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The New Factory


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#1 Sherman

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 03:05 PM

This has been a fairly active topic recently in the Letters and Comments of CM. It stems from an article titled the same as this post, written by Andy Brayman, which dealt with new technology and social/cultural trends that he feels potters should be aware of (like techniques from industry and digital tools)—and even embrace them if it makes sense for your work.
Personally, I think some of the responses have been a bit overzealous and more or less missed Brayman's point (because he was doing anything but arguing against handmade work), but I suppose that's why I'm posting this here. Check out the article and either comment there or come back to the forum and reply here.
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#2 Sarah_Archer

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Posted 06 April 2010 - 07:37 PM

Hello, Ceramic Arts Community forum readers! I'm excited to be moderating the Aesthetics boards and look forward to learning from the ideas and opinions shared here.

Since many of our readers are makers, I'm curious to know how the new industrial techniques and tools in ceramics that Andy Brayman discussed in "The New Factory" (3D printers, for example) are perceived by our readership.

Are you excited by the possibility of using industrial techniques in your own work? If so, how would you use it?

Are you attracted to (or repelled by) by ceramic work made with industrial techniques?

Should studio potters resist the use of such tools, or are they a welcome addition to the field?

#3 Linnet

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Posted 12 April 2010 - 06:52 PM

Personally speaking,

I find new and old techniques very interested and I am willing to give it a go in my work. As long as I can say I made it myself.
Using the extruder or slab roller and making multitues of molded pieces is industrial in my opinion but I am grateful to be able to use these impliments to produce my pieces.
What I am very annoyed with is when a piece is designed by an individual then produced in a factory specilizing in manufacturing ceramics, then hung in a gallery (even slightly altered or surface treated) to be described as "made by the individual"
I could just as well go to the store and by a fine china set and surface decorate the piece myself. I would never have enough courage to call it mine though.
Ceramics is HOT!

#4 clay lover

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 06:47 AM

Personally speaking,

I find new and old techniques very interested and I am willing to give it a go in my work. As long as I can say I made it myself.
Using the extruder or slab roller and making multitues of molded pieces is industrial in my opinion but I am grateful to be able to use these impliments to produce my pieces.
What I am very annoyed with is when a piece is designed by an individual then produced in a factory specilizing in manufacturing ceramics, then hung in a gallery (even slightly altered or surface treated) to be described as "made by the individual"
I could just as well go to the store and by a fine china set and surface decorate the piece myself. I would never have enough courage to call it mine though.



I agree with you, Linnet, and I am even more anoyed when the gallery rep tells me about how it's really hand made and doesn't see any difference between this stuff and what is hand thrown . I am in an area where ceramics isn't very understood or appreciated by the buying public, they go for the look and don't care how it was made.
Personally, I don't feel the pressed into a mold , multiples falls into the same category of work as hand thrown or sculpted. But I will admit to doing a small line of 'money makers' of that nature to fill out my booth of hand thrown larger pieces. Got to pay the rent, ya know.

#5 JBaymore

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 12:35 PM

In the end, it is the art work that counts. I don't care if it is slab built, thrown, extruded, traditional slip cast, pressure cast, jiggered or jolleyed, RAM pressed, CMC cut, or whatever. Fired in a wood kiln, fired in a hobby electric, fired in a computer controlled kiln, or whatever. If the final piece is good... it is good. The work stands alone.

BUT..............

If I am being lead to believe that there is extensive handwork in a piece by the artist to whom it is credited and that is not the case.... THEN I have an issue with it. Not because of the use of what has for years been, in political correctness, been refered to as the "alternative technologies" (this whole topic is FAR from new), but by the misrepresentation of the genesis of the work.

If you are charging money for an item which is misrepresented as to its inhernet qualities, that is tiptoeing into the area of fraud.

I have on many occasions walked into "fine craft" stores and had a salesperson carefully explain to me how this or that particular piece was hand formed on the potter's wheel....... and it is pieces from a potter whom I KNOW uses either a RAM press or jiggering to form those specific production pieces. It is not their "hand work" pieces. The prices charged in the gallery are commensurate with extensive handwork....and the piece is beig marketed as "handwork intensive", but it is NOT.

