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QotW: Do you make feminine, masculine or gender neutral work and is it a conscious decision?

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Min recently asked the following question, and it runs differently than most of the ones asked in the pool. It has also been bumped by LeeU in a post that she like Min's question. . . so: Do you make feminine, masculine or gender neutral work and is it a conscious decision

 

I have never thought about masculinity or femininity of any work. Looking over my work, I believe it is all over the gender situation. I have biases that I will admit when throwing work: I really do not like to see a flat spot in any curve, I consider the diameter of bottoms in proportion to height as not wanting a piece to be visually too bottom heavy or too spindly because of a narrow base to a tall form, I like shoulder accents in "S" shaped curves to slow the motion to the neck or rim, I love to texture the piece before shaping(something that has only happened within the last two years, and I have a tendency to follow the "Golden Mean" when throwing, handbuilding or combining forms. In much of this I do not pre sketch unless I am constructing a form either of slab, thrown or combined pieces. Most of my work is completed visually within the throwing and trimming. I throw lots of pieces of the same genre (mug, bowl, honey pot etc) at a time, breaking off in different directions in the form as I see something I particularly like at the time, then head in another direction.  You could look at my gallery, or blog to see if you find a gender in my pieces, I really don't know as I have one.

 

best,

Pres

 

 

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Thinking about it, I may have a bias of sorts. . . I still judge a pot by whether it looks/feels overweight, if it is heavier than I think it should be, it goes back in the bucket, as no amount of trimming will make up for poor throwing.

 

best,

Pres

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When LeeU said “one of my more masculine pieces” in another thread it had me contemplating her comment. Masculine and feminine encompass a large set of related characteristics, would be hard pressed to make a pot that didn’t have curves but that alone doesn’t make a pot feminine. Are visually heavy pots defined as masculine?  At first this seems like an easy question but I’m finding it very hard to nail down what defines a pot as masculine or feminine and yet I have no problem looking at a pot and thinking it is one or the other or neither. Does our subconscious make the decision for us? 

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This is an intriguing question that I too find difficult to answer.  As I do not sell work, I am guided only by my taste and don't think in terms of masculine or feminine or what might have broad or targeted appeal. I am female.

I like simple forms that are not delicate and definitely not tall and thin.  Some of what I do is, in fact, fairly squat. (My favorite dog is the English Bull).

But then, I have made pieces in which I have carved in an image of a specific female orangutan about to have a birthday and will soon do a sturdy mug for a friend with either a carved in or painted version of her Newfie-mix.  Is that feminine work then?

 

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A sculpture teacher told us we create things along our own body frame. If you are tall and thin you will make tall and thin. If you have broad shoulders or a pot belly you will make with broad shoulders or a pot belly.

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I'm curious how to define a masculine/feminine/neutral form.

If the Golden Mean is universal does this make it neutral?

This one of the more broad questions I've heard in a while.

 

 

Edited by C.Banks

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For me my work is gender free meaning its for everyone . A few things I have noticed is what glaze colors different genders like. Many a customer (one last week at the studio) has asked if men or women like this glaze or that glaze color.In a general sense men seem to like browns more than women .As to  all forms all I can add as you get older you want lighter wares in the kitchen. Older folks like pots that are lighter especially dinnerware.

Some forms sell better to women like vases but men buy them a gifts as well.In a general sense I sell more pottery to women buyers than men for sure.Thats always been the case.

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9 hours ago, dhPotter said:

A sculpture teacher told us we create things along our own body frame. If you are tall and thin you will make tall and thin. If you have broad shoulders or a pot belly you will make with broad shoulders or a pot belly.

Well, I didn't always have a pot belly.

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I worked with a male potter, short with potter muscles, who made tall slender mugs with narrow extruded handles. I'm a average sized woman of slender build who makes sturdy, broad-based mugs with beefy handles. Go figure.

My non-ware work, tho, is definitely more feminine looking as it usually decorated with freehand drawn and carved floral designs.

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I think there are lots of clues that play on our brains in this regard. Our species is designed to pick up on cues that help us to conform to a social norm, it's been proven it's a major part of our survival technique. Figuring out what group we fit into and which we don't were and sometimes still are life and death decisions. I think you have to get pretty far into minimalism to stop giving cues and enter the area of "gender neutral" in regards to creating something.

I definitely intentionally do work that I define as either female, male, or neutral. E.g: I'm working on some  vivid glaze techniques for some of my 'ware' type work. I don't expect men to be buying the pastels and hot pinks, so I'm also making black, blue, red.

A little story: I went into a semi-local gallery and stumbled upon knee-hi sculptures in driftwood with rough ceramic faces, shockingly close to an idea I thought I'd come up with myself. So much for that notion, but despite the heavy materials and primitive chunky claywork it seemed obvious it was done by a female artist. Despite their being displayed as sculpture there was an  unapologetic vulnerability to the work that I have never seen in a man's work.

