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Designation--"Master Potter"


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#41 JBaymore

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 04:43 PM

I saw a potter at a show who went by the Worlds greatest Potter-make checks out to the worlds greatest Potter the sign said.
I could only get about 20 feet from booth as his ego was about that large. He now goes my another name for his business.
truse story on the name part.
Mark

 

 

That was George E. Ohr, right?  ;)

 

best,

 

...............john


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#42 JBaymore

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 04:46 PM

"Jiro Dreams of Sushi" is a must see film for makers.

 

I have a friend (and adult student of pottery at the college) who has recently eaten at Jiro's place.  He said it was worth every penny.

 

best,

 

.................john


John Baymore
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

Guest Professor, Wuxi Institute of Arts and Science, Yixing, China

Former President and Past President; Potters Council
 

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#43 TwinRocks

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 05:09 PM

There is also a generalized theory that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill (which amounts to working full time for around 5 years).

"Worlds Greatest Potter" sounds a lot like "Worlds Greatest Dad": a cute pat on the head if it's on the side of your coffee cup, but rather cocky and silly to go around using it as a title....guess I am just not a fan of people who flaunt praise?

As for "master potter" or "master craftsman", that seems like a more reasonable degree of self applied labeling when appropriate: if you've been working in the craft for decades it would seem apt (unless you yourself feel such a claim is false). After all, in any skill there is a flood of novices, a smaller number of practiced craftspeople, and a handful that have reached a pinnacle of skill: even if the label isn't official, it seems worth designating your skill level.

#44 Benzine

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Posted 13 July 2015 - 05:42 PM

Dirt Roads, that is a good story, especially when you really think about it.  The customer you talked to, had to go to the potter they spoke of.  Then that potter had to be upset enough, to come and find you.  Then, the most ridiculous part, they actually had to follow through with it.


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#45 clay lover

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 09:35 AM

There are a couple of self proclaimed "Master Potter's in my area. 

 

I know their work.

 

 

SNORT.



#46 DirtRoads

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 12:09 PM

Nice bit of humor here.  Did cheer my mood somewhat on this topic.  But overall, I'm still taken aback at that person confronting me ... I wasn't even in the showroom ... my employee had to page me.   I did find out that the customer took lessons from that potter.  I've done some research on them and their work is okay and they have been doing it a long time but from what I can tell they do not sell very much.    Technique looked okay but the work lacked sales appeal IMO.  I've noticed some of the potters that give lessons in my general area use this title of "master".  I read in a potter's biography that they took lessons from a "master potter".    I've noticed this term used in some press releases about potters too.  Most of the potters that stop by here are very nice and interesting to talk to but a very few are resentful to see success and this person may have been one of them ... they did make an offhand comment about my work.  There were 2 customers browsing and loading up at the time and at least they said it to me outside of hearing range.  I feel I'm quite unpretentious about my ability as I tell everyone I've only been doing this since October 2010.   Going to post a cheerful topic now.



#47 JBaymore

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 12:21 PM

DirtRoads,

 

There are a LOT of big egos in the art world.  Most potters are pretty laid back.... but some are "full of themselves".  Any time you "take a stand", you open yourself up to this kind of stuff. 

 

When someone else appends the "Master Potter" title to a person... that is a certain level of praise (with no real contemporary standards to back it up)..  Just "nice thoughts".  When someone starts appending that formal title to themselves........ "Warning Will Robinson.... warning!"   (only the old folks will get that one)

 

You have to let this garbage roll off your back.  Just go make more pots. :)

 

best,

 

.....................john


John Baymore
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

Guest Professor, Wuxi Institute of Arts and Science, Yixing, China

Former President and Past President; Potters Council
 

http://www.JohnBaymore.com


#48 rayaldridge

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Posted 14 July 2015 - 12:31 PM

"Jiro Dreams of Sushi" is one of our oldest son's favorite moves, and I found it to be pretty profound as well.   As Becky said upthread, there actually is a Master Chef designation, though I only know about it because our oldest son just graduated from the CIA in Hyde Park, so I've been reading up on the high-end dining world.

