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nicolesy

Canvas Texture On Handbuilt Work

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I've always been a fan of texture when working with slabs, and I started hand-building to create more of an "organic" feel to my work. With slab rollers, the clay gets a canvas texture imprinted, and most people smooth it out. For me, sometimes I leave it, or I remove it and add a different texture, such as burlap or something non-organic.

 

I was reading this (old) article today about Elephant Ceramics, and notice some of the comments from potters who said that her work looks "unfinished" because of the texture, and also that the edges of her work looks too sharp. I've always loved her work, and was curious what other serious potters thought of the texture (whether or not it was from a slab-roller, which I'm not sure if it was), and also of her style of work in general.

 

Here's the link to the article: http://www.designsponge.com/2011/09/whats-in-your-toolbox-michele-michael.html

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It seems like you are paying for a name, not a piece of pottery. I have nothing against simple forms; in fact, I try to keep my forms as simple as possible -- its an aesthetic I like. I use a lot of texture myself. Glaze colors are so-so; nothing screamed to me, you gotta add that glaze to your palette. Nothing seems to warrant $175 for a cheeseboard, $250 for a platter, or $95 for a spoon -- none of which look like they could withstand any regular use. But, if there are folks willing to shell out that kind of money, then go for it; but I expect she has a following and would fall under "trendy" as opposed to "trend" (see thread on cool trends in ceramics).

nicolesy likes this

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It seems like you are paying for a name, not a piece of pottery. I have nothing against simple forms; in fact, I try to keep my forms as simple as possible -- its an aesthetic I like. I use a lot of texture myself. Glaze colors are so-so; nothing screamed to me, you gotta add that glaze to your palette. Nothing seems to warrant $175 for a cheeseboard, $250 for a platter, or $95 for a spoon -- none of which look like they could withstand any regular use. But, if there are folks willing to shell out that kind of money, then go for it; but I expect she has a following and would fall under "trendy" as opposed to "trend" (see thread on cool trends in ceramics).

Yes, I do agree that they are very expensive. Her work ends up in a lot of popular food and lifestyle magazines, so I can only assume that those types of companies are her main customers. :)

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Like Bruce, I don't feel there is anything wrong with with a simple form, and the canvas texture. Both can be used for great effect.

 

I will say, I generally don't allow my students to leave the canvas texture,mor make simple forms. The reason for this is because, they generally want to do so, because it's quicker and easier, to do both, and have no good reason other than laziness.

Stellaria likes this

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It's not the texture alone...  I can appreciate canvas texture on the right pieces.  But here all the elements come together to look unfinished or slap-dash.  Rims that are cut unevenly and left with "raw" sharp edges, glaze seemingly just splashed on (one of those looks like an accident).

 

Maybe it's a fault of mine, but I have a lot of trouble separating "effort" and "aesthetics" when judging the artistic value of a piece.  If it looks like the artist threw it together a couple of minutes and called it good, I have trouble appreciating it... even if that look is misleading and a lot of effort went into developing a body of work with a particular style.

 

My favorite fingerstyle guitarists make playing the guitar look so easy... I watch them play and it's hard to believe that playing the guitar like that can be very hard.  But having practiced guitar, I know it's incredibly hard.  Maybe I don't have enough experience as a potter to see the complexity behind the apparent simplicity and roughness of the pottery presented.  Or maybe this artist is just really good at marketing.  Either way, if she enjoys what she's doing and can sell her work, good for her.

 

I can appreciate some "rough" works, but those don't appeal to me.

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I had the " take the canvas texture off" pounded into my brain also when I was in school.  I suppose we could have kept it on the piece if we could convince the teacher that we had  it in the original design. I was finishing a piece yesterday and found some canvas marks on it, thankfully I found it, didn't want people to think I'm a lazy sloppy potter.  Pound, pound pound.    Denice

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I *didn't* have it pounded into me and still think that canvas texture and sharp edges looks hurried and sloppy beginner work. I feel okay saying that because I have plenty of canvas-y crappy-edged stuff of my own and know that the only reason it is like that is because I was lazy and in a hurry. Sharply cut edges are not pleasant textures to encounter, even when glazed, and especially on pieces like plates and trays and cups. Likewise for the canvas texture - it gives a weird, rough, unpleasant tactile experience. I suppose some people appreciate that feel, but I can't figure out why. And it doesn't improve with glaze, either.

To see either on a piece for sale, especially a high-priced piece....I'd be insulted, honestly. That's saying "your money (thus time) isn't worth my time." And apparently there are plenty of suckers out there that are okay with that.

