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Question about alternative finishes for ceramics & acceptance by ceramic artists


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10 hours ago, itsALLart said:

Like many other cold-finish adherents, I really am not trying to "create the same look". I could easily buy standard glazes and fire my works a 2nd time in the traditional manner.  Instead, I'm trying to do something totally different, something unique and new. We've all seen what glazes can do but we haven't seen all that alternative finishes can do. That's what excites me and keeps me in the game.

Sounds exciting but I would not diminish what is done with glaze nor those who create with it daily and assume we have seen it all. Your surface decoration is a medium you chose for your reasons, it happens to be paint. It looks great and has the properties it has. Folks working with glaze are very creative and create amazing new stuff daily. Your stuff looks great as decorated and you enjoy doing it. There is room for all to be equally creative IMO.

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Lively thread!

Haven't been keeping track/count ('bout three years o' readin' this forum). My impression is there are several slab/handbuilt folk who contribute  here; sculptors, perhaps not as many, but significant nonetheless.

I believe folk will continue to push, try, experiment, seek... in every direction*, hence we'll see new**, err, fresh expressions down the line in glazes as well as other stuff.

 

*hopefully less of the harmful/dangerous.

**is anything really new?

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I tend to think of your work as sculptural not ceramic. But thats my art school background tugging at my brain. I fired some work for years of a sculptor who worked in clay but all the finishes where not ceramic. I high fired them 1st .I'll add a photo in a day as I have one of the works still as this was long ago. I realize that clay is the base but to many ceramic refers to other finished mediums where as sculpture is a broad definition and has lots of freedoms of meaning. 

Really you are making ceramic sculpture and that can mean many things. I went to art  school with a ceramic sculptor named Micheal Lucero who is my age and is pretty well known now.

We are still friends after these 40 years as we are both in clay still.

https://carnegiemuseums.org/magazine-archive/1998/marapr/feat6.htm

For me he is a ceramic artist but works his works are art sculpture 

its a broader range by adding another word or two.

That small local art  association does not matter because its what you think that does matter. Since you do not fit everyones idea of a square peg it become irrelevant really.

Heck you sculptors are higher up the art  ladder than us mere potters anyway. We only make pots for people to use

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I've always used a variety of non-glazes on my ceramic pieces.  I've made maybe 10 bowls in my life and half of them have deliberate holes or cracks in them. It's all art.  Unless it's craft.  Or maybe it's arty craft, or crafty art. Or it's irrelevant what it is called unless one really cares, in which case one may need to educate the viewer. I guess that's how we end up with art critics, so they can 'splain it to Lucy.  "Art is the early warning sign of the culture." Richard Carlyon  "Art is spirituality in drag." Lee Ustinich "Never let your story be more interesting than your art." Lester Van Winkle. 

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18 hours ago, Mark C. said:

Heck you sculptors are higher up the art  ladder than us mere potters anyway. We only make pots for people to use

Well, I tend to think it's a level playing field.  We're all out there playing the best we can. I've seen pots that have left me breathless and sculptures that I wouldn't have bothered firing had I been the artist. 

And to speak to finishes, I am fascinated by glazes as well and think some of them are amazing.  The reason I like cold finishes is the control and not being a production potter, I spend up to 3 weeks on one piece. I don't want to chance going into the kiln again with a potential disaster on something I've spent almost 200 hours on. I think that's the difference.

A potter can throw 20 mugs a day, it's no big deal if one doesn't turn out right, they still have 19. This isn't a judgement thing either, it's a numbers thing. I can't replace each unique piece I build and everything I build is one-of-a-kind. So, IMO, a lot more is at stake for me when it comes to the finish of the surface. Not to say that pots aren't valueable, but if you put time into the equation, they are easier to reproduce. When I go to the bisque firing, I am a nervous wreck, both taking the pieces there and bringing them home! :-)

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Your comments seem a bit contradictory.

