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This week I will pose another question of my own, as there have been few new ones in the question bank. 

Why? In other words, why do you make clay objects? Is it for fame or fortune, love or need, or even knowledge and curiosity? Why do you do what you do in Ceramics? 

This has never been a question that I had thought very much of, as from the very beginning for some reason or other it just seemed natural, not a question of why, but why not. I could no longer be without clay once experiencing it as I could do without good food, nice fabric, a loving wife, or children or even breathing in and out. The first time I felt the clay moving through my fingers on the wheel it was like a drug, I needed to do it more and more, to learn how to control it, and of late how to un-control it. So I was driven to make pots, and then, there were too many for home, but I still had to make pots, so I started selling some. In that way the pots became a way of sustaining the addiction.

Of late, I have found myself thinking more of the process of filling an order especially after this Savannah Bee order. I remember the intensity I felt when working in grad classes of meeting deadlines, and meeting requirements. This intensity would bring out the best in me, as my movements on the wheel would become more assured and efficient. My groupings of pots became faster and faster to complete, and the forms more natural and pleasing. Filling this late order has forced me to re-evaluate my reasons for taking the order, and wondering about the future. I don't know where this latest step will take me, but believe the experience will be important.

 

best,

Pres

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Its really changed for me since the beginning as a high school student. My friend asked me back then to take some private clay classes taught by a studio potter for a very small group of 4-5 people.The high school also had some minor clay facilities .

It was fun learning not thinking to seriously back then. The serious stuff for me at that time  was losing one of my brothers  to suicide and taking flying lessons.

Clay just crept inside slowly and within a year I had bought  a Brent wheel to throw at home.

By collage I was sponging up all the knowledge I could on building kilns doing Raku,making glazes formulating clay bodies whatever I could learn I was game.I just in a few years was only thinking about ceramics while pursuing an BA in art. I was the President of the ceramics club at collage and built a few kilns at home during school . I began selling during school pottery club sales. I sold outside of collage as well . By graduation I was making and selling pottery with another potter . It just mushroomed from there . I had a starving decade before it started gaining traction.I never thought about a plan or a goal back then I was having fun and making it by if only barley.

I became a prolific potter along with about 15 other potters in our area all from the same collage clay classes . Now there are only a few of us left doing this from that era locally .

I started with all the local fairs and a few consignment outlets. Soon I was applying to juried shows out of my area and that really helped with income.

Most  local potters faded away decades ago-I stayed at it and it has become brand (Liscom Hill Pottery) for me locally. Now I know pottery is work but it still to some degree is fun. I have 100# control and can still pick and choose my work schedule. I'm trying to slow the train down a bit now.

The things I still like are customer interactions (selling direct to customers) Getting paid well and having this clay work as a lifestyle. its be a good mix with my  love of the the ocean  and diving as I set my own schedule.

Now I'm down to 5 shows and a mix of wholesale and consignment-so with 3 income streams its been a good mix.I used to never wholesale but now shows are just harder on me so I'm cutting them down and my wholesale filled that gap well. After 45 years with this in one area the business side is easy and I'm in the drivers seat.Never planned that but its evolved naturally.

The why clay is something that is beyond me-it took hold of me  early and grew into a lifestyle quest maybe a disease ?Its been a bit hard on the body but kept me active as well.

 

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Why? Because I find it strangely curious that glaze had exacting standards and defined chemistry. In my early searches for information about clay chemistry, none existed. Yes, some boundaries had been defined, but  formula limits, plasticity parameters, and particle distribution was a loosely defined concept. If I would have not seen a crystalline vase in Williamsburg, Va. In 2007 I would have bought a lathe and made furniture. But alas, I now have my rabbit hole decorated, and there is plenty of brain candy to munch on down here. I did talk to Alice yesterday, she has not aged a bit.

Nerd

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Prez I have the exact same feelings and thoughts as you when it involves clay.  I have been stock piling coiled work with Indian designs on them for the last two years.  I was thinking my husband could open a internet business and keep busy selling them when he is retired.  But I have grown weary of them,  I need to take a break.  Mark C. found me a great deal on a electric wheel,  so I am heading a different direction for awhile.  I have dabbled in many different art forms through out my life,  clay is the only one that gives me inner peace.   Denice

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Denice,

I understand the inner peace of working with the clay, but can also see where some would be so involved in production that it would consume that inner peace. Hope that makes sense to some.

