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harry davis

updated wed 5 may 04


Claudia O Driscoll on fri 1 aug 97

The ceramics instructor here has asked me to find information about
Harry Davis and the primitive firing he does. Our library has had to move
(4 times in this year), so my resources are dismal. Does anyone have
any information?

Craig Martell on sat 2 aug 97

Hi Claudia:

To my knowledge, Harry Davis never did any "primitive" firing although he
did work in some real third world situations in Africa and Peru. Harry and
May Davis always, to my knowledge, produced high fired domestic ware.

Harry passed on much of the information he accumulated from a lifetime of
pottery making in his book "The Potter's Alternative". May Davis has given
us an absolutely stunning account of their lives in a book she has written
entitled "Her Story". It's a wonderful book and very hard to come by. You
could only get copies of the book directly from May. Perhaps some of our
friends in New Zealand could help if you wanted to obtain a copy. I had to
borrow the book from a friend. Last time I heard May was still living in
Nelson New Zealand. Harry passed on some years ago.

There are writings and articles by and about Harry in CM and Studio Potter
and probably Pottery in Ausralia as well as others. A trip to the library
would no doubt pay off.

Potters Chris Gum and Bruce Wild arranged a week long workshop with Harry at
Lane CC in Eugene in 1980. I was very fortunate in being able to attend.
Harry was one of the most remarkable people I have ever met. My only regret
is that I didn't get to meet May as well. They were quite a team.

Regards, Craig Martell-Oregon

Clennell on sun 3 aug 97

>----------------------------Original message----------------------------
>The ceramics instructor here has asked me to find information about
>Harry Davis and the primitive firing he does. Our library has had to move
>(4 times in this year), so my resources are dismal. Does anyone have
>any information?

Dear Claudia: Harry Davis is doing pottery somewhere in heaven. He has
been dead for some years now. He never to my knowledge did primitive
firing. He did however go to third world countries to develop working
potteries. He worked in Britain with Leach, i believe he went to Africa,
New Zealand and South America. He has produced books of a technical nature
mostly to do with making machinery for pottery making. If you find out the
names of the books please post them. I don't have one in my library and see
that as a shortcoming. I was lucky enough to take a workshop with Harry. He
was the fastest thrower I have ever seen. If you sneezed you may have
missed seeing a creamer made. His wife May was also a potter, but as always
seems to be the case did not get the recognition that Harry did. She may
well still be alive in New Zealand??????? She also wrote a book that I'd
like to get my hands on. Thanks for bringing up Harry. I have a fond memory
of that weekend.

Sheila and Tony Clennell
Gleason Brook Pottery
Box l0, RR#2,
Wiarton, Ontario

Phone # 1 (519) 534-2935
Fax # 1 (519) 534-0602

Timothy Dean Malm on sun 3 aug 97

Harry was indeed the consumate English production potter. In 1979 he
arrived in Honolulu, doing a workshop at the Univ. of Hawaii at Manoa. I
have two pieces of his work from that time. Sometimes it pay to wedge clay
for the workshop giver. I do remember how appalled Harry was at the cost
of a campus kiosk. It seemed he was about to weep when told the kiosk cost
$80,000 to build, housing only some candy machines and a microwave. He
was dumbfounded at what he and his wife had to spend to develop entire
potteries compared to the kiosk. To my knowledge he did not do "primitive"
ware. He built potteries in "primitive" locations.

Tim Malm

Kenneth D Westfall on mon 4 aug 97

>> If you find out the
names of the books please post them.<<

Harry Davis died in 1986. The book which I am aware of which describes
the techniques for building equipment from scratch is: 'The Potter's
Alternative' published in the USA by Chilton Book Co. in 1987. It was
also published in Australia(I think) by Methuen Australia Pty Ltd. It's
ISBN is 0-8019-8006-2, so any library should be able to locate it.
It has a wealth of information and has helped us build or modify
equipment in our studio. However, while there are photos of his pots at
Crewenna Pottery, there is no reference to "primitive" pots. I also
looked through the 'Studio Potter' directory, and none of the articles
by/about Harry Davis refer to "primitive pots".
Good luck.
Tracey Westfall

Kenneth D. Westfall
Pine Hill Pottery
Don't get stuck in the mud pies K&T

Paul Meyers on mon 4 aug 97

Harry's book is called a Potter's Alternative, and was first printed in
1987, by Methuen Australia, shortly after Harry's death. May Davis
passed away several years ago.
I was fortunate to become friends with Harry late in his life; he was
the most extraordinary man that I have ever met.
Paul Meyers

Joyce Lee on mon 3 may 04

Does anyone know whether or not this is a
true story...... or did I get two potters confused
with one another.

Way back, a few months before Robin Hopper's
glaze class, before I discovered Clayart ....=20
before almost anything to do with clay had
happened for me.....
I supervised the ceramic classes/art=20
department at our high school ... purely from
an academic perspective. (They did resoundingly
well!) During this period I heard that Harry=20
Davis, who was The Hero of some of our local
pottery teachers/potters........ had
been here in the Mojave in our town when he
became fatally ill..... maybe even died here.

Does anybody know if this is so? This was the
very first reference I'd heard of any "famous"
potters .... hadn't heard of Leach or Hamada or
MacKenzie or............

In the Mojave where it is very, very hot...... but
...... hang on, now....... I received my CM
today....... and it is beautiful!...... the article about
David is great ...... I'm still working my way
through it since I had an Art League meeting
tonight with a demo using ..... not colored
pencils....... but colored oil pencils...... already
lost the correct name of said pencils. Fun
and enlightening. I'm continually amazed at
the intricacies of, and information available, for
any art/craft process........