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passionate potters (was: average of a potter's income hobbyist?)

updated mon 9 dec 02


Janet Kaiser on mon 9 dec 02

Don't get mad or take these late-night thoughts and ramblings personally.
No one is "the target"... Just general observations...

There are those who eat to live and those who live to eat.

There are those who work to live and there are those who work to support
their "hobby", or -- as I like to think of it -- their PASSION. Whatever it
may be, a person with a passion is a force to be reckoned with!

Whether rearing roses, working on steam trains, collecting stamps, making
pots... There are amateurs and hobby enthusiasts who know a great deal more
about their chosen subject than some of the "professionals" who are only
doing their (tedious?) money-earning day job... The train driver may be a
closet potter and the ceramics teacher a closet train driver!

But we must not forget that a passion can become an all-consuming and
compulsive ADDICTION. People expend every spare minute of their time and
can even go into debt to fulfill a passion/addiction. The egotistical
compulsion to do what they want to do to the exclusion of family, friends
and what society thinks are all the other important parts of life. The clay
widow/widower is not too different to the golf widow/er. If the children
don't see a parent for days on end, because she/he is tinkering in the
garage or out with a set of golf clubs when they are not out at work, they
know they are being deprived in some way. So what if the boss in the day
job notices that production is lower and attention span limited? The spouse
has not had a holiday or been taken out to dinner in years? Who cares, so
long as the addict can continue with their own thing?

On the other hand, we have collectively been brain-washed into developing,
accepting and lauding the job we do for others above all else, so anything
which is not part of the great "protestant work ethic" is regarded as a Bad
Thing. We serve an important role within the wider community and so any
other activity outside the day job is supposed to make us feel guilty! It
is regarded as mere escapism, which is why everyone with an all-consuming
hobby becomes even more defensive. Most would never admit that it can be as
unfair and destructive for themselves and their family, just as much as it
can be all-fulfilling and rewarding for the individual. It is all relative,
but it can come to that.

A part-time, hobby, amateur or any other type of spare time potter, is not
necessarily any less able than the full-time maker. Indeed, because they do
not work in clay all day and every day, they may not suffer the same
burn-out, disillusion, clay-induced stress, staleness or mental creative
blocks, so their work may be freer, looser and not as self-conscious, even
if it is not as slick or rationally made. MAY. It could be the opposite,
because they are grimly trying to acquire skills and techniques in a
quarter of the time that a full-time maker has available/invests and in
under less than ideal conditions.

I consider a "frivolous" maker to be someone who goes to a class for a
couple of hours per week, plays around a bit, enjoys talking to the other
students more that actually working/learning and never thinks about the
subject between classes. There may be someone else in the same class who is
being a human sponge... Lapping up all the knowledge and skill that is
being offered/taught. It all boils down to a matter of degree and intent.


Janet Kaiser

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