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Pottery for Everyman


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#1 Mark C.

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 12:25 PM

There has been a lot of talk about high value ceramics. There is another direction.
There is /was a movement in this country that started long ago with potters like Warren Macenziie and others that brings quility functional pottery to the common man at reasonable prices.
I have spent most of my clay life embracing this concept and promoting it.

(From Bernard Leach also came an emphasis on production volume, a way of sustaining a pottery house. This nearly 'wabi-sabi', or without thought, approach coupled with standardization allows for inexpensive, daily use goods. Warren took this to a new level. Volume yes, but not at the expense of expression. )

It works like this-
I make pottery for everyman/women. My precieved value is that one can afford and use my pots everyday as they are made to use everday and priced so folks can buy them everyday. They are priced where I can make a living and the end user can afford to buy them and use them all the time.. Its important that this two way deal works for both parties other wise sales fall flat and users stop using them as they turn into overpriced art pieces and thats NOT the idea. They are made as functional works to be used and loved but not placed on a mantel.
These concepts came for apretencices working with Leach and trace back to the Hamada /Leach colaboration times and is carried down thru potters like me.
It works well especially for the long run. Its not for everone working in clay or all clay work. I'm not trying to do this with say one of a kind salt pieces or sculptures. Its a life style and one I have chosen.
Mark
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#2 Benzine

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 12:59 PM

I agree. I don't see why production potters and their works, can't be judged by their artistic merits as well. Sure, they deal in quantity, but so do other artists, such as graphic designers, photographers and printmakers. In fact, I would say that production potters put more of themselves, and their creativity, into each piece, than the other types of artist I mentioned. For instance, a printmaker, might have created the print plate, but it could be another person, who actually makes the print. A photographer might spend some time, trying to zero in on the perfect print settings in the darkroom, but once they have it keyed in, there is little worked involved, in creating the subsequent prints.
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#3 GEP

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 01:12 PM

Although I produce a lot of quantity of certain pieces, I still aspire for each piece to become somebody's favorite. Not stuck on a shelf, or shuffled to the back of a cabinet. Functional design and craftsmanship come first, but an accessible price is part of that equation too. Ugh I wouldn't want my mugs to go unused because someone thinks they are too expensive to risk dropping.

Mea
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#4 Benzine

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 03:14 PM

Although I produce a lot of quantity of certain pieces, I still aspire for each piece to become somebody's favorite. Not stuck on a shelf, or shuffled to the back of a cabinet. Functional design and craftsmanship come first, but an accessible price is part of that equation too. Ugh I wouldn't want my mugs to go unused because someone thinks they are too expensive to risk dropping.

Mea


I've given people mugs, and have had them tell me, that they are afraid to use them. So they sit in the cupboard, or get used to store things. I tell them, I'd rather have them chip, or completely break the thing, while using it, than have it stay in pristine condition for years and years.
"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#5 Kohaku

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 08:30 PM

When I was first exploring pottery (back in the early '90s, before my wanderings into PhD work and wildlife biology) I watched a documentary on Richard Bresnahan and his work at St. Johns. He definitely embraces the 'pottery for the people' philosophy. The whole idea struck me as one of the most lovely things I'd ever heard of.

I then had to get embroiled in a personal approach to pottery that hinges on detailed surface decoration (and Raku firing with all of its high failure rate and uncertainty).

Regardless, I believe, to the bottom of my gut, that Macenziie had it right.
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#6 jrgpots

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 08:48 PM


Although I produce a lot of quantity of certain pieces, I still aspire for each piece to become somebody's favorite. Not stuck on a shelf, or shuffled to the back of a cabinet. Functional design and craftsmanship come first, but an accessible price is part of that equation too. Ugh I wouldn't want my mugs to go unused because someone thinks they are too expensive to risk dropping.

Mea


I've given people mugs, and have had them tell me, that they are afraid to use them. So they sit in the cupboard, or get used to store things. I tell them, I'd rather have them chip, or completely break the thing, while using it, than have it stay in pristine condition for years and years.



I agree. it's kind of like the story of the velvetine rabbit that was loved so much that it was very tattered and well worn.......but very loved.

Give me a good looking mug that feelat home in my hand and smooth on my lips. I'll drink from that one every time!