 

I don't know if a similar test would even be possible for potters.  There is a lot of ambiguity about what makes great food, but it's nothing compared to the ambiguity of evaluating pottery for "greatness," whatever that is.  I've known a few potters who threw with great skill, but who made pots I'd never want to own.

 

It's complicated.



#49 LawPots

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Posted 22 July 2015 - 05:34 PM

One way to put it, in old guild terms, is that a master potter is one who has mastered the craft (which is a near synonym of "secret") of pottery.  The people who master the secrets of pottery are a master potters.  Its not about how good the work is, its about whether you can make what you want to make.  The masterwork is proof that you know the secrets of pottery, and can put them into action.  Masterworks don't have to look good, they just prove that you know what you're doing. 

 

Its not really a subjective thing at all.  You could test it. 



#50 JBaymore

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Posted 22 July 2015 - 08:15 PM

Its not really a subjective thing at all.  You could test it. 

 

Absolutely..... but you'd need 1,000,000 years to get the pottery community to agree on what the test should include.  ;)

 

And at the moment... there is really no 'certifying body' like the Guilds of old.

 

Closest we come today is the granting of art degrees by colleges, I think.

 

best,

 

..................john


John Baymore
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Guest Professor, Wuxi Institute of Arts and Science, Yixing, China

Former President and Past President; Potters Council
 

http://www.JohnBaymore.com


#51 Chris Campbell

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Posted 23 July 2015 - 11:08 AM

Its not really a subjective thing at all.  You could test it.

 
Absolutely..... but you'd need 1,000,000 years to get the pottery community to agree on what the test should include.  ;)
 
And at the moment... there is really no 'certifying body' like the Guilds of old.
 
Closest we come today is the granting of art degrees by colleges, I think.
 
best,
 
..................john

Sadly, I don't think so ... I have spoken to 'graduates' of ceramics/fine arts programs who had not received any glaze education and were discouraged from making utilitarian ware. How complete was that 'education'?

My definition of Master would have to include ...
Education in the history of pottery as well as all aspects of process
Years afterwards spent improving both skills and knowledge base
Years of sharing and teaching to move the craft forward.
... And probably never being vain enough to call yourself 'Master'

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#52 LawPots

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Posted 23 July 2015 - 01:06 PM

Now that I think about it, if I were to devise a test (which is a really fun thought exercise) a Master Potter is someone who should be capable of the following:

 

1. Identifying and making a clay body suitable for functional ware from natural materials - i.e. can find a useful clay without having to buy it. 

- They should be able to identify workable plastic clays in the ground.  They should know how to test those clays for workability and firing temperature.  They should be able to differentiate between an earthenware clay and stoneware clay, and fire clay (for firebricks).  They should know what sort of geology to look for in a natural landscape to find a useful clay. 

 

2. Identifying and making a functional glaze from natural materials that makes a pot impervious, and is an extension of a decorative style - i.e. can find, or knows which natural materials for a glaze at the temperature they want to fire at.

- Knows how to process and mix those materials into a glaze. 

- They should know how to test a glaze for function and durability.

- They should know how to create color in a glaze or slip   

 

3. Can build a kiln to fire their work, starting from natural materials

- knows how to make bricks, lay out a kiln, and build a useful kiln.  This may include an electric kiln (see below) 

 

4. Can fire a kiln to temperature, from natural materials (wood, coal, animal or crude oil). 

 

5. Can form pots at least the size of a decent large cook-pot either handbuilding, wheel, or molded.  I think the size question here may be optional, but the forming method must demonstrate the capability of forming useful pots with an even thickness.  I believe that the pot should be sellable, not dangerous, and suitable for the use for which it is designed. I.e. teapots need to be able to make tea, mugs hold water without leaking, baking dishes bake, and crocks ferment food.   

 

I am not going to require a master potter to be a blacksmith or a miner, but the master potter needs to know what is needed in terms of metal, minerals, and shaped wood to make a finished pot.  Likewise, the master potter can work with electricity, but the master potter should know how to make an electric kiln, if the potter does not know how to make another type of kiln. 

