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Ground Breaking

Reuse, recycle, reduce. We hear these ideas all the time and I tend to think they are good ones. It comes in especially great when someone gives me an old kiln.  That is exactly what happened when the electric kiln that we used for cone 6 glaze firing gave up the ghost at Callanwolde. It’s a good size kiln, much bigger than my electric kiln but I’m not interested in rewiring this one. You may remember I did that with my electric kiln when I installed the kiln sitter (you can read about that here) which I got from another free kiln.

My plan for this kiln is to make it a reduction kiln since that is the look I like best for my pots. I am even considering adding a stoke hole so I can feed some small piece of wood into the kiln for some ash and wood effects.

Before I can start converting it into a gas kiln I need to build a kiln shed. My current kiln room is fine for the electric kiln but it’s too crowded to add flame to the mix. I’m designing a simple lean-to type shed that will have a m…

Enjoying Imperfection

Would you buy a less then perfect piece of hand crafted pottery? If you’re a potter, would you sell a less than perfect pot?

As people who appreciate pottery we like, even thrill over the mark of the potter. I remember listening to one potter talk about his favorite pot. It is in a museum and he knew exactly where it was because he had spent so much time enjoying the piece. What is so special about this piece? You can see a fingerprint from the potter on it. It says so much about being hand crafted.

But what about when it’s not something so obvious as a finger mark that reminds us that a pot is hand crafted? What if it’s something like a glaze drip? I think anyone who has been making pottery for a while has run into a runny glaze that flows down the pot and onto the kiln shelf. It tends to mean we have to do some grinding on the kiln shelf as well as the pot. When you turn the pot upside down, as many people do with hand crafted pots, you’ll see where the glaze was sanded smooth. Some people would consider this a flaw but not everyone.

Here’s a really pretty batter bowl made by Georgia’s own William J. “Bill" Gordy who was a very talented potter. People are always talking about his demonstrations at the Atlanta Arts Festival where he would throw a plate then turn that plate into a bowl then turn that bowl into a pitcher then throw that pitcher into a vase. That takes a lot of skill. He usually did all this while waring a shirt and tie.

Bill Gordy mixing bowl by Future Relics Gallery
Bill Gordy Batter Bowl
 Mr. Gordy was a great potter and his pieces are collectors items. Even when the foot looks like this.

Bill Gordy ceramic batter bowl by Lori Buff
Foot of Bill Gordy Bowl
I’m learning that if it’s a great pot it’s okay if it’s not perfect. It is hand crafted after all. What do you think? Would you buy this pot?

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Comments

  1. Lori, your posts are always thought provoking; they make me examine myself and my work from within. For years I didn't want to sell any of my pots and was embarrassed by many, then I embraced the wabi sabi of much of my work; now I'm getting to the point where I cull what I don't like after several months. After culling those pots most often what 's left are the best of what I can offer the public of my work and my pots.

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    1. Hi Lina, if their was one big lesson we learned in Cynthia Bringle's class at Penland it was to edit out our bad pots, hopefully before they even made it to the busque kiln. The reason for this is to save clay (it can be recycled before it's fired) and energy (the kiln) and to develop an eye for great pots. Besides, we don't get as attached to something that we've not put all that time into so we can be more objective and critical of our own work.

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  2. Jeff and I have ground the bottoms on many pots. Some aren't worth the effort but if it's a good pot and can be nicely ground... I say go for it! We own a lot of wood fired pots, so lots of the bottoms have been ground.

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    1. Hi Michèle, yes, those of us who wood fire, or just like wood fired pots are very used to seeing ground bottoms.

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  3. Personally I adore imperfection. I love crooked handles and asymmetrical rims. A little warping or a glaze drip makes me smile. A brush stroke in the glaze finish or shadows from a finger print all suit me just fine. Would I sell them? Yes, but my customers won't buy obvious seconds at full price. They want a discount and I give it to them. What I don't like is cracks of any kind. Rough or sharp rims and handles are a big no. I'm not a fan of crazing on the inside of a functional pieces. Glazed over goober are my biggest pet peeve. I've bought many pieces from well known potters and have never bought a perfect piece of pottery and I'm OK with that :)
    Fun blog post! I Love this subject matter.

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    1. Thanks Cindy, you make a good point about seconds. Some pots are just not good and cannot be fixed after the firing. They are the ones that could be used for mosaics or yard art.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

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  4. Ah, no, that degree of grinding on the bottom? Not what I like to see. I do think we have to be a bit strict things, BUT my idea of acceptable is very different from some people's! And I don't sell seconds--if a piece is really in trouble, I get rid of it or give it away.

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    1. Hi Gary, I do see your point, I wonder if I would have ground this piece down so much, it’s more than a little run and it’s not wood fired. However, I give my seconds away at my studio sale and people love them for their imperfections. Interesting stuff.

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  5. I love my not perfect kitchen pots. Good subject indeed.

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  6. I have a friend who, for a long time, has gravitated toward and happily received pieces I thought of as duds. Years later, I see beauty and individuality in most of them--they just didn't meet my expectations at the time. I currently "sell" pieces I don't like or that [I think] have flaws as fund-raising seconds: I let the customer name the price and they write the check to a selected charity (usually my local clay-art studio, but sometimes other causes).

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    1. Hi Liz, that’s a great way to deal with your seconds.

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