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#1 docweathers

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 12:18 PM

Repeatedly, I read articles on Ceramics Arts Daily that show some fantastic pot at the top of the article. The implication is that the article is going to explain how that pot was made. As I read, it becomes clear that I'm going to learn something about some principles and techniques used to create that pot, but they're not going to disclose exactly how they integrated those techniques to create the fantastic pot. In the end, the article is disappointing, at least in that regard.

In another thread on layering of glazes, participants pointed to guys like Stephen Hill, Josh de Weese, and Robert Barron who do fantastic multilayer glazes. Of course, this only makes one envious because there is no explanation of how these were actually created.


One thinks of artists, potters included, as cool, laid-back, share with the world, re-treaded hippies. But in the very competitive world of professional potters, they are as possessive of their knowledge as most entrepreneurs. As the holder of two patents, I certainly understand the motivation and am in no way above it. It is just sad that everyone has to reinvent the wheel themselves.

I guess that is what's the legal battle over sites like the Pirate Bay is about. We need some way to compensate innovation that does not restrict the flow of ideas. I can't say as I know the answer, but I am concerned and thinking about it.

Larry

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#2 Chris Campbell

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 12:48 PM

I find your comments very interesting from two angles ... one as a writer of such articles and another as a reader of other articles.

When I write an article I like to give the finished piece to a non potter to read then I ask them if they could understand it and if they got anything out of it. Often this leads to interesting editing since they make me see I started at point E instead of point A. Or I did not explain some very basic principle that I don't even think about anymore. Or I just assume a level of knowledge in my readers that is unrealistic. In a real live class they would stop me and question it but obviously, not possible in print.

This is also the job of the editors ... they read it and get back to me for further info ... BUT ... Sometimes those same editors are familiar with clay and things get past them too.
Or ... they only need 2,000 words to fill the space ... Or ... Something gets left for the next article ... Or no one has time to fill in all the blanks since we all have the same million things to do as you do.

And yes, it is annoying but hardly a plot to stop anyone from competing. In my cae, I have been working with colored clay for over twenty years ... If you can catch up to me in one workshop or one magazine article then I am truly in the wrong business! I actually want more people doing colored clay so the market for it opens up more.

As a reader looking for solid info from an article or book I am always confronted by wanting more than the article gave ... Give me exact %s and ratios ... Tell me how you made that work when I can't. I wish this made me a more complete and informative writer but I fear others get frustrated and want more from me too.

All I can say is that all the people I know who write articles would not be doing this task if they did not honestly want to SHARE information.

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#3 Mark C.

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 02:44 PM

I think there are several things going on. First is it's almost impossible to cover all the bases in an article or video-there will always be holes or questions not answered as there are not asked due to the format.

The other factor is even if its all explained most will not be able to recreate the same as the whole process cannot be mastered the same-what I mean is (I will use my own work as an example) If I gave you the glaze recipes and showed you how I’m glazing and spoke to my firing techniques you still would not be able to make it look the same as my 40 years of working with these glazing and years of reduction firing make it almost impossible for the beginner to recreate this look-this is not ego but fact as the process has so many variables to make the glazes look different-either in thickness or application or firing.

This is true spraying or dipping or brushing-this all takes so long to master-The firing is easier in oxidation electrics but once you add reduction then that’s another game changer. In ceramics there is no better school than experience.

The last factor which I may get some grief on but I know it true is the money in ceramics now is in doing workshops. So sharing some infois working towards the workshop idea.

This is truer now than in the old days. Folks will pay good money and travel to all over the place to learn from someone with a NAME. You can add your own reasons for this I have mine.



Let me tell you a little story to support this

Some years ago I attended a Potters council 2 day workshop put on by Mel Jacobsen and a host of speaker /demonstrators. This was within 200 miles of my area so I signed up and assumed there would be a mix of professional potters like me as well as hobbyists . After the first day I asked Mel about where the professionals where (other than the demonstrators) and he saidthat its very rare for someone like me to be at these gigs. I did learn some points and feel good about the whole experience but also realized who was the market and why. This is not a bad thing its just the way it is. Read John Britt’s piece in one of the last ceramics monthly magazine and you will see this spelled out.

Now I agree with Chris 100% as many of us here really try to share info and generally share so one does not need to step off every cliff.

Mark
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#4 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 05:23 PM

I agree with Chris and Mark. I have written numerous articles on "how-to's" for PMI
and always try to provide all the details in photos and text.
They get reprinted in the CAD posts later on or put into anthologies published by CM.

