance of tools is a valid area of discourse.  Some tools work better than others for a given task.  Some are better made.

 

Deciding which tools are "appropriate" for claywork.... well.... that is mainly about "truth in advertising".  If you make great work with  throwing, handbuilding, press molding, slip casting, injection pressure casting, hydraulic pressing, dry pressing, 3-d printing....... who cares.  But just tell your story truthfully. 

 

Forums like this (and formal classes) are all about discourse.  Polite, rational discourse is how we all learn and broaden our understanding of a field.

 

best,

 

......................john


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#15 Pres

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 08:12 AM

Being a teacher, I went the full gambit of using different tools, and adapting tools for students. I had students in wheel chairs, I had students with all sorts of muscle problems, and had to make adaptations. In some cases, I made centering aids to help them on the wheel, straps and board set ups. I made tools smaller for folks that could not use a full size paddle or rolling pin.

 

Heck I even had a wheel chair student roll his wheel chair over two  plywood boards with two spacers in between. In the beginning it made poor slabs, and then when we warped the top board in a wide curve, things worked much better. He could get large slabs rather easily, even though someone else had to wedge it for him.

 

So when it came to whether or not to get a griffin grip, or some other "easy" tool, I did not hesitate. However, when teaching, the student needs to know that the tool may not be in any studio, so they need to know the "hard" way to do things in the beginning before they use the other tool. Surprisingly enough, I had students come back years later thanking me for teaching them the "hard" way, as most studios did not have the "easy" tool.

 

best,

Pres


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#16 Cline Campbell Pottery

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 10:53 AM

As a former silversmith I take a dim view of bead stringers in craft shows.  It isn't really their work if they don't make the beads. 

 

Last December my booth was near a beadstringer.  I bit my tongue (I don't always) and was civil.  I found she was learning metalsmithing to make better jewelry.  Later she sent a friend to me to look at my work.  The friend bought a large bowl.  That bowl was was just past the break even point, marking a successful show. 

 

Mocking people isn't a good idea.

 

Cynthia



#17 GiselleNo5

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 12:01 PM

As a former silversmith I take a dim view of bead stringers in craft shows.  It isn't really their work if they don't make the beads. 
 
Last December my booth was near a beadstringer.  I bit my tongue (I don't always) and was civil.  I found she was learning metalsmithing to make better jewelry.  Later she sent a friend to me to look at my work.  The friend bought a large bowl.  That bowl was was just past the break even point, marking a successful show. 
 
Mocking people isn't a good idea.
 
Cynthia


I love this. You never know where people are so why make fun? I don't like "bead stringers" either but then I see my mom's friend who has arthritis and struggles to make even simple jewelry, yet it brings her joy, so who am I to judge?! She was raised to be practical and useful so making anything even approaching art is a huge risk for her. Still, it's especially wonderful to see someone's learning progressing to more advanced techniques as they refine their art and craft.

I think it's also interesting that people in clay often make disparaging remarks about slip casting. Nobody who has tried slip casting makes remarks like this, by the way. I've done slip casting and it is NOT EASY.

What I want to know is, do 2-D artists look down that way on others who sell prints of their work over and over? Because we are selling original artwork for a tiny amount of money. And if we find a way to reproduce it more quickly and efficiently and consistently, who can judge??

I create order from chaos. And also, chaos from order.

 

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#18 JBaymore

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 12:07 PM



What I want to know is, do 2-D artists look down that way on others who sell prints of their work over and over?

 

Unfortunately.... yes... there is this tendency.

 

And some painters and other 2-d folks disparage photography as "something lesser".

 

GOOD work is what it is all about.  Nothing wrong with good INDUSTRIAL design work that is mass produced either.  As artists we should all appreciate good design wherever we see it.

 

best,

 

......................john


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Guest Professor, Wuxi Institute of Arts and Science, Yixing, China

Former President and Past President; Potters Council
 

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#19 ChenowethArts

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 12:13 PM

It is the person behind the tool that counts...it is just that some of us have bigger behinds than others :)

 

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#20 LeeU

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Posted 20 September 2016 - 02:22 PM

Since  I joined in 2014 I have read all forums almost daily, and looked up a lot of older threads as well. I can't recall but 1-or-2 snippits of negativity in all that time. 

 

Stephen's comment "...hoping to get folks to consider that people use these automation tools for various reasons and no one likes to feel their work is somehow less because they either choose to or have to use a specific tool to help them get the job done." is a good and important point, in my opinion, just not terribly applicable to this crowd, this array of forums. 

 

It is the very civility of this board that keeps me coming back, beyond learning so much and from such great people. Of course, it's hard to discern "tone" from a computer screen and without inflections, or more context, our words may not come across the way we intend. Note that Senior Geek had to actually clue us in that he is "whimsical" or we would never figure that out. 


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