Posted on

studio news February 2017

This winter has been a season for new views, adventures, changes in perspective. Mostly, without ever leaving the studio. A couple road trips to teach or take a ceramics workshop – other than that – work itself.

Some trip photos here.

Teaching in McKinney, Texas, right after the New Year, I made the first in a new series of ovalized platters – flat, expanding.

‘Altering’ the wheel-thrown form, edging it away from strict utility, has been a theme of the winter. This piece & others are newly up online.

“Efficiency, laudable as it may be, rides an uneasy road between convenience and boredom,” notes Garth Clark in a 1980 essay.

I had cause to re-read this short piece of writing, called Storm in a Teacup, about Betty Woodman, during one of the short cold days of January, half-way through loading the kiln. I was having a discussion with Green River Pottery’s student intern about function. How important is it, actually? Is it bad when a ‘useful’ piece is a little hard to use? 

“Oh,” I said. “Seems to me I remember something really good on this topic…in that book of essays? Lemme see if I can find it at lunch.”

Having an intern was enlightening, a source of energy, one of the sources of new views & changes that have marked these recent months. One assignment was sifting clay – removing rocks, that is, from clay recently dug up from the ground. Usually I carefully combine this hand-dug clay with other commercially-sourced ingredients to temper it – make it more predictible.

“What if you just use this clay without adding anything – mind if I try that?” the intern asked.

One of the results of this experiment is pictured above – rich, radiant, rugged. Serene. Click here to learn more about the internship program here at the studio.

“One must have a mind of winter,” it has been famously said in a poem, and this wintery vase was a highlight of the January firing, gusty and cool. The poem wonders about seeing and imagining – what’s really there, what you feel or sense but can’t see. Every potter, I think, wants to make a pot that makes you wonder like that.

Apparently the Iron Age potters accomplished this too – their fired ware is giving clues, now, to scientists studying changes in the earth’s magnetic field. Speaking of things changing. You can read more about this here – good to see a current news article featuring restful, evocative, fragments of pottery made three thousand years ago.

Thanks for reading! Thanks for your interest in Green River Pottery studio-gallery.