 

 

best,

Pres

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Good question. Seemed like a natural fit for a hobby. Still working with earth sciences but in a free-er way - unlike work!  The experiment side of ceramics is where the freedom kicks in and opening the kiln is always like Christmas :)

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Because drawing and painting are not tactile enough, and I need the tactile payoff for some reason. I can draw and paint really well, I have good ideas for creating images, but find the process a means to an end. With clay the process is part of what I enjoy about creating sculpture. Also I've just always wanted to do sculpture but couldn't find a satisfactory medium until I tried ceramics. 

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The tactile aspect is huge, the feeling of creating the three dimensional object in space so directly. This is why it matters to me also which clay I use.

There is something too of raising the object on the wheel from a lump to a functional form with a combination of use of hands and the spin of the wheel that evokes life bursting forth from the Earth, like a seedling breaking ground and pushing upward with nurturing, regardless of the outside climate.

For me the process is not automatic, so I also enjoy the concentration it entails.

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Because I can't *not* work in clay. 

I tried it for a few years, and made myself sick and miserable. I decided I didn't want to be sick and miserable anymore.  

After enough years of doing it, making pots is what I'm best at. (Currently working on the business stuff.)

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Prez I understand you completely on the production process pushing away the inner peace.    The longest I haven't worked with clay is 2 years,  I was designing and building a house and studio and selling our old house.   I was to busy to miss it and I knew I was going to end up with a full functioning potter studio not just stuck where there was some extra room.  It was worth the wait!     Denice

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Good question (for any/every thing).

Forty-three years ago, starting post-secondary at the local Junior Collage, hand building was a pre-req for Wheel I - I wanted to try throwing, finally got a round tuit (my Mom had one; now it's in a drawer here somewhere...) ...and, fate, at the same local Junior Collage.

Last day of the semester is next week. We found me a lightly used wheel; it's in the garage, and being used more now. We also found a heavily used kiln, which may be ready to fire about the time there's enough stuff to fill't'up.

The woman selling the kiln was planning to go to something smaller, as the back acts up on account o' the heavy shelves, etc. (methink she also deserves a nice new one with electronic contortion). She said she was introduced to clay thirty-eight years ago, "...and it changed my life."

lol, yeah.

I'm really enjoying it!

Why? 

It's more than finding something to be absorbed in and passionate about. It's more than replacing work (sshh, don't tell'm I fquit sometime between tomorrow and this time next year, shush!). It's more than the peace and joy of doing, more than producing functional and beautiful (err, less ugly?) things. 

...don't know what exactly the "more" is; perhaps it doesn't matter.

 

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I did make mud sculptures and very just drip sand castles as a kid. In college I discover clay. I soaked up as much knowledge as I could. I focused all my art history research papers on ceramic topics relevant to each AH course I took. I designed kilns, built burners and experimented with glazes. Some of my happiest moments have been working in studios in the woods. After 50+ years, I am very engaged with the interaction of chemistry and firing marks on surfaces. It is my passion. And there is inner peace and there are stellar moments of excitement and discovery. I love it. never a dull moment.

 

 

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A guy I dated in Brooklyn once told me that "Y is a crooked letter."  He meant, "don't ask."  In my existential phase at the time, that made sense.  Later, "Why not?" became the rallying cry.  The malleable, tactile aspects of hand-to-clay, tools to clay, and  even wheel rotation are singularly inviting and pleasing to me in a way that paint/pencils/pastels/oil crayons etc. just are not. Never took to wood or stone or metal or glass with the same sense of enthusiasm and satisfaction with the outcome.  I was early on drawn to the most primitive of applications--digging clay, pit firing, burnishing.   At the university, the wonders of a great gas kiln, making our own bodies and glazes, and the quality ceramic science & history courses, sealed the deal for me.  However, I went off on a different 30 year career tangent, and now via some cognitive difficulties, cannot retreive, remember, retain, or hardly even relearn most of what is needed to do it well,  to a  knowledgible and high standard. Which is OK.  I still love it and knew that as soon as I retired I would return to working in clay no matter how modest the effort or scale.  Callie hit it, with the "can't not". 

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