mel jacobson on fri 14 nov 03
i am 100 percent with ivor on this one.
the original break is always there.
this is a very old warren mackenzie quote:
`it takes twice as long to repair a pot than make a new one.`
for the young man that let 10 mugs dry, he spent more time
reading clayart posts about re/wetting than it would have
taken him to throw 10 new mugs.
it is mostly, in my opinion, about taking care of your professional
responsibility. trim and turn, apply handles when the pots are
ready. when they are at perfect `leather`, they trim better,
the handles fit better, and the pots are perfect to deal with.
they just feel right.
i always told kids..`the pot you fuss over, repair, try to make
do, will always split in the kiln, die, and take two perfect pots
with it.` and that is the big issue, what happens to that
pot in the firing? if you lose it then, it may just take out
some other pots. i will not take that chance.
a complex sculpture is another story. different issue.
Minnetonka, Minnesota, U.S.A.
web site: my.pclink.com/~melpots
or try: http://www.pclink.com/melpots
Susan Setley on fri 14 nov 03
In a message dated 11/14/03 5:10:12 AM, melpots@PCLINK.COM writes:
<< i always told kids..`the pot you fuss over, repair, try to make
do, will always split in the kiln, die, and take two perfect pots
with it.` >>
I work in a public space, and in every firing there are pieces by people
taking their first class as well as potters getting international recognition. I
don't think we've ever had a piece die and take two other pots of any kind with
it. There's a case to be made for not fussing too much over a piece of clay
that is begging you to reclaim it (grin) -- but not because it's going to go
postal in the kiln. :)
John Hesselberth on fri 14 nov 03
On Friday, November 14, 2003, at 06:07 AM, mel jacobson wrote:
> a complex sculpture is another story. different issue.
I agree with Mel up to this statement. I'm not so sure here. Is it poor
craftsmanship to sell a cracked/repaired functional pot, but good
craftsmanship to sell a cracked/repaired sculpture? I don't think so.
Both are poor craftsmanship in my mind. Should a sculptural artist be
excused for selling cracks because there is more work in the piece? I
can't logically come to that conclusion. It seems to me a sculptural
artist should want to have craftsmanship standards just as high as a
To help gain some perspective it might be helpful to examine the issue
in non pottery fields. Would you be satisfied with less craftsmanship
from an open heart surgeon than from your primary physician just
because the surgeon has to spend more time repairing your heart than
does your primary fixing your bacterial infection? That for sure
doesn't compute. Both are skilled professionals; both should exercise a
high degree of craftsmanship. I'd have a great deal of trouble
accepting "cracked work" from either. If anything, I would expect a
sculptural potter to try even harder to learn good craftsmanship just
because redoing the piece is so much more work.
But the bottom line for me is that poor craftsmanship is poor
craftsmanship. How much work is in the piece is irrelevant.
Kathy Forer on sat 15 nov 03
On Nov 14, 2003, at 7:29 PM, John Hesselberth wrote:
> On Friday, November 14, 2003, at 06:07 AM, mel jacobson wrote:
>> a complex sculpture is another story. different issue.
> But the bottom line for me is that poor craftsmanship is poor
> craftsmanship. How much work is in the piece is irrelevant.
It's not always poor craftsmanship.
It really depends on the need to be "pure." If a piece is broken or
ruined after the fact, in transit or because of a flood, even very
badly broken, it can become another piece with repair. It won't be what
it was originally but that's okay.
The packaging can be at fault -- another sign of poor or careless
craftsmanship. I once broke four dried but not yet fired pieces because
while I went to the trouble to make crates, I used only double layers
of bubble wrap. It was a year of work and no way I'd throw it away. I
used "Ceramic Magic" and vinegar with the least badly broken and they
survived the eventual kiln. I left the most badly damaged for major
reconstruction after firing.
Michelangelo used to say how a piece should be able to withstand being
rolled down a hill and not break. Nice theory, but not always true in
My work has encountered more than its share of damage. I histrionically
knocked over a slew of it once when I was a teen and threw out the
shards, and ever since I've tried instead to keep and somehow
reconstitute what's been lost. It can make it more powerful:
davidbf_head.jpg or add to the piece:
http://www.kforer.com/sculpture/krater/krater_d.jpg ...and too many
more that ended with an opaque surface to cover the plaster repair....
Plaster works very well with large pieces that are rent asunder. Use
soft wire, burlap or screen reinforcement, too, in back or inside.
Sometimes it's too bad and structural integrity is totally destroyed
and I've made plaster or rubber molds and reworked the piece in either
clay again or another material, or both.
With a sculpture there's the freedom to go with what it's become and
not hew tightly to what it was intended to be.
If a sculpture is broken during a creation which can takes months,
while it's still in process, still wet, it changes the direction of the
piece -- but that's what makes it a process and developmental evolution
and not a fait accompli or pre-conceived designed object. Nothing wrong
with either, but that's why it's sculpture, not design. There's liberty
and license. to do what you will.
I'm not going to throw out a piece because someone picks it up by the
head! A fine line will show in the neck and I can live with that.
Someone once suggested using a gold inlay in the repaired crack and
that's an option too. It's really not about the clay for me, but what I
can do with it.
Mostly I'm using clay as a means to an end, as is probably obvious to
anyone who cares very deeply about ceramics and is less Machiavellian
about it. I apologize to the purists :)
Look at a Venus de Milo, or a Rodin fragment. Are they compromised
because of their history?
