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mackenzie/pricing i'd like to shorten this but i can't cut

updated fri 5 jan 01


PotterSmiths' on wed 3 jan 01

anything - except maybe the jokes :)

Thanks Julie,

I frequently wonder why feel such a strong attachment to Mackenzie and his
work. I used to think that its because I live near his studio/showroom, and
that long ago and far away I took a class from him. But I have taken
classes from lots of people and I live near other very excellent potters and
though he is a great teacher there are other great teachers . . . So
that's not it.

Then I think its because the pots he makes are really great, and that he
sets a standard that I can only try to aspire to. The form especially. I
have a large platter, mugs and tea bowls and unomi's he's made that are to
die for, use them daily leave them out to look at, on the other hand, some
of the pots he's made scratch table surfaces, and some of the forms I've
seen in his showroom...well...I guess I don't know what he was going for. I
also have other pots from other potters that I also use daily and enjoy at
least as much. . . . So why am I so attached to Mackenzie and HIS work?

I think its the clay and the pricing thing. I come from fairly humble
roots, know what its like to drink powdered milk daily, to have only a few
dresses to wear to high school - sewed my wear not just to learn
how, cut my own hair. Four of us girls shared a double bed and a closet in
a medium small room.... OK...When I was a kid we were so poor we put out a
note for the garbage man to - "leave two". We were so poor that we went to
K.F.C. to lick other people's fingers. We were so poor that when we heard
about The Last Supper we thought it meant we were out of food stamps....
OK...Joking aside you get the picture, ...we didn't have much and we
certainly did not own hand made pottery, or any other original works of art.

I didn't learn about pots until college. I learned what kind of presence and
gesture a good pot makes, and the influence of art on life. I think that a
good pot is a message of hope; that simple clay can arise to serve and give
beauty and sometimes just sometimes even speak.

I'm not poor anymore, but I work with very poor people, in fact some people
who are dying from being poor - poor in the pocketbook, poor in spirit, poor
in education, and I believe poor in exposure to beauty. ***I like that if
they want to own, use, expose their children to a world renown potter's work
they can! We are not all born with silver spoons in our mouths, and we are
not all born with the same abilities.

So, if a great potter can afford to sell their pots so everyone can enjoy
and not be afraid to use them, and even let their children have the
experience of using them, I say thank you Warren Mackenzie for this!

I understand that not every potter can price this way, and I understand that
sometimes it may undervalue others work...and that's a dilemma because we
need to make a living, and I am definitely not a bleeding heart liberal
....still....still... it is the pricing that makes me so attached to
Mackenzie's work, there is heart in his work and part of it is in the
pricing. So thanks Julie for saying what you said and how you said it, it
made me think.


Kate Smith

Phil & Kate Smith
White Bear Lake MN

-----Original Message-----
From: Ceramic Arts Discussion List [mailto:CLAYART@LSV.CERAMICS.ORG]On
Behalf Of Julie Johnston
Sent: Tuesday, January 02, 2001 11:52 PM
Subject: Re: Mackenzie/Pricing

>From what i understand Mackenzie's approach is to make good functional
pottery that is accessable to ordinary people. He produces mostly smaller
pieces that are made quickly and directly. Most of them don't seem to be
terribly labor intensive. I'm certainly no expert on the subject, I just
heard him speak at arrowmont this fall and he discused his pricing briefly.
i assume that his income after retirement would include his retirement pay
check. He rarely does workshops now so I don't know about that. It was just
something that he said. He also mentioned that he was aquainted with Lucy
Rie and that in discussing the issue with her he thought that her prices
were more than justified considering the time she put into them. Clary
Illian's prices are probably as low as Mackenzie's and I don't think she was
a university professor. Who knows? I respect most anybody who makes a living
making good pots.

Lee Love on fri 5 jan 01

anything - except maybe the jokes :)

----- Original Message -----
From: PotterSmiths'

> note for the garbage man to - "leave two". We were so poor that we went
> K.F.C. to lick other people's fingers. We were so poor that when we heard


I grew up poor too and it colors what I do. I'd rather sell
work to a young person, who might be inspired by the work and seek out a
creative life of their own than to sell my work to a wealthy collector.
So to speak, I'd rather sell to my peers.

Hey, we were so poor, that my dad used to go to the grainstore
in the spring and buy a sack of chicken feed and get a dozen chicks for
free. We got them for eggs, and they scratched and pecked in the yard to
supplement their diets. But the feed would run out in the winter and the
chickens would start dying from starvation. Of course, they stopped
laying eggs long before that. When the chickens started dying, we
started eating chicken stew and dumplings. Had to boil the damn things,
were as tough as beef jerky. :^) We often ran out of fuel oil during the
Michigan winter. Wasn't until I was ready to leave home for college that
we put a wood stove in.

When I was a kid, cheap paperbacks saved my life. I'd go without
food to save a couple quarters to by a book on Einstein's theory of
relativity or some other classic or an extravagance was a couple bucks for
a Scientific American magazine (I bought one yesterday in Tokyo.)

MacKenzie has a low shelf in his salesroom that is filled with
small pots priced at a dollar or two. The sign on the shelf asks the
"grownups" to leave the pots for young people, so they can pick and choose
and make their own purchases. These dollar pots could be the same
inspiration to some child that 50 cent paperbacks were to me.

To some people, pots are about dollar signs. To MacKenzie, it is
about a rich, wholesome and meaningful life. As Hamada said, it is about

Lee Love
Mashiko JAPAN
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