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QotW: Where would you call your ceramic roots are from?

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QotW: Where would you call your ceramic roots are from?

Guess I am putting this question up on my own. I really did not want to use another question from Evelyne's excellent list of questions, and as there are not any new ones, I will pose the above question.

The reason this question appears now is that I have been thinking about a lot of my own ceramic roots of late, and where the artistic side of me was fostered. I intend to do an article on it in my blog within the next month or two and show pictures of what I feel influenced me to start making, and some of those early attempts. 

My Dad was in the Air Force for 22 years. Early memories were of living in a trailer, both in Washington D. C. and in  Washington State. When in Tacoma my parents bought their first house, a ranch in a new development. We had bedrooms, and space. My parents started to decorate, and as he always flew to other countries, he would bring back gifts or house gifts. Maybe a wooden Spear from Fiji, or a pair of , or a painting from Spain, or ceramic figurines or prints from Japan. Over the years these things were prized in the home, and displayed appropriately and with respect. We grew up that way with art, maybe not great art, but good art. As we got older, our own efforts would add into some of the displays, but these were often transient as they were replace with the next masterpiece of the time. The older ones were saved in some drawer or box. 

When I started making pottery, these were also kept in the house, but over time they just continued to pile up, never transitioned out, as each seemed to be prized, as were many of my watercolors that I would do along with some prints. Always appreciated, and encouraged. So I think this is really where it all started, not in college, which gave me the tools, but early when it mattered in an environment that enriched our lives.

 

best,

Pres

Pres

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When I was four my mother received a mosaic tray kit as a present.   She  decided she didn't want to mess with it, I told I did, so I set on her lap and glued all of the tiles into the tray.  After that I didn't want dolls I wanted arts and crafts for Christmas.   When I was 11 our art teacher gave each of us a ball of clay to make anything we wanted.  I sat there with my ball of clay and watched the other kids pound out ash trays.  To start with my parents didn't smoke and the ash trays didn't look much different than the ball of clay.  I walk up to my teacher and asked her if I could really make  what I wanted, she said yes.   I had been reading a book about Egyptian cats,  so I decide to make a pendant of a Egyptian cat.  It turned out great and hung in the schools art showcase the rest of the year.  I walked by it everyday think how amazing clay is,  you can make anything you want out of it.  My parents didn't even decorate the house,  the only picture on the wall was one of Jesus and my dad had a plaster American Eagle on top of the television.  I guess I just fell in love with clay.   Denice

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I was a raised in a creative family-mostly of teachers.

Mother taught until retiring High School and Junior Collage

Father sold insurance as an independent agent

Both not on planet now.

Art was something well all did from early age-same with building things , diving,surfing in the 50's-all water sports as well as track and field (had our own pole vault and high jump pit in backyard)and traveling as a family. I had been to Mexico 10 times at age 10.

I was the youngest of 4 siblings-3 brothers and a sister-age spread was 11 years from oldest brother to me.

My brothers exceeded at art-I could not draw well. In high school I was exposed to clay and the rest is history -bought a power wheel in HS as well.Never looked back.Never thought about the future with clay either.

My oldest brother got a scholar ship to Stanford  as a track star and was headed to Tokyo Olympics in 65 and  later taught art at California UCSB in Santa Barbara in 1966- 1992-they built him a print lab building back then when the schools had money till presnt.Died of melanoma in 1992

My sister taught elementary-all grades for 35 years-is retired in Summerland-next to Montecito,Ca-still surfs every week at 73

Middle brother did art, Track and collage and committed suicide at age 23-had some serious health issues

I did art ,track until High School, clay and have had melanoma removed 5 years ago. I'm on get looked at every 6 month program for life for skin cancer.