#7 Pres

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Posted 25 May 2013 - 11:53 PM

There has been a lot of talk about high value ceramics. There is another direction.
There is /was a movement in this country that started long ago with potters like Warren Macenziie and others that brings quility functional pottery to the common man at reasonable prices.
I have spent most of my clay life embracing this concept and promoting it.

(From Bernard Leach also came an emphasis on production volume, a way of sustaining a pottery house. This nearly 'wabi-sabi', or without thought, approach coupled with standardization allows for inexpensive, daily use goods. Warren took this to a new level. Volume yes, but not at the expense of expression. )

It works like this-
I make pottery for everyman/women. My precieved value is that one can afford and use my pots everyday as they are made to use everday and priced so folks can buy them everyday. They are priced where I can make a living and the end user can afford to buy them and use them all the time.. Its important that this two way deal works for both parties other wise sales fall flat and users stop using them as they turn into overpriced art pieces and thats NOT the idea. They are made as functional works to be used and loved but not placed on a mantel.
These concepts came for apretencices working with Leach and trace back to the Hamada /Leach colaboration times and is carried down thru potters like me.
It works well especially for the long run. Its not for everone working in clay or all clay work. I'm not trying to do this with say one of a kind slat pieces or sculptures. Its a life style and one I have chosen.
Mark


Not to be overly sentimental about it, but out of respect for the warmth of the clay, some sort of life I believe it has; I would much rather it be handled and loved by those that own it. I would rather they use it in everyday life finding the utility, intrinsic beauty, and gaining pleasure from its use. I have always believed that my pieces should be priced to use, not be placed on a shelf too precious to touch. At the same time, I like making larger pieces that sit somewhere anchoring a room often bringing up the aura of a distant time and place. These pieces I charge more for, but then they take more of my time individually.

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


#8 Benzine

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 08:16 AM


There has been a lot of talk about high value ceramics. There is another direction.
There is /was a movement in this country that started long ago with potters like Warren Macenziie and others that brings quility functional pottery to the common man at reasonable prices.
I have spent most of my clay life embracing this concept and promoting it.

(From Bernard Leach also came an emphasis on production volume, a way of sustaining a pottery house. This nearly 'wabi-sabi', or without thought, approach coupled with standardization allows for inexpensive, daily use goods. Warren took this to a new level. Volume yes, but not at the expense of expression. )

It works like this-
I make pottery for everyman/women. My precieved value is that one can afford and use my pots everyday as they are made to use everday and priced so folks can buy them everyday. They are priced where I can make a living and the end user can afford to buy them and use them all the time.. Its important that this two way deal works for both parties other wise sales fall flat and users stop using them as they turn into overpriced art pieces and thats NOT the idea. They are made as functional works to be used and loved but not placed on a mantel.
These concepts came for apretencices working with Leach and trace back to the Hamada /Leach colaboration times and is carried down thru potters like me.
It works well especially for the long run. Its not for everone working in clay or all clay work. I'm not trying to do this with say one of a kind slat pieces or sculptures. Its a life style and one I have chosen.
Mark


Not to be overly sentimental about it, but out of respect for the warmth of the clay, some sort of life I believe it has; I would much rather it be handled and loved by those that own it. I would rather they use it in everyday life finding the utility, intrinsic beauty, and gaining pleasure from its use. I have always believed that my pieces should be priced to use, not be placed on a shelf too precious to touch. At the same time, I like making larger pieces that sit somewhere anchoring a room often bringing up the aura of a distant time and place. These pieces I charge more for, but then they take more of my time individually.


The large decorative pieces are standard art, whereas the utilitarian wares are usable art. I don't feel that one is better than the others. This does remind me, of what I have continued to tell students, after completing our coil pot project. I require them to be at least nine inches, so the students always ask, what they are to do with something that size. I tell them, they could carry/ store water and grains in them. They ask if I'm serious, to which I reply, that they could indeed do as I stated.

