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To Share Or Not To Share


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#1 Min

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 12:08 PM

There have been several threads the past week about copying and giving inaccurate information. I found it interesting but not that surprising that Phil had so little respondents to his “Favourite Glaze Recipe” posting.

 

For those of us that make our livelihood from selling our work I’m assuming it is difficult to give away our hard earned recipes and possibly methods used to make some of the more complicated work. I imagine it would be easier to be more generous if you are not earning an income with your work.

 

I fall into the first category, I don’t mind sharing basic white and clear glazes but I don’t share my bread and butter glaze recipes that I depend on to sell pots. I have spent years developing my glaze palette; to me it is like any other business, you don’t give your R&D away to the competition. Clay recipes I'm happy to share as most are based on published recipes.I have a few complicated pieces where I don’t share the method for making, anything else I’m happy to.

 

Working as an instructor is a whole other topic. Thoughts?



#2 Tyler Miller

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 01:25 PM

For me, it's about attitude.  I don't have a whole lot of recipes that are my own, but the ones that are mine, I treasure.  I'm more than willing to share them with the right people, but I've been burned a few times sharing things with the wrong people.  Sometimes it's just in the way they ask, a little too direct or flippant.  I guess I want to feel respected?

 

That said, a lot of the stuff I'm working on right now is based on resources only i can get.  Doesn't matter if you have my recipes or not, you're probably not going to get clay, granite, ash, etc. from my area of Timiskaming. ;)



#3 Min

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 07:03 PM

.  I'm more than willing to share them with the right people, but I've been burned a few times sharing things with the wrong people.  Sometimes it's just in the way they ask, a little too direct or flippant.  I guess I want to feel respected?

 

 

 

You're right, I have given glaze recipes to some friends whom I trust with the understanding they are for their use only. 



#4 bciskepottery

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 07:53 PM

At fairs and shows, it is not unusual for potters among the shopping or even fellow pottery vendors to ask questions about clays, glazes, technique, etc. and I'm happy to oblige and answer their questions. I also take and answer follow up emails. I learned from many potters who were willing to share; carrying on that openness is part of the journey we are on together. I have no proprietary techniques, recipes, etc.

When I was teaching hand-building, I taught the same forms that I make for selling at fairs and shows. I showed them how I made molds/forms for helping form items and let them use them in class. Sometimes I even brought in a glaze for students to use (the studio's green was pretty awful and more often than not, there was not enough in the bucket). If they could make the item as good or better as I could, all the more power to them. Mostly they chose to make their versions of my item -- and that was even better.

I'm not in this line of craft/art to compete with others.

#5 clay lover

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 07:39 AM

I have a friend that I met when I was a 'new to selling ' potter.  She has taught me many things. Now , I have skills she does not, she has skills that I do not.  That is the basis I share on.  More like trading info. If it's public info, I give it out or name info sources.

      I got well burned on the 'share with me because I don't have anything to offer you , but you should tell me all you know" approach several years ago.

I would take my several hundred dollars and go to workshops and then people that spent nothing, added no info, took the easy route would call me a selfish B when I would not give them my clinic picture and notes .

???????

 

Same people now call me other names when I out-sell them 10 to 1.  Go figure.

 

I will share with those who are willing or able to bring something to the table.  Otherwise, sign up for one of my classes.  a B for sure, I guess!



#6 Pots by Char

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 07:46 AM

Even though I have spent many years studying this art, have attended college and have a BFA degree in Ceramics, I would not know one tenth of what I do if not for the generous sharing of other ceramic artists/potters. I think it would be highly selfish of me if I in turn refused to share with others. I think what makes this art so great is the wonderful caring and sharing among the ceramic community.

