Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Early on I was drawn to a certain kind of pot. Strongly thrown, simple forms, functional, easily accessible, neutral colors, I think are the attributes that I would give the pots. Tom Gray was one of the first potters I met whose pots I got to handle and understand. Then there was Rock Creek Pottery, Michael Simon, Mark Hewitt, Warren Mackenzie and a few others. My pottery beginning is a pretty good story and I like to recount it, but I'll save that for another time. For now I'd like to talk more about Michael's pots and how they influenced me early on.

For one thing they were salt glazed and this is something I had been introduced to through Rock Creek's pots. I loved that surface and the color. I also loved the decoration of Michael's pots, and Rock Creek's.

Here's a quote from the Michael Simon Studio Potter article. "From the beginning, I was attracted to pots that had painting on them. I would look at Hamada's pots, where he had made just two or three movements with a brush and made the bamboo pattern and the grass pattern, and I just loved it, I wanted to do that really badly. I thought it really took me to the pot, it had a lot of power."

I felt this too early on when I was getting introduced to pottery. And I feel it even now. It is amazing how powerful the image on the pot is. I do feel that the pot, not the image is the most important thing over all. I think a strong a pot has great power, but it takes most people (who aren't potters or artists) longer to learn that or see it. They don't see it immediately. Look at Svend Bayer's pots. They are very powerful pots, amazing in form.

I have struggled with wanting to put images on pots from the beginning. At first I copied Michael and Rock Creek and a few others. My forms weren't very strong and the patterns weren't mine, so really those pots weren't mine. But they did help me learn, and hopefully to see. I eventually gave up trying to put a pattern on most of my work. I felt I could never reach that level that I had seen. Maybe I gave up too soon, or didn't explore enough. I still have that longing to make pots with some kind of pattern or image. I think it is just taking me a while to get there. I think that by reading this article and hearing how Michael describes it opened me up alittle to more possibilities. I like that he uses the word 'pattern'. This can mean lots of things and it doesn't have to be something literal, like a fish or bird or a bicycle. Even someone's pots like Ruthanne Tudball has a pattern. It's not a painted surface, instead it's texture.

So right now this is one thing I'm thinking about. Pattern, and what it means to me and my pots. I am glad I gave up struggling with it for a while because it let me focus on my forms (which I still hope to continue to improve). I want my forms to come first, but I do hope that at some point I am able to incorporate some elements that 'pull at the eyeball'.

More to come.