This conversation also reminds me of the discussion I've had with the other teachers, in my school's conference. We have a conference art show every year, which is awesome, as it gives students a chance to see work from other schools. We make changes to category specifics, every once in a while, for clarification, and because of changes to the art world. One of the most changed and discussed areas is ceramics. We used to have two categories; Ceramics Utilitarian, and Non-Utilitarian. The problem was, we'd have ceramic sculptures competing with decorative vases, that weren't meant for use. So we expanded into Ceramics: Utilitarian, Non-Utilitarian, and Ceramics: Sculptural. And even then, we had concerns, if those specifications were defined enough. This past year, I had a great teapot a student made. It was a wheel thrown body, and lid, with a hand-built spout. The student then created and attached all these thin slabs, as layered, flowing ruffles on the outside. It looked great. But because of all that decoration, I didn't think the judges would see it as actually functional. So I put it in the Non-Utilitarian category. The judge actually moved it to Utilitarian, which I won't argue with, because it placed First. It just goes to show, how function and usability, can vary, based on a person's individual view.
"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#9 OffCenter

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 08:58 AM

As I've said here before, I don't see a lot of difference between production pottery and working in a factory, but I have to do some to support my "real" pottery. I quit potting for 35 years because financial concerns turned me into a full-time production potter and I hated it even though I was making a good living at it. What I love about pottery is that, for me, it is like a sonnet--a way of expression within a form. In other words, instead of producing an abstract sculpture, a potter produces a sculpture that is based on a functional pot. If successful it transcends the functional pot and maybe isn't even functional anymore or recognisable as a bowl or teapot that inspired it. For example, the following cup and saucer is barely functional, but I'm happy with it: http://ceramicartsda...wimage&img=2613

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#10 TJR

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 09:19 AM

I have my feet in both camps, being art school trained and also having apprenticed in England. I like to make pots. I like to sell pots. I like my work to go to a good home to be used. I decorate all of my work. I weigh my clay and make a run of bowls, plates, mugs. I sell most of my work out of two "open studios" twice a year. I am not a production potter in the school of Mark Hewitt or Svend Bayer. I don't want to work that hard. I want to make what I am interested in making and sell it, then make more.My profs sell a bowl for $600.00. I sell mine for $22.00.I sell more bowls than they do.
I agree with Jim. I could tool up and crank out the work. But I also like my day job of teaching art to high school students. Sometimes, weeks go buy when I do not get in the studio. This week I am planting tomatoes and pole beans.
I admire Mark for his work ethic, and could have gone down that road, but I am happy in my own shoes.
TJR..

#11 Pres

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 09:26 AM



There has been a lot of talk about high value ceramics. There is another direction.
There is /was a movement in this country that started long ago with potters like Warren Macenziie and others that brings quility functional pottery to the common man at reasonable prices.
I have spent most of my clay life embracing this concept and promoting it.

(From Bernard Leach also came an emphasis on production volume, a way of sustaining a pottery house. This nearly 'wabi-sabi', or without thought, approach coupled with standardization allows for inexpensive, daily use goods. Warren took this to a new level. Volume yes, but not at the expense of expression. )

It works like this-
I make pottery for everyman/women. My precieved value is that one can afford and use my pots everyday as they are made to use everday and priced so folks can buy them everyday. They are priced where I can make a living and the end user can afford to buy them and use them all the time.. Its important that this two way deal works for both parties other wise sales fall flat and users stop using them as they turn into overpriced art pieces and thats NOT the idea. They are made as functional works to be used and loved but not placed on a mantel.
These concepts came for apretencices working with Leach and trace back to the Hamada /Leach colaboration times and is carried down thru potters like me.
It works well especially for the long run. Its not for everone working in clay or all clay work. I'm not trying to do this with say one of a kind slat pieces or sculptures. Its a life style and one I have chosen.
Mark


Not to be overly sentimental about it, but out of respect for the warmth of the clay, some sort of life I believe it has; I would much rather it be handled and loved by those that own it. I would rather they use it in everyday life finding the utility, intrinsic beauty, and gaining pleasure from its use. I have always believed that my pieces should be priced to use, not be placed on a shelf too precious to touch. At the same time, I like making larger pieces that sit somewhere anchoring a room often bringing up the aura of a distant time and place. These pieces I charge more for, but then they take more of my time individually.


The large decorative pieces are standard art, whereas the utilitarian wares are usable art. I don't feel that one is better than the others. This does remind me, of what I have continued to tell students, after completing our coil pot project. I require them to be at least nine inches, so the students always ask, what they are to do with something that size. I tell them, they could carry/ store water and grains in them. They ask if I'm serious, to which I reply, that they could indeed do as I stated.

