Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by LawPots

  1. I think my problem is that industrial pottery often doesn’t do functional better. They make cheap. They make identical. They make shiny. They make inoffensive. They make boring. It’s like, why eat at a locally-owned restaurant? Friday’s has a good selection of food. There’s one 20 minutes away from everywhere. It’s consistent, cheaper, often faster, and clean. But, it’s also pretty much aimed at the inoffensive middle of taste in every dish. Life is more than that. In pottery, I want variety, visual interest, consideration of the user’s comfort, pleasing design, natural appearance, and superior function (not just average function). I want a little imperfection; because perfection isn’t beautiful to me. These are all thing industrial production struggles with, but handmade functional potters are magnetically attracted to those things.
  2. I don’t right now, but I’ve used a standup powered wheel I liked. The wheel head was at bellybutton height. It was comfortable without a backrest, and I braced my arms on the splash pan. Folk potters in the Southern U.S. almost all worked standing up at kick, treadle, and powered wheels that had “backrest” that they braced against to help center. I’ve read that one of these potters insisted that it was a terribly bad habit to even learn to throw sitting down.
  3. You might try carving into leather-hard and then tear.
  4. I use amaco velvet underglaze two different ways: on leather hard clay for sgraffito, and on bisque to bring out the lines of intaglio. Both work at Cone 6. They also fire ok to Cone 10 in salt and wood.
  5. You could always make your own. http://jeffcampana.com/clay-body-revisited/
  6. One if my fav techniques. No substitute really, except you can try to brush or slip trail into the groove and wipe excess. But, it really is different when you wipe glaze off the whole pot, because some small amount of glaze stays behind on the raised areas.
  7. I end up using mugs I recently made the most often. I also try to make mugs I'd like to use, so I end up using ones I make. I do have a mug from Matt Hylek I like a lot (really great handle and lip) and I've made mugs that my wife likes to use that I don't. I made the pictured mug as a decoration and glaze test. It is at my parents house, and my wife or I tend to seek it out and drink from it all day. It holds about 30 oz.
  8. I've been on Pinterest for a long time. I don't use Pinterest to sell, but I'm not sure how you could value it's impact on your business. I suspect it's probably better to use Pinterest to drive people to your website or online shop: pin from your website rather than upload, and see if people will click through. Pinterest requires really great quality pics that you want people to share. You need to update often so that your followers will see new things periodically. It's kind of a rummage sale though, with most new pins getting very small re-pins. Really striking pieces get shared around over and over. Usually something about those pins makes them unique - age, color, the underlying website content, or imagery. Most pieces I like still rarely get pinned more than a few hundred times. Often less than 50 times. This includes pots from Mea Rhee, Byron Temple, Jeff Campana, Kyle Carpenter, Matt Hylek, Sam Taylor, etc. But, any one of these potters can have a pot pinned several hundred times as well. And, it's happening mostly because other people promote them, not because they have a strong presence on Pinterest. Jeff Campana has a board full of his work with less than 100 pins on any single pot. But I've got a pin of a teacup he did I found on theclaystudio.org: 299 pins.
  9. I have used spray shellac and hairspray to fix glaze in place to move pots. I have not noticed negative effects. Glaze fire gets so hot that the organic material burns away long before the glaze actually starts to melt. I do know that there is one glaze that might be affected by this treatment: carbon trapping shino. Not because of the contents of the hairspray, but because of the movement of soluables in that particular glaze.
  10. Wire wrapped pots are mentioned in Japanese Woodfired Ceramics in the chapter on pit firing. Copper wire, especially, is mentioned as creating dark lines on the pot.
  11. We seem to have never stopped debating what C.F. Binns said at the beginning of the last century: "The trend of the present demand ... is toward a personal and individual expression in the crafts or industrial arts. This is tendency is the natural swing of the pendulum from the machine made product of the manufactory which in its turn was the inevitable result of mechanical invention." How much expression is sufficiently personal in craft, when faced with mechanical sameness of things?
  12. The crocks my great-grandparents used were salt glazed (interior was albany slip - an earthenware clay slip that formed a brown glaze at higher temps). They used stones to hold down the cabbage under the water to make sauerkraut. Mold was skimmed of the top, if it formed. As far as I know, they didn't always have lids - they just used cloth to keep dust out. Cocks like this could be thrown or molded. The crocks we still have are thrown white stoneware clay. These didn't have the water seal lip, which I've only seen on crocks in stores recently. I've read that these stonewares often didn't get actually get to cone 10 - most only fired at cone 6-7, only hot enough to vaporize the salt. The largest were cylinders about as tall as a 5-gallon bucket (taller than wide, nearly 1ft in diameter).
  13. LawPots


    I know you make teaware for the Japanese market; so, is there a Japanese buyer for this sort of american woodfired mug?