Editing is the editor's prerogative, but the aim is to provide accurate information to the readers.
Bill Jones once explained to me who their marketed target was. I found that it fit exactly into
who was taking my previous workshops to Spain and Italy.

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#5 TJR

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 06:26 PM

Repeatedly, I read articles on Ceramics Arts Daily that show some fantastic pot at the top of the article. The implication is that the article is going to explain how that pot was made. As I read, it becomes clear that I'm going to learn something about some principles and techniques used to create that pot, but they're not going to disclose exactly how they integrated those techniques to create the fantastic pot. In the end, the article is disappointing, at least in that regard.

In another thread on layering of glazes, participants pointed to guys like Stephen Hill, Josh de Weese, and Robert Barron who do fantastic multilayer glazes. Of course, this only makes one envious because there is no explanation of how these were actually created.


One thinks of artists, potters included, as cool, laid-back, share with the world, re-treaded hippies. But in the very competitive world of professional potters, they are as possessive of their knowledge as most entrepreneurs. As the holder of two patents, I certainly understand the motivation and am in no way above it. It is just sad that everyone has to reinvent the wheel themselves.

I guess that is what's the legal battle over sites like the Pirate Bay is about. We need some way to compensate innovation that does not restrict the flow of ideas. I can't say as I know the answer, but I am concerned and thinking about it.


docweathers;
I read your post just now. I am the artist who pointed you in the direction of Josh de Weese, Robert Barron, Oribe pottery, and there is also John Glick who layers glazes. I was trying to be helpful in pointing you in a direction to look at some images. I have worked with Josh de Weese at the Archie Bray Foundation, and I spent a week firing Robert Barron's wood kiln in Australia. I have to confess that I have NO IDEA what steps they take and in what order to produce their very beautiful work. Both men are very approachable, but I don't think either would give you a step by step how to to produce their work. I guess I didn't think that that was what you were after. I spend a lot of time on this blog trying to help people, as I have a lot of experience. If I didn't answer your question, or mis-directed you, I apologize. I guess I was thinking that you wanted a starting point.
Tom Roberts[TJR].

#6 Pres

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 04:32 PM

Repeatedly, I read articles on Ceramics Arts Daily that show some fantastic pot at the top of the article. The implication is that the article is going to explain how that pot was made. As I read, it becomes clear that I'm going to learn something about some principles and techniques used to create that pot, but they're not going to disclose exactly how they integrated those techniques to create the fantastic pot. In the end, the article is disappointing, at least in that regard.

In another thread on layering of glazes, participants pointed to guys like Stephen Hill, Josh de Weese, and Robert Barron who do fantastic multilayer glazes. Of course, this only makes one envious because there is no explanation of how these were actually created.


One thinks of artists, potters included, as cool, laid-back, share with the world, re-treaded hippies. But in the very competitive world of professional potters, they are as possessive of their knowledge as most entrepreneurs. As the holder of two patents, I certainly understand the motivation and am in no way above it. It is just sad that everyone has to reinvent the wheel themselves.

I guess that is what's the legal battle over sites like the Pirate Bay is about. We need some way to compensate innovation that does not restrict the flow of ideas. I can't say as I know the answer, but I am concerned and thinking about it.


Interesting comments, reminds me of the evolution of Ceramics monthly magazine. For years one of the only sources of information out there on ceramics, this magazine had numerous how to articles, that talked about a large variety of techniques. It still does in a limited manner, but has many more articles on aesthetics, history, emerging artists, and technical aspects of ceramics that does not necessarily appeal to the everyday potter. It should. These as TJR pointed out are starting points for further investigation. If you are looking for more how to, look up some of these potters or techniques on Utube, or look for articles in Clay Times, or Pottery Making Illustrated. These places will give you the techniques, even though you may have to bring your understanding and vocabulary up to speed, a good thing.

The real problem with looking at all of these wonderful pots by people is that it really does not tell you the big thing about how they did it. They don't just happen once they know a technique, they usually have lots of failures along the way, and along the way they change, evolve, and become what they are. It is not the technique, but their understanding and response to a whole series of techniques and experiences that bring them to the pots that you so admire. They enjoy the journey, and constantly are learning from it, as all of us should from what we do in life.

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


#7 Lucille Oka

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 01:49 AM

Maybe it is best for you to go to the library or buy yourself some books on pottery making that can give you step by step instructions. How about taking a pottery course at the local university. They have a wealth of information, equipment and teachers who are prepared to go the distance. Or you can buy the videos that CAD offers. How about attending a few workshops, nothing better than to be taught by the artists whose work you so admire.

