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Ethics Of Selling Repaired Raku Forms


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#1 Kohaku

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 12:06 PM

A component I make for water features has proved to be highly fragile in the raku fire (see this thread).

 

In general, I find that I'm seeing more of this as I venture into increasingly sculptural forms (tiles, slab-build lanterns, etc.).

 

I'm interested to hear what people think about the ethics of selling raku forms that are repaired using epoxy. (Example of a repaired fountain component below).

 

This came up on in another thread... (regarding an art plate) and there seemed to be some consensus that trying to subtly repair the plate with epoxy was out of line. People suggested everything from kintsugi to a wooden mount (I'm currently experimenting with the kintsugi ideas).

 

However, my tendancy would be to see an epoxy repair as acceptable for sculptural objects, as long as...

 

1) The seam didn't detract from the appearance

2) The repair didn't impact the object's functional integrity

3) You were upfront with any buyer

 

The reality is- some of my sculptural raku pieces have many hours invested (carving, hand-glazing, firing, etc.)... and the usual 'just smash it and make a new one' dictum is tough to swallow. I certainly have friends who are sculptors who sell repaired pieces.

 

Curious to hear what people think.

 

7021399_orig.jpg

 

 


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#2 Chris Campbell

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 02:41 PM

Here is a question for you that might be your answer.

Think of a potter whose work you admire and whom you respect a lot.
Picture someone showing him the piece above as an example of the quality of work you make.

How would you feel?
Every piece of work you put out in the world carries your name and makes your reputation.

If you put that much time and energy into the carving STOP raku-ing them ... Get yourself a more predictable firing process.
All the raku special effects get nuked in the sunshine anyhow and it's not hard to simulate black raku crackle post firing.
My advice is to stop throwing away all the time and energy you put into surface decoration.

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#3 Kohaku

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 03:15 PM

Here is a question for you that might be your answer.

Think of a potter whose work you admire and whom you respect a lot.
Picture someone showing him the piece above as an example of the quality of work you make.

How would you feel?
Every piece of work you put out in the world carries your name and makes your reputation.

If you put that much time and energy into the carving STOP raku-ing them ... Get yourself a more predictable firing process.
All the raku special effects get nuked in the sunshine anyhow and it's not hard to simulate black raku crackle post firing.
My advice is to stop throwing away all the time and energy you put into surface decoration.

 

Thanks Chris.

 

The problem with 'not raku-ing' some of these more complex pieces is that I'm pretty invested in the mosaic effect (carved blackened lines between the glazed areas). I've yet to find any other approach that organically yields this effect... and believe me, I've been working on it!

 

In answer to your question... if someone presented me with a wood-fired kettle with a repaired crack, my opinion of their standards would be pretty low. I'm not sure I'd feel the same way about a sculptural assemblage where elements had been repaired, however.

 

Irrespective, there seems to be a pretty uniform, negative reaction to repairs on Raku ware... at least if it retains some of the forms of wheel-thrown pottery. Since this seems to be a pervasive response, I'd better shift to forms that don't crack.


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#4 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 06:29 PM

I don't sell imperfect pieces. If I like them I may keep them around a while.Then destroy them.
Hammer does the trick.

It does raise the price of the perfect ones.

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#5 Humboldt Potter

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 07:26 PM

I know a potter who sells black and white crackle raku pieces that they have "fixed up" , coloring in sections with a black SHARPIE because the black parts weren't dark or even enough.
This person sells these pieces as seconds, but doesn't specify that the flaw has to do with using a sharpie to make the black sections blacker.
My own feeling is that this borders on a deceptive practice unless it is clearly disclosed. But the problem with this is, even if disclosed, the flaw is likely only disclosed to the first purchaser, not subsequent purchasers. Pottery can last a long time in the world.
Someone purchasing raku expects that the effects were produced by the raku firing, not by painting on a finish.
This is a little different from your case, but still, a repaired piece , out in the world, is an angry customer waiting to happen.
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#6 Chris Campbell

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 07:59 PM

OK ... maybe I should protect myself with some 'flame' ware but here goes ....

 

Raku firing is by its very nature a process of manipulating the results ...rubbing the sawdust briskly against the surface ... using a blowtorch to color or clean ... to say nothing of re-firing for more color or adding black inks to make it pop or using wax to make it shine or adding protecting coats so it doesn't fade .... the entire process is one of evolution, change and manipulation.

 

In my mind it's called being an artist.

Don't sell the piece until you are happy with it ... just because it came out of the kiln a certain way doesn't mean it has to stay that way.

 

Gluing broken pieces is a whole different conversation. That addresses more than artistic liscence. To me, that is more of a conversation about whether or not to sell seconds.


