Weblog August 28, 2005

As posted on the Clayart Website:

On the subjects of craft/skill/discipline and the work:

Consider the unusual case of Ivar MacKay
Worked as a literal unknown craftsman for 16 years
Threw 250,000 terra cotta planters
Then sprung full grown from the brow onto the international Art/Ceramics scene with solo shows in England and Japan
No smoky shino, no Soldner raku, no faux Shigaraki wood fire
None of the sillyness we lesser mortals use to try to distinguish ourselves from the crowd
Just elegantly thrown classical forms
And exquisitely applied classical glazes
What a class act
Prepare to be feel humble:

(the sound of two hands clapping)


Weblog August 19, 2005 12 Noon


Ride, ride my see-saw, Take this place On this trip Just for me. (Moody Blues)

Will we ever figure it out?

DuChamp grabbed a coke stand and said " Ready Made!"
What a cheap trick? What was he really saying? This is a piece of art.

Pollock spent time action painting drips upon canvas.
Then the fans go ga ga over the result.
It's not the result, that's artifact. The art is the execution.

Calder was invited to show his wire sculptures in Europe one time.
He showed up without the sculptures !! Where's the artwork they said ?? !!
He pulled a ball of wire out of his pocket and started to bend it. "Here's the

Warhol spent years as a commerical artist.
Then made Brillo boxes and Soup Cans as art.
What was he saying? There is art all around you - just open your eyes.
You don't have to go to a museum, or have a curator tell you what is art.

Is performance art art? Is theater art?

As potters we make alot of artifacts. Then get too attached to the thing.
They are just things.

We need more " Action Potting"

Please read " Wabi- Sabi"

Weblog August 14, 2005 8AM

On the subjects of Leach, Hamada, Einstein, Zen, Action Potting, Artifacts

I have to agree with Mel-san, again. Leach, Hamada, Yanagi are dead. What did they leave? Certainly not the requirement that we only use ancient Shino glaze recipes or only Korean shaped teacups, although these are among my favorite things in the world. What did they do? They did not allow such mundane subjects as "nationalism" to obstruct their exploration of all things clay ; East, West who cares, we are people. As Einstein stated, they were citizens of the world. Lets take that legacy.

Besides all the teaching, lecturing and writing they did, the most important thing they did was make pots. And they left us a body of artifacts that continue to appreciate on the auction block. What's important? The artifacts, sure they are nice to have as a record and a reference, although collectors like Mel want to lock them up in a cabinet so they will survive WWIII. :)

Tony Ferguson presents the idea that Zen Buddism is responsible for Abstract Expresionism. Perhaps we need a new term: Action Potting. Some Abstract Expressionists proposed that the real art is the execution. What is left is mere artifact. Stop thinking, grab the clay and just make pots.

My current favorite artifact: Tea Caddy by Kevin Crowe:

Weblog August 6, 2005 7AM

On the subjects of work, play, Zen, philosphy, ideas, virtuosity, the hammer treatment, bats.

There is a bacic teaching in Buddhism of "right work". One must know that his work is useful, worthwhile, has value and is not harmful to children and other living things. Pottery certainly qualifies. It is an ancient and sophisticated discipline

In Zen Buddhism is the idea that one must live in the moment, stated eloquently by Alan Watts:

Zen is a liberation from time.
if we open our eyes and see clearly,
it becomes obvious that there is no other time than this instant,
and that the past and the future are abstractions
without any concrete reality.
Until this has become clear, it seems that our life
is all past and future, and that the present is
nothing more than the infintesimal hairline that divides them.
From this comes the sensation of "having no time"...
But through "awakening to the instant" one sees that
this is the reverse of the truth: it is rather
the past and future which are fleeting illusions,
and the present which is eternally real.

Alan Watts THE WAY OF ZEN 1957

When we take the clay into our hands we often loose track of time and become one with the process. This is often described in the literature as "having no head", becoming less "self conscious". This is what many of us love about clay work. From this state of mind we become creative, find new connections, then say, " I made this". It is very rewarding. It is why so many potters will say they do it just because they like the process. And why we like to see little fingerprints in a pot, or the flash of the woodfire. To reveal the process.

This is also where some become confused and think it's just play, because it feels so good, is so much fun.

But, play is for children. If all you are doing is playing in the mud, it is unmistakenly revealed in your product. You just made mudpies. Here Mommy. And not much more.

Of course play is not to be denigrated either. It teaches the player skills. It also teaches the player about himself. Ask any athelete. And one must learn skills, and learn about himself in order to become an adult, a master.

I saw an interview last evening on Charlie Rose with a very, very serious guy: Jim Collins., who wrote "Good to Great" on why some companies succeed and others don't. He wants to share his findings with those not in the business world. It all comes down to one idea: discipline.

If one hopes to transcend the mediocrity of "mud pies", he must pay attention to the play, pay attention to his successes and failures, and the successes and failures of those who have come before. Much can be learned from the fine folks here on Clayart

No one said it would be easy, it takes years to become a master. Only then might one pretend to act as a virtuoso.

I am no where near being a virtuoso, but I like ideas.

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