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Is It "real Pottery?"

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Recently, at a show, a woman admired my work, and I was telling her about it, how I make it and so forth.

The pieces she was looking at were finished with acrylic inks, inspired by (idea stolen from blink.gif )Bennet Bean, Nicholas Rena, and from various woodworkers, Louise Hibbert in particular.

When I told her that I had used inks, she said "oh, so it's not real pottery, then?" I didn't quite know what to say, so I said "Why not?" She replied "because it isn't glazed." I told her I like the effects and color I can get, but her whole attitude had changed, she seemed put off somehow. She said "thank you" and walked off.

Does it have to be glazed to be "real pottery?" My stuff is all non-functional, so I don't think the finish matters so much, as long as I get the effect I want.

It's fun that there aren't so many rules these days, it's resulting in some great work, so I wonder if it's "real" or not. I think it is.

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Recently, at a show, a woman admired my work, and I was telling her about it, how I make it and so forth.

The pieces she was looking at were finished with acrylic inks, inspired by (idea stolen from blink.gif )Bennet Bean, Nicholas Rena, and from various woodworkers, Louise Hibbert in particular.

When I told her that I had used inks, she said "oh, so it's not real pottery, then?" I didn't quite know what to say, so I said "Why not?" She replied "because it isn't glazed." I told her I like the effects and color I can get, but her whole attitude had changed, she seemed put off somehow. She said "thank you" and walked off.

Does it have to be glazed to be "real pottery?" My stuff is all non-functional, so I don't think the finish matters so much, as long as I get the effect I want.

It's fun that there aren't so many rules these days, it's resulting in some great work, so I wonder if it's "real" or not. I think it is.

 

 

In my opinion if you are making non-functional art then it is art of a different kind. I think that terminology is a difficult subject since that is our medium of exchange and understanding between individuals. When we call something that is different that what every one else calls it we take the chance of misunderstandings happening. Of course if you call something by the same name that everyone else calls it and the person you are talkling with calls it something else again you have a mismatch in communications. I live in a samll rural area that is rather isolated and I have people make fun of me for my language usage. Recently I went into an auto parts palce to get a part for my van and the guy at the counter looked at me and couldn't understand what I was talkling about. I explained it to him and he said "Oh it's a _____" of course being the easy going individual that I am I told him that is not what it's called and "you can check the catalog or online and you will find out that is not what it is called," to which I received the response that "that's what we have always called it so that's what it is!"

 

I can see the woman thinking it is "not pottery" because her understanding of potter is defined by what she is used to seeing as "pottery" in a specific form. I have had this argument lots of times with people who make "Raku" glass beads. I have never had a satisfying result because the glass bead people call it Raku only because the manufacturer of the coating calls it "Raku" (it's usually some kind of matte coating that may look smokey) notwithstanding that it does not have to be heated and then cooled in an oxygen deprived atmosphere. Even then as I understand it the Japanese term Raku means special and we English-speaking people have ascribed the process to it. It is a problem that will probably get worse with time but I think it is up to us as the artists to come up with a term for our art that accurately describes it to the customer. In your case perhaps pottery may not be the best descriptive term, perhaps ceramic is better but only you can tell. I think it largely depends on your customers' understanding of your process or lack thereof. I wish I had an easy solution and no one wants to lose customers but to me it has always been a process of trial and error. It appears to me that the woman who walked out after learning your process probably did not understand what you were doing, may not have a handle on what pottery is and then there are people who are just rigid in their definitions. Years ago I decided that I couldn't educate everyone in the world and I realized that I will lose some customers in the process. I give it a good shot and and if I still lose the customer I write it off to ignorance (not as a pejorative, but just a statement of fact).

 

I guess one might have engaged her by asking what she means by "real pottery" which would have given you an idea of where she may be coming from or what she was looking for specifically, or even her depth of her understanding of the term "pottery" and given you a springboard for further explaining your process. Who knows?

 

Best regards,

Charles

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The eternal mystery ....

What is REAL pottery, who are the "REAL" potters?

 

I haven't glazed my work in years and there are a ton of others who don't either for

various reasons.

 

Don't let one persons ignorance ( and by that I only mean her lack of knowledge ) influence

your opinions of your own work.

 

The only Rule about real pottery I can think of is that if you drop it, it usually breaks.