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#7 Kohaku

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 08:16 PM

Well- the consensus seems pretty clear. Really appreciate the feedback.

 

It's interesting to me that people seem to support the idea of kintsugi (which is also a glue-based repair at its essence)... but I guess the perception of addition of value makes the difference.

 

I anticipate lots of fun with urushi laquer in my future. Better make friends with cold cream and rubber gloves...


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#8 Pres

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 09:00 PM

There is a phrase out there that kind of curses at selling imperfect work. Caveat emptor, or buyer beware. I would hate to have this sort of thing become the norm for handmade craft items. Items, which by their very nature should be the best the craftsman can produce. At the same time, I wonder what seller beware would translate to. I personally believe that selling imperfect work will come back to bite you. Yes, it has happened to me, and I learned the lesson.


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#9 Mark C.

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Posted 21 October 2013 - 09:16 PM

I throw away work every week almost that stuff happens to-cracked- chipped -glaze runs- pitted- not right-ugly-knocked-bumped-dropped -just part of the business-yes its hard to swallow at 1st but over time its the only ethical thing to do..

Just make more and move on-I'm a production potter and loss rate means just that.

When you are making 1 of a kind sculpture which I have done also loss rate still applies as do ethics-sure JB wield can fix it but do not sell it fixed, hang it on your fence

I think Pres said it best (it will come back and bite you)-this is a true statement.

Yes raku is a crap shoot sometimes its fabulous other times its dead-dead does not mean fix it.

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#10 Biglou13

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 05:38 AM

While not the original process I've seen some modern versions of kintsugi, without all the caustic elements.

I've commented to this before I think your pieces would look great with process. The kintsugi or like process would add greater value than "epoxy". The story alone is worth more. Epoxy vs ancient Japanese repair system, with precious metals, and risks allergic reaction when making repair. (I think the ancient japanese would have used epoxy if were available)

Caveat emptor, there is learning curve to traditional process.

I'm trying to wrap my head around why a gold/gold colored, or silver/silver colored, repair is acceptable vs. epoxy.

Ultimately is the piece "worthy" of repair? Trash in is trash out. Treasure in ........... When editing your work are you being true to your self? Do you throw away any, smash, or relegate pieces to your sculpture garden? Which brings us back to the concept of conservation as an artist. As an artist is it possible to have a 100% success rate with work?

So back to original post. And against consensus. I will agree it is ethical.

No insult to gaijin, but I think if you asked this question to an eastern audience, I think you'd get a much difference response.

Many don't understand or embrace simple (over simplified) philosophy of wabi sabi/ Buddhist teachings....

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#11 PSC

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 07:06 AM

A funny story about repaired cracks:
I was submitting a sample large tile for large decorative installion project...i had to rush the drying as the deadline for the approval commitee was short. The tile cracked, i repaired it but made it obvious by filling the crack with epoxied grog. I wrote a note about the crack not being in the finished tiles. I was approved over other artists submitting...a note came back that said... "Keep the crack" so 39 tiles of faux cracks later :)

The archeaologists on the commitee saw the cracks in a whole different light. The crack represented the rebuilding of ancient pottery to them. They make their repairs obvious so you can see the difference between ancient pot and modern repair. The building the project was for was archeaologial in nature.

So here is my thoughts...its sculptural, it cracked, can you justify the crack? Does the crack add artistic value to the peice? Hiding the crack seems dishonest. If it is cracked and it adds to the peice then let the crack shine and let that crack conveys a message to the viewer. If it is cracked and you just want to repair it cause you don't want to remake it and its not artisticly valuable to the peice then remake the peice.

#12 Chris Campbell

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 09:39 AM

There is a potter, whose name escapes me right now, who smashes his pots on purpose then glues them back together and critics think it's great work. So does this illustrate the difference between intent and accident?? Or is it good because the artist can actually sell the premise?

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#13 Kohaku

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 10:03 AM

A funny story about repaired cracks:
I was submitting a sample large tile for large decorative installion project...i had to rush the drying as the deadline for the approval commitee was short. The tile cracked, i repaired it but made it obvious by filling the crack with epoxied grog. I wrote a note about the crack not being in the finished tiles. I was approved over other artists submitting...a note came back that said... "Keep the crack" so 39 tiles of faux cracks later :)

The archeaologists on the commitee saw the cracks in a whole different light. The crack represented the rebuilding of ancient pottery to them. They make their repairs obvious so you can see the difference between ancient pot and modern repair. The building the project was for was archeaologial in nature.

So here is my thoughts...its sculptural, it cracked, can you justify the crack? Does the crack add artistic value to the peice? Hiding the crack seems dishonest. If it is cracked and it adds to the peice then let the crack shine and let that crack conveys a message to the viewer. If it is cracked and you just want to repair it cause you don't want to remake it and its not artisticly valuable to the peice then remake the peice.