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I cannot stand the canvas texture being left on slab pieces. Unless it is integral to the design, it should be removed. I have no problem with texture on slabs, but canvas doesn't really leave enough texture to really stand out, so there are much better choices.

 

As for the work of the woman mentioned above, I see little to no technical skill in what she is making. Rough cut edges that could literally cut someone, texture that fights with her glazes, no sense of form or function- I can appreciate the minimalist quality that she is going for, but without some proper clay handling it's just junk. My kids classes do a better job of finishing their work. This is literally some of the poorest work I've ever seen being sold. And at those prices people are really getting screwed. It's another case of marketing winning out over quality.

Celia UK and Pres like this

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I cannot stand the canvas texture being left on slab pieces. Unless it is integral to the design, it should be removed. I have no problem with texture on slabs, but canvas doesn't really leave enough texture to really stand out, so there are much better choices.

 

 My kids classes do a better job of finishing their work. This is literally some of the poorest work I've ever seen being sold. And at those prices people are really getting screwed. It's another case of marketing winning out over quality.

 

 

If her work is selling well, maybe she could teach workshops, to other potters, and tell them what she is doing right in that department.

 

In regards to the texture, this discussion just made me go type up a handout, for my class, listing the requirements of their projects.  Under the finishing touches portion, I added "Smooth out canvas texture, and smooth edges/ corners."

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Hmmmm, I won't shout it, but I'm really not impressed. How about a little art speak about how the natural forms pictured in the article relate so to the pieces, boulder dash. Color comes close second to the natural forms, but the lichen and mosses are so much richer than what I see in any of the pieces. I have no problem with texture left on slabs from the canvas if there is a reason for it. In her case, it is the entire motif with some contrast where she applies glaze. So if she is selling, and the buyers are happy, I feel like I am reading Fountainhead all over again.

Babs and Stellaria like this

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So a couple of you have mentioned something about her customers being happy. Not to hijack the thread, but does a happy customer justify the work? Or is it just the unskilled selling to the uneducated?

 

As a potter and teacher, I spend a great deal of my time educating my students and my customers.

nicolesy likes this

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Good point Neal, but that may be only part of the problem is there is one. Sometimes people herd along following the trendy. One of the reason marketers hail the new color of the year or season, or the in spot to be seen at, or the perfect accessory for your ipad. Education is great, if one also thinks about what they have learned. B)

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So a couple of you have mentioned something about her customers being happy. Not to hijack the thread, but does a happy customer justify the work? Or is it just the unskilled selling to the uneducated?

 

As a potter and teacher, I spend a great deal of my time educating my students and my customers.

 

In a way Neil, I believe it does justify the work.  The maker has the right to make the work anyway they want.  The consumer has the right to buy anything they find appealing, for whatever reason, and either praise or criticize its attributes.  

So if a bunch of people buy the work, and they discover it's not very functional, or they begin to dislike the aesthetic, then it will most likely stop selling.  

As ceramicists, there is only so much we can do.  You educate your students and customers, leading to a more knowledgeable public.  But you, and every other potter can only do so much.  Maybe there should be a Consumer Reports, for ceramic ware.

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So a couple of you have mentioned something about her customers being happy. Not to hijack the thread, but does a happy customer justify the work? Or is it just the unskilled selling to the uneducated?

 

As a potter and teacher, I spend a great deal of my time educating my students and my customers.

Neil, I guess to analogise with books/films, there are many genres which You would have to pay me mega bucks to read or view, but  there seems to be a place????? for them.

For myself, I cannot go there but I won't deny the rights of others to do just that unless it is in my lounge room or I am paying the bill.. I continue to buy books for the family which I want to read!

Could be worse, imported poorly made stuff at High end of market.... Education required somewhere here, some not educable?? Just gotta furnish that 3rd home with some top market stuff,

at least it is ceramic.

Now,  the fashion industry....

ANd then there's the excellent technicians without "spirit"..

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$80 spoon, sounds legit.

 

But yeah, the spoons look absolutely terrible to me, like they'd shatter from a gentle breeze, as well as looking slapped together and sort of cheap.

 

I DO like the cheeseboards though. (At 1/4 the price, but still).The canvas works just fine for a large surface. As a non-potter just dabbling, I haven't had anything drilled into me about canvas, nor do I have experience seeing it all the time and getting rid of it, so it strikes me as just kind of cool looking for ceramic to look like cloth. But not too in your face ridiculous.

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