  14. I am no expert in lead, and I certainly wouldn't put it on any of the functional work that I do. Its just not worth thinking about from a liability standpoint, and the lawyer in me says "Who knows what some kid would do, even with a sculpture?" That said, I have read some older ceramics books that contained extensive discussion on using lead in glaze. At some point I read The Potter's Craft by C.F. Binns, and I recall that he discusses in detail the chemical formulas and differences in red lead and white lead. I believe he had a variety of recipes for lead glazes. You can get electronic copies through google play.
  15. You didn't include any pictures on the inside of your shop. I visited your website and I was particularly impressed with the displays inside. You experience in retail really shows in all aspects of your operation.
  16. Now that I think about it, if I were to devise a test (which is a really fun thought exercise) a Master Potter is someone who should be capable of the following: 1. Identifying and making a clay body suitable for functional ware from natural materials - i.e. can find a useful clay without having to buy it. - They should be able to identify workable plastic clays in the ground. They should know how to test those clays for workability and firing temperature. They should be able to differentiate between an earthenware clay and stoneware clay, and fire clay (for firebricks). They should know what sort of geology to look for in a natural landscape to find a useful clay. 2. Identifying and making a functional glaze from natural materials that makes a pot impervious, and is an extension of a decorative style - i.e. can find, or knows which natural materials for a glaze at the temperature they want to fire at. - Knows how to process and mix those materials into a glaze. - They should know how to test a glaze for function and durability. - They should know how to create color in a glaze or slip 3. Can build a kiln to fire their work, starting from natural materials - knows how to make bricks, lay out a kiln, and build a useful kiln. This may include an electric kiln (see below) 4. Can fire a kiln to temperature, from natural materials (wood, coal, animal or crude oil). 5. Can form pots at least the size of a decent large cook-pot either handbuilding, wheel, or molded. I think the size question here may be optional, but the forming method must demonstrate the capability of forming useful pots with an even thickness. I believe that the pot should be sellable, not dangerous, and suitable for the use for which it is designed. I.e. teapots need to be able to make tea, mugs hold water without leaking, baking dishes bake, and crocks ferment food. I am not going to require a master potter to be a blacksmith or a miner, but the master potter needs to know what is needed in terms of metal, minerals, and shaped wood to make a finished pot. Likewise, the master potter can work with electricity, but the master potter should know how to make an electric kiln, if the potter does not know how to make another type of kiln. So, a master potter needs to be able to teach the next generation of potters what they must know to make pots. A master potter must know: Making clay, making glaze, making pots, making a kiln, firing a kiln. Its cheating to say you have mastery of the craft if you buy your clay from someone else, but can't make it. Or buy you kiln from someone else, but don't know how to make your own. Ideally a master potter should have some ability over all the forming techniques, but I don't think that mastery really requires everyone to throw on a wheel, when I see plenty of handbuilt and coiled pots that are just as good or better than a wheel thrown pot. An MFA is something else. It's not a master potter - its a master's in the fine art of ceramics. To me, this just isn't the same. That's why history isn't on my list. It's why years of teaching or learning really aren't on the list. It would take years to learn these skills as a practical matter, but its not about how long you've done these things - its about whether you learned them in the first place. BTW - does anyone on this list have experience with the German potteries? I read an interview where a German potter said that he could not take apprentices in Germany, because he had never served an apprenticeship and been certified as a journeyman or master. The same rules didn't keep him from selling his pots, though, so not the same as the medieval guilds. This article covers some of the structure of the German apprentice system https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apprenticeship#Germany The Germans seem to think its possible to narrow the skill set down to a prescribed set of skills.
  17. One way to put it, in old guild terms, is that a master potter is one who has mastered the craft (which is a near synonym of "secret") of pottery. The people who master the secrets of pottery are a master potters. Its not about how good the work is, its about whether you can make what you want to make. The masterwork is proof that you know the secrets of pottery, and can put them into action. Masterworks don't have to look good, they just prove that you know what you're doing. Its not really a subjective thing at all. You could test it.
  18. I'd like to echo Mea in a way. I am a student of hers, but I also fit the demographic that Mea sells to - craft fair enthusiasts with upper middle income. I happen to go to the types of shows she participates in. I went to many of them before she started doing them, like the Smithsonian show. I've paid up to $60 for a mug. I bought a mug from Sang Joon Park for over $40 at ACC Baltimore, broke it a week later, and bought a second mug from him at the Smithsonian show. The reason I'm estimating his price? I can't remember it. I didn't really care how much it was. So, were there cheaper mugs at both shows? Yes. Did it matter? No. I think you do have to find a mug that you can make for a rational price for both you, and your target market. I figure making, glazing and firing a plain mug takes about 12 minutes each mug. Provided that you are a quick thrower, don't trim, and don't do much decoration. A modest decoration, some marketing overhead, and a retail mug at $25 is my guess for a minimum price for a mug if the maker lives in the greater metro area of Washington DC. Likewise, $35? Totally an affordable price for a handmade mug. In 1980, that was about $12.00, and in 1972, that was $6. Which happens to be right in line with a previous post. Check this out: http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm, if you want to want to compare a historic price to a current going price.
