search  current discussion  categories  philosophy 

pots not made by the artist/eliteism.

updated sun 30 apr 00


Janet Kaiser on sat 29 apr 00

>> My personal observation is that those who work on the wheel generally do
>> decorate their pots as well as those who view vessels as blank canvases.

My personal observation is, that these irritatingly smug words, can only be
from someone who has a very limited knowledge and/or experience of pots and
potters. Certainly never seen or noticed the work of a master
craftsmen/women nor spent time gazing at pots in galleries or museums nor
studied in an art or design department (kindergarten through grad school)
nor understood the concept of "decoration" as being an integral part of the
pot and not a mere surface treatment.

Any good pot - from ancient tribes up to the present day - combines form
with decoration. And decoration can mean anything from a simple glaze to
intricate detailed designs.

But if it is the hand decoration that I think they admire and laud above the
efforts of mere working potters... Well, since the invention of decals and
printing techniques it is pretty much unnecessary and a waste of time. Just
like painting on canvas is no longer necessary for those who want perfect
representations... Photography meets their needs and expectations much

One of the last hand-painters of manufactured ceramics lives here in
Criccieth. The on-glaze techniques are no doubt breath-taking, but they
belong in a museum. Painting and firing, painting and firing... Who is
supposed to pay for the time and effort? A plate for a special occasion
which has had 50 hours work @ X$ per hour OK. But a whole service? This
means that this type of work is strictly for the super-rich only. And the
hobby ceramist who can spend the time necessary without expecting any
financial reward.

If the embellishment through painting and surface decoration is the only
reason for making a pot... Why bother? A piece of paper or a canvas would
surely be a more satisfying option?

Certainly there are potters who cannot paint. Just as there are painters who
cannot pot. Would-be painters who cannot paint, seem to think if they paint
pots it looks better... But do I have news for them! A pot painted by
someone who has no respect for the integrity of the pot with stick out like
a sore thumb.

Janet Kaiser
The Chapel of Art, Criccieth LL52 0EA, GB-Wales
Home of The International Potters Path
TEL: (01766) 523570