John Post on fri 1 jan 10
I have a few mugs in my cupboard that are always near the front. My
wife and I both like this spherical salt glazed mug that has a
dragonfly in white slip on it. She's got a favorite squared off brown
earth tone one. There are two bulbous floral ones that I like to
drink my coffee out of.
All of these mugs have one thing in common.
We have no way to get any more of them from the potters who made
them. We don't even know who made them. When we purchased them at
galleries or art fairs around the country, we had the little business
card from the artist in the bag, but over time, those little cards got
Two pots in my collection have signatures that would allow me to
contact the potter to purchase more work.
Old Farmhouse Pottery Maydelle Texas, USA with david hendley
Plum Tree Pottery with Glick signature below
David packs all that information onto the bottom of a mug, John
Glick's signature is on the bottom of a tea pot.
I have watched John Glick sign pots at a workshop at his studio and I
seem to recall him having two metal stamps he uses, but I must have an
earlier pot, as it only has one stamp.
My wife and I visit the art fair every year where we got the dragonfly
mug , hoping to get a few more but that artist hasn't been back to the
fair since we got the mug. I know that we could keep better track of
who made the stuff we buy, but since I am the potter in the family and
am the one frequently buying the pots, I know that isn't going to
So it started me thinking that as a customer, I appreciate David
Hendley's signature the most. It's more than just a potter's mark or
signature I can't read and there's no little card to keep track of
either. If I break it or just need more, I know where to find him. I
think it's a smart way to sign pots in today's world. He's got the
contact information in an easy to read font stamped into the clay, and
then his hand written signature below it. I'm going to update the way
I sign my own work based on what he does.
The potter who made the dragonfly mug lost a customer, because I can't
Sterling Heights, Michigan
:: cone 6 glaze website :: http://www.johnpost.us
:: elementary art website :: http://www.wemakeart.org
Lee Love on fri 1 jan 10
I know where all mine came from, both signed and unsigned. I am
terrible about names but always remember faces. Maybe the two go together=
You could keep a catalog, use file cards. You can even take a
snapshot when you bring a new pot into the house.
Lee, a Mashiko potter in Minneapolis
"Ta tIr na n-=3DF3g ar chul an tI=3D97tIr dlainn trina ch=3DE9ile"=3D97that=
land of eternal youth is behind the house, a beautiful land fluent
within itself." -- John O'Donohue
David Hendley on mon 4 jan 10
I think this posting was lost yesterday. Here it is again.
How is Mel doing?
Thanks, John, for your story of not being able to find out who
made two of your favorite mugs, and I'm glad you appreciate
they way my mug is identified.
I take the marking of pots seriously and, in fact, was drawn
to using the 'shop stamp and signature' system by John Glick, a
big influence back when I was a beginning professional potter.
Tony the Canadian Cowboy and I have already gone around
the signature and stamp block on Clayart. He thinks that
he is so well-known that anyone who sees TC stamped on
a mug will know that he made it. Maybe Tom Coleman will
get some business from someone who likes Tony's mug,
searches on the Internet, and discovers he actually likes copper
red porcelain more than shino-glazed stoneware. (Laugh Tony,
it's a joke.)
A potter's 'chop' stamp makes it even harder to know who
made a piece. Of course, it can make you feel like a privileged
insider if you know the code. Even the musician Prince had
to give up on his misguided notion of being identified by an
I make a few forms that end up not having a suitable place to
stamp an identifying mark. Even though I consider the mark
important, these pieces are not stamped - form takes precedence.
For most pieces, it is entirely possible to stamp it so it does
not distract from the design. I have 10 or 12 'Old Farmhouse
Pottery' stamps. There are 3 font sizes, for small to large pots,
and varying degrees of curve, to follow the curve of the bottom
of the pot. There is an appropriate spot for a stamp even on
a round-bottomed footed piece with a trimmed spiral. Just
another aspect of design, that should be well thought out.