Aside from the obvious, I'd say female artists -in general- have more tendency towards pure expression and creativity coming from their own selves. When men -and this is a generalization of course- get creative they seem to do it within a subconscious awareness of it being judged by other men, and want to succeed or surpass an existing accepted set of norms. Whether it will sell a lot of copies, honor an ancient tradition started by (male) potters, make them famous, or win shows isn't always foremost in the mind of a female artist, self expression or simple enjoyment of the artistic process is.

Also, men seem to have a lot more interest with working with machinery, while women are more interested in hand building. This may have something to do with social-economic issues as well as inner desires (women artists can't afford as much fancy equipment), but at least in my case I've never given a fiddle dee dee about wheel work, I feel like I'm robbing my hands and head of what they really want to do. 

Edited by yappystudent
misspelling

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I'm not ready to insert my 2-cents worth (or Lee's editorial rant of the day, depending on my mood and how much No Surrender REV coffee I've had) on this topic, but here is another interesting article. https://www.disegnodaily.com/article/gendered-objects

At the moment, I am working on marketing lingo and trying to not go down the rabbit holes of social psychology, anthropology, art-speak, gender-related assumptions and other pitfalls while trying to wordsmith text to "appeal" to men or women with particular pieces in my (soon, soon, someday soon) online Shop. Stereotypical or not, I perceive these two pieces to come across as more masculine and more feminine, respectively. Of course, the best question is, if the top dish looks like it belongs on a guy's dresser and the bottom one on  a lady's vanity, then "why" ? What say you? 

 

CA 14dsm.jpg

CA 17sm.jpg

Edited by LeeU

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I'll take a stab at this, Lee.  The things that make the second maybe more appealing to a woman than a man might be: 1) A flat rather than bowl-like shape makes a collection of rings, pins, and earrings less likely to end up in a tangled heap at the bottom. No one cares if keys and coins end up in a heap. 2) The lacy-type appearance of the decoration of the second might be more a woman's choice than a man's.

Looking at colors,  my first thought was of my dropping my son off at college and realizing it was way, way hotter than I had expected. I asked him whether he thought I should pick him up a few cooler t-shirts at Target before I left him off. He said yes but added, "Mommy, please get neutral colors. Boys my age will be wearing mostly neutral colors."

Having written this, I called my husband over to ask which he liked better and why. He said he liked the top better. He said he didn't like the "bumpy fence-type thing "on the bottom one, while the top one looks "rustically elegant."
 

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Gabby--tell your hubby he made my day! "rustically elegant"  feels like a complement, so I am thrilled. :) It also reads like SEO "gold"(search engine optimization--leveraging key words for behind-the-scenes online marketing).

Interesting that he didn't care for the free formed rims on the little tray, which is very characteristic of my intentional "semi-flawed" style. I am beginning to see where it works and where it just doesn't, especially from the perspective of making salable objects that will appeal to enough people for me to earn some gas money and buy a few bags of clay from the proceeds of my "hobby biz".  I may not break even for years, having built my own studio, but that is OK and I knew that going in.  Thanks for the feedback.

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lee, where did you get my dragonfly?  the bottom dish holds the metal item that i use so often.   it is no longer available, at least as far as i have looked and though i have 2 of them, they are important enough for me to want more.  maybe it is that "always room for one more" desire that was recently discussed.  if you got it recently, please let me know where.

now i am afraid to say that the top one IS rustically elegant, looks deliberate and sturdy.

the bottom one does remind me of a total beginner who did not know a better way to make walls on the box.  sorry.  my personal opinion which should not matter.  i saw an instructor who was teaching her students to use at least a quarter inch slab and fold up the edges with fingerprints so the item would look "handmade."

Edited by oldlady
correction

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Yeah--the "flawed" look is a deliberate philosophical style & statement thing that I have been  experimenting with and working through, but it is not working for certain objects and  I can see is not appealing for general household decor.  It's derivative of some work I was doing  (Artists Against AIDS), related to surviving , being damaged, being differently-abled, and it is time to move on  from that, in this current context of mine.

Old Lady--send me your address --PM here or via my website Contact page and I will send you the dragonfly pin. Dunno know where I got it but I don't have to have it and you do :)

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lee, thank you for the offer.  i looked at your website and found the shop section.  there are several shots of the dragonfly in close-up.  it is not the same as mine and i think it looks good in each of the pieces you have pictured with it.  please keep it for such photos.  

you really have some very nice items in the shop that we have not seen here.  you have done a good job on the website and i hope it pays off for you.  thanks again.

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