This conversation also reminds me of the discussion I've had with the other teachers, in my school's conference. We have a conference art show every year, which is awesome, as it gives students a chance to see work from other schools. We make changes to category specifics, every once in a while, for clarification, and because of changes to the art world. One of the most changed and discussed areas is ceramics. We used to have two categories; Ceramics Utilitarian, and Non-Utilitarian. The problem was, we'd have ceramic sculptures competing with decorative vases, that weren't meant for use. So we expanded into Ceramics: Utilitarian, Non-Utilitarian, and Ceramics: Sculptural. And even then, we had concerns, if those specifications were defined enough. This past year, I had a great teapot a student made. It was a wheel thrown body, and lid, with a hand-built spout. The student then created and attached all these thin slabs, as layered, flowing ruffles on the outside. It looked great. But because of all that decoration, I didn't think the judges would see it as actually functional. So I put it in the Non-Utilitarian category. The judge actually moved it to Utilitarian, which I won't argue with, because it placed First. It just goes to show, how function and usability, can vary, based on a person's individual view.


Years back, I used to teach that ceramics could be classified as functional, non-functional or decorative, and sculptural. It seems to work somewhat, but then you get to the thing where people are making functional teapots that are 2ft tall, or bowls large enough to be magazine racks. Maybe they could be called super-functional! At any rate you could bandy the terms around forever, but then someone will throw in a new wrinkle for a new term.

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


#12 Benzine

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 09:33 AM

As I've said here before, I don't see a lot of difference between production pottery and working in a factory, but I have to do some to support my "real" pottery. I quit potting for 35 years because financial concerns turned me into a full-time production potter and I hated it even though I was making a good living at it. What I love about pottery is that, for me, it is like a sonnet--a way of expression within a form. In other words, instead of producing an abstract sculpture, a potter produces a sculpture that is based on a functional pot. If successful it transcends the functional pot and maybe isn't even functional anymore or recognisable as a bowl or teapot that inspired it. For example, the following cup and saucer is barely functional, but I'm happy with it: http://ceramicartsda...wimage&img=2613

Jim


I definitely see you point Jim. But I still feel that even production potters, put some of themselves into each piece. They are part of the entire process. Whereas a piece made in a factory, has one person doing a single job, along the line. I would say, the only person who even gets to be a slight bit expressive, would be the person glazing, unless it is a machine doing that. And since factories, tend to use molds anyway, there probably isn't a large human element that goes into any of it. My wife and I received a factory made dinnerware set for our wedding, years back. It's all nice and uniform, and there are glaze spots that are all unique and different, which allows them to claim, that each one is individually hand glazed. I like them, they look nice enough, but I don't appreciate them, like I would if they were all handmade by a potter. They've got nicks and chips, and when it happens, I just say "Meh". I would feel far worse about that, if it were handmade.

I do like your point, you made in another topic, about the alleged Pollock painting. But I think for even production potters, their pieces are more unique than those made in a factory, which gives them more value. With the "Pollock" painting, I think it says a lot that some amateur was potentially able to make an imitation, that has the appraisers stumped. The reason it wouldn't be worth anything, if it isn't Pollock, is because it would just be someone copying Pollock. The artist should use their skills to go out, and make a name for themselves, by doing something they can call their own. Factory ceramics, also seem to be trying to replicate the look of handmade pieces, which is along with the quantity that are made, makes them worth substantially less than handmade.

There's a lot of rambling there. I think I'm channeling my college paper writing days.
"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#13 OffCenter

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 10:34 AM


As I've said here before, I don't see a lot of difference between production pottery and working in a factory, but I have to do some to support my "real" pottery. I quit potting for 35 years because financial concerns turned me into a full-time production potter and I hated it even though I was making a good living at it. What I love about pottery is that, for me, it is like a sonnet--a way of expression within a form. In other words, instead of producing an abstract sculpture, a potter produces a sculpture that is based on a functional pot. If successful it transcends the functional pot and maybe isn't even functional anymore or recognisable as a bowl or teapot that inspired it. For example, the following cup and saucer is barely functional, but I'm happy with it: http://ceramicartsda...wimage&img=2613

Jim


I definitely see you point Jim. But I still feel that even production potters, put some of themselves into each piece. They are part of the entire process. Whereas a piece made in a factory, has one person doing a single job, along the line. I would say, the only person who even gets to be a slight bit expressive, would be the person glazing, unless it is a machine doing that. And since factories, tend to use molds anyway, there probably isn't a large human element that goes into any of it. My wife and I received a factory made dinnerware set for our wedding, years back. It's all nice and uniform, and there are glaze spots that are all unique and different, which allows them to claim, that each one is individually hand glazed. I like them, they look nice enough, but I don't appreciate them, like I would if they were all handmade by a potter. They've got nicks and chips, and when it happens, I just say "Meh". I would feel far worse about that, if it were handmade.