 

Funny that you should bring this up. I just finished a commission for a client- inlaying tile into a table top. The client wanted large tiles (12*18 for the larger). I'd never tried Raku-firing tiles that large. Anyhow, a few fractures in, I had to tell the client that I'd need to scale down her vision, to which she responded 'can't you just glue the tiles'?

 

So- here's the finished product. Of the visible cracks, one is a repair job, the others are superficial and inherent to the Raku firing. Hard to tell the difference (and the differences certainly aren't functional).

 

So- was it ethically 'OK' to sell this piece as I was following the cients wishes? What if I sold it on the market, or submitted something similar to a show? (Still trying to get my head around this one).

 

3327572_orig.jpg

 

Biglou- I've got two plates in a drying chamber with kintsugi repair (my first attempts). It'll be interesting to see how they turn out.


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#14 GEP

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 10:06 AM

Kohaku,

As a teacher I've seen many pieces made by those whose design ideas are more advanced than their understanding of clay as a material. I was that type of potter once. You will be much happier when you put the needs of the material and the process first, once you see all the vast possibilities that exist within that, and design within those parameters.
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#15 Kohaku

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 10:17 AM

Kohaku,

As a teacher I've seen many pieces made by those whose design ideas are more advanced than their understanding of clay as a material. I was that type of potter once. You will be much happier when you put the needs of the material and the process first, once you see all the vast possibilities that exist within that, and design within those parameters.

Cheers. I certainly see your point (and recognize that I'm pushing the limits of the materials with some of my designs).
At the same time, I do feel like there's a creative energy you can tap into when you test the limits. I'd hate to give that up.


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#16 Chris Campbell

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 11:12 AM

Well, have you looked into improving your clay body strength or adding materials that make it more raku-friendly? I know you have probably thought a lot about this already, but a friendlier clay body could open new vistas.


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#17 Kohaku

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 11:23 AM

Well, have you looked into improving your clay body strength or adding materials that make it more raku-friendly? I know you have probably thought a lot about this already, but a friendlier clay body could open new vistas.

 

I have... in that I've tried a range of pre-made clay bodies. What I haven't done is tried a re-formulated clay body. For example, Cass (in another thread) recommended adding 3-5% kyanite. I may ask my local supplier to try this. Other suggestions would be welcome.

 

One problem- the traditional additive for strength (grog) is a non-starter for me. I want my surface decorations to flow as much as possible... and nothing wrecks things faster than a piece of grit causing the tool to hang up.


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#18 Chris Campbell

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 01:20 PM

This is what I did ... which could be totally wrong and I will not take offense if someone says so.

 

I've used a higher firing clay body that was more open at lower temps. I bisqued a Cone 8 clay to Cone 04 ... then raku fired it. My theory was that the body itself would be more open and thus take the color better and absorb shock better. Of course, it would be not sturdy enough for daily use, but no raku item is anyhow.


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#19 firefly

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 05:02 PM

There is a potter, whose name escapes me right now, who smashes his pots on purpose then glues them back together and critics think it's great work. So does this illustrate the difference between intent and accident?? Or is it good because the artist can actually sell the premise?

 You may be thinking of Munemi Yorigami. He deliberately smashes his pre-fired sculptures and then divides the pieces into 3 groups to be fired with either a white, black or orange surface. After firing, the pieces are reassembled and the cracks filled with plaster. From what I've read, it's his way of confronting and transcending the potter's fear of breakage and the variables of firing. There's a lot of information available about him if anyone wants to take the time to do a google search.



#20 Min

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Posted 22 October 2013 - 05:36 PM

 

Well, have you looked into improving your clay body strength or adding materials that make it more raku-friendly? I know you have probably thought a lot about this already, but a friendlier clay body could open new vistas.

 

I have... in that I've tried a range of pre-made clay bodies. What I haven't done is tried a re-formulated clay body. For example, Cass (in another thread) recommended adding 3-5% kyanite. I may ask my local supplier to try this. Other suggestions would be welcome.

 

 

 

Have you tried Piepenburg Raku clay? It contains kyanite but I imagine most raku claybodies would..Maybe Cass meant an additional amount of kyanite above what is already in it? It has been years since I have done raku but you mentioned in another thread that you think the cracking occurs either in the kiln or in the reduction chamber. Would it be possible to fire the glazes to maturity then let the piece cool in the kiln to about 900 or thereabouts, then remove it when it is still hot enough to ignite the combustibles but not at top temp?  Maybe avoiding the quartz inversion temp at about 1000F would help, just a thought.

Min






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