One can’t expect ceramic artists who spent years and years formulating glazes and evaluating how they respond to their other glazes when fired, and wasting entire kiln loads because of little changes like too much /not enough water or a new batch/mine of a material that chances the outcome to be comfortable with statements such as “I could just throw some commercial glaze on it” and then say “I do it for control”. 
The ceramic artist that did spend years and opened many kiln loads that needed to be trashed might not be comfortable with somebody who may appear to be pushing their work off as the same category when in their mind, they may think “I could have just thrown some paint on it” and “fire off and re paint my failed paintings when they fail” 
The truth is, both are art, but the process is entirely different just as the heartache may be entirely different. And functional pots don’t always necessarily mean somebody produced 20 in a day and slapped some commercial glaze on it. I think the best way to come to some acceptance in the ceramics industry is to understand the process and then explain yours without belittling the very group that has been pushed out of art galleries and art shows for being “folk craft” (due to uneducated jurors) .

hope that gives you some perspective  

Edited by Rebekah Krieger
Can’t spell for crap
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I spend 3 weeks on a piece and use ceramic decoration.  I also make 20 mugs in a day.  Some are art, some are functional.  A lot never make it out of my studio.  A lot get the end of a hammer.  I've had kiln loads, hundreds and hundreds of hours of work, just not end up right at all.  

The risk involved is part of the value.  The hours of work are always there, art or functional work.  A person doesn't buy an artisan mug because they need a vessel to drink from.  They buy it for the same reason someone buys one of your sculptures.  IKEA sells mugs for 3 dollars, and they work and look good.  

I don't see any problem with cold finish on ceramics, but there is a plethora of reasons why a gallery or juror may not be interested.  I've had my functional pottery rejected, I've had my art pottery rejected, it's just part of the process when you open it up to someone else judging/jurying your work.

 

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12 hours ago, liambesaw said:

A person doesn't buy an artisan mug because they need a vessel to drink from.  They buy it for the same reason someone buys one of your sculptures.

Artisan or artisanal will, for most, still represent work made through traditional means.

In this regard functional potters, for me, are still ceramic artisans.

Strictly decorative work made by artisans is, in my mind, not exclusively artisanal.

*please excuse the after the fact edit

What I wanted to express is that artisanal work is not exclusively decorative.

Edited by C.Banks
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Honestly, I’m not even sure I personally like the idea of fine craft or pottery being in the same category or gallery system that we in the more western world put fine art in. While there can be some overlap, it very often speaks and hits in different ways. I know that there’s a need and desire to increase the value of craft work, but I’m not certain putting it in a fine art venue does that.

I was reading this article yesterday about how in the art world, the value of the work is generally attributed to “the artistic eye” or other ideas of doing art for art’s sake, because it’s a higher calling and is supposed to be separate from the economy. It’s value comes from being idea based, or esoteric, because the act of creation is supposed to be divorced from or ranked higher than the everyday. There’s a Metric Butt-Ton (TM)  of philosophical writing on this.  But when you remove art from the economy or declare it above such mundane concerns, you devalue the actual labour, physical or emotional, that goes into any creative endeavour. This results in tropes such as the Starving Artist, Doing it for Art’s Sake, and Art Isn’t a REAL Job.  It leads to artists frequently being underpaid or undervalued, it means artists and other creatives have to justify their existences constantly, and it limits one’s ability to actually engage in a professional creative practice. It makes it really difficult to do art full time unless you have a side job (which is frequently viewed as a distraction), or without other financial resources. Think of  things like being independently wealthy, or having a universal basic income, or other robust social systems in place. 

Craft, however, has a huge labour component that it can’t really be divorced from, whether the resultant piece is functional or not. The materials used still require skills to be worked, and even in the case of artists drafting the designs and maintaining their authorship while farming the actual production out to other sources, someone still had to put in the 10,000 hours to be able to execute it. I think because the art world as it exists now doesn’t (hasn’t?) reconciled the value of the labour that goes into a piece, it’s never going to acknowledge craft as an equal, if different, entity.

 

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On 3/25/2021 at 12:01 AM, Rebekah Krieger said:

pushing their work off as the same category

Here, again, is a wrong assumption about the different types of work and my stance on them in general.  I doubt someone would look at my work and look at the work of a production potter and say they are in the "same category". But they are both in the same broader group called "ceramics" in my view. We can agree to disagree on that. ;)

I'm not putting any one's art/craft down at all. I love all things clay.  But a beautiful, unique fired and glazed vase, IMO, isn't in the same category as an interesting, non-functional sculpture. This isn't to say that they aren't both valuable or great art, but one could be  utilitarian if the end user wanted it to be (or it could just sit on a shelf as decor) and one can only ever be a sculpture. It's not up to me to make a pronouncement that they are "art" or not, but I feel they both are regardless.