My stamps, by the way, were made on a now-obsolete type
setting machine. Letter were typed on a keyboard and molten
lead was poured into a mold, to make the type that would then
be used for printing. I bent the lead stamps into the various
curves that I use.
Last year, a good long-time customer talked me in to making a
large wall platter with my signature on the rim - big. 'Paintings
are signed on the front,' he kept saying. I relented, but I still
don't like the idea, even though the platter hangs in his office
at the Texas state capitol, for hundreds of people to see. I
want people to know I made a piece, but I don't want to
Here is a short essay about signing pots, from my website:
Pot Bottoms, Potter's Marks, and Signatures
If you have potters over for drinks, dinner, or just to show them your
favorite pots, the first thing they will do is turn them over to look at th=
bottoms. On more than one occasion this has caused problems when the cup wa=
still full of coffee or the bowl still full of soup! A potter can tell a lo=
by looking at a bottom: craftsmanship, attention to detail, the maker's
personality, and, hopefully, who made it.
Handmade pots are marked and identified in many ways, and many potters have
strong opinions about how potters should mark their work. At one extreme is
the "initial stamp" or "mark" only advocate. I don't really understand this=
since it means that only a handful of people will know who made the piece.
Even an Internet search is useless, if all you have to go on is an initial
or a non-alphabetic or non-pronounceable logo.
I also don't understand the illegible signature, and many times I have been
frustrated trying to read the bottom of a handmade pot. Often times, when
trying to decipher a name I can't even tell which side is the top. While
looking at pottery in people's homes I have asked them what the signature
says, and many times, even though they bought the piece from the maker, the=
can't remember his or her name, and the scrawl on the bottom is no help.
At the other extreme, I do think that a stamp that is thinly-veiled
advertising cheapens the piece. I would be horrified to see a website
address, e-mail address, mailing address, or phone number on the bottom of =
well-made handmade pot. It reminds me too much of a paper towel dispenser i=
a restroom: "For reorders call 800-BUY-MORE". I also think that for handmad=
pottery a stamp impressed into the clay is better than a rubber stamped ink
message. It just looks more thought-out and permanent.
For my work, I want to clearly identify who made the piece and where it was
made. I think a handmade pot is deserving of a handwritten signature. So on
the bottoms of my pots, you will see the name of my shop (Old Farmhouse
Pottery) and my location (Maydelle, Texas, U.S.A.) impressed into the clay
with a metal stamp, along with a legible hand written signature. Anyone who
wants to find out more about me or my shop can easily find my Website by
typing this information into a search engine.
I have been identifying my work this way since the '70's. I was influenced
to settle on this system by John Glick, my favorite potter of the era, who
marked his work with his shop name (Plum Tree Pottery) and signed each piec=
by hand. Stamping the name of a pottery shop and its location into the clay
has a long history and tradition in American pottery. I love old jugs that
have the name of the shop right on the shoulder of the pot.
One other thing: any potters who might be reading this, please, before you
send a pot out into the world, make sure the bottom is nice and smooth, so
it won't scratch any table tops. All of my pottery is smoothed on a buffing
wheel upon removal from the kiln - the last step in the long process from
clay to finished pottery.
----- Original Message -----
>I have a few mugs in my cupboard that are always near the front. My
> wife and I both like this spherical salt glazed mug that has a
> dragonfly in white slip on it. She's got a favorite squared off brown
> earth tone one. There are two bulbous floral ones that I like to
> drink my coffee out of.
> All of these mugs have one thing in common.
> We have no way to get any more of them from the potters who made
> them. We don't even know who made them. When we purchased them at
> galleries or art fairs around the country, we had the little business
> card from the artist in the bag, but over time, those little cards got
> Two pots in my collection have signatures that would allow me to
> contact the potter to purchase more work.
> Old Farmhouse Pottery Maydelle Texas, USA with david hendley
> signature below
> Plum Tree Pottery with Glick signature below
> David packs all that information onto the bottom of a mug, John
> Glick's signature is on the bottom of a tea pot.