I notice other people here don't link very often. My day job is in the
www community and it's habit there. I hope it's not too unseemly or
construed as self-promotion here -- but you mentioned the "S" word!
Vince Pitelka on sat 15 nov 03
> I agree with Mel up to this statement. I'm not so sure here. Is it poor
> craftsmanship to sell a cracked/repaired functional pot, but good
> craftsmanship to sell a cracked/repaired sculpture? I don't think so.
> Both are poor craftsmanship in my mind.
Your line of reasoning is curious. The original question here specified
that the maker had spent a great deal of time on a sculpture, and was asking
about appropriate means of repair, should they be needed. I am sure that
you would agree that such repair is worthwhile and appropriate, as compared
to functional pots. There is a longstanding tradition of repairs in process
throughout the history of sculpture in ceramics and other media - such
repairs are seen as entirely appropriate. It would be rather foolish to
destroy a good piece of sculpture rather than repair it. This is not an
issue of craftsmanship.
We would always hope that a sculptor or a functional potter would emply the
highest standards of craftsmanship, but whether they do or not, a flawed pot
should be relegated to the shard heap, while a flawed sculptor may well be
We all know how fickle the drying and firing process can be for sculptural
pieces, especially large ones, and I am not comfortable with the the
suggestion that flaws in sculptural ceramics are always due to poor
craftsmanship. There is no justification for such a claim. You know that
no matter how careful we are, occasionally there will be problems in drying
and firing sculptural work, especially if we are taking risks, pushing the
envelope, as we should be. It would be very strange to abandon a sculptural
piece just because it came out of the drying, bisque firing, or glaze firing
with structural or surface flaws, when there is such a broad range of
On the other hand, if flaws appear in functional work during drying and
firing, it is likely because of shortcomings in process and craftsmanship,
or it may be due to productive risk-taking and experimentation. In either
case, the maker should learn a good lesson from the piece, and then stand
with their back to a high drop-off, and toss the piece over their shoulder.
Sculpture is a completely different animal.
Best wishes -
Appalachian Center for Craft
Tennessee Technological University
1560 Craft Center Drive, Smithville TN 37166
Home - firstname.lastname@example.org
Office - email@example.com
615/597-6801 x111, FAX 615/597-6803
Snail Scott on sat 15 nov 03
>>On Friday, November 14, 2003, at 06:07 AM, mel j wrote:
>> ...a complex sculpture is another story.
At 07:29 PM 11/14/03 -0500, John H wrote:
>But the bottom line for me is that poor craftsmanship is poor
>craftsmanship. How much work is in the piece is irrelevant...
Of course it's not the amount of time put into
the piece that makes it OK to allow flaws. If
that were so, than every beginning pot that spent
three hours on the wheel could be sold with its
s-cracks intact! ;)
I think the essence of it is that a functional pot
has certain paramount requirements, of which use
and structural integrity are critical. Thus, any
flaw which impairs these attributes is cause for
a trip to the shard pile. But I see many pots,
sold by reputable potters, with crawled spots or
'oops' finger dents on the rim or a stray glaze
blop in an unintended area. These are clearly less
perfect than they could be, but these flaws are
minor in the scheme of 'pot standards', and it's
up to the potter to decide what their standards
are, and for their customer to decide if it suits
Sculpture has a different set of primary
considerations. Sure, it should be physically
sound, (just as a pot should look good), but it
won't be required to sustain daily lifting and
scrubbing and heating. A crack that would be
irresponsible (and relatively huge) if located
on a coffee mug would be a trivial aesthetic
flaw on a 3' sculpture. It isn't likely to
result in injurious failure, and is a tiny
imposition on the larger object's surface. But
the crawled spot or errant glaze smear which
on a pot could be just a 'mark of the process',
might be the ruin of that larger sculpture if
it occurred in a critical spot.
Hidden flaws which affect the usage of a piece,
and which the buyer ought to be aware of, should
never be concealed. A crack in a mug shouldn't
be patched if it won't hold water afterward, but
the same crack in a sculpture may have no effect
to speak of, as it was never intended to hold
water, and the buyer won't expect it to. A crack
that may result in a part falling off, though,
that IS different, because it violates a buyer's
reasonable expectations fore the work.
Are standards lower for sculpture? In some ways,
yes. Sculptors have little need to deal with
food-safety, ergonomics, thermal issues, nor
most safety concerns. A sculpture with large
pointy spikes, toxic glazes, and undervitrified
clay may still be a fine work of sculpture. But
it might be ruined by a warped edge or a color-
shifted glaze that would be insignificant for
a piece of pottery. Like potters, sculptors
must choose their personal standards, and their
customers will buy according to their own.
While we all may strive for perfection (or not),
we are human, and flaws will occur in our work.
Some of those flaws may be acceptable, and some
not. And every person will draw that line in a
However varied, the definition of 'unacceptable
flaw' must surely rest on appropriate standards,
based on the intended purpose of the object.
Earl Krueger on sun 16 nov 03
On Saturday, Nov 15, 2003, at 19:42 US/Pacific, Vince Pitelka wrote:
> We would always hope that a sculptor or a functional potter would
> emply the
> highest standards of craftsmanship
Is not high quality of repair good craftsmanship?
I once read in a woodworking publication that
a sign of a master craftsman was not their ability
to make something without mistake but their ability
to incorporate mistakes as an integral part
of the design.
> a flawed sculptor may well be
> worth repairing.
Does this mean that I am worth repairing?
Bothell, WA, USA