THAT is an issue.

Now you can say that it is the gallery, not the artist doing this. BUT..............

If the nature of the work being presented could easily be percieved by the general marketplace as being "handcraft intensive", and the artist does not take overt steps to make sure that it is correctly reprsented to that market, then that person is complicit in the act of misrepresentation. Misrepresentation by ommission.

A very typical example of this:

You create a jiggering mold that deliberately has the "throwing lines" and other "hands on wet clay" visual clues included in the mold. This then gives the pieces made out of that mold (maybe even by someone who could not throw a pot) the apparent "look" of a hand thrown work. Most people would not be able to look at this and determine that it is not hand thrown. Even many gallery salespeople. Even many potters. This therefore is a conscious act that has the potential to decieve the market about the genesis of the work.

Because of this, I feel the maker has an onus of responsibility to go out of his or her way to make sure that this mis-understandiong is not happening. This means appropriate and aggressive labeling of the work, and also making sure that gallery accounts understand the maker's processes and are communicating this correctly. Going out of the "norm" to make sure such misunderstandings do not happen.

All too often.... this is not happening.


My $0.02 worth. Your mileage may vary. Not valid in all states. Taxes and gratuities not included. Other restrictions may apply. Posted Image

best,

....................john
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#6 Chris Campbell

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Posted 13 April 2010 - 08:35 PM

Mostly I would agree ... BUT ... I don't think the general public cares how the piece was made ... they either like it and buy it, or they don't.
I'm not talking about pottery groupies ... just the average person out for a stroll on a nice day.

Explaining the process does not sell the piece, telling people they should not want something because it was not made the way I would make it
is not going to work ... it's the sizzle of the finished work that sells.

If I don't have talent it really does not matter how many months I work on a piece, it is never going to get better.

If you are talented and are able to make the initial piece so lovely that it sells ram pressed ... good for you ... you still had to have the talent
to make the original piece, glaze it and properly fire it. If you want to sell your work to a larger, more industrial marketplace like the restaurant business,
you need to use machines.

I like handmade, but quite honestly, I also like some factory made pottery too. A real live potter designed every prototype that is used to create any commercial work.
Some of it is so well designed and executed ... I can't forget it is also human made pottery.

another .02 cents
chris

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#7 Cristina Celis

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Posted 29 May 2010 - 07:25 PM

HI.

I am and industrial designer and a ceramist so my point of view on this matter is mixed. I agree, when a pot is beautifull, no one cares how it was made, but in the other hand as I have seen very often in my country (Mexico) with our great artesans, their work is very very labour intensive, the potential buyers are amazed at the technique of the finished piece, sometimes the piece has a tag where the name of the artisan, the locality and the hours of labour are written on. On the other hand, the materials and fireing techniques are very poor quality, so the life expectancy of the finished piece is very low. I have seen too often really great pieces of art which chip only by touching them. So I am saying is we need to consider all this to evaluate pottery, technical aspects of clay body, finishing techniques and fireing, not only form and the aesthetic function. People need to know that the piece they aquire, will last and will withstand the use it was meant for.

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#8 CottageCrafter

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 02:04 PM

I could not agree with Chris MORE!
I find it interesting that the handmade arguments jump up on about every clay related site that I have been on from time to time.
If you are doing art for arts sake, replication is never an issue as you probably are not intending on making money in the order of a retailer.

If you make architectural ceramics as I do, molds are a necessary part of the production process and as a matter of fact, making good functional molds is also an art!
About 10 years ago, I guest taught a session by invitation at a very well known arts college here in Kansas City. In their ceramics department, they had no good mold making expertise left and a project that they were working on was going to require it. I was amazed at the perceptions, some of the students were outright rude but I found that the others gained a lot from the process. Making a good multi-piece mold takes a huge amount of planning, uses spatial reasoning, a good bit of math, and a huge amount of common sense. The rude kids seems to have none of those traits.