I've come full circle on the question of "craft" as well. I think there is definitely art in the ability to throw a 1/8th inch thin, 18 inch tall vase. I can't begin to do it (I can't even throw a mug!). And if it's glazed in some amazing way and results in a successful piece, for me that's art. And the ability to repeat that exact vase/pot/plate/tray/whatever, over and over... that's pretty amazing.  It's actually easier to create one-of-a-kind in that regard, even if the piece takes longer.

I've been totally misunderstood a lot in my life, so having it happen here is just same stuff, different day.  I'm used to it! :D 

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@itsALLart, you came here and asked the question “is this ceramics?” but what you you really meant is “is this art?” You don’t seem to understand the difference.

When you are making art for your own personal exploration/growth/satisfaction then it doesn’t matter if you call it ceramics or not. However, if you are trying to enter professional venues with your work, the standards and definitions DO matter. Just like with any other professional field. 

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4 hours ago, itsALLart said:

Just for a clarification, they actually told me "Because they are painted, not glazed".

Yes, but there are many reasons they might reject ceramics that are painted instead of glazed.  Paint is not a durable finish, paint fades over time, paint breaks off and chips due to changes in humidity, there are all sorts of reasons a gallery would want a ceramic sculpture to be glazed instead of painted.  It may have nothing to do with how artistic it is.

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One of the things that stands the test of time is being fired-I recently moved some of my art pieces made in college around in the yard where they have lived since the 70s-rain freeze-snow rain heat. They look the same today (a bit dirtier but wash right off) There is something to be said for longevity .Many of the se works are not glazed outside but are iron clay or wash.

Now some works demand inside  care like this raku piece my old friend Bill Foley did during his masters degree in Ceramics -Titled Marks Dream

and yes that is me in background photographing his masters show  work for him in 75 or 1976? Maybe a few of the old timers may recall Shimpo used this piece in a Ceramics Monthly ad in the 70s as well.

Raku luster fades, paint fades-they all need to be inside and takes care of. 

 

 

Screen Shot 2021-03-26 at 12.12.40 PM 2.png

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7 hours ago, GEP said:

@itsALLart, you came here and asked the question “is this ceramics?” but what you you really meant is “is this art?”

No, that's not what I asked at all. Here's my original question:

"Are alternative finishes a big no-no in the ceramic world at large?"  and my title was/is "Question about alternative finishes for ceramics, Acceptance by ceramic artists."

The subject is (and was supposed to be) general acceptance by ceramic artists of cold finishes.  Others may have delved into the "is it art" question, and I might have replied a bit, but that was not my original intent with this thread at all. 

I'm not sure where you got  "is this ceramics?" or "is this art".  I know what I make is art, I'm very much not worried about that. And for my money, what I make 3d pieces with is ceramics.  :-)

 

 

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4 hours ago, liambesaw said:

paint fades over time, paint breaks off and chips due to changes in humidity,

 

2 hours ago, Mark C. said:

moved some of my art pieces made in college around in the yard where they have lived since the 70s-rain freeze-snow rain heat.

 

I'm not sure any of my pieces  (other than my concrete works) live outside in anyone's yard. It would be the same as putting one of my paintings outside in the yard. The chances of someone putting a table-top sculpture of mine in their yard is pretty slim.  B)

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24 minutes ago, itsALLart said:

Are alternative finishes a big no-no in the ceramic world at large?"  and my title was/is "Question about alternative finishes for ceramics, Acceptance by ceramic artists."

Several people have offered the answer “no the painted surfaces are not ceramics” but you won’t take that for answer. And you defend your position by arguing an “art” defense but not providing a “ceramics” defense.  That’s why it doesn’t seem like you understand that these are two different questions. 

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On 3/22/2021 at 9:29 PM, itsALLart said:

We've all seen what glazes can do but we haven't seen all that alternative finishes can do.

You are underestimating what glazes can do, just as others are underestimating what alternative finishes can do. Both opinions are shortsighted.

