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thick thin, craig martell's fire's eye gallery, terpstra-lou exhibition

updated sat 24 jul 04


Vince Pitelka on fri 23 jul 04

There is a potter in Tennessee who was trained in production studios in
Europe, and for years he made pottery that was TOO THIN. When you picked it
up, it was alarming how light it was, and thus it felt incredibly fragile.
No matter what the vessel, having the piece too thin is no advantage at all.
Also, a frequent flaw in coffee/tea mugs/cups is having very thin areas of
wall while other parts of the wall are thick. When hot liquid is poured
into the cup/mug, the thin areas heat up and expand very quickly, while the
thicker areas heat up and expand more slowly, and this can cause the piece
to crack.

I don't like thick clunkers, although as others have pointed out, some
pieces just work better when made a little thick - mixing bowls are a good
example. I don't think there is any formula for how thick the walls of
functional vessels should be. You pick up enough pottery, and you quickly
get to know what is too thick and what is too thin.

I had the pleasure of visiting Craig Martell's Fire's Eye Gallery just east
of Sheridan, Oregon yesterday, and what a pleasure to examine and handle the
work of Craig, Tom Coleman, Patrick Horsley, Wally Schwab, Richard Aerni,
Glen Burris, Charles Gluskoter, Don Hoskinsson, Rhea Shea, Don Sprague, and
others. There was considerable variation in thickness in these wares, but
none of them felt "heavy." So it really is a matter of experience, and one
of the very best ways to get that experience is to go to a gallery like
Fire's Eye and handle lots of pots and do like I did and buy some of them
and take them home and keep handling them every day.

Also stopped at the Lawrence Gallery across the street and got to see the
extraordinary collaborative work being done by Nils Lou and Karen Terpstra.
In early August they have a major exhibition of their collaborative work
coming up at both the Sheridan and Portland locations of the Lawrence
Gallery - if you are anywhere near it, don't miss it - the opening
receptions will be on Thursday, August 5 from 6 to 9PM at the Portland
location and Sunday, August 8th from 2 to 4PM at the Sheridan location. You
can get more information at
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Appalachian Center for Craft, Tennessee Technological University
Smithville TN 37166, 615/597-6801 x111,