search  current discussion  categories  philosophy 

philosophy of clay (repetion/throwing)

updated sat 24 aug 02


Dupre Mr Marcy M on fri 23 aug 02

Primalmommy says it very well. "By the time the job is done, you've just
figured out how to do it." "... amazed how the most unrelated things I do
turn out to be about pottery after all..."

Pottery IS life. Earth, air, water, and fire. The craft, the art, the
substance of Life.

I think this ties in with the other discussion on the demise of crafts
fairs. I particularly enjoyed the post from Brandon, outlining the ethos of
the younger set. Most of thewm have been reared in the generations of
instant gratification, retire at age thirty-something. Many, according to
Brandon have not had to labor long and hard to acquire wealth, develop
skills, and put together the customer base necessary for "success."

I am 57 years old, a military retiree, educated in the arts more than thirty
years ago and just now getting to the point where I finally refine the
skills of creativity I learned so long ago. Fortunately, at this stage of
the game, I have the patience to do that.

I empathize with all the good folks who are working hard to make a decent
living doing what we all enjoy. It is hard to overcome the inertia of
opinion. "Why should I pay $12.00 for a coffee mug you made when I can buy
a better mug at Wal-Mart for $5.00?" "Why does all your stuff cost so much
compared to what I can get at the grocery store for a lot less?"

Yep. And everybody wants be a "name," Cushing, Soldner, Reitz,
Ballistrieri, Koop, Petersen... And make $10,000 for slapping a piece of
clay with an old piece of retread tire and some feldspar, entitling it
"UNTITLED #106." How many potters are there in the world? How many are
"names?" Do the math.

You can do pottery for self-gratification and Christmas presents for the
family, or you can do pottery for sale and a possible living.

Half of sales comes from repeat customers. The other half comes from people
we have patiently educated. One of the times I had to bite my tongue the
hardest was when a fellow told me his wife did pottery at the craft shop on
the nearby military base. In discussion I discovered that what she did was
slip casting, "paint" [sic] the work, and wait for the shop supervisor to
"cook" [sic] it. By a VERY broad stretch of the term, that IS pottery. I
resisted the temptation to educate him. Didn't sell him anything, either.

Education is more than half the battle. The public is unfortunately
ignorant of what constitutes art--"Wall there fella, I ain't zackly sure
what that there art stuff is, but I know it when I sees it." As one
Clayarter signs with, "Good art does not have to match your sofa."

The problem is HOW to educate the purchasing public. I would guess that 50%
of the folks who go to craft fairs are people who KNOW what they're looking
for--something unique and unusual. The other half are the same ones who go
to flea markets looking for freebies.

The thing I have to keep in mind is that there is money in THEIR pockets
that I need to transfer to MY pockets. As painlessly as possible... :o)

The combination of personal skill development, consistency, patience, and
dedication to our craft will lead to our success. There is a Zen-like
attitude I need to have before I can do all this. First, I am a learner.
Then, I am a teacher so I can learn.

Thanks for letting me ramble,