I remember years ago I went to a famous potter's workshop it was splendid to see him and watch him throw and talk about his work. I learned things from him by just watching and listening but, I do not make pots like him. I do not believe in copying contemporary artist's work; I strive not to.
Have love for the work and the willingness to fail and to keep trying and testing until you get the work the way you want it. Stop looking at the work of other potters for awhile so that you can develop your own voice in clay; and not just be a copier.
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#8 OffCenter

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 09:09 AM

I'm glad Ceramics Monthly isn't a "how-to" magazine. If you're looking for that get Pottery Making Illustrated.

I disagree with your statement "But in the very competitive world of professional potters, they are as possessive of their knowledge as most entrepreneurs." Just to take one of the potters you mentioned as an example. Steven Hill probably makes most of his living today off workshops he give teaching the details of his forming and glazing techniques. There are numerous printed and online articles covering his techniques. The Ceramics Arts Bookstore even offers a CD called The Surface Techniques of Steven Hill which is basically a review of his forming techniques and a class in his glazing techniques and includes glaze recipes (unbelievably with mistakes!) and firing schedules. Without coming to your studio and making the pots for you, he can't be much freer with his techniques.

Jim
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#9 docweathers

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:41 PM

I'm glad Ceramics Monthly isn't a "how-to" magazine. If you're looking for that get Pottery Making Illustrated.

I disagree with your statement "But in the very competitive world of professional potters, they are as possessive of their knowledge as most entrepreneurs." Just to take one of the potters you mentioned as an example. Steven Hill probably makes most of his living today off workshops he give teaching the details of his forming and glazing techniques. There are numerous printed and online articles covering his techniques. The Ceramics Arts Bookstore even offers a CD called The Surface Techniques of Steven Hill which is basically a review of his forming techniques and a class in his glazing techniques and includes glaze recipes (unbelievably with mistakes!) and firing schedules. Without coming to your studio and making the pots for you, he can't be much freer with his techniques.

Jim


Larry

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#10 docweathers

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:42 PM

Since I thought it might be provocative, I contemplated starting this thread for quite a while before taking the step. I decided to go ahead with the thread because I think the pottery world looks different to those on opposites ends of the experience spectrum.


I noticed that all of the responses were from the highly experienced sector, so I wanted to wait a while to respond hoping that one of us from the other end of the experience spectrum, maybe less than 100 posts, would comment.

First, there were many very valid points in the responses.

I think Chris is right. It's very hard to judge the skill level of your audience. It is too easy to assume your audience is more like you are than is the case. Editor's can easily fall into this trap too.

Mark resonates well with this point when he says "I asked Mel about where the professionals where (other than the demonstrators) and he said that its very rare for someone like me to be at these gigs. I ... also realized who was the market and why."

Mark goes on to say "you still would not be able to make it look the same as my 40 years of working with these glazing and years of reduction firing make it almost impossible for the beginner to recreate this look". This may be true, but I need a shortcut. If it takes 40 years to create beautiful pots like Mark does, at 68, I think I'm out of luck. The research says it is really focused practice that develops virtuoso performances. When I read articles, I'm looking for that focus.

I have read many of Marcia's articles and they wealth of accurate information.

TRJ- your directing me to Josh de Weese, Robert Barron and Oribe pottery was a useful starting point. I just want to learn how to do that in less than 40 years. You resonate with my concern when you say, "I don't think either would give you a step by step how to to produce their work." I am not looking for step-by-step but the conceptual structure to create these beautiful things.

Pres- I have spent endless hours watching potters on YouTube and it has been very useful. I just discovered the utility of Clay Times and Pottery Making Illustrated.

Lucille- I have gotten myself a good supply of pottery books that have been helpful. My weak area is Cone 6 glazes. I would appreciate recommendations for books that cover this well. Part of my struggle at this point is that most of my experience has been in the university setting. In some ways that is great and others is not. They provide the clay, the glazes and firing. All you have to do is the throwing and carving. I'm pretty decent at these latter two skills, but this is the first time I've have had my own studio and thus have to take care of everything.

OffCenter- I had missed Stephen Hill's CD. I will check it out.

Give me one concession in this discussion. Add three or four sentences to your article explaining the general steps that were taken to create the pot at the beginning of the article.


Finally, if I offended anyone, I apologize.