  19. I submit the following, as evidence that if we aren't copying, there is at least someone out there who thinks like us. You'll see there is a definite theme here. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/97601516900646693/ https://www.pinterest.com/pin/103934703869890247/ https://www.pinterest.com/pin/412431278351067833/ https://www.pinterest.com/pin/255368241344576035/ https://www.pinterest.com/pin/249738741808377405/ https://www.pinterest.com/pin/264516178083674426/ https://www.pinterest.com/pin/426856870906675250/ This does not mean each is a copy. But, let's just say that I spent a few hours last weekend making mugs with teabag themes, and I am not surprised that a quick search of pinterest turned up a similar theme. Even if my specific inspiration was a print. And my decoration doesn't actually look very much like these examples. Or, the original print for that matter. Brandon Sanderson had a character say something interesting about what talent people value most in one of his books: "Given two works of artistic majesty, otherwise weighted equally, [and created independently] we give greater acclaim to the one who did it first. It doesn't matter that you create. It matters what you create before anyone else." The cynical character goes on to say that novelty is the talent people value the most. Do we copy? Maybe a better question is: does it matter? What value will our pottery have if it is a copy of someone else? You can't copy novelty.
  20. This is a really great analogy, and explains why everyone is right in this post, as a practical matter, because even if you know don't know why you're putting a hole in your pot, it works! Popcorn feels 'dry' when you hold it. But it isn't! Popcorn blows up because the moisture in the popcorn flashes to steam. (See Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popcorn) If it was just air in the popcorn, popcorn wouldn't pop. Its the water in the popcorn that makes it pop. The water is trapped inside because the popcorn kernel has a hard, impervious skin that won't let the inside of the kernel dry completely. If the popcorn's skin is damaged, the kernels won't pop, because the moisture content falls too low. So, when we dry our clay art, we're trying to keep it from acting like popcorn. The moisture in the clay, and the moisture in the air inside hollow clay, needs to escape before we fire it above the boiling point of water. If we don't, the steam will blow up our pots. The clay needs to be "dry" for this to happen. Unlike the shell of a popcorn kernel, unfired clay is generally porous enough that the moisture escapes through the surface. Candling your kiln (at near boiling point of water) can help get the moisture out of the clay and any air inside voids in the clay. Holes help dry hollow parts, because they allow the dry air outside the hollow parts to exchange with the wet air inside the hollow parts. The clay dries more efficiently, and there isn't any moisture trapped (like in popcorn) to blow up your pot. If your clay is very thick and heavy, the moisture doesn't escape well through the surface, and there can still be enough water in it to pop. So, if you poke holes in your popcorn kernels, you'd better pop it fast, because the inside will dry out and then you'll just have dry corn. And that's lame. But if you poke holes in the voids of your pots, the inside will dry, and your pots won't pop. And that's awesome!
  21. Amateur Potter - or maybe a Hobby Potter. I don't like calling what I make Art, so I don't call myself an artist. Functional Potter, maybe? Ceramic Artist makes it sound like I know something about ceramics, or art, and I don't really think I qualify for that. (I am not saying that there isn't art, I am just saying I don't like to call what I make art.)
  22. Well, since I'm a student of Mea's - I'll do what she did, and post something I made last year (I am making more . . .)
  23. To me there's some marketing going on here. A studio potter is a Leach or Robineau style potter. The potter makes the pots, decorates the pots, glazes the pots, fires the pots, and markets/sells the pots. There is a requirement, in my mind, that studio potters are also producing high-quality work suitable for a gallery or commission. Studio pottery is a label for marketing ceramics to distinguish it from ceramics made in a factory, and distinguish it from the now practically extinct country pottery. So, studio pottery is pottery marketed as art (including everyday art) by the person who made the pottery alone or with assistance from apprentices. Why am I focused on market? Compare Chris' definition to the 19th cent. southern potter making crocks and jugs, or someone like Isaac Button. Those people marketed their ware to country people for everyday use, but they also did all the work themselves in shops and buildings that they owned. That's not studio pottery, even though its made under similar conditions as studio pottery.
  24. Before I took my first pottery class 5 years ago, I saw this at Freer gallery: http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/zoomObject.cfm?ObjectId=54870 I am always thinking about that cup and the brushed crackle slip.
  25. It seems the thrust of the comment is that you can't trust the critques of people in the same business. This is not quite correct. You can trust the critiques of others in the same business to be based on their point of view. This doesn't make the critique inherently untrustworthy. It does however, mean that when such criticism is recieved, a listener must attempt to understand that point of view and decide if the viewpoint (or critique) reflects the listener's values. If it does, the listener must judge the critque and decide how to change; if it doesn't, the listener can continue on without sparing a thought for it.
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.