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Imperfection is in the mind  of the beholder.  I usually have some small pieces around my shop that have glaze imperfections in my opinion.  I use to trash them, but now I will let a visitor take one.  It started when I had a visitor fall in love with one of my imperfect pots, she said the glaze bleb made it look more homemade.  So I decided to let visitors choose one and why, most thought the glaze bleb was beautiful or didn't care if it had one. A lot of visitors were drawn towards work that I didn't care for at all.  The experience  has left me wondering about my own artistic sensibility and taste.   Denice

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"Imperfection is in the mind  of the beholder."

 

This.

 

I tend to really enjoy imperfections, as the average person would perceive perfection. It is different for every individual. "Machines" create perfection, humans create imperfections trying to imitate machines...but why?

D.M.Ernst likes this

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Magnolia: a warm welcome to you! Wabi-Sabi, yes, I totally agree! Very good answers, thank you!

 

Denice: did you feel that said pieces were imperfect (not-perfect) in a rather negative way? Which ones are you taking to the market despite the imperfectness, and which ones are you trashing? Where are you drawing the line?

 

Sydney: exactly! I am curious if you get answers to your question....

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Over the years, I have had pots that I did not really like the glaze on, the way the lid looked in relation to the pot, or the way the base was or so many other elements. Some of these pots I did not feel like selling, others I did, or gave a way when someone said that they really like something. Now I have come to find that many of the pieces I kept because they had turned out the way they were planned, I don't like as well, and others that I did not like because they had not turned out the way planned I do like. Matter of taste, time, and living with imperfection. Wonder why my wife has lived with me so long? :rolleyes:

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Good question. I know there are certain aesthetics that appreciate that imperfection. I guess it depends on what the intention was originally and if my own piece stood up to expectation. I have some where the under glazing may be off from what I wanted and a glaze may not have worked the way I was planning. That is imperfection to me. Buyers may not object.

Marcia

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Marcia said it the best, perfect in my eye are the ones I sell.  At least I have gotten to the point where I just don't trash them,  maybe someday I will get to the point I will sell them.  I have this message in my head from my college professor who encouraged us to toss our work.  He said that ceramics last forever, do you want someone in the future to see your name on the bottom of that pot.   Denice

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I have spent the past two years learning to throw pots that were symmetrical, centered, and "perfect". To my absolute shock, in my last making cycle I discovered that I am now drawn to less perfect. 

I delight in the little scrape marks left by tools on clay that I leave raw. 

I am pleased by a repetitive design that is imperfectly reproduced, each triangle slightly different, every leaf at a slightly different curve and slant. When you stand back the effect is of a beautiful symmetry but it is not machine made, it has personality. When you look closely you instantly see that a human made these marks. 

 

A few weeks ago I trimmed through the thin bottom of two pots, one mug, one bowl. I didn't want to take the time time to throw replacements because I had a show coming up, so I quickly slapped on a new slab bottom to each and applied a hand-rolled coil so they could still have a raised foot. The bowl I also altered to an oval while I was at it, why not take the opportunity since I could do whatever I wanted with the shape. The coil base is slightly lumpy though both sit properly without wobbles. I took a rubber rib and smoothed it but still you could see that the foot was applied by hand. I found myself wishing that I could apply this organic look to all my mugs. I started looking in dissatisfaction at the perfect machine-turned feet on my other trimmed pots. This was a huge shock and caused me to question "Who have I become??" because this is the opposite of what I have been seeking for all the years since I discovered clay. It was like I looked in the mirror and saw someone else's face. Even the colors I'm using are changing. It's so weird. 

So I don't know what I think any more. I do know that I have always made little to no effort to make identical pots and identical handles because to me why am I trying to reproduce what machines make? I want my work to be as different and as unique as possible. Now apparently I want to take that even further! Just watch, I'm going to turn into a hand builder! :) 

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Okay, now I have thought about it.