In my work, I do have to explain the process some times but you will find that the person looking at your work will give you that cue. Many times, folks that love handmade work will give you 'that look' and you know that they have interest in the process and it will make the piece more meaningful to them.
Otherwise, it could have been made by political prisoners in China, they either like your work or they don't. (lets face it, most Americans could care less, its the walmart effect)
Working in architectural ceramics, I somewhat have a good partner in the retailers! If you compare my prices to that of the retailers, I am competitive. The retailers sell the accent tiles, trims, major pieces and the such at a huge mark-up when compared to field tile-so-thats good for me!!!! I say, hey, use store bought field tile and accent with my stuff. (I really don't want to press out hundreds of field tile anyway - BORING!)
People either buy my stuff because they like it, or they don't..........
Porter

Mostly I would agree ... BUT ... I don't think the general public cares how the piece was made ... they either like it and buy it, or they don't.
I'm not talking about pottery groupies ... just the average person out for a stroll on a nice day.

Explaining the process does not sell the piece, telling people they should not want something because it was not made the way I would make it
is not going to work ... it's the sizzle of the finished work that sells.

If I don't have talent it really does not matter how many months I work on a piece, it is never going to get better.

If you are talented and are able to make the initial piece so lovely that it sells ram pressed ... good for you ... you still had to have the talent
to make the original piece, glaze it and properly fire it. If you want to sell your work to a larger, more industrial marketplace like the restaurant business,
you need to use machines.

I like handmade, but quite honestly, I also like some factory made pottery too. A real live potter designed every prototype that is used to create any commercial work.
Some of it is so well designed and executed ... I can't forget it is also human made pottery.

another .02 cents
chris



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Posted 30 June 2010 - 12:28 PM

Very interesting subject. I haven't been working in clay too long and at the first sale I participated in (a small school sale) I only sold 1 or 2 things because I only had vases for sale. It seems like 90% of the people who came to the sale was looking for functional pieces not decorative art. One long time student that was working as an independent studies had made a ton of small bowls, cups, plates and platters all for functional use and very easy to make, but the glazes where very nice and he used small things to make nice unique patterns on them. Plus because they where small and easy to make they where reasonably priced. Each year he has a large crowd of followers looking to buy his stuff and I was surprised to hear a comment from an instructor that teaches another class say "his work isn't art he may make money, but his stuff is not art, he's just a production potter who probably doesn't make much outside of this once a year sale" I was shocked because the instructor had about 30 bowls that all looked the same outside of a few little differences in the glazing. He only sold a few and in my eyes it's because they all looked like perfect wallmart pieces and not unique handmade pieces. Plus instead of selling them for say $5.00 - $10.00 each he actually wanted $20 a bowl because HE made them and had been in ceramics for 30 years and because he had a MFA. I thought who cares who made them if they can be made by almost any potter who can throw a 4" bowl?? There is no creativity, no uniqueness, and no real reason to buy them unlike the guy who sells a ton of work. In addition to working in clay I also buy a lot of pieces for gifts and to add to my home and have spent a bit of money buying ceramic pieces that move me. After the sale was over I had about 8 pieces on a counter and the instructor asked "why are all these pieces here and who's are they"?? I said ohh those are no longer for sale because I bought them. When he asked me why I bought so much work, I responded because these where all amazing pieces and not just a bunch of bowls like everyone else was selling.

#10 hansen

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 06:04 AM

I have been a victim of the bias against production pottery in at least three educational programs even though I am not, and never was, a production potter. Some people see all pottery as "production pottery" - why, i don't know - it is more an issue about their mentality than an issue with the work they criticize. In every case I paid for all my own clay, energy costs, paid all the fees, tuitions, and worked hard supporting the whole studio, yet the onus remained. The amazing thing is, that in many cases the offending person's work was boring and repetitive, maybe it wasn't pottery as such, but it was certainly mindless production. I think these kind of attitudes have more to do with the politics of art than they do with what students and customers actually want. If your work is really first-rate, you rise above all this.
h a n s e n