I do like your point, you made in another topic, about the alleged Pollock painting. But I think for even production potters, their pieces are more unique than those made in a factory, which gives them more value. With the "Pollock" painting, I think it says a lot that some amateur was potentially able to make an imitation, that has the appraisers stumped. The reason it wouldn't be worth anything, if it isn't Pollock, is because it would just be someone copying Pollock. The artist should use their skills to go out, and make a name for themselves, by doing something they can call their own. Factory ceramics, also seem to be trying to replicate the look of handmade pieces, which is along with the quantity that are made, makes them worth substantially less than handmade.

There's a lot of rambling there. I think I'm channeling my college paper writing days.


By factory I didn't necessarily mean a ceramics factory. I was thinking more of screwing lugs on some car part in an auto factory. Sort of like when I decided to stop potting one day while sticking number 80 (or whatever, I don't remember) handle on number 80 mug. But, you're right, that is the extreme side of production pottery. In reality, production potters range from machine-like dishmakers to potters producing lots of pots but expressing themselves, at least a little, with every pot.

"The reason it wouldn't be worth anything, if it isn't Pollock, is because it would just be someone copying Pollock." But that is Art as Collectable. That is what is confusing about art today. For a collector that porcelain bowl that recently sold for 3, or whatever million dollars, is most likely well worth that much money. But as an object of art, it should be judged on its artistic merit and nothing else. For me, as an object of art, it is worth no more than a nice little bowl than I could pick up at any street sale for $30. Same with the Pollock. As a collectable it made all the difference in the world if it was made by Pollock or not. As an art object, it should make absolutely no difference at all.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#14 JBaymore

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 10:53 AM

Speaking of "rambling thoughts".........

Hummmmmmmm........ we here in the west just seem to have to categorically divide the creative work made by human hands into "art" and "non-art", don't we. Why is that? Ahhh.... "true good pots" are inexpensive. Ahhh.... "true good pots" are expensive. Ahhh.... if it is on the wall it is "art". Ahhh..... if it is on the table it is "craft". Ahhh....."Art" is valuable and better. Ahhh......"craft" is not quite so good and is less valuable. Ahhh...... "craft" is honest and spiritual. Ahhh...... "art" is highbrow and out of touch with the average person.

Good creative work is good creative work. Less good creative work is less good creative work. Simple from that viewpoint. Let the object stand on its own. As Hamada Shoji said.... (paraphrase here).... ' ........if the work is also inexpensive... so much the better.'

As to the concept of "pots for everyman"........ why do some of us also seem to want to somehow make these inexpensive items (work seemingly heavily defined by price) "superior" or "holier" than pieces that are more highly priced and maybe that require more time to produce? It seems to be somehow tied to the concept that making inexpensive things is somehow "noble", and making expensive things is ignoble, I guess.

There is really likely no such thing as "pots for everyman". PRICE is not the only determinant for what makes a "pot for A PARTICULAR man or woman". For some people, price is a highly determining factor in decisions. It will trump the aesthetic qualities of an object hands down. For some people, no matter how good the $600 cup is aesthetically and functionally...... they will not purchase it, because money is in the way. For some people, no matter how limited the aesthetic or functional qualities of the $15 cup are, the price makes it attractive enough to offset the fact that it is not as satisfying as they might like. For other folks, they would not DREAM of owning a "mere" $15 handmade cup.... if it did not cost at least $100, it must not be good. Again.... money is in the way.

Why are we here, artists all, tending to want to measure thing by money?

And onto another aspect of this rambling discussion ...........

Why can't one use what might be called "expensive" items for more daily use? You simply use them with the respect they deserve. You don't throw them in the sink and pile lots of dishes on top of them. Many folks already have the "good china" (likely mass produced) they bring out on more special days. I frequently use pieces by all 3 generations of Hamada, Matsuzaki Ken, old Song Dynasty Chinese pieces, pieces by Korean Living National Treasures, Momoyama Japanese works.... and so on and so on. They are MEANT to be used. And I do. And I know others who do likewise. I sell what many here would consider "expensive" pices to peole who also use them on a daily or at least frequent basis.