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Recently, at a show, a woman admired my work, and I was telling her about it, how I make it and so forth.

The pieces she was looking at were finished with acrylic inks, inspired by (idea stolen from blink.gif )Bennet Bean, Nicholas Rena, and from various woodworkers, Louise Hibbert in particular.

When I told her that I had used inks, she said "oh, so it's not real pottery, then?" I didn't quite know what to say, so I said "Why not?" She replied "because it isn't glazed." I told her I like the effects and color I can get, but her whole attitude had changed, she seemed put off somehow. She said "thank you" and walked off.

Does it have to be glazed to be "real pottery?" My stuff is all non-functional, so I don't think the finish matters so much, as long as I get the effect I want.

It's fun that there aren't so many rules these days, it's resulting in some great work, so I wonder if it's "real" or not. I think it is.

 

 

I’m surprised that you did more than laugh at the woman and maybe feel a little sorry for her.

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I guess most people believe "real pottery" is what it is by understanding the term in its most basic break down, "pot"tery. Personally from the start it is all art unless youre a person who views it from an industrious stand point strickly to create, without feeling, and to put out volume for sale. Ive dealt with the same ignorance to a point in GA so far with people viewing it as a non-masculine thing to do....small town with really closed minded people. I feel though it can be called pottery if it is in the form of some vessel (pot, vase, cup, plate etc) that is functional or not. I would think it is the hardest for the abstract artists since a huge chunk of the population might not understand the approach and feeling of their work.

 

I just tell people Im a ceramist. Yet that still usually leaves them with a blank look and I have to say "you know clay and pots" then its an "ohhhh o0k like those shops you go in to paint those pieces" ......facepalm.

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The eternal mystery ....

What is REAL pottery, who are the "REAL" potters?

 

I haven't glazed my work in years and there are a ton of others who don't either for

various reasons.

 

Don't let one persons ignorance ( and by that I only mean her lack of knowledge ) influence

your opinions of your own work.

 

The only Rule about real pottery I can think of is that if you drop it, it usually breaks.

 

 

During the process, I would like to freeze my work at the leather hard stage, the light soft sheen, the rich brown color, the mark of my hands in the clay, even the simple burr that doesn't cut. Alas, no firing or surface will keep that look. some try by using a dark colored clay body, but it just isn't the same. Could someone who is not a potter understand that aesthetic appeal?

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> Could someone who is not a potter understand that aesthetic appeal?

 

A couple years ago I visited the studio of a potter getting ready for a major show ...

probably 100 huge white pots drying wherever there was a spot .... I could have stayed

forever, but the folks with me just walked through with mild interest.

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The eternal mystery ....

What is REAL pottery, who are the "REAL" potters?

 

I haven't glazed my work in years and there are a ton of others who don't either for

various reasons.

 

Don't let one persons ignorance ( and by that I only mean her lack of knowledge ) influence

your opinions of your own work.

 

The only Rule about real pottery I can think of is that if you drop it, it usually breaks.

 

 

During the process, I would like to freeze my work at the leather hard stage, the light soft sheen, the rich brown color, the mark of my hands in the clay, even the simple burr that doesn't cut. Alas, no firing or surface will keep that look. some try by using a dark colored clay body, but it just isn't the same. Could someone who is not a potter understand that aesthetic appeal?

 

 

 

> Could someone who is not a potter understand that aesthetic appeal?

 

A couple years ago I visited the studio of a potter getting ready for a major show ...

probably 100 huge white pots drying wherever there was a spot .... I could have stayed

forever, but the folks with me just walked through with mild interest.

 

 

 

Both are very thought provoking comments. A while ago I read that there was a difference in the way people think and some are linear thinkers and others seem to be able to process multiple lines of thought simultaneously, kind of like a parallel processor. I know that when I start a clay project I start at the end with the finished product and plan the process to fit the end result. I have had others tell me that they pick up the clay and see what is in it (a completely baffling concept to me). I have a good friend who teaches pottery at the local Junior Colege and he is quite happy to discover what is waiting for him inside the lump of clay. I suspect that there are other people than potters who might like the aesthetic appeal of various parts of the process but they would have to be able to understand the process intimately to be able to achieve that understanding.

 

After reading your comments I will study the process more carefully to grasp the aesthetics of it more completely. The journey would be much more enjoyable if one had an appreciation for the scenery one passes through. I have a new perspective now. Thanks!