Very interesting subject. I haven't been working in clay too long and at the first sale I participated in (a small school sale) I only sold 1 or 2 things because I only had vases for sale. It seems like 90% of the people who came to the sale was looking for functional pieces not decorative art. One long time student that was working as an independent studies had made a ton of small bowls, cups, plates and platters all for functional use and very easy to make, but the glazes where very nice and he used small things to make nice unique patterns on them. Plus because they where small and easy to make they where reasonably priced. Each year he has a large crowd of followers looking to buy his stuff and I was surprised to hear a comment from an instructor that teaches another class say "his work isn't art he may make money, but his stuff is not art, he's just a production potter who probably doesn't make much outside of this once a year sale" I was shocked because the instructor had about 30 bowls that all looked the same outside of a few little differences in the glazing. He only sold a few and in my eyes it's because they all looked like perfect wallmart pieces and not unique handmade pieces. Plus instead of selling them for say $5.00 - $10.00 each he actually wanted $20 a bowl because HE made them and had been in ceramics for 30 years and because he had a MFA. I thought who cares who made them if they can be made by almost any potter who can throw a 4" bowl?? There is no creativity, no uniqueness, and no real reason to buy them unlike the guy who sells a ton of work. In addition to working in clay I also buy a lot of pieces for gifts and to add to my home and have spent a bit of money buying ceramic pieces that move me. After the sale was over I had about 8 pieces on a counter and the instructor asked "why are all these pieces here and who's are they"?? I said ohh those are no longer for sale because I bought them. When he asked me why I bought so much work, I responded because these where all amazing pieces and not just a bunch of bowls like everyone else was selling.




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#11 CarlCravens

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Posted 03 July 2010 - 11:36 PM

I have been a victim of the bias against production pottery in at least three educational programs even though I am not, and never was, a production potter. Some people see all pottery as "production pottery"


I find any kind of bias against "production pottery" kind of strange. When a person works in wood and creates splendid tables and chairs, nobody says, "Oh, he's just a production woodworker, he's not really an artist." They say, "What a fine craftsman he is!" Nobody complains that many of his chairs look alike, that he's not doing "real art," that he's stuck in the 1920's and his construction style is out-dated and his choice of finish is drab and he needs to explore modern styles and colors. The fine woodworker carries on in an ancient tradition, preserves furniture styles nearly a hundred years old, and delivers a quality product that, if properly loved, will become a family heirloom.

He is not derided for what he is not... he is praised for the work he does, the skills he has mastered.

The production potter is somehow seen as not measuring up, as having sold out, or having no creativity. Yet he's doing what the fine woodworker does.
Carl (Wichita, KS)

#12 Erinspottery

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Posted 31 July 2010 - 12:31 PM

Are you excited by the possibility of using industrial techniques in your own work? If so, how would you use it?

Are you attracted to (or repelled by) by ceramic work made with industrial techniques?

Should studio potters resist the use of such tools, or are they a welcome addition to the field?


Question 1: I am excited to understand industrial techniques and to see how others will use it.

Question 2: All a matter of the idea in the end.


I have lived in Marshall, TX for over 5 years and have never until recently took a tour of Marshall Pottery (once Ellis Pottery) one of the oldest and still operating potteries in the country. The reason they are still operating is because the company has embraced industry to mass produce Terracotta Flower Pots -- Derma (an Italian company) has many plants around the world, but you can still buy a few plain fragile Terracotta pots made right here in the USA. Their goal as a company is to feed the demand of these (once durable) classic flower pots to the masses at cheap prices. The more efficient they can make them -- and that plant is pretty efficient the cheaper people can buy them so when they leave them out and they freeze and break they can afford to go buy another one.

The clay they use is a mixture of three from around Marshall. They still dig their own clay -- imagine that! The dry mixed clay gets scooped onto a conveyor belt, run under a magnet to remove old bolts and a coins, run up 3 stories under a water spray, separated to 8 stations, de-aired and mashed into blocks which are dropped into a metal die, drizzled with kerosene/diesel mix, then ramp pressed into shape, moved to a lip trimmer, then set on another conveyor belt and rides an elevator into a 10 story-football-field-length drying rack and stacked to go into a kiln. Marshall Pottery Produces 100,000 terracotta pots each day.