#7 Celia UK

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 09:26 AM

I have found most potters to be very generous in sharing their tips and techniques. Demonstrators at my regional Potters' group demonstrate step by step and give detailed instructions on their techniques. They also answer questions from more experienced potters than me, about glaze and clay ingredients etc. Clearly they are sharing all this in order to help the rest of us along and they seem to expect us to try out their ideas and methods. Isn't a significant amount of classical art training spent copying the masters? What you learn when you try the techniques of an experienced potter, is just how skilled they are - they made it look easy, you struggle with every step, but learn lots of stuff!
The danger lies, I suspect, not in sharing with inexperienced potters, who won't be able to mimic your work for many years to come, if ever, but sharing with already good potters without scruples, who could feasibly replicate your work, or reproduce a prized glaze. Having said that, here in the UK I have never yet come across a potter who is reluctant to share, and long may it remain that way!

#8 GEP

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 09:26 AM

It is really important to distinguish between different situations here. It's not applicable to say "sharing is good" or "sharing is bad" because it depends on the situation. There is a wide wide gulf between a classroom situation, where the teacher has willingly signed on to share his/her knowledge and the students are expecting instruction and insight to be conveyed; and the relationship between two professional working artists, where one is trying to shortcut their way to success by copying another.

 

I was a teacher for 7 years, and I gave it everything I had. I even gave the studio my recipe for my signature glaze. They ended up not using it, because guess what, it did not work for them. This is a good example why sharing something deeply personal won't necessarily hurt you. Like others have mentioned here ... your own experience, studio conditions, personal work habits, etc., are also part of your results. These are things you can't hand over to someone else, even if you try.

 

Most of my students were not professionals, which is why I didn't mind sharing my design ideas. However, the studio did conduct some "student pottery" sales. Once in a while, a student would take one of my designs, produce it in multiples, and try to sell them. That bothered me, but at the same time I knew no one would confuse their work for mine, so I let it slide.

 

I also had an advanced class which did contain some bona fide professionals and aspiring professionals. Again I did not mind sharing my ideas with them, because I only accepted students who demonstrated a strong sense of ownership for their own ideas, which means they had respect for others' ideas too.

 

I taught all of my students to ask first if they wanted to attempt another person's idea, and to accept "no" for an answer. I can't recall anyone ever saying "no." Just being asked first shows respect. I can recall plenty of times when a person copied without asking (usually the copier was not one of my students) and even for a recreational potter, the pain and hurt caused is very real. As well as the notion "maybe a group studio is a bad idea" which is a real shame.

 

Among working professionals ... when I meet other potters working at the same venues as me, there is a huge and wonderful amount of respect for another potter's styles and ideas. It's easy to share ideas amongst peers like this, because the respect is apparent. This is similar to my advanced students' attitudes, only magnified by many more years of experience. A potter who has made it this far has invested years in their own ideas. We believe so strongly in the path we've taken. Why would we abandon our work for somebody else's ideas?

 

So when does copying happen between professionals? In my experience, it is when one of them is struggling hard, and does it out of desperation and expedience. THIS IS NEVER OK. I had a bad experience once with an aspiring potter who sought my advice a lot. Over a couple of years, her work drifted towards mine. Sometimes she would get mad at me because she wasn't having the same success. Then she blatantly copied one of my designs. I stopped talking to her altogether, it was not worth the stomach ache.

 

I learned an important lesson. These days I am not stingy with my information, but I am very selective about who I'll give it to. Just like others have said here ... how someone asks makes a big difference. The attitude matters. Is it respectful and thoughtful, or demanding and entitled? Does the asker seem to think pottery is hard, or pottery is easy?


Mea Rhee
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#9 Chris Campbell

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 10:07 AM

DITTO ... to everything Mea said.

 

One area of sharing that has not been brought up is the 'Out of Nowhere' e-mail requests for information.

 

I get a fair number of these and years ago I really put some effort into my replies. Over the years of these requests ...which range everywhere from outright demands to polite requests ... I have only had four or five write back to say 'Thank You'. No matter how fully I answered, they disappeared into cyberspace nowhere. This was a most unsatisfying result for me ... no connecting, just giving.