 

Best regards,

Charles

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The eternal mystery ....

What is REAL pottery, who are the "REAL" potters?

 

I haven't glazed my work in years and there are a ton of others who don't either for

various reasons.

 

Don't let one persons ignorance ( and by that I only mean her lack of knowledge ) influence

your opinions of your own work.

 

The only Rule about real pottery I can think of is that if you drop it, it usually breaks.

 

 

During the process, I would like to freeze my work at the leather hard stage, the light soft sheen, the rich brown color, the mark of my hands in the clay, even the simple burr that doesn't cut. Alas, no firing or surface will keep that look. some try by using a dark colored clay body, but it just isn't the same. Could someone who is not a potter understand that aesthetic appeal?

 

 

 

> Could someone who is not a potter understand that aesthetic appeal?

 

A couple years ago I visited the studio of a potter getting ready for a major show ...

probably 100 huge white pots drying wherever there was a spot .... I could have stayed

forever, but the folks with me just walked through with mild interest.

 

 

 

Both are very thought provoking comments. A while ago I read that there was a difference in the way people think and some are linear thinkers and others seem to be able to process multiple lines of thought simultaneously, kind of like a parallel processor. I know that when I start a clay project I start at the end with the finished product and plan the process to fit the end result. I have had others tell me that they pick up the clay and see what is in it (a completely baffling concept to me). I have a good friend who teaches pottery at the local Junior Colege and he is quite happy to discover what is waiting for him inside the lump of clay. I suspect that there are other people than potters who might like the aesthetic appeal of various parts of the process but they would have to be able to understand the process intimately to be able to achieve that understanding.

 

After reading your comments I will study the process more carefully to grasp the aesthetics of it more completely. The journey would be much more enjoyable if one had an appreciation for the scenery one passes through. I have a new perspective now. Thanks!

 

Best regards,

Charles

 

 

When working, a beginner is taken to places he doesn't want to go, never satisfied because it wasn't under his control. Once I learned control of the clay, I let it take me where it would, but always under my guidance. I usually end up in a different place than where I started, even from my first sketches, but then that was part of the process.

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Recently, at a show, a woman admired my work, and I was telling her about it, how I make it and so forth.

The pieces she was looking at were finished with acrylic inks, inspired by (idea stolen from blink.gif )Bennet Bean, Nicholas Rena, and from various woodworkers, Louise Hibbert in particular.

When I told her that I had used inks, she said "oh, so it's not real pottery, then?" I didn't quite know what to say, so I said "Why not?" She replied "because it isn't glazed." I told her I like the effects and color I can get, but her whole attitude had changed, she seemed put off somehow. She said "thank you" and walked off.

Does it have to be glazed to be "real pottery?" My stuff is all non-functional, so I don't think the finish matters so much, as long as I get the effect I want.

It's fun that there aren't so many rules these days, it's resulting in some great work, so I wonder if it's "real" or not. I think it is.

 

Not too dissimilar I think when I had someone tell me my photography is not real photography because I use photoshop and don't develop in a darkroom anymore. I would say it's real but the finishing and techniques are not traditional but new and unique.

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The eternal mystery ....

What is REAL pottery, who are the "REAL" potters?

 

I haven't glazed my work in years and there are a ton of others who don't either for

various reasons.

 

Don't let one persons ignorance ( and by that I only mean her lack of knowledge ) influence

your opinions of your own work.

 

The only Rule about real pottery I can think of is that if you drop it, it usually breaks.

 

During the process, I would like to freeze my work at the leather hard stage, the light soft sheen, the rich brown color, the mark of my hands in the clay, even the simple burr that doesn't cut. Alas, no firing or surface will keep that look. some try by using a dark colored clay body, but it just isn't the same. Could someone who is not a potter understand that aesthetic appeal?

 

I agree, I love the look of the pot as it comes off the wheel newly made, I would love that to sometimes be the finished product.

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The list can go further in Art History:

Etruscan Bucchero -no glaze, the Egyptian Nubian ware with shiny black lips and collars with red body...one of my all time favorites

Roman Barbotine with embossed slip decoration-no glaze

Moche and Nazca

just to name a few more. There is a rich legacy of unglazed pottery worldwide.