It was amazing seeing these machines in action. Those pots were not handmade but at one time they were. The computer technology used to create them are astounding and there is almost no wasted clay. All the scraps are dropped back onto another conveyor belt that goes under ground and back out to the clay piles that are longer than a football field.

I never had the desire to go to Marshall Pottery because most of the goods in there were all imports -- which makes sense -- Derma makes them all around the world. The Old World pottery -- white with blue stripes is still hand thrown by performance potters -- they make about 40 to 100 pots per hour. By Performance Potter I mean they throw behind glass for viewers. For this the clay they use is no longer local -- it's produced in Dallas. The potters there only know how to throw, trim/clean up, paint, glaze or load the kiln. They do not know how to do all of those things. But are still potters.

The ideas are passed down from generations ago. They are made to last and be used. And people buy them and use them. And they are affordable. Technically they are made by hand. They fit all of the criteria of this discussion. Personally I would never have anything like that in my own possession -- but I understand the process and respect the jobs of these folk potters - they do it for a living and get paid by the piece -- the more they produce the more money they receive to provide for their family; the faster they produce either the less they work or more money earn.

This is the same for all of us. If you do not sell your pottery, then argue on. But really each of us chose Clay as a career because we love it -- the process, the modest lifestyle, the community, or the instant gratification of creating something by hand that someone else will use or appreciate.

Going back to the questions that helped spark inspiration to this discussion:

Small Industry used in small studio: I am going to create a couple of slump molds to create my bowls for my squiggle/coil series. Is it cheating? Depends on who you ask. I know it will be easier for me to handle them and they will not take as long to produce which in reality will keep the price down so the demand stays high for them. My goal is to make money on my work so I may continue to make more (because I love working with clay) and so I may help provide for my family. I do not choose to work in an office, sit behind a desk, pick up trash or dig ditches -- I would if I had to, but since I sell my work I don't have to choose otherwise.

We as studio potters should embrace all ideas that make our jobs easier, even if we don't use them personally. It is never a good idea to attack someone else's work no matter how it is produced. Kidergarten rule -- treat others as you would like to be treated. What comes around goes around.

Maybe it is our insecurities as artists/potters that we do not know how to make someone want to purchase our work. Maybe the industrial notion makes us queasy because we can't compete. Of course we can't compete there is no comparison between the two. Our hand made work is in a different category than the $1 mugs you purchase from big box stores. But this is why it is so important that we educate the majority and show them what we do and how and why. It is a piece of ourselves that we are selling -- not just a pot. Well maybe to some it is.

I know that people purchase my work because of the connection I make with them. The retailers sell it because of the personal connection they make with me. I can only reckon that learning about industrial technology can only further our own imaginations in the studio even if we do not use the techniques ourselves.

I had pottersblock for about 4 weeks before I headed to Marshall Pottery and saw the space age machinery cranking out pots at 4 seconds at a time. It would be the same as entering a GM or Ford plant. Someone thought of all of those steps in creating a more efficient way. That is something to be respected. If Andy Brayman wants to explore industrial equipment and bringing that down to a level of expressing his ideas then fabulous. Another way of doing things. His work is very inspiring -- and I wish I would have though to make cups with gold leave that wares off and shows a message to the user years later -- brilliant! Selling a pot for exactly the amount of change that it took to literally create the mold for the pot -- another idea I would have never thought of, but it does make you think.

The connection you make with your work is as important as the connection the person has with your work they purchase. Technology is out there to learn about and understand it. It doesn't mean you have to like it or use it, but it may influence your own work. Seeing those machines was amazing but I got home and decided I needed to slow down my process not speed it up.

It is my goal to make the best pots I am capable. The pots I make now are better than the pots I made 10 years ago and the future holds even better ones. The more I learn and educate myself of all aspects of clay and pottery the better off I am. Watching the discussion (has been around for a while but first brought up with Andy at the Clay Symposium at Arrowmont) and feeling the anguish in the "threat" of industry to the handmade object is absurd and rational all the same.