Larry

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#11 JBaymore

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 06:10 PM

Education is an important aspect of pursuing any field of endeavor. Ceramics education can, and does, come in many diverse forms. Elementary and secondary education art courses, formal collegiate undergraduate and graduate degreee programs, adult education (Life Long Learning) programs, workshops and seminars, books, videos, personal conversations, internet forums, experiential learning, and so on.

All of it is available. For some many parts are possible. For others, only some are possible.

Unfortunately, when it comes to "mastery", there is no subsitute for puttin' in the hours. You can take worshop after workshop, you can watch Youtube video after video, you can read book after book, you can ask question after quwestion of forums........ but "hands in clay" is the real magic elixer.

My favorite quote...... "Clay and Wheel, they teach us." - Hamada Shoji

I'm not sure there truly are real "shortcuts". The "shortcuts' that do maybe exist only get you started in the generally right direction maybe a little quicker than blindly stumbling along. They are a catalyst to creation. Then you have to put in the hours and hours of intentful and focused effort, and have a lot of clay flow through the entire process under your hands, intellect, and heart... from raw to finish fired.

Mastery is not easy, nor guaranteed to anyone.

There is a reason Malcolm Gladwell talks about those "magic" 10,000 hours and the fortuitous circumstances that often have to be in place to allow certain individuals to ever reach those kinds of lofty situations. ( http://www.gladwell....iers/index.html )

As to various artists giving generously of their techniques and ideas..... there are terribly generous people out there doing just that kind of thing. But the intent of these efforts is not so that others can "duplicate" their efforts (which all too often seems to be the goal of many prople). It is so that people can garner some new ideas and then through devoting the necessary work time and significant effort to make the ideas their own and bring something new to the mix, create new works that are different than the original artist source's works.

Why would anyone want to make someone elses pieces? Make your own work.

Having time to work in clay is a gift. The more time we have to do so, the bigger the gift that life has given us. But no matter how much time we have to devote to this medium....... it is a wonderfully rewarding medium with which to work. Make the most of the time you have.

best,

..............john
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#12 Mark C.

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 09:26 PM

Doc
I'm glad the subject is controversial-Talking about subjects like this is a good thing.
I do not mean to say that it takes 40 years to make good work or learn every process-my main thrust is ceramics has a huge learning curve-all the facets and there are so many takes time to cover and get proficient in.
Making mistakes is the best teacher and I have made them by the ton literally in my years.
There are so many variables. My best advice is have fun with it and the rest will fall into place.
As far as time in-when I got out of collage I thought I was good at throwing as I had 7 years in by then as I started in High school-looking back it really took me 10 years to get good at throwing-the same can be said at firing reduction kilns-it really just takes lots of experience and there are no shortcuts I know of.
Glaze making and glazing takes longer to master that process and really its always just a never ending learning curve-we come up with great or horrible glazes or combinations by mistakes often.
I feel I have never mastered it only kept the loss rate down.I've never considered myself a great thrower -I'm much better with fire and glaze than clay as that's where my interest lies.
I'm saying this as many just use pre made glazes and electric kilns as that takes all that out of the curve and that curve can be a hard one-yes you still need to master all the rest but it is faster to results. Yes the results are more like the paint store with colors but one can focus on working with the clay and forms or application of glaze.
I'm not suggesting you do this only pointing this out.
Mark
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#13 Chris Campbell

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 11:53 AM

Well, one reason you only hear from us is that others like to lurk ... hard to get them out of the bushes! : - )

I compare pottery proficiency to motorcycle riders ... you watch someone pull up and park their motorcycle and you can tell by how comfortable they are and how much a part of them the bike is how many thousands miles they have ridden on all kinds of roads. You can't fake it by wearing the clothes and you can't get it by simply buying the bike or reading a book about motorcycle riding. You start by taking official motorcycle riding classes ... but then you have to drop the bike, miss a few curves, get stuck on ten miles of loose gravel, ride turnpikes at rush hour and get crowded off the road by a semi.

So, at 68 you might not have 40 years to attain the level of muscle memory that an 18 year old can ... BUT ... you can still jump in and start making mistakes, taking chances, ruining pots ... having fun for the next 20 or so years. You have the maturity to know that a mistake is not the end of the world, and you have a voice to be heard, something to share. Doing is the secret ... over and over again answering the question "What would happen if I ....?"

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#14 docweathers

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 01:36 PM

The whole lurking business is a bit strange. I have actually had to edit their proposed posts before they would actually post.

Have no doubt that I'm jumping in, having fun and making lots of mistakes that I can learn from.

Larry

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