Pottery full time since 76-till present-still diving and traveling

 

 

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Not one person in my family were involved in or showed any interest in art. Back in the 80's my wife would by bisq and glaze it: and the shop would fire it for her. (Cone 04). I have always loved art, went to museums, art shows, and art fairs. On a scale of 1 to 10 for artistic ability: I would score 0.50. I have tried oil painting, water color, and fooled around with stain glass: all of which eluded me. While on vacation in 2007, we stopped at antique shop in Williamsburg Va. When I saw a crystalline vase. The  owner did not know what kind of glaze it was, and it took me almost a year to figure out what it was. I knew nothing about clay or glaze, but fortunately a working knowledge of chemistry.  At this point, I would estimate I have read nearly 2000 hours of research papers, abstracts, and. Few dictionaries on crystalline and clay chemistry. 

My artistic skills are still lousy, but my working knowledge of clay and crystalline glaze chemistry is fully functional. Then again, I view a finely developed clay body a work of art.

Nerd

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My mother was an at home mother who sewed both for family and for sale and had a sewing room where things were always in progress. She also drew fashion sketches as part of that work. It was important to her that we be artistic- that girls should be artistic. As inspiration she was full of stories of her artistic endeavors in youth, things like that when her friends at school were coloring, she was painting on silk. I am guessing some- but few- of these stories were true.

There is no question, though, where and when I fell in love with clay in particular, though I haven't pursued it until recently.  Mrs. Werner, my kindergarten teacher. had us on a rotation in which each day a third of us painted (tempera, on easels in the kindergarten patio), a third played with big wooden blocks indoors, and a third made things of clay. There was an enormous tub of wet clay. My haven.

I still remember what I made in kindergarten, figures with a basic blob-shaped body, two with a blue matte sort of paint and brown hair, and one with a cherry glaze and black hair, plus one really fat crawling baby with a top knot in a translucent greenish glaze that I have today in my dining room. I loved the feel of the clay in my hands and that one could manipulate the clay to make a form. I particularly liked heavy, roundish objects.

Despite my mother's personal interest in art or craft, aspirations for me and my sister were very much academic. So other than taking art electives in school, my direction was very academic, involving imagination of a mental rather than physical sort. It was almost impossible to get into a studio art class in college unless one was in the department, which I wasn't.

My professional path, then, had nothing to do with art- had no physical character.

About ten years ago I became involved in creativity studies and physical making, exploring what sort of making I wanted to be doing. I started with two dimensional forms, simply because  these requires little space, no kilns, ... 

But my aesthetic interest, both to do and to see, has always been 3D. Over many years of attending crafts fairs I have gathered a little collection of the kind of clay work I love, functional and not, and decided around a year ago to get started in clay, alongside the other things that I do. About two months ago my husband cleared me a space in the basement so that I can work on clay without interfering with whatever is going on in the kitchen.

 

 

Edited by Gabby
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The roots that are supporting my ceramic branches and flowers, so to speak, are grounded in parental family dynamics (don’t know much about the ancestors). My mother was craft-competent in several artistic areas, such as music and sewing. My dad was a decent illustrator/draftsman, played a nice piano, and could make anything and make it well. They were supportive of my affinity for drawing, painting, and making “artful” things out of lots of cool stuff my dad kept in his shop or mom put together for little projects (like papier-mache and dough-clay).  As a family, we took full advantage of the great museums in NYC.  After H.S., I did graphic art for the Teamsters Union, print shops, and box die companies. When I finally got to art school (single parent on welfare, in my 30’s, with serious health problems) I couldn’t keep up with the pace of the communication arts/design program and switched to ceramics (a bit more laid back). I loved it, & was good at it, especially formulating clay bodies and glazes. Not a prayer of supporting my child, tho, and myself, and I did not want to stay in graphics. I went into a field that enabled me to make a living and do some good at the same time. Other than keeping up with the art world, from a distance, I didn’t have my hands on clay again until 2014, after I retired. That root, gratefully, survived, and is now getting sufficient nutrients and nurturing to thrive. I owe special “thanks” to the generosity of many ceramists in NH, where I live, and this CAN Community Forum (the people in it).

