search  current discussion  categories  history 

history and trends in ceramics/pottery

updated fri 27 jun 03


David Hendley on sun 22 jun 03

I see a pretty good future for competent and creative potters. Technology,
such as the Internet, is our friend. As long as the economy in general
goes OK, I think potters will do OK.
All those people who took a ceramics class or two are now our best
It is harder, however, for a beginner to get started as a potter. In the
'70's we could scrounge just about everything we needed to set up a
pottery studio. Now, everything is expensive if bought new and hard
to find cheap or free.
Also, the public is more sophisticated, and a pretty high degree of skill
is needed to make a product that will fetch a good price. Thirty years
ago, people would buy anything just because it was handmade.

David Hendley
Maydelle, Texas

----- Original Message -----

> I am curious to hear how those of you who are in the trenches (teaching,
> making, selling) would describe the trends in the world of ceramics today
> (compared with the past few decades.) We have talked about some of them

Cindi Anderson on sun 22 jun 03

I am curious to hear how those of you who are in the trenches (teaching,
making, selling) would describe the trends in the world of ceramics today
(compared with the past few decades.) We have talked about some of them
already: the shift from craft fairs as a selling medium to studio sales as a
better vehicle; the inclusion of all types of pottery as valid art forms
(low fire, high fire, functional, non-functional); the better information,
materials and supplies available now. We hear a lot about the 60's and 70's
as the start of the "ceramic" movement, usually associated with the "back to
the land" movement and of course the influence of Hamada and other Japenese

Some specific things I wonder are:
*Are there more potters now than there were in the 60's/70's, or less?
*Ceramics in schools: Do more kids do ceramics in school now than 20 years
ago? Are more or less people getting degrees in Ceramics?
* Are there more hobbiests now than previously (don't want to insult anyone
with the word hobbiest, just mean people who do it mainly for enjoyment not
to make a living)? When people take pottery classes in high school, are
they more likely to do it later in life?
* Does the rise in "contemporary studios" (bisque painting) mean fewer
people get into actually making pottery, or more?
* There seem to be springing up across the county more "private" teaching
studios (either guilds or company sponsored classes, workshops, and studio
space, as opposed to college/university). Is this new phenomena, and why do
you think it is happening?
* Is it harder to make a living in ceramics (or even partial living) now
than it was before, or is it easier?
* Does the general public "understand" ceramics (in terms of buying
products) more or less than before?
* Those of you who have been around a while, do you have a positive outlook
for the future of pottery, or a pessimistic one? Do you fear the Walmarts
and cheap imports will crush the craft, or do you see a backlash where
people come to appreciate handmade.
* If anybody can comment on this from an international perspective, that
would be fascinating too.

Fremont, CA

1trehill on mon 23 jun 03

A personal view from Australia.

My wife and I have been full time studio potters since 1981. We have made,
wholesaled and retailed. Over that period fashions have changed. Houses are
less folksy and more minimalistic. Lifestyles demand less preparation yet
more presentation. Education is seen as the last step up the ladder to fame
and prosperity.

Our country in awash with cheap imports. There are so many alternatives to a
piece of pottery at such ridiculously low prices. Some local potters have
taken to designing their work here and getting it made overseas at a
considerable saving. The schools and universities have mostly abandoned
pottery due to lack of interest and/or increasing costs.

All businesses are suffering. Large and small retailers and manufacturers
are all feeling the pressure. A large number of the studio potters from the
80's and 90's have moved on to other fields of endeavour.

However, our studio has been in an almost continuous state of overload with
orders outstripping our energy. It's still the same today. We love pottery,
the challenge of making it, marketing it and selling it. The more pressure
exerted on our society by the lack of time, cheap imports and valueless
gadgets and widgets, the more room there is for hand crafted work that is
sold personally to the end user.

The future for relevant hand crafted works of any kind could not be any

Ric Pierce
Studio Potter
One Tree Hill Pottery
PO Box 487 Beechworth Vic 3747 Australia

karen gringhuis on thu 26 jun 03

Cindi - At what school are you writing your thesis?!

The rest of us would like to know the answer to those
unanswerable qns. too but don't hold your breath.

One trend I have seen with my own eyes - the middle
market galleries are by and large gone. As Garth
Clark stated in a recent NYT article on the new
Museum of Art and Design, formerly Amer. Craft Mus,
the high end galleries, such as his, merchandise
ceramics as fine art; the low end outlets are still
crafts fairs, etc. The middle market outlets are

This is sad because there is good work out there which
can command higher prices than most craft fair venues
will support.

Karen Gringhuis
KG Pottery
Box 607 Alfred NY 14802

Do you Yahoo!?
SBC Yahoo! DSL - Now only $29.95 per month!