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Why Handmade Ceramics Are White Hot (Nytimes)

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Lol - I had to laugh at this comment in the article Mea: "“It’s an antidote to all the electronics,†he added." - well for me it actually kind of is - I run an IT company, am surrounded by technology, people talking technology (or at their technology) and managing technology projects every day so ceramics is the antidote to my daily technology poison :)

 

But it always concerns me when something is 'all of a sudden fashionable' because with every fashion comes the subsequent fall...in the technology world it is known as the "trough of disillusionment" in the 'Hype Cycle'.  Then again - pottery has been around for '000's of years and it is coming around that popularity cycle where another generation of people find their mojo in the mud.

 

Great post thanks for sharing.

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I agree this is a cycle, and many of the start-up pottery businesses probably won't be long-term ventures. And the author is showing his overly-romanticized perspective. But for those of us who are in it for the long term, right now the appetite for handmade pottery is huge. Let's pounce!

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I agree 100%

I think the need for a hand made connection is going to increase as this generation reaches the magic 35 - 55 age group ... a time full of christenings, weddings, second weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, house warnings etc.

Hand made pottery can be the next unique, homey 'must have' gift.

Go get 'em!!

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While I think the article made some good points, and hooray for all of the side benefits that popular trends like this bring, I find the examples they cite frustrating. Throw some plain cylinders, give them a quick scrape with a trimming tool, spatter with something blue and sell. It smacks of laziness and amateurism, especially when it's poorly made. I rather liked this response to that article.

 

https://cfileonline.org/alleghany-meadows-contemporary-pottery/

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Hmmm ... I find the outrage to be misplaced. Is he arguing that nobody appreciates the likes of Allegheny Meadows and the other names he dropped? I beg to differ. The NY Times pieces was about a different realm and a different level. No need to compare them.

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Hmmm ... indeed.   I also don't get the outrage.  " Do view the Times piece, see their selections, then come back here and enjoy what a real potter can do."  Some one tell me what in the hell is a "real potter"?   

 

The NY Times was about handmade ceramics and functional ware.   Why would anyone even think to compare dinner plates and mugs to one of those collages?  Even though there is mention of "true potters" that includes two links to functional wares.  Shall I be caddy here ... if you are going to direct people to "true potters" at least get a legitimate link.    Hey I really wanted to read about some "real potters" and followed the suggested link to Santa Fe Clay (http://santafeclay.com) to find "true potters" ......  WELL, I couldn't find any there ... although I did click one of those links and saw a great deal on a fax machine.

 

I loved the NY Times article.  I can see everything they talked about in my business. 

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Hmmm ... I find the outrage to be misplaced. Is he arguing that nobody appreciates the likes of Allegheny Meadows and the other names he dropped?

 

Yes. He is arguing that the NY Times as an entity, wholly ignores American studio ceramics. When McKeough locks onto these "romantic" tales of the white collar businessman finding ceramics, it sells the story, not necessarily good work. In the Fashion and Style section, one can see Clark has an expectation of critical design writing, not inspirational story-telling. His anger is well-placed in this sense.

 

What I do find objectionable is the exclusionary attitude of American studio ceramics. You can read this into Clark's writing, but this attitude underpins most avenues of dissemination for contemporary American studio ceramics (e.g. buddy-buddy deals, mis-guided gallery curation, and the incestuous nature of certain pedigrees). This is too much to discuss on this board, but is fair to acknowledge as a counterpoint to Clark's stance. It is also fair to note Garth Clark's personal stake in defending his position as an expert on American Ceramics verses "amateur hour" (Tim McKeough).

 

 The NY Times pieces was about a different realm and a different level. No need to compare them.