 

Marcia

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The list can go further in Art History:

Etruscan Bucchero -no glaze, the Egyptian Nubian ware with shiny black lips and collars with red body...one of my all time favorites

Roman Barbotine with embossed slip decoration-no glaze

Moche and Nazca

just to name a few more. There is a rich legacy of unglazed pottery worldwide.

 

Marcia

 

I often wonder if some of that unglazed pottery was an attempt by the potter to return to the rich look of the leather hard clay? :-)

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The list can go further in Art History:

Etruscan Bucchero -no glaze, the Egyptian Nubian ware with shiny black lips and collars with red body...one of my all time favorites

Roman Barbotine with embossed slip decoration-no glaze

Moche and Nazca

just to name a few more. There is a rich legacy of unglazed pottery worldwide.

 

Marcia

 

One of my favorite styles is the older San Ildefonso (San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico) pottery which I collect. The pottery is burnished and then fired in Cow Manure to create its glossy black coating. No glazes but pottery nontheless.and in my opinion very beautiful pottery. The pottery from Oaxaca known as barro negro (black clay, literally) style is also not glazed but is definately pottery!

 

Regards,

Charles

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The list can go further in Art History:

Etruscan Bucchero -no glaze, the Egyptian Nubian ware with shiny black lips and collars with red body...one of my all time favorites

Roman Barbotine with embossed slip decoration-no glaze

Moche and Nazca

just to name a few more. There is a rich legacy of unglazed pottery worldwide.

 

Marcia

 

One of my favorite styles is the older San Ildefonso (San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico) pottery which I collect. The pottery is burnished and then fired in Cow Manure to create its glossy black coating. No glazes but pottery nontheless.and in my opinion very beautiful pottery. The pottery from Oaxaca known as barro negro (black clay, literally) style is also not glazed but is definately pottery!

 

Regards,

Charles

 

 

 

There is much to be said about the various styles of unglazed pottery from around the world. At first glance they are often seen as silhouette where form is of greatest importance. With closer inspection, the nuance of decoration and texture, become prevalent, and then the surface of the clay with the grain, and grit whether burnished or unburnished becomes of interest. Often the glazed and refined pottery disallows such inspection. I love the play of color that glaze allows along with the depth of surface that layering glaze and engobe creates, but still find pleasure in the unglazed ware.

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Dear friend

 

I don't define myself as a potter but rather as a person who loves potery. I have been doing potery for 15 years but I learned only by myself. The potters in my area, all studied at college together. They all know each other and form very closed groups. As I am not a professionnal potter, they regard me as not been a "real" potter.

 

I have two passions in life. Ceramics and writing. Those two activities are very lonely activities and I found it difficult not having anyone to share my passions with. I participate in 4 or 5 exhibitions a year and I leave some of my pieces in a boutique in Old Montréal. I published a few books but I feel I always have to fight for recognition.

 

I find titles keep people apart. They argue to know who is a REAL potter and who isn't. To pratice any art is difficult enough that we should give each other support and friendship...

 

Please excuse my english because french is my mother tongue...

Take care !

Louise

 

 

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Dear friend

 

I don't define myself as a potter but rather as a person who loves potery. I have been doing potery for 15 years but I learned only by myself. The potters in my area, all studied at college together. They all know each other and form very closed groups. As I am not a professionnal potter, they regard me as not been a "real" potter.

 

I have two passions in life. Ceramics and writing. Those two activities are very lonely activities and I found it difficult not having anyone to share my passions with. I participate in 4 or 5 exhibitions a year and I leave some of my pieces in a boutique in Old Montréal. I published a few books but I feel I always have to fight for recognition.

 

I find titles keep people apart. They argue to know who is a REAL potter and who isn't. To pratice any art is difficult enough that we should give each other support and friendship...

 

Please excuse my english because french is my mother tongue...

Take care !

Louise

 

 

 

Louise,

The problems you deal with have been dealt with by artists for centuries. Were the Impressionists recognized or shunned in the beginning? Others the same way. You need to build your own group of friends to work with, and not worry about acceptance in these groups you speak of. In the end, does your recognition from within yourself-intrinsic, or from others-extrinsic. Your decision. I never decided my self worth on the decisions of others. Pottery like life is a journey. Sometimes you go the wrong road, sometimes the right way comes to you, in the end if you have learned from the experiences the future becomes richer and more interesting for it. Good luck.

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