Fear comes for the lack of knowing and understanding what is known. It is better to know, understand, and move on.
Erin Lambers
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#13 Erinspottery

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Posted 31 July 2010 - 11:26 PM

Sorry. Didn't realize it was so lengthy. Hopefully I made a point.
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#14 Deb Evans

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 03:33 PM

Go Erin, sounds like you have your personal vision down.
That's why we make , it's a peronal connection w/ user, viewer.

When I make and glaze bowls, they are w/ my hands and sense of bowlness, also they are food safe (BIGi bug of mine)
if you want "perfection" as in uniformity>factory made perfect> go to walmart.

#15 OffCenter

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 09:41 AM

In art the ends always justify the means. Judge the object, not the process. I doesn't matter if it the process was buying a bowl at Walmart and putting a rose decal on it or digging the clay, working it, throwing a bowl and firing it in an anagama for 10 days.
E pur si muove.

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#16 Diana Ferreira

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 08:15 AM

Thank you for this thought provoking discussion. I also belong to a glass beadmaking forum and a lot of the angst and fears and worries discussed here could apply to the glass craft industry. Erin, I especially enjoyed your post, thank you!

20 years ago I took pottery classes - mostly handbuilding. And stopped for some unknown reason :-( These days I prefer to slipcast. I feel that I can still call it handmade, as I make my own master molds, cast my own molds, and up to recently I even mixed my own slip! I am a total newbie, been playing around with clay only for the last 3 years. But I have been lucky that I was able to sell my work from the first casting; but I learnt a lot from my modeler boyfriend and a bisque factory-owner friend on the trot.
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#17 Pres

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 08:48 AM

This has been a fairly active topic recently in the Letters and Comments of CM. It stems from an article titled the same as this post, written by Andy Brayman, which dealt with new technology and social/cultural trends that he feels potters should be aware of (like techniques from industry and digital tools)—and even embrace them if it makes sense for your work.
Personally, I think some of the responses have been a bit overzealous and more or less missed Brayman's point (because he was doing anything but arguing against handmade work), but I suppose that's why I'm posting this here. Check out the article and either comment there or come back to the forum and reply here.


The comments made here have all expressed relevant facts that point to the polarization of potters about their work. I work with the clay to express myself, have a personal connection to the work, and enjoy my time with the clay. In the past when I worked to sell, those were my controlling traits present in my work. I believe as others have stated that misrepresentation of work is a dishonesty I abhor. At the same time the factory production of work created by an artist and yet presented as such is acceptable to me.

This brings me to the root of a branching discussion. Has the ability to produce industrially things not able to be done before led to an actual form of Conceptual Art? I often will play around with 3d animation programs constructing/visualizing pot forms that I might not ever try to make because of physics problems or other production concerns. At times I do end up creating pots/ceramic forms that have been visualized in this manner. Recent advances in 3D video will soon allow the viewing without glasses, projected 3D in smokey space is near at hand. Is it possible that sculpture/ceramic form etc. in this new media will be gallery acceptable just as the digital imaging tools have invaded the world of flatwork. Hmmm, where do we go from here?

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


#18 Idaho Potter

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Posted 21 October 2011 - 09:13 PM

Art is art. Tools are tools. Art is used to develop tools. Tools are used to create art. Whether you are using a piece of bamboo carved into a certain shape by your ten-year old child or some industrial magic that lessens the intensive labor--does it matter? If I didn't own a pug-mill, I would be hard-pressed to continue to play in my mud. Life is a matter of choices and as we grow older those choices matter even more.

Many years ago during my life as a wood sculptor I gave a presentation before a woodcarver's guild. During my talk I was constantly heckled by a gentleman who declared that the only "true" wood carving had to be done with a knife. My patience grew very thin and I asked that man if he was against all modern methods. He said of course, because all that new-fangled stuff got you away from the "purity of the art form".

I replied, "Really? So you mow your grass with a scythe and your wife washes your clothes on a flat rock in mid-stream? I'm willing to bet that if Leanardo da Vinci had invented an air hammer, Michaelangelo would have used it to rough out more than a few of his sculptures."