 

So I reflected on why I felt I should answer all these emails and I think it has something to do with not wanting to be perceived badly ... yeah, you can take the lady out of Canada but you can't take Canada out of the lady! Another was that I actually got students in workshops who said they were impressed that I answered and that's what made them attend.

 

Another side of me was really annoyed at myself for not just having a generic reply ready to copy and paste ... but this would not be good for me in the long run as it goes against my natural instinct to share.

 

The business side of my said I should have a video or a text to download that they could pay for if they wanted more information than I currently have on my website.

BUT ... I have not come up with any answer that fits.

 

Just please, if you e-mail someone for info ... take a minute to hit reply and write "THANKS" when they reply. :D :P


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#10 Min

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 11:09 AM

When I started this thread I knew I was going out on a limb. Didn't want to give the impression of being a selfish beotch but was curious as to how much sharing people do. It's a given that none of us would develop without the guidance and giving of other potters. Perhaps I didn't phrase my original post well, was just trying to get an idea if others give anything and everything they know away to anyone who asks. 

 

I can relate to what Tyler, Mea and Chris said about the how being important. 



#11 Chris Campbell

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 03:28 PM

> if others give anything and everything they know away to anyone who asks.

No.

People who don't get the 'answers' from anyone ( most likely ) ...

Lazy ... don't want to do any reading, experiments or research ... just give me the next answer
Rude ... give me the answer now
Not listening ... glazed eyes have tuned you out, maybe a mobile device is more important than what you are saying
Negative ... just waiting to tell you why they have a better answer
Ungracious or ungrateful ... Never attribute the info or thank you for it
Selfish ... Refuse to share themselves while expecting others to

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#12 Marcia Selsor

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 04:43 PM

I get those too Chris. I often ask them  to let me know how it works out for the them, but never get a response or thank you. It is rude. It is like we're suppose to be a hotline for info.

 On the other hand I think the ghost heads here could share something of an image and a little information. It isn't that hard. If we are a community, look at the members lists and the numbers with zero info. We have asked before and nothing happens. 

 

I respect Mea and understand her position. No problem with that. 

 

Marcia



#13 clay lover

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 06:24 AM

I like Mea's  thought, "Not stingy, but selective".  Sums up what I feel .  And Chris's description of the kinds of info requests she does not fill.

There are many ways of sharing, and someone does not have to be an experienced or skilled potter to have something to share with a more experienced  or skilled potter.  Only the willingness to do it. Sharing could be a ride to the next meeting, or picking up you order when they pick up theirs,  etc.. It's an attitude of deserving my info that stops me .

If you are my student, however, I will turn myself inside out to teach you and share info with you.



#14 Chris Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 10:39 AM

I went to a workshop once when the instructor would only teach "A" .... If you asked him about anything else to do with clay he would refuse to answer. He said he was hired to teach "A". His own famous technique he would not teach ... just "A".
Talk about a waste of time and money!

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#15 JBaymore

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 12:19 PM

So when does copying happen between professionals?

 

It doesn't happen.  Because if one is copying in that fashion....... there is only one professional present. B)

 

best,

 

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


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#16 JBaymore

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 12:22 PM

I get those too Chris. I often ask them  to let me know how it works out for the them, but never get a response or thank you. It is rude. It is like we're suppose to be a hotline for info.

 

Ditto.

 

best,

 

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


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#17 clay lover

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 02:09 PM

Sorry, Chris, but was I in that workshop with you?  I think I have been! :wacko:



#18 Chris Campbell

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 04:34 PM

DUNNO Clay lover ... your shadow outline does look familiar though... :P :D :rolleyes: ... do you remember anything about goats?


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#19 clay lover

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 08:17 PM

No goats, but a lot of liquor and kinky other things between instructor and students. :blink:  Very weird week. 



#20 Pres

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 03:48 PM

I think my presence here is testament as to how I feel about sharing. You will notice that I refrain fromtalking much about glaze and clay chemistry. I don't know enough, so I leave it to those that do (sensei John). I loved teaching, and here I can still help someone.

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





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