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My ceramic roots grew from the movie "Ghost" where, in a very short segment, Demi Moore was throwing a vase. I thought to myself and said to my wife, "Someday I'm going to do that...". As time went on, each time I saw film clips or photos of potters plying their art or trade, I'd say to myself, "Someday I'm going to do that...". That someday came around 12 years ago when I was remodeling a bathroom for an 87 year old working ceramist. She was teaching classes to 4H groups in slip-casting. In conversations with her, she would suggest that I take a Learning Exchange class at Alpha Fired Arts a local ceramic supplier and teaching facility. She also gave me an old spare kiln that she was replacing with something newer. I took the LE class  and the instructor said that he only expected us to produce 4 functional pieces during the 6 week class. I made 22 cups, mugs, and bowls!

Since then, I've taken Ceramics I, II, and Raku at Sierra College; set up my own studio; and have been happily making functional ware for gifts and sale; and am currently expanding my knowledge of glazes with a future goal of producing a book on Glaze Effects. While just about all the books that are out on glazes now give recipes and show usually unrelated photos, I have yet to find a book that says "If you do this with this glaze, this is what you will probably get." 

My roots are growing into a flourishing tree!

JohnnyK

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The short list in my family is who *doesn't* work with their hands. I had a grandfather that avoided concentration camp imprisonment in Russia at the end of ww 2 by forging documents with a potato stamp! None of them, however, identify as artistic.  Which is odd to me, because all the sewing and cooking and woodwork and building and inventing are all enormously creative endeavours.

Art wasn't looked at by my family much when I was a kid.  They're more the kinds of folks who complain that some artist would have the audacity to make a dress out of meat, because that's just stupid and a waste, and who would ever buy that! That said, they all are most aware that they don't understand everything in the world, and that there is room for everyone.  If they don't understand things, they're open to conversations and critical discussions, and to being educated. Just because art wasn't their thing didn't mean it couldn't be my thing.  Thinking for yourself and having an informed and well considered stance is encouraged in my family. 

 

The clay part I found in my last year of high school, where we had a fairly unusual structure for art class. All 3 grades were in the same room at the same time. The classroom was well-stocked with as many different kinds of artistic mediums that my teacher could possibly manage. Acrylics, watercolours, drawing materials of all possible kinds with a still life set up at all times, stained glass equipment, a hot wax pan, pysanki kistkas, and a clay area with a wheel, a good sized handbuilding table, a raku kiln that got hauled into the welding yard on the regular, plaster for carving, Lino block carving stuff, inks, a small area set up with an airbrush pen.....

We were given deadlines by which we had to have our projects in, and a list of possible project perameters (they were pretty open to interpretation), given regular demos on how to use a given medium, and turned loose to make things at our own pace. My teacher, who was also a working artist, brought other artists in to do demos, and talk about their professional lives. It was amazing!

I gravitated towards the clay area because of the tactility, and discovered that I was a lot better at making things in 3d rather than 2d.  I made some appallingly bad raku that my Mom still has. I fell in love with firing things with a tiger torch and a fibrefrax-lined barrel, pulling the pots out once we could see that the glazes had stopped bubbling.  I took over the glaze mixing area and thought I knew how to use the wheel (hahahahahaha!).

Because that art room made more sense to me than anything else I'd seen before, I went on to the Ceramics department at ACAD. I found out exactly how much I really didn't know about making pots, and with the influences of artists like Martin Tagseth, Greg Payce, Tom Rohr and Mariko Paterson I set out to fix that. Been working on it ever since.  

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Artistic talent, at least a 9? Encouragement thereof definitely 0, at least as a child and young adult. Somewhere during my foster care years I had to choose whether to be self-motivated or not. Although the will was there knowing the right thing to do usually wasn't.  Creating anything, finding your way, learning a trade, is hard in a vacuum. It's taken me my entire life (so far) despite having artistic talent to find something I like to do as well as do well.  Oil painting is also good as long as I'm engaged in some personal vision that allows me to express my uniqueness.

Ceramics was just another medium I loved the finished look of and wanted to use. I'm not sure what made me go down this road other than I finally had the time and a little money to get into it whereas before I didn't. It's a "permanent" substantial material, the colors and textures are supremely rich, and it's a challenge to make really beautiful things out of it, but once made they seem transcendent compared to other materials.   

 

Edited by yappystudent
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