When it comes to the pricing for "functional" tableware type items produced in quantity (what maybe we are calling "production pottery" here)....... have you actually gone into a decent department store (not Walmart) and looked at the prices charged for the commercial, mass producted tablewares like Noritake and such? THIS is what many people are readilly paying for their tablewares. Gladly paying for mass produced items. If these production companies and stores can get a couple of hundred dollars retail for a teapot....... why wouldn't you want to, with far higher labor and materials costs?

As to Hamada, Leach, Kawaii, and Yanagi and the "Mingei Movement" in Japan............

I teach a decent section of my History of Japanese Ceramics course covering this often mis-understood topic. Cursory surface understanding in the west often leads to some serious gaps in the understanding of the reality of this movement. Unless you have put in some serious study time on this subject (way beyond reading Leach's "Towards a Standard" and Yanagi's "Unknown Craftsman")....... it is likely NOT exactly what you think it is/was. Surprises most people who thought they knew something about it. I know it certainly did ME... it has taken years of research and study IN Japan to garner even a rudimentary understanding of the genesis (not to mention some understanding of the Japanese language).

The resurgance of interest in things Mingei (folk art or folk crafts... or the art of the people)...... was tightly tied into Japanese nationalism and even ultra-nationalism as the Japanese sought to re-assert their cultural identitity after years of the impact of westernization and a cultural crisis level loss of identity (look up the term "kokutai"). It actually was looking for a way to make true Japanese-ness highly valued in their own culture. That "high value" also meant the raising of the economic value of inherent Japanese-designed and made objects. It was NOT about keeping Japanese folks arts cheap... it was about raising their percieved value. THIS runs contrary to what most Westerners understand about this subject.

It is true that the roots of the folk arts being "re-discovered" (actively promoted as the "right way" of looking at the standards for objects, actually) were in generally inexpensively made objects for daily use by the masses. However, one of the implicit goals of this actively promoted interest (by not only arts organizations and individual artists but also the national government) was to stimulate economic development. And to raise the level of "nationalism" as japan sought to extend itself into the world. Mingei also was even being used to promote the nationalistic war efforts during the war (WWII). After whe war, there was a "Mingei Revival" movement.... as the Japanese sought to "find themselves" after the period of foreign occupation after the defeat of WWII. This "second wave" too was seen as a way to not only regain culture... but to also stimulate the economy.

To in any way label Leach, Hamada, or Kawaii AS "mingei producers" or "mingei artists" is quite inaccurate. They were highly trained artists and businessman....and well knew how to market the concept, themselves, and their work. Their work was NOT inexpensive. They used folk arts aesthetic standards as a basis from which to explore their individual work as educated, well traveled, and self-aware artists. They were quite successful in doing so. Their post-war influences on world ceramics were legion. I would not be doing this today if it were not for them.

Their success in making the world aware of the folk arts was wonderful, but in that end they also were a huge impact on the killing of true Mingei. Because mingei really exists only in an un-self-aware state. As attention is drawn to mingei producers... they cease to BE mingei producers as they realize their importance and value AS art work. Prices slowly rise and work becomes reproductions rather than living, breathing, slowly evolving objects that are born of the genesis of the needs of the people for daily use.

I think Warren MacKenzie's pots are absolutely awesome. Have always loved them. And his influences on American ceramics are huge. But when it comes to his pricing structure..... remember ... he had the benefit of a full professorship paycheck (and later a university pension plan) that has helped him keep his prices on the low side. It is highly admirable that he also decioded to not make even more money from the sale of his pots..... for sure. But let's not mis-state the potential situation there. There are many in the "Mingeisotta" area that actually blame his influence for holding down prices for claywares in the northern midwest. I can't say that is true.... since I don't live there.... but I've heard this said many times by folks at places like NCECA.

