search  current discussion  categories  philosophy 

from mel/to clayart/long...... is it a hobby or a passion (just

updated tue 25 may 04


Kathy McDonald on mon 24 may 04

as long!!!)


Mel I am sincerely glad you haven't decided to
leave the list.

MI can tell this was an impassioned post
and that you have taken time to think. I respect that.

What I am having some difficulty understanding is
what I perceive you to be utilizing the list for the very purpose
that you say you disdain. I like it.....don't get me wrong...
I just find it a contradiction.

I personally enjoy the *social* aspects of some of the
postings, the life stories, the somewhat impassioned rants.
The descriptors of landscape, the "where I have come from stories",
the struggles with failed glazes...the steepness of the learning curve.
All of these make the communicators much more human to me.
It makes the contributors so much more human.

The techical info without the human trappings would be bloody boring.

I also never know whether to cast my self in the role of a *serious*
potter or one of them thar *hobbyists*.....

Does one have to be one or the other?
..are the categories mutually exclusive?
How will you know whether I'm a dabbler looking for the perfect glaze,
or a serious potter unless I tell you something about myself.

What makes for a *serious* potter as opposed to a *hobbyist*?
(Please DO TELL)!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have often wondered whether or not people who are not *known* entities
in the spectre of the ceramic world are perhaps afraid to post what they
think ( or even feel) because the list has a flavor of the *we*/*they*

Those who *know* /those who have not yet become enlightened.
I think we all have something to share about ourselves and our art making
no matter how sophisticated or how humble it may be.

I suspect that is not what you intend but it does come across that way to

I resent the comment about the list being "not here to serve hobby potters",
it casts an aspersion on those people who come to this list as hobbyists.
are the people we need to reach out give to,,,to offer
and YES the perfect glaze, clay or engobe recipie if we have it.

I like a good discussion and open sharing of information
...and thats something I feel we can always count on Clayart for.

I appreciate the fact that running a group takes time, energy, and does not
garner a lot of recognition for the sustained effort it takes. I think we,
as a group, need to recognize that people come to the list at varying skill
and to get different needs met. I also think we need to be open to and
respectful of
those differing needs. There is no one size fits all when it comes to

A toast to Clayart..long may the list prosper.

Submitted with respect,

Kathy McDonald

-----Original Message-----
From: Clayart [mailto:CLAYART@LSV.CERAMICS.ORG]On Behalf Of mel jacobson
Sent: Sunday, May 23, 2004 5:37 AM
Subject: from mel/to clayart/long

sometimes silence is golden.
i needed to be silent for a bit. i have done that.

a few years back my wife was teaching a calligraphy
course. a women said to her, `i don't need all that
extra technique stuff, i just need to know an alphabet.
i am going to come out with a new greeting card line
using calligraphy. so just teach me one alphabet. don't
bore me with the details.`

that story is sort of a metaphor for clayart. a group of
potters has spent the last 50 years learning about clay,
glaze, kilns and a bit about technique and a few folks
want us to `give us enough so that we can get on the
cover of cm next month. don't bore us with details.`

clay is one of the few activities know to human kind that
uses the human hand, in contact with a material to make
objects that can be used in our daily life. it has been going
on for thousands of years. the same activity, the human
hand, in contact with clay, making things. the human hand.
it is amazing, the human hand, brain, in coordination with
clay. folks have been making things for thousands of years.
rarely do the things look the same. close, but almost never
the same. the things made are signatures, the signatures
of the people making them. the activity is not sex, age
or ethnic oriented. men, women, children, black, red, white
or old make them. it never matters.

what does matter is the skill and understanding of clay and
fire. it is the life of craft. humans, making, building, creating
things to use in our daily life. humans that take the time and
energy to make those things well. craftsmanship. the time it
takes is endless. clay is timeless. craft is forever. the more
you do, the better you get, the more you do the smarter you get.

