Friday, June 10, 2011

From my phone Friday & thoughts on 'handmade'

The family farm

What a great truck
Stirfry with tofu dinner served in one of my low bowls

I love it when the poppies start coming out:)
Hello and thank you all for the warm response on my give-a-way so far! So great to hear all your thoughts on my vases, along with some of your responses to what makes the perfect vase etc.  I really do value your comments and must add a couple of my own- first off that I don't throw out work unless it is completely un-useable.  Most of it comes home with me and fills my own shelves- I usually can't bear to part with my hard-work that easily.  That said, over the course of all my years making ceramics, I'm sure my 'shard pile' is as big as the next ceramic artist's- unfortunately it takes a whole lot of pots that have mistakes on them before you get the good ones out.  However,  I do believe in 1000 years, my shards will be some of the prettier ones that anthropologists will dig up.  That is one of the amazing things about ceramics, I feel.  Pottery and fired clay are some of the oldest forms of art that have been dug up and discovered.  

Also, some thoughts about perfect/imperfections etc.  I do love the 'hand of the artist', ie the hand-made look being present in work, whether it be obvious or not.  A lot of my work has 'imperfections' that I see as unintended accidents that happened along the way.  Some of it is part of the way the work is made and as that, I'm quite comfortable having these 'imperfections' be part of the integrity of the work.  Some things- such as the small pinholes or the glaze looking mottled, are things that I want to avoid.  And while some things are super small and barely noticeable, I feel as though I want to send my best work out there, put my best foot forward, and not my almost best.  Since a lot of these vases are heading to retail places or being sold online, I think people have come to expect a certain level of perfection when purchasing an item in those places as opposed from me in my studio.

A couple of years ago I overheard a comment about my work that made me laugh, be kind of angry, and at the same time, recognize something in my work that I was missing out on. It happened during an open studio event that happens each November- someone was coming out of my studio while I was heading towards the door and said "I think 'so-and-so' would really like that work, except perhaps it looks a little too handmade."  Sometimes I feel like my work really straddles the line between looking handmade and manufactured.  Partly because of my process of cutting out shapes that can be repeated it can be hard for some to know the difference between them being all glazed or having decals as the decoration.  A lot of my early inspiration came not only from abstract paintings I had done, but also from mid-century scandinavian ceramics- which was manufactured.  And since I'm slip-casting some of my work now, it looks even less hand-made then my wheel-thrown work.  All that said, the work sits somewhere in the middle for people- sort of handmade, sort of design-based, and for now I'm ok with that.  Some day perhaps I'll embrace one over the other, but for now I'm making what feels right for me and I'm so glad that people are loving it!


Anne Magee said...

So glad you are finding happiness with your craft :) I have to say it's fun to see your vase "color wheel" pop up on Pinterest! Always makes me smile!

krystal speck said...

Keeping doing what you love Heather! I sometimes feel that people don't know where to put me in the "pottery spectrum" since I do slipcasting, but also some handbuilding and on the rare occasion, throwing too. I feel like using all these methods are helping me to find the "meat." That is the sweet spot where forming + glazing methods align to something that is well made and uniquely your own. Ha ha, that is until the next kiln turns out wonky and we all go back to the drawing board.