 

It comes down to two C words.... Criticism or Critique.  Starting out, potters have a tendency to criticize their own work: comparing it against the works of others who have been at it for decades. As time goes on they learn to critique their work: is it the best given clay, glaze, and the other limitations materials place on it? They learn to discern the difference between faulty glaze and faulty glaze application: both are correctable, but one requires the potter to improve their skills. The only difference between a newbie and an old master is time, and with time comes skill level and confidence. I am just now learning to throw although I have been around clay for awhile. I look at the pieces I have thrown and think: absolutely perfect for someone who has only thrown for two weeks.

 

The problem child however comes in the form of those in your inner circle. Are they critiquing or criticizing your work? Never ceases to amaze me when people who have never swung a hammer in their lives come onto my job and precede to tell me how to swing a hammer. Or the ever famous line: "Well if I were throwing that, I would..."  Well, you are not throwing it, I am- so hush your face. However, an honest critique is worth its weight in gold. It makes you improve, makes you examine your forming process, and application. A good critique however always has three parts: the issues that are lacking, the issues that are correct, and suggestions for improvement. Critiques that only point out the flaws are not critiques, they are criticisms masked in a friendly tone.

 

Nerd

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Imperfections are aspects to the piece, contrary to what I was trying to achieve.

 

If I have a piece, where I wanted clean lines, or definition between colors and I have drips or smears, those are imperfections.  If I have a piece that I want to be as symmetrical and even as possible, that is a bit oblong or uneven, that is an imperfection.

 

However, if I am layering glazes with the purpose that they run and mix in an interesting way, I won't mind some random/ unexpected drips.  If I have a piece, that I ad a groove or swirl, which causes some distortion, I obviously won't care if it a bit off elsewhere.  

 

And I've actually had the opposite problems.  I've had glazes I wanted to run in an unexpected way, that stayed put.  I've had forms that I wanted to be a bit skewed, that were a bit too perfect.  In that case, the perfection was the imperfection.

 

So I guess it's all about my intent.

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I like the question, where do you draw the line?

 

I like clean neat perfect, BUT I am finding that I really like pieces that are not so matchy matchy. I will use the same colors and textures but purposely make each piece a little bit different. I m getting better at this, at first it was a conscious choice now I am more relaxed about it and let it happen.

 

I have a bargain basket I take to shows with pieces I am either tired of, haven't sold, don't t like the color, etc. I have a rule if it doesn't t sell within a year it goes in the basket, I'm a clutz it's lucky it's made it that long and I'd rather sell something at a discount and have it go to a good home than accidentally break it. People dig through the basket looking for the one offs, a glaze drip is beautiful to some people, a finger print I didn't see becomes a selling point to others, that funky weird glaze color is fabulous to yet another. I won't sell bad or damaged stuff! I have found my preferences don't always agree with others and my answer to this is the bargain basket. People have told me they are buying a particular piece BECAUSE of its imperfection.

 

T

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Imperfections are in the eye of the beholder, to some they are imperfections, to some they are beauty.  This is why I like a child's art, so fresh, innocent, and complete.  Before the instructions of what is "wrong" and what is "right" according to our society.  Before all of the books, learning, being taught, being molded........

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You throw a nicely formed, even wall bowl. And in the process of being moved and drying, the rim gets a nice bump and creates a flat spot. It is too dry to fix without further distortion. Do you destroy it? Or do you embrace it's new form and enjoy its "flaw"?

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You throw a nicely formed, even wall bowl. And in the process of being moved and drying, the rim gets a nice bump and creates a flat spot. It is too dry to fix without further distortion. Do you destroy it? Or do you embrace it's new form and enjoy its "flaw"?

 

I would spritz it with water and  then find something conical that fits inside it (funnels or plastic pudding bowls can be good) gently insert your cone shaped item and give it a twirl to smooth out the flat spot - keep it on the move and don't let it stick to the clay.

 

I know this cos I can be very clumsy around my own pots, sometimes they don't even make it off the wheel before I "alter" them. (I'm not clumsy with anything else - just my pots). :blink:

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I think that applying the title of "perfect" to any pot is absurd. If you declare something to be perfect, it means it's done. The maker has achieved the highest pinnacle possible, and they never have to make another one again because all the questions they were asking have been answered, all the work has been done. All skills have been mastered, and there is nowhere else to go, the conversation has concluded in a satisfactory way.