for thousands of years we did not have electricity or
computer controls. we had human hands, a small fire and a
few tools. craft.
we should not forget from where we come. many do not have
a clue. many do not even realize that clay comes from the earth.
`no mel, it comes from standard ceramics, in a plastic bag. geez,
don't you know anything? and i like a broad range clay, say from
cone 4 to 11. i hand build, make sculpture, throw on the wheel
and teach kids. i want a clay that will do it all. NOW. oh, and
give me ron roy's recipe for a glaze that works every time. i can't
be bored with details, i need stuff to work without failure.`

many days i feel just like that: ` mel, don't you know nuthin?
give me the quick answer and don't bore me with details. and
whatever you do, never criticize me. i have to feel good about

in spite of what some people would like to make it, clayart
is a potters listserv. yes, potters listserv. it is owned by a
potter, dedicated to potters, to serve potters. anyone can read
it and join in, but it is still A POTTERS LISTSERV. PERIOD.
there is no debate about this. it is, what it is. if you make
sculpture, wonderful, but this is not a sculptors listserv. we love
having sculptors with us, clay ideas to share, but it is not
why clayart exists. if you are a hobby potter, we love having
you with us, but we are not in the business of serving hobby
potters. you may take away a great deal of information, but
we are not here to serve you. we are here to serve the vast
group of people trying to be potters, either full time or part, we
all know what potters are. and, art is but a small part of
being a potter.

this list is not meant to be a place for folks to `vent their personal
life stories` this is not a psychological service. keep your personal
life/personal. we do not want to hear about it. see a doctor
if you are ill. we cannot cure carpel tunnel problems with vitamins.
`ask your doctor`.

in spite of what some may think...i still own and operate clayart. and
will for some time to come. that may shock some...but, it is what it is.

this list has been very good to some potters. reputations have been
made, and fame has been helped. others want that, but, remember
the fame and reputation comes from making good pots, not talking
about them on clayart. the proof is always in the making.

i do not give a `fat rat's ass` what tools you use, or want to use.
i really do not care. i do care about learning, understanding, hand
craft and the history of our passions. those that do not care, or
are not willing to participate in honest discussions are not welcome
on this list.

clayart has to be the best it can be. it HAS to be one of the
best listservs in the world. i have worked hard to make it that.
i want quality potters to stay with us, be a part of us, and i don't
want them quitting in disgust because `chatters` fill the space
with blather. this is not a chat group.

as many of you know, that know me as a teacher and friend....`i do not
need clayart, i do not need to give up hours a day for no pay. i DO
need to give to the clay community and potters that have given so much
to me.` i am a very busy person. always.

those that have been taught by me know and realize that everything
that i teach is based on understanding human skill and judgement.
learning to trust your skills and feelings. master skill. measuring and
center is
feeling and `eye`. that is learned. you must learn to trust your
instincts and `feelings`. many do not want that. `get out the
bubble level harry`. the bubble level is a metaphor for all i hate
about learning styles. `never trust yourself, always trust the machine
or tool, never trust your instincts, trust someone else's.` and of course
never take the time to train your hands and muscles....get a quick
answer or a tool to do the job. and of course argue and whine that
your way is the best way, even though you truly know you do not
have the skills to perform at a higher level. skill shows. it never
fails, and it takes years to perfect. no simple answer.

a couple of folks have come forward to help with clayart.
that is good. i will take the heavy load, and joyce will always
back me up. but, joyce has a bit more freedom now, and is going
to be traveling some with potters council. often we will be at
the same meetings. it happened a couple of weeks ago...joyce
was gone, snail is moving to illinois, and i had to split for a
couple days... we need one more person. earl will help there.
(he has been with clayart since the start...knows what it is about.)
kelly and some others have offered, but they have busy lives with
small need to bother them now.
the four of us will split the duties as needed. when i am here, at the
`nerve center`, i can do this. but, i do need breaks. the spam thing
has gotten to me big time. i just hate what scammers are doing to
the internet. the destruction of a good thing. we have to wade through
hundreds of spams just to find a few clayart posts. it sickens me.
makes me want to become violent. it is like child abuse, it goes
beyond good sense, hard to understand.

so, we move on. things to do, places to go, things to learn.
we must keep our good potters happy. we must keep them posting
on clayart. you know who you are. we need you....please stay
with us. the whiney chatter boxes can go to hell. i will try and use
the `big ass` button more and more.
Minnetonka, Minnesota, U.S.A.
web site:
or try:

Send postings to

You may look at the archives for the list or change your subscription
settings from

Moderator of the list is Mel Jacobson who may be reached at

Incoming mail is certified Virus Free.
Checked by AVG anti-virus system (
Version: 6.0.688 / Virus Database: 449 - Release Date: 5/18/2004

Outgoing mail is certified Virus Free.
Checked by AVG anti-virus system (
Version: 6.0.688 / Virus Database: 449 - Release Date: 5/18/2004