 

So, a master potter needs to be able to teach the next generation of potters what they must know to make pots.  A master potter must know: Making clay, making glaze, making pots, making a kiln, firing a kiln.  Its cheating to say you have mastery of the craft if you buy your clay from someone else, but can't make it.  Or buy you kiln from someone else, but don't know how to make your own. Ideally a master potter should have some ability over all the forming techniques, but I don't think that mastery really requires everyone to throw on a wheel, when I see plenty of handbuilt and coiled pots that are just as good or better than a wheel thrown pot. 

 

An MFA is something else.  It's not a master potter - its a master's in the fine art of ceramics.  To me, this just isn't the same.  That's why history isn't on my list.  It's why years of teaching or learning really aren't on the list.  It would take years to learn these skills as a practical matter, but its not about how long you've done these things - its about whether you learned them in the first place.

 

BTW - does anyone on this list have experience with the German potteries?  I read an interview where a German potter said that he could not take apprentices in Germany, because he had never served an apprenticeship and been certified as a journeyman or master. The same rules didn't keep him from selling his pots, though, so not the same as the medieval guilds.  This article covers some of the structure of the German apprentice system https://en.wikipedia...iceship#Germany The Germans seem to think its possible to narrow the skill set down to a prescribed set of skills.



#53 TJR

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Posted 23 July 2015 - 01:55 PM

I've been thinking about this one for a couple of days.

Chris hit the nail on the head. If you have to say that you are a Master, then you are not one.

If you have a sign over your display that says;"Master Potter, or Worlds Greatest Potter", then you are not.

In thinking of past masters at NCECA, I would definitely include Don Reitz and Val Cushing.

Looking at that video of the Robin Hopper talk, I would definitely include him.

You do not have to be dead, or be male to acquire the designation of Master.

You need the respect of your peers.

You definitely would have had to give something back to the medium, as in books, lectures, shows of your work.

TJR.



#54 JBaymore

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Posted 24 July 2015 - 08:33 AM

To be clear, Chris, I was not saying that college degrees WERE the equivalent...... far from it........ but they are currently the formal "accrediting bodies" that we have that even touch the field.

 

I think that if the college programs were able to be something like the 7 to 11 year typical apprenticeship programs...... they might be able to truly "do the job".  But in our society... that does not value art...... and in which education is absurdly expensive...... wouldn;t work.

 

Back in the 60's many BFA programs were 5 year curriculums instead of the typical 4 year BA....... that ended fast.

 

best,

 

............................john


John Baymore
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

Guest Professor, Wuxi Institute of Arts and Science, Yixing, China

Former President and Past President; Potters Council
 

http://www.JohnBaymore.com


#55 Benzine

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Posted 24 July 2015 - 09:46 AM

John, I wouldn't say that our society doesn't value Art.  They just value other things more.  And furthermore, in many cases, they value things, they don't actually realize are Art, or exist because of Art/ Artists.  


"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#56 JBaymore

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Posted 24 July 2015 - 09:51 AM

And furthermore, in many cases, they value things, they don't actually realize are Art, or exist because of Art/ Artists.  

 

Amen.


John Baymore
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

Guest Professor, Wuxi Institute of Arts and Science, Yixing, China

Former President and Past President; Potters Council
 

http://www.JohnBaymore.com


#57 bciskepottery

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Posted 24 July 2015 - 09:20 PM

Obviously, we need Congress to enact the "No Potter Left Behind Act".

#58 ChenowethArts

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Posted 25 July 2015 - 03:57 AM

Obviously, we need Congress to enact the "No Potter Left Behind Act".

Sadly, by the time such a bill would make it through the meat grinder of the legislative process it might be "No Slop Bucket Left Unfilled" :)

(I'm sorry, my cynicism is showing...the 'act' would more likely read "Nothing Left But the Potter's Behind").

-Paul :rolleyes:


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#59 Grype

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Posted 25 July 2015 - 07:47 AM

Worse act to ever hit the school system imo. That said, I think the term master of something is dying off and now refers to master degrees. Such as, you have a masters in economics. I hardly ever hear anyone say master anymore, except old crafts people like ourselves.


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#60 PRankin

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Posted 25 July 2015 - 08:46 AM

I remember when I was little and my grandparents lived in Florida they used to send me birthday cards and gifts addressed to Master Paul Rankin. I guess it was the formality of the times but I earned that title well before I knew how to do anything.

Paul




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