Anyway..................

best,

................john
John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

http://www.JohnBaymore.com

#15 oldlady

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 02:12 PM

I've given people mugs, and have had them tell me, that they are afraid to use them. So they sit in the cupboard, or get used to store things. I tell them, I'd rather have them chip, or completely break the thing, while using it, than have it stay in pristine condition for years and years.
[/quote]




this reminds me of the many sales i have made to people who come up, notice something that appeals to them, they pick it up enthusiastically saying "this is beautiful....i love it......it's perfect.........i LOVE it ...........(clutching the pot to their breast)..........i am going to give it to martha!........or susan....or jane.....or.................

my feelings as this happens range from happy that i have made something that appeals to this person and sadness that the buyer does not think enough of it to keep it. i can picture the recipient saying 'thank you' but putting it somewhere it will be safe.

because this happens so often i think i should rename my business Alice's Giftware.
"putting you down does not raise me up."

#16 trina

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 03:03 PM

Speaking of "rambling thoughts".........

Hummmmmmmm........ we here in the west just seem to have to categorically divide the creative work made by human hands into "art" and "non-art", don't we. Why is that? Ahhh.... "true good pots" are inexpensive. Ahhh.... "true good pots" are expensive. Ahhh.... if it is on the wall it is "art". Ahhh..... if it is on the table it is "craft". Ahhh....."Art" is valuable and better. Ahhh......"craft" is not quite so good and is less valuable. Ahhh...... "craft" is honest and spiritual. Ahhh...... "art" is highbrow and out of touch with the average person.

Good creative work is good creative work. Less good creative work is less good creative work. Simple from that viewpoint. Let the object stand on its own. As Hamada Shoji said.... (paraphrase here).... ' ........if the work is also inexpensive... so much the better.'

As to the concept of "pots for everyman"........ why do some of us also seem to want to somehow make these inexpensive items (work seemingly heavily defined by price) "superior" or "holier" than pieces that are more highly priced and maybe that require more time to produce? It seems to be somehow tied to the concept that making inexpensive things is somehow "noble", and making expensive things is ignoble, I guess.

There is really likely no such thing as "pots for everyman". PRICE is not the only determinant for what makes a "pot for A PARTICULAR man or woman". For some people, price is a highly determining factor in decisions. It will trump the aesthetic qualities of an object hands down. For some people, no matter how good the $600 cup is aesthetically and functionally...... they will not purchase it, because money is in the way. For some people, no matter how limited the aesthetic or functional qualities of the $15 cup are, the price makes it attractive enough to offset the fact that it is not as satisfying as they might like. For other folks, they would not DREAM of owning a "mere" $15 handmade cup.... if it did not cost at least $100, it must not be good. Again.... money is in the way.

Why are we here, artists all, tending to want to measure thing by money?

And onto another aspect of this rambling discussion ...........

Why can't one use what might be called "expensive" items for more daily use? You simply use them with the respect they deserve. You don't throw them in the sink and pile lots of dishes on top of them. Many folks already have the "good china" (likely mass produced) they bring out on more special days. I frequently use pieces by all 3 generations of Hamada, Matsuzaki Ken, old Song Dynasty Chinese pieces, pieces by Korean Living National Treasures, Momoyama Japanese works.... and so on and so on. They are MEANT to be used. And I do. And I know others who do likewise. I sell what many here would consider "expensive" pices to peole who also use them on a daily or at least frequent basis.

When it comes to the pricing for "functional" tableware type items produced in quantity (what maybe we are calling "production pottery" here)....... have you actually gone into a decent department store (not Walmart) and looked at the prices charged for the commercial, mass producted tablewares like Noritake and such? THIS is what many people are readilly paying for their tablewares. Gladly paying for mass produced items. If these production companies and stores can get a couple of hundred dollars retail for a teapot....... why wouldn't you want to, with far higher labor and materials costs?

As to Hamada, Leach, Kawaii, and Yanagi and the "Mingei Movement" in Japan............

I teach a decent section of my History of Japanese Ceramics course covering this often mis-understood topic. Cursory surface understanding in the west often leads to some serious gaps in the understanding of the reality of this movement. Unless you have put in some serious study time on this subject (way beyond reading Leach's "Towards a Standard" and Yanagi's "Unknown Craftsman")....... it is likely NOT exactly what you think it is/was. Surprises most people who thought they knew something about it. I know it certainly did ME... it has taken years of research and study IN Japan to garner even a rudimentary understanding of the genesis (not to mention some understanding of the Japanese language).