I still feel the same way. How many of us buy our tools at a kitchen or hardware store? If you have an idea and want to see it through to completion, the tools--even the most modern of technologies--are fair game. If I need to carry my idea from point A to point Z, it's not how I got there that matters--just that I got there.

#19 Benhim

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 10:50 AM

The accountant in me would like to organize these two markets as separate segments. One being hand made pottery and one being mass produced pottery. However the ceramic artist in me knows that there's a good amount of cross over because some types of mass produced ware can be done so well by a true master of the craft that the average customer would not know the difference. I have to agree with John on the misrepresenting to the customer issue. That's a big deal, and some artists don't really want to represent their work as being mass produced for fear it will not sell. My answer to that is to change the venue and or price point. Once you have a good product and a good process it all comes down to marketing strategy.

I would also have to agree with Chris Campbell. I really like good work, especially when I see factory or mass produced work that's good. I've worked in a factory, it was a steel factory not a ceramic factory, but the principles are the same. In mass production the flaws are exacerbated. So when I might have 2 in 10 pots that fail in a normal wheel type establishment, at the factory level that kind of failure will grow quickly out of control. This experience gives me a great appreciation for mass produced work that is done well. If we as artists have a mission it's not to try and stop mass production, but to help steer the industry and the consumer toward higher quality product and away from junk, because there's a lot of junk out there. I hold anyone who can produce truly good work at any level of production in high regard.

BenCo Ceramics


#20 systembolaget

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 02:19 PM

I'm a run-of-the-mill industrial designer with 19 years work experience who, barely a year ago, became enticed into ceramics in general - slip-cast porcelain in particular - and is living under its spell ever since. I would say, the new factory is actually the manufactory of old, enabled with digital means of creation, visualisation and production.

Filippo Brunelleschi, Leon Battista Alberti or Albrecht Dürer developed tools to draw and paint in perspective, they appropriated tools to produce engravings more effectively, they used tools for volume printing to spread their works and sell more. Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Beuys or Allan McCollum made several of their artworks available as semi-industrially or outright mass-produced editions for art lovers of lesser wealth.

Should these people be stripped of their artist's status for their intelligent use of reproduction technologies?

William Morris, from 1861 onwards, grew his business to a 7 acre establishment at Merton Abbey in order to fabricate textiles, carpets, windows and tapestries in large quantities.

Should he be stripped of his craftsman's status for expanding the arts and crafts business to serve a larger clientele?

Creative adoption of production and reproduction technologies - for artistic experimentation, subversion and creation - have been common in the arts or music since centuries without anyone seriously questioning such approaches to creative cross-fertilisation. Like Chris in an earlier good post, we should rather see the new means of creation and production as fascinating new inroads to the development of our body of work, challenge our assumptions and learn - the public, if interested at all in the creative process, will either buy our objects - or not.

When I began experimenting with natural-mathematical form this year, I lightheartedly - from the designer's point of view - took to rapid prototyping and CNC-milling technologies to fabricate the initial forms from which the plaster moulds must be taken for slip-casting the final object. Doing it manually, I would not yet have produced a single object.

Greetings from Sweden ;)


Mostly I would agree ... BUT ... I don't think the general public cares how the piece was made ... they either like it and buy it, or they don't.
I'm not talking about pottery groupies ... just the average person out for a stroll on a nice day.

Explaining the process does not sell the piece, telling people they should not want something because it was not made the way I would make it
is not going to work ... it's the sizzle of the finished work that sells.

If I don't have talent it really does not matter how many months I work on a piece, it is never going to get better.

If you are talented and are able to make the initial piece so lovely that it sells ram pressed ... good for you ... you still had to have the talent
to make the original piece, glaze it and properly fire it. If you want to sell your work to a larger, more industrial marketplace like the restaurant business,
you need to use machines.

I like handmade, but quite honestly, I also like some factory made pottery too. A real live potter designed every prototype that is used to create any commercial work.
Some of it is so well designed and executed ... I can't forget it is also human made pottery.

another .02 cents
chris






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