Monday, December 6, 2010

Other Potter's Pots

When I first moved to Logan, UT from Alfred/Ithaca NY, it was a pretty massive culture shock. One of the grad students who entered the same year I did, was Shannon (Williams) Adams. Prior to coming to grad school she had been working for Clary Illian. The attention to detail, the merging of functionality and surface... all really amazed me about Shannon's work. I still feel the loss of one of her bowls she gave me about the time Aurora was born. Nice wide deep bowl. I lost that one in the divorce.

This tumbler however, has traveled with me over the past 2000 miles (and then some). There is something to this golden almost metallic shino. Nowadays most shinos tend to be heavy on the carbon trapping end of the spectrum, but not this one. It has grown on me more and more over time. Thank you Shannon!

This tiny vase is from Royce Yoder. I picked this up while I was in college, one afternoon after a really bad argument with my girlfriend at the time. She and I were driving eachother crazy... she wanted to go to Japan to study, and I just wanted to go back into the studio to make pots. The accusations flew about devotion to the relationship, time for eachother,... the works. In the end, clay was definitely the mistress that I wanted. It never mattered how many bad firings happened, or how sore I was at the end of the day... clay was always there for me.

Buying this vase was a breakthrough for me. I had never purchased a pot before this. I couldn't afford the lidded jar that I really wanted. But this small vase had all the elements that fascinated me: the impeccable wax line, the groove at the foot that stops the rolling fake ash glaze, the rich black tenmoku at the mouth, the small embellishment that breaks up the otherwise tight separation between the shoulder and hips of the vase. It fits ito my hand perfectly. I might have "used" it more had it been a jar or a pitcher, or maybe even a mug. On the other hand, this vase travelled with me 4 times across the country and has been on my shelves constantly since 1990. Can't say that about anyone else's work in my collection. Thank you Royce for teaching me to look at the details and for encouraging me to push myself harder.

This last image is a tumbler I made while in grad school at Utah State. It was made about a month before Aurora was conceived... probably mid-way through my second year at USU. I was starting to try to pull ideas together for a final show. My plan was to show off some new forms mixing the effects of salt firing, with refiring at high temp (c10). I loved how the surfaces became richer with each firing. Surprisingly there was very little loss, and the pots that survived were generally much better for the second firing efforts. In this case, the fake ash glaze at the top of the tumbler is the same glaze that Royce Yoder used on his vase (see above)... albeit when I used it it went on a different claybody, and it was fired first in a salt kiln. The lower glaze is a standard matte black glaze... way too high in manganese and copper and cobalt.... but that rich black! OH what a color!

So why did I save this one and not sell it along with the rest of the pots that came out of this period? No one wanted it. Simple as that. The stamped maple leaf decoration failed to show up under the thick viscous matte black glaze. My favorite detail is the small transition where the two glazes overlap and the ash glaze becomes more golden. Very interesting glaze interaction there. I think if I had continued this line of decoration, I would have pushed this and perhaps added a thin wash of either a frit (3124) or maybe simply a gerstley borate/neph sy wash. Something to pull the ash down into the matte glaze a little farther.

Instead, I stopped making pots altogether.

The week that this tumbler came out of the kiln, I remember arguing with my ex-wife about whether or not to continue with the grad program. She wanted me to leave the program and just go out and get a job. Her attitude was that I had failed as a potter if I couldnt get through grad school in the allotted two years. Ironically, I continued for another two years while my marriage bashed itself against the rocks. Not really sure where I was taking this idea.

I like this tumbler. I wish it wasn't draped in 2000 miles of unclaimed baggage.

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating how inanimate objects have such stories embedded in them...