So here begins my series that should rightly be called “My drawing project has fallen in a heap and I am not exactly sure what to write about but I want to write about something so it may as well be things that I like.” Or something.
One of the things I have a real affection for is pottery. It dawned on me that I am amassing a small collection. Mostly for use as practical vessels, but nonetheless. I don’t like making pottery particularly, but I sure like looking at it and living with it.
My two favourite types are Japanese Raku and 1970’s styles, from stoneware to the more pop-py things. It might seem disparate but there’s a similar earthiness to them that must be what I appreciate. And the pop stuff is just cool. No doubt a hangover from my childhood.
16th Century Raku Tea Bowl
Raku is the method initially created to make cups for the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Like all good things, it has morphed and changed as it’s gone across the world as a technique, while maintaining the tradition and respect it deserves in it’s home country. How gorgeous is that tea bowl? Talk about having some soul.
Raku is a low temp firing technique, and the pieces are hand shaped; be still my heart. It’s also fired outside, which appeals to me greatly. There’s a lot more to it. If you’re interested Wikipedia has an excellent rundown.
This is some modern raku that I really like. It falls into the camp of Western raku. Those modifications I was writing about earlier. I love that it’s totally unpredictable. The potter does not know what they will be pulling out, though they can try and guide it along. Love it when chemical reactions take control and give us something unique. Chemical reactions in ceramics anyway…some are best avoided.
I have one piece of Western raku I bought ages ago in Wisconsin. It was the potters first go at it and he reckoned he was addicted. The cool thing is that there is no glaze. The colour is due solely to the firing technique. We talked about the different wood he tossed in the fire to see what happened. I think the he was reluctant to sell it. His pottery was gorgeous but it was geared towards a tourist trade (friendly colours, consistency), and I don’t think he expected this to fly off the shelf a day or two after he put it out. To which I say Sorry Dude. It is loved.
I love this thing.
Ah the 70’s.
Ugly, but I wish it was mine.
I wish these were mine too.
What can be said really? I know little about 70’s pottery and ceramics other than the influence of the 60’s. It can be butt ugly. But I likes it. I don’t have much myself because it isn’t too often you come across something nice in the op shops, where most of my pottery shopping gets done. Occasionally there is a winner.
I have found a few things I quite like. Factory made, but that has it’s charms as well. To be frank I can’t pinpoint these as being truly 70’s. They could be earlier. But they’ve got the vibe and I go for vibe.
Coffee Pot and Container Thingo.
Now despite the immediate above, I’m not too into retro stuff. There are lots of people who are absolute obsessives about some of the iconic old pottery studios. I love looking through the old catalogues of some of these and seeing the variety these companies produced. Things of great sophistication right next to schmaltzy girls with flower baskets and odd looking dogs. A great look into what people liked at the time. But I digress. In the 90’s folks seemed to be getting in to a real lather about McCoy. As a young adult in the 90’s, I worked in a shop that had quite a lot of McCoy. I never loved it as a whole, but I had to have this. I think it was around $50.00 minus employee discount. It felt like a fortune.I’ve hauled it around for yonks now and killed numerous plants in it.
I encourage you to get some pottery in your life. It can be beautiful, humble, useful, ludicrous, and a dust collector that makes you feel good. And I find potters to be lovely, lovely people. Down to earth (no pun intended) and really into what they do.
One day I would love to have some high end pottery such as Edmund De Waal.
Edmund De Wall Tea Pot
He makes these refined, ethereal, beautiful things, and calls them his “pots”. See what I mean about potters?
And dig through all the boring stoneware mugs and cutesy items on the op shop shelves and you may find something special.
I found this for a couple of dollars. This may not be to your taste, but there could be something unique waiting for you.
One more tip. If you’re at the garden centre, go to the reject pile. I always go to the reject pile for plants on death door and possible pot deals. I some pots for a pittance and they almost look like raku! Makes me happy each time I reach for the spatula.
Yours in Clay.