 

And everyone here who has ever worked with clay knows that just doesn't happen.

 

You can be satisfied, happy, even excited about an outcome, but is it really perfect? Or is it better defined as the best you can do in this moment? And how, even is "best" defined?

 

I suppose the textbook definition of perfect is something without flaw. It's a word I've noticed is thrown around a lot these days as a compliment, and I find it holds a lot of the judgement nuances that Tom talked about. One thing I'm going to focus on a bit is that judgement requires standards of some sort to be set.

 

As beginners, we tend to trust our teachers initially to supply standards to meet. These are arbitrary standards, because they do vary, often widely, from teacher to teacher. And we follow them for awhile, and do our level best to achieve those same standards. But once you've had a few teachers that differed from each other, but you identified with things from each of them, you begin to develop your own standards and goals you want to work towards, and ideas that you want to explore. So you begin to work towards something else. You begin to discard other people's idea of "perfect" and build your own. Such is artistic growth, and indeed human growth.

 

But even once you master a skill, and achieve "perfection" in a technical sense, there is always another skill to learn. Each question you ask usually raises 5 others. And then over time, your taste changes. So "perfect" changes again, sometimes now to include things you previously thought were "flaws."

 

This changing notion of what is perfect over time, and from individual to individual renders the whole thing so arbitrary as to be meaningless. It assumes there's only one worthwhile destination on a map, and that takes the human element, it takes ME out of the equation entirely. Which I'm not willing to accept.

glazenerd and oldlady like this

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I've been fortunate to take one of Akira's workshops and hearing/reading those words always takes me back to that weekend. On the second day, we were stretching our kohiki slip slabs and I was standing at my table turning the slab clockwise, counterclockwise. During the stretching part, I ended up with a flaw in the texture and was trying to figure out how to work around it. Akira walked over and asked what I was doing and I explained. He replied, "Make it the focus of your pot," and then walked away. To me, that is "finding beauty in imperfection".

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I hate the word "perfect" in all aspects of life. It makes me nervous - like if something is perfect I am scared I will mess it up. So I don't worry too much about perfection or imperfection. But then I am kind of a messy artist and like spontenaety. Perfect feels confining. Imperfection = freedom. Rakuku

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I like imperfect pots. That means its not perfect or has some flaw or is irregular or looks different that normal.Touched by my hand or shows finger marks in the glaze or flame has altered the form or glaze. These works stand out on their own.

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(gritting my teeth i am going to answer. i am not a member of potter's council so dont feel right posting here)

 

a certain still very alive memory comes to mind when i read Satake's words. i still remember as a elementary age child commenting on a beautiful baby playing in a garbage dump covered in dirt and snot. i remember that feeling of breathtaking beauty. and i got reprimanded by all the adults who could only see the dirt. how could the baby be beautiful when it was covered in dirt. 

 

 i feel the world is divided into two groups. realism and abstract. with some art education one can appreciate the other. without any art education its really hard to 'enjoy' certain types of art. 

 

i am a product of the eastern wabi sabi world living in the 'perfect' world today. yet even in the east i didnt fit in. 

 

the kind of pots i like to make happens because of the claybody i use. i love the claybody because it still stays very malleable even at the leatherhard stage so i can 'imperfect' the pot to find my 'perfect' in it.

 

i am a maker of 'certain kind' of pots. they always get a reaction, not that that is what i am aiming for. people either hate it or love it. as long as its not boring i am happy. yet i am always on the lookout for making the 'perfect' pot. i still havent found it. i am having lots of fun searching for it, but i think it will be a sad day when i find it. today before i even finish making one pot the next one has already appeared awaiting to be made. 

 

for me being imperfect is being human. feeling fingermarks is very meaningful to me. yet eva zeisel's mother and child salt shakers reduces me to tears.

 

so my idea of a perfection is reaction. good or bad. all my favourite painters are those whose pieces i would never hang on my wall. 

 

one of the perfect pots i have is from a potter i dont even like in person. its a simple pot with a very emotionally moving rim. instead of destroying the failing pot he kept on going which gave it an unique but functional rim. it is a self portrait. 

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