 

The comparison that Clark draws is a direct result of his frustration with the lack of promotion for his favorite brand of American studio ceramics (and perhaps design editors encroaching on his area of expertise). But, the NY Times made its choice, and Clark's comparison is necessary to expression of his frustration. Your suggestion that Alleghany Meadows and Forrest Lewinger exist on different planes is probably true. They likely don't have to compete at all for their sales audience. However, they do have to compete for the NY Times endorsement. Which is one hell of a sales engine. It's a responsibility too. The question becomes whether the NY Times Style and Fashion section should be selling the best of contemporary American ceramics, or romantic "pipe dreams" of the white collar worker. It's easy to read my preference, but that's an editorial decision (subject to the agenda of the editor). Clark might as well argue that the NY Times is a trash newspaper. Which might be true.

 

Bill Rogers' attempt to diffuse Clark's article, represents incongruence in the direction of Cfile. And at some point, one has to realize that there's not big enough of an audience to publish decent critical discourse on ceramics in America. For now, just enjoy the half-baked opinions of any publication covering American Ceramics. Any energy wasted on this discussion would be far better used in pursuit of making better work.

 

The comedy in all of this, is that the theses in both the Tim McKeough and Garth Clark articles are the promotion of ceramics. It gets muddy because McKeough is heavy handed and has no familiarity with the industry to which he's throwing the proverbial bone. In return, Clark is ego-driven and tries to throw down with the vigor of a pubescent boy on the playground. The crucial mistake here is that the divide should not be drawn between establishment and new-comer, but on the basis of quality of work.

 

I'll add that Garth Clark isn't wrong, he just gives up too much ground through the cheap shots he took at McKeough and the NY Times. And it is a critical error to appear guilty of such when defaming romantic writing.

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I think the younger vegan, free range animal loving, technology generation as a whole lack common sense. They are techno savvy and life stupid. They have acquired little knowledge about what it takes to make something by hand, but they still have some appreciation for parents who manufactured their own things and lived life without the internet or cell phones. We are evolving from a society that once made everything to one that makes nothing. Older people in general don't like to change and they hold on to their past, but each new generation wants to be different than their parents. The younger generation is currently holding on to the hand made past because they really can't comprehend making anything themselves. 

 

Life without technology is incomprehensible to the younger generation. I feel if we had a breakdown in society and lost the current technology; we would experience an abrupt thinning of the herd. 

 

The finest made ceramics are not always going to best selling ceramics because the generation that is buying them has no physical connection, concept, or baseline to define whats good or bad, they just want something that looks handmade and want to know it wasn't mass produced. It's sad, but like it or not a simple poorly made pot has value if it's priced right.

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As one of those profit mongering white collar business types who made his way to clay late in life, and didn't worship at the altar of uber liberal conceptual artistic professorial types hold up in obscure universities... All I have to say is this... After more than 30 years of professional business experience: A rising tide floats all boats. So be grateful and thank God for the gift of customers, innovators, and investors. For all will expand the market and grow the art form in their own way. 

 

The starving artist... dies of starvation, and is no longer around to make art however beautiful, precise, or perfectly correct it may be...

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As one of those profit mongering white collar business types who made his way to clay late in life, and didn't worship at the altar of uber liberal conceptual artistic professorial types hold up in obscure universities... All I have to say is this... After more than 30 years of professional business experience: A rising tide floats all boats. So be grateful and thank God for the gift of customers, innovators, and investors. For all will expand the market and grow the art form in their own way. 

 

The starving artist... dies of starvation, and is no longer around to make art however beautiful, precise, or perfectly correct it may be...

I like this!!! And as a mother of three 20 somethings and a high school teacher, I see there is a thirst for things handmade in the younger generation, at least in two of my kids. The younger kids aren't enamored of WalMart, as many of their parents are. They reject the mass production of "Made in China." And if all they can afford is my $10 ring holder or $20 mug now, then that is what I will be happy to sell them. They will get better jobs, get married, have kids...and I want my mugs and bowls and plates in their cabinets, not Corelle ware or stuff made overseas with lead glazes. It's about a better life for them, comfort, a connection to the earth and the past. 

 

But I still don't consider myself a real artist, so this is why I may feel this way. I am just a person who loves to make, and buy, handmade things. So I am not too highbrow about it all. :)

Nancy

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