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  • Spouting Off

    On: April 19, 2017
    In: Artmaking, How To's, Studio Journal
    Views: 544
     1

     

    Drawing of Teapot Spout Fail

    Dripping Spout drawing in “A Potter’s Workbook” by Clary Illian, University of Iowa Press, 1999.

     

    The spouts of functional pouring vessels have to do two things: deliver well and hopefully look pleasing. Stint in either task and ya got problems, some less bothersome than others. And after my last post about the snub-spouted Cube Teapot, it might be manifestly simpler to say that functional spouts really have only one thing to do: pour well, if not flawlessly.

    So what, specifically, goes into a smooth-functioning spout, whether on a teapot, pitcher, ewer or creamer? Yes, style still counts, but for now we will just explore how precise forming affects better function.

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  • Thinking Inside the Box

    On: April 4, 2017
    In: Artmaking, Community, Studio Journal
    Views: 354
     2

     

    The Cube Teapot from 1926

    “The CUBE” Teapot, Foley China, Cube Teapots, Ltd., Leicester, Made in England

     

    In very early 20th century Britain, if you were serious about your tea, you were equally serious about your teapot. It must brew well, pour well, clean well and store well. After all, taking tea could happen up to three times a day: upon arising (or even before), “elevenses” and precisely at 4pm. The young century’s quest for a perfectly functional and unfussy teapot was a daily one.  So many teapots had at least one annoying flaw such as dripping, chipping or being impossible to clean. Lots of teapot makers attempted to solve for one or two of the problems, but only one claimed to solve ALL of them: The Cube, patented 100 years ago and popular for nearly 7 decades. By chance, I own one of these vintage beauties – seen above. It’s backstamp dates it to ca. 1926 and I can happily say it does all the things it purports to do, with a simple plucky style as well. Let’s look a little closer at The Cube, because sometimes thinking outside the box means returning to an actual box.

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  • With a Little Help From My Hens – A Process Storyboard

    On: March 29, 2017
    In: Artmaking, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 978
     1
    Chicken Making Ceramic Bowl

    I’m not quite sure how this all got going, but here it is: nine backyard chickens are my studio assistants. Even better, they are symbiotic co-creators because their “work” turns my humble pinch pots into Henpecked Bowls. What I’d like to do today is give you an annotated pictorial of this improbable process, start to finish.

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  • For What It’s Worth

    On: March 23, 2017
    In: Art Biz, Artmaking, Community, Studio Journal
    Views: 370
     1
    Ceramic Pabst Beer Can on Nest of Rusty Shot up Cans

     

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been making artstuff out of clay since 1999 or so and have been earnestly involved in selling it since 2007. You’d think by now I would have an accurate sense of what prices to ask. You would think. But I don’t. What I always suspected, and now am completely sure of, is that monetary value is squidgy and at best thinly related to the highly subjective valuation of a work of art. Throughout the art world, price is often nebulous, magically derived, and certainly very negotiable. And Ceramics carries another challenge because of the FineArt/FineCraft pricing disconnect. Let’s look at all this a little more personally.

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  • A Long Conversation with the Tooth Fairy or Why I Write

    On: March 16, 2017
    In: Art Biz, Artmaking, Community, Studio Journal
    Views: 425
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    An open journal to and from the Tooth Fairy

     

    Whenever I ponder why I am so drawn to writing this Studio Journal, it always comes back to: I write to understand, to reflect, to connect.  The Desert Island Necessaries in my artmaking include both the doing of it and the writing about that doing, because the writing takes flights that illuminate the making.  All else – especially that tedious biz end – can go hang, really. Validation of the power of a purposeful collection of writing was highlighted by a mostly-forgotten book we happened across in the attic last weekend: The Tooth Fairy correspondence belonging to my oldest son, Roger. It affirms that writing is more than just the words and ideas. Tucked in there is also a world view, original evidence of what was important once upon a time. I hope my Studio Journal does that now and in the future for each of us in some way.

    Roger’s Tooth Fairy Book was written and thickly illustrated, starting with his first bottom tooth on April 21, 1991 until twelve teeth later on July 25, 1995, when the magic morphed. I’d like to quote at length from that correspondence, formed first in his youthful random caps printing, then in tentative cursive, and then back to printing. While I, in mysterious TF persona, wrote with my non-dominant hand – my brain crying out in protest the while – so he would not recognize my printing. Even if it’s a tad tangential to my usual posts, this is also a hoot – with original spellings – and we all could use that. Let’s start in.

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  • This Cracks Me Up

    On: March 2, 2017
    In: Artmaking, Community, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 466
     1
    Celadon glazed cracked pinch pot

    Walking Meditation Pot XXII, Liz Crain, 2017

     

    In my very first ceramics handbuilding class I sat at a large table which included a bunch of newbies like me plus one know-it-all wheel-thrower. I have not met a didact with a more tone-deaf need to expertsplain than hers.  I was still in my Clay Wonder Years, falling in love and wanting to get lost in it. I relished how the outside surface of my pinch pots cracked as I expanded the clay from the inside creating intriguing organic possibilities. But my delight was soon doused with her continual instructions for crack banishment. I avoided her as much as possible, working outside on nice days and making full use of open lab time when she was not around. It took me awhile, but eventually I found the words to counter her: “Thank you, but I don’t learn by having the answers first, and, oh, I LIKE CRACKS!”  I repeated it with a cheesy smile at every unasked-for comment and finally she quit schooling me and turned on the other hapless noobs.

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  • Wabi-sabi and the Two Leonards

    On: February 23, 2017
    In: Artmaking, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 492
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    Small hand formed wabi sabi ceramic bowl.

    Henpecked Bowl XXXII, Liz Crain, 2017

     

    Wabi-sabi is not Shabby Chic. It is not trendy, modern or even post-modern. Not a theory, movement, aesthetic, philosophy, religion, art, process or product. And, then again, it can be and has been all these. The separate meanings of the two Japanese words have changed over the centuries and their yoked-hyphenated concept morphs easily, especially when applied. But expressing it has a certain fatal pull for me so I’ve decided to just go all in.

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