The resurgance of interest in things Mingei (folk art or folk crafts... or the art of the people)...... was tightly tied into Japanese nationalism and even ultra-nationalism as the Japanese sought to re-assert their cultural identitity after years of the impact of westernization and a cultural crisis level loss of identity (look up the term "kokutai"). It actually was looking for a way to make true Japanese-ness highly valued in their own culture. That "high value" also meant the raising of the economic value of inherent Japanese-designed and made objects. It was NOT about keeping Japanese folks arts cheap... it was about raising their percieved value. THIS runs contrary to what most Westerners understand about this subject.

It is true that the roots of the folk arts being "re-discovered" (actively promoted as the "right way" of looking at the standards for objects, actually) were in generally inexpensively made objects for daily use by the masses. However, one of the implicit goals of this actively promoted interest (by not only arts organizations and individual artists but also the national government) was to stimulate economic development. And to raise the level of "nationalism" as japan sought to extend itself into the world. Mingei also was even being used to promote the nationalistic war efforts during the war (WWII). After whe war, there was a "Mingei Revival" movement.... as the Japanese sought to "find themselves" after the period of foreign occupation after the defeat of WWII. This "second wave" too was seen as a way to not only regain culture... but to also stimulate the economy.

To in any way label Leach, Hamada, or Kawaii AS "mingei producers" or "mingei artists" is quite inaccurate. They were highly trained artists and businessman....and well knew how to market the concept, themselves, and their work. Their work was NOT inexpensive. They used folk arts aesthetic standards as a basis from which to explore their individual work as educated, well traveled, and self-aware artists. They were quite successful in doing so. Their post-war influences on world ceramics were legion. I would not be doing this today if it were not for them.

Their success in making the world aware of the folk arts was wonderful, but in that end they also were a huge impact on the killing of true Mingei. Because mingei really exists only in an un-self-aware state. As attention is drawn to mingei producers... they cease to BE mingei producers as they realize their importance and value AS art work. Prices slowly rise and work becomes reproductions rather than living, breathing, slowly evolving objects that are born of the genesis of the needs of the people for daily use.

I think Warren MacKenzie's pots are absolutely awesome. Have always loved them. And his influences on American ceramics are huge. But when it comes to his pricing structure..... remember ... he had the benefit of a full professorship paycheck (and later a university pension plan) that has helped him keep his prices on the low side. It is highly admirable that he also decioded to not make even more money from the sale of his pots..... for sure. But let's not mis-state the potential situation there. There are many in the "Mingeisotta" area that actually blame his influence for holding down prices for claywares in the northern midwest. I can't say that is true.... since I don't live there.... but I've heard this said many times by folks at places like NCECA.

Anyway..................

best,

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


Great reply John, Thanks for taking the time to write that. T.

#17 Pres

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 04:53 PM

What she said about what he said goes for me too.

Further on down the line. . . . when I return to throwing mugs, which is every few months or so usually 20-30 at a time, it is to revisit the form, and to try to improve on what I had done before. Maybe throwing in a new aspect like stamping the wet clay before shaping, faceting, or fluting etc. Changing the handle shape, or the lip, or the relationship of the base to the lip, the curve of the lip to make the piece new as compared to before, and hopefully better. Putting myself into the form. When I return to any of the traditional functional forms, I try to one up myself. . . several steps. There is nothing that pleases me more than to see someone using my pottery and really enjoying it. I guess being a teacher for all those years, and now retired I never felt pressured to charge more, always in the same ballpark as the rest of the potters, and later sometimes a little more.

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


#18 Benzine

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 08:06 PM

After John mentioned Mackenzie, I had to look him up.

This is a great video:

http://www.mnorigina...rren-mackenzie/
"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#19 JBaymore

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 08:13 PM

I love the poster in the background in that video with the calligraphic Kanji for "clay" on it.



He's a great potter and a great teacher.

best,

................john
John Baymore
Immediate Past President; Potters Council
Professor of Ceramics; New Hampshire Insitute of Art

http://www.JohnBaymore.com

#20 Benzine

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Posted 26 May 2013 - 08:31 PM

I love the poster in the background in that video with the calligraphic Kanji for "clay" on it.



He's a great potter and a great teacher.

best,

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


That symbol looks like a cross.....Is that a sign?.....

He seems like a great potter and teacher. I'd just love to sit down, and have a conversation with him.
"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"




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