I think a lot of people who work in ceramics see cold finishes as a shortcut, because they can generally be removed or covered over if they fail, and don't have to deal with the complications of heat and other technical issues inherent with ceramics. Working with clay is only half the process in ceramics. It's kind of like making your own pasta but using canned sauce. As someone that is dedicated to ceramics, I understand that opinion, and agree with it to a degree. I also agree that there is nothing wrong with cold finishes, but I wouldn't consider your work to be ceramic, as to me that implies that the entire thing is ceramic. If I were shopping for ceramic tiles or plates, I would not expect them to have a finish that was anything other than a fired-on ceramic finish. I would call your work mixed media, and would describe it as stoneware (or whatever type of clay you're using) and paint, wax, etc. It may seem nitpicky, but it removes any ambiguity.

In reference to the piece you posted a picture of with the cubes and the ball, my question is why make this out of clay at all? There are faster, easier methods of making that form that would have a much lower risk of failure. If you asked me to make that piece, clay slabs would be way down on my list of possible methods if I was allowed to use a cold finish. And since you did make it out of clay despite the challenges, why stop there and use cold finishes and not fired finishes?

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Posted (edited)
53 minutes ago, GEP said:

Several people have offered the answer “no the painted surfaces are not ceramics” but you won’t take that for answer. And you defend your position by arguing an “art” defense but not providing a “ceramics” defense.  That’s why it doesn’t seem like you understand that these are two different questions. 

And several said it doesn't really matter and not to worry about it, so I took both as answers and was fine with that. However, then you put words in my mouth and mischaracterized my original question which I find odd, especially for a moderator to do, especially to a new person to the forum.  Your response to my defense of my own question seems rude to me and not very welcoming and not very good moderation, IMO.  Bye.

Edited by itsALLart
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8 minutes ago, GoneFishing said:

I like challenges. :-)  And I had clay and like making challenging sculptures with it.

Not an art or finish question but just curious, I think you  mentioned not risking glaze firing which means these get bisqued. Are they fairly fragile?

Edited by Bill Kielb
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14 hours ago, Bill Kielb said:

Are they fairly fragile?

Yes, they are, in many cases, very fragile.  But there are sturdy ones as well.  I don't own a kiln and transport to the kiln I use is a tricky proposition (picture lots of packing materials and a car-load of boxes!).  So taking them back home, glazing them and then yet another 50-mile transport to and from the kiln over hilly and bumpy roads, (not to mention a 2nd firing) is a lot of risk to take on for me, especially for the commissioned pieces.  If I owned a kiln, I'd probably take much bigger risks with the work since it would only be moved from the bench to the kiln in each case.

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Not properly firing a clay piece is poor craftsmanship. I may get slammed for making a solid statement (few people are comfortable enough to do so these days)  but under firing a clay body further supports the comments that say  it’s not ceramics. Which actually does tie into the question of alternative cold surfaces being rejected by the ceramic world. 
 
also, I see more contradictions about risk taking. 

Further , to the point of “we have seen what glazes can do” .... all I know is I walk into an art museum and I have hundreds of examples of what paint can do also. 

I am by *no means* an expert, I’m in the thick of learning and I have more failed pots than successful ones at this point. But also not coming into a group with many experts and  arguing why they may be wrong. 
Perhaps the question was asked by you so you could prove your point rather than listen to the answers. 

Don’t take it as an insult on your work. Your pieces look very nice.  

 

 

 

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Heres some sculpture I used to fire for a artist who is long gone. I fired his work to cone 10 unglazed and he later finished it.

this piece is 13 inch tall 9x9 and did slump while fire as did most of his work.

The other work is my ceramic sculpture from the years -been out there since the 70s The kiln sphinx is about two feet long and 14 inch tall-I like the growth on it so you have to imagine the whole piece-no glaze.

I did look at our work and you come from a illustrator /painter background.Meaning paint is the medium whether its canvas-wood clay its not the base material thats important.

One thing to keep in mind is this sculpture is fired to maturity and is pretty durable though its kept inside  due to the unknown surface treatment-I thought of this fellow as a ceramic sculptor not a painter .I think of your work now more as a  painter now that I looked close.

Look like we both did our art degrees in the 70s

 

IMG_3951.jpeg.992853bccd80540de3c51bb16d949163.jpegIMG_3950.jpeg.a59ab5b9f651117a7b559d65733b076d.jpeg

 

 

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