search  current discussion  categories  philosophy 

another visit to hob; pinging, art, like that

updated tue 23 aug 05


Lili Krakowski on sun 21 aug 05

Fortunately I made it safely to Small Minds before finding out how
sick the truck was!

Hob and Mrs Goblin greeted me with the usual comfortable joy and laughter
of people who know what they are doing, believe in it, and sleep well at
night because of it.

I was, as they knew, pretty het up about the Pinging Pots Issue. While we
a lovely lunch of trout and braised cucumbers, Hob pointed out that some of
Posts on Clayart just protested too much.

"Everyone knows some glazes would lose their beauty if they were
cured of crazing. We all know, or should know that. But what the Clayarter
reported, and what you were protesting, is that there are folk out
there who pass themselves off as instructors of pottery, or even as potters,
and make pots that craze for no good reason, and accept that as a
permissible norm. It is one thing for a dancer to slide twenty feet across
a floor, or for a comedian to set up a 30 foot ladder so badly he wobbles
back and forth at the top and then flips backwards to the ground. It is
quite something else when it's granny slip sliding, or junior falling with
the ladder.

Intention/skill; accident/ignorance.

"We, as potters have brought much of this on ourselves. Our situation is
NOT analogous to that of a pianist who does not compose music. People who
don't care about glaze are like pianists who refuse to practice with their
left hand. Analogous to a pianist/composer is a potter/kiln designer.

Look at it this way. If a pianist hit lots of wrong notes, would any put up
with it?
NO. If a woodworker made tables and chairs that wobbled, wouldn't we become
as unglued as they? We as potters, as craftsmen, in our welcoming
to have others share the joy of craft, have allowed anyone who wants to to
call herself a potter.

By now we were on chocolate mousse with fresh raspberries.

"And that should not be. We should make it clear among ourselves that
certain basic skills are required. For one, making good sound work that is
technically fine, glaze included.

"We should return 'potter' to meaning 'one who knows how to pot,' not
someone with aspirations. I suspect that some of the newest potters are the
ones who give themselves clay related e-mail addresses and studio names. We
should return 'artist' to its former status as an honorific.

" We should insist on knowledge, knowledge, knowledge. Skill, skill, skill.
I heard of a 'school' for crafts that definitely dealt only with hobbyists,
but still advertised that it taught the crafts. Their pottery teacher was a
person with exactly one year of clay experience. WHY does this happen? Why
do potters have so little self-respect?"

"I think we will want more coffee," said Mrs Goblin. "Hob does run on so!"

" For one, my pet peeve: shows. It is a given that a show cannot finance
itself on just what is good enough to get in. That would mean like five
potters in for 500 applicants. So they have to let in all sorts of people.
Then it is slides. Anyone can take a good picture of the worst pot. We
should insist on at least 4 slides of every submitted pot. A front view, a
bottom view, a good close-up of glaze, and for some a back and top view.

"Better yet we should have local pre-judging where pots, actual pots, are
taken to be judged physically within Rav Mel's famous 50 mile radius. THEN
the pix go to a national judging. But that won't happen. Because
quick'n'easy is
the contemporary national rule.

"What might help a bit is if potters urged their local libraries to
subscribe to CM and to American Crafts. Or donate a subscription. I see
sorts of magazines for hunters and fishermen and quilt makers and gardeners
and cooks at
the library, but not for crafts. No hope of educating people that way.

"And I believe strongly in the small local show. Where the potters can tell
people about clay. Maybe a small demo. Something where people can look at
stuff, and learn. And maybe potters who own pottery videos offering to show
them to art classes, at a school assembly, scout meeting, library
event....Anything to teach
people what a good pot looks like.

Mister Aerni & Co are being cute and disingenuous. They know
perfectly well they CAN make pots that craze because they KNOW on when it
is permissible and when it is not. They are Gene Kelly sliding across the
floor; they are Carol Burnett taking a spill ...Cute. Not helpful.

That the Rav assumed that a flayed cadaver show was at an Art Museum, and
then it turns out it may end up at one, though now it is at a Science
Museum, reflects the times. The Rav also said that today "one" can sit on
the curb with one's penis hanging out and it is called "Art." Nota bene
that you women are ahead of the times --yes, my dear, as so often, as so
often--because breasts hanging out are high fashion now--but the times have
become fixed on sensationalism, not art, on that 15 minutes of fame,
regardless of taste. What made Dada great is that it was original, it was
new, it was done by people who had tremendous skill--and went on to do other

"You must go? Yes, I guess so. But I heard a clonk in your engine when you
drove up, and I noticed a small pool of something under your truck when I
went back to the house just now...Maybe you better have the mechanic check

We hugged and parted, and I congratulated him on how good the next issue of
TIRADE looked. We agreed that the mechanic better know his stuff, and
fix the truck right, and not say well, yes, a steady clonk coupled with a
drip drip of transmission fluid is artistic license, I saw it at a Show.

And, yes, the truck is
pretty sick and I am about to be pretty poor. But every penny that is not
going for tubing and seals is going to skill, skill, skill--a.k.a.

Lili Krakowski
Editor, "Tirade, the Journal of Ridiculous Opinion."

Jon Pacini on mon 22 aug 05

Greetings All--- Hi Lili---you wrote-

"I was, as they knew, pretty het up about the Pinging Pots Issue. While we


a lovely lunch of trout and braised cucumbers, Hob pointed out that some of


Posts on Clayart just protested too much."

You have of course hit the nail on the head with your post.

Calling everyone who attempts a pot a potter may be part of the "feel good"
politically correctness that has come to permeate our society, but it
doesn't do much for those of us that have trained hard and long for years to
attain the skills to actually be potters.

The same is certainly true for Art. The skills necessary to be a potter or
an Artist, do not spring from the void whole cloth. They are hard won with
tenacity and desire and time.

Voulkos and Soldner made good solid functional ware for many years before
turning clay into Art. Picasso was classically trained before turning those
skills to cubism.

When I was an art student I wasn't a potter, I was a student. When I went to
work in a pottery I wasn't a potter, I was a novice. After a few years of
throwing pots every day I was called a journeyman potter by my peers in the
shop. At that point I could go anywhere, work for any pottery and throw
pots, then I was a potter.

Don't kid yourself by calling yourself a potter or an artist when you don't
have the skills. When you are one, your peers will call you that.

Good post Lili---

Best regards,
Jon Pacini
Clay Manager
Laguna Clay Co