are vessels too limiting?

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Post by dantheman on March 9th 2019, 11:03 pm

I often look at the work of certain studio potters and wonder if they are going to throw slightly different variations of the same form for the rest of their careers Sleep and when I compare their work with potters who also model, slab build,coil and extrude , I wonder why they limit themselves to spinning clay on a wheel?

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Post by philpot on March 10th 2019, 8:41 am

My oh my Dan.You ain't getting all high Fallutin on us lot is you? Laughter

Economics is limiting of course. The processes that you describe are all basically versions of hand building. Time intensive, and a lower level of production, which equals higher prices. People have always seemed to want their ceramics' relatively' cheaply, so there is a distinctly limiting market factor.
Equally clay as a material is somewhat limiting in its fragility. A lot of sculptors used clay maquettes to explore ideas, but very few actually used it as a permanent material.
The vessel of course is almost as old as human civilisation. Almost every culture through history and beyond.That is a very potent thing. That continuity, that ubiquity that almost imbeds in the very nature of being human.
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Post by studio-pots on March 10th 2019, 10:03 am

I am not sure that there is a polite answer to the question unless I just say...ÖÖÖÖÖÖ. No.

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Post by dantheman on March 10th 2019, 11:01 am

and the impolite answer?

I should add that I was asking about limitations in form and not decoration

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Post by 22 Crawford St. on March 10th 2019, 12:56 pm

I agree with Philpot, wheels and also slip-casting etc are just there to make things faster so you can make twenty pots a day not two. Economics is the driving factor.
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Post by NaomiM on March 10th 2019, 1:11 pm

Yes, quite a lot of potters limit themselves, not just by sticking to the wheel or handbuilding, but also in their choice of glaze and decoration. Maybe thatís why we like potters such as Maltby, Pollex and Godfrey whoíve reinvented themselves in later life due to not having to produce tons of standard ware to make a living, or through health issues that made wheel throwing too taxing. So I think the answer probably is the need to make in bulk to be able to scrape a living from the craft.

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Post by dantheman on March 10th 2019, 2:21 pm

most collectors I know have dozens if not hundreds of vessels that could be converted into a good collection of hand modelled pieces

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Post by philpot on March 10th 2019, 2:44 pm

Could you perhaps expand on what you are looking for as the alternative to the vessel Dan? Most ceramicists who don't use the vessel form tend to end up as sculptors in clay. The chickens, the Dogs, the Cats all very nice(and in some cases beautiful) but in essence as limiting in their own way as the vessel form. It is quite easy to exchange one straitjacket for another.
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Post by studio-pots on March 10th 2019, 3:04 pm

dantheman wrote:and the impolite answer?

I should add that I was asking about limitations in form †and not decoration


I have thought of another polite answer and that is that contrary to what you suggest in the title to this thread, the vessel form is the least restricting of anything within the art world.


Do remember that all of Alan Wallwork's pots are vessels and most of his post 1970 work is thrown. He always wanted people to use them as such too.


Last edited by studio-pots on March 10th 2019, 3:35 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by studio-pots on March 10th 2019, 3:11 pm

dantheman wrote:most collectors I know have dozens if not hundreds of vessels that could be converted into a good collection of hand modelled pieces


Here's a hand modelled piece and it's a vessel so where are these limitations that you seem to have imagined?



are vessels too limiting? Radsto10

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Post by dantheman on March 10th 2019, 4:51 pm

now that's a vessel!

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Post by philpot on March 10th 2019, 5:15 pm

So is that your original question satisfied then Dan?
Although in all truth, one would describe a Sarah Radstone piece as a 'Vessel Form...Ö † †I doubt if anyone is going to use it for a bunch of Aldi Daffs on Mother's day! Shock
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Post by dantheman on March 10th 2019, 5:46 pm

well it shows some potters can see beyond the confines of a traditional thrown shape but I still wonder why certain studio potters spend their whole lives producing very samey pottery

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Post by philpot on March 10th 2019, 6:40 pm

You could argue that Sara Radstone et al produce similar looking pots! Laughter
Equally potters such as Richard Batterham spend their lives producing 'samey' looking pots. Is perfection necessarily bad?
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Post by dantheman on March 10th 2019, 7:44 pm

not bad but where's the story?

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Post by philpot on March 10th 2019, 9:10 pm

Story Dan? From a pot??
WelllllÖ.Are you sitting comfortably? Once upon a time long,long ago there was a young Edwardian gent called Bernard....
But that has sent you to sleep already!
Your uncle Phil is actually a secret Magician...Oh yes indeedy. Story? Your wish is my command. A group of Rupert Spira poem vesselsare vessels too limiting? Img_3826
. Laughter
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Post by dantheman on March 10th 2019, 9:18 pm

yes the story of a potter can be just as interesting as the story of any other artist but his art must evolve as stagnation is uninteresting

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Post by philpot on March 11th 2019, 8:55 am

First and foremost any potter or artist has got to make a living. Nowadays that is difficult for any artist. So if you are lucky enough to develop a style of work that sells and has a good and developing customer base, then it is a very brave person indeed who changes course radically. It is a huge gamble, as you are actually risking your livelihood.
I can think of very few potters or ceramicists that have had radical change of course in mid-career and been successful. It is much more likely that they got out of potting altogether. In fact, only one comes to mind, John Maltby. The reason for that being that he had a heart attack and just could not manage the actual physical effort involved in his previous styles.
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Post by dantheman on March 11th 2019, 9:31 am

I suppose that's why I prefer studio pottery from the 1960's and 1970's, It was cheap to live back then so potters could take their time and produce really interesting forms

Alan Wallwork, Bill Fisher and Guy Sydenham all produced pieces that I never tire of.

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Post by philpot on March 11th 2019, 10:14 am

Cheap to live in the 70's??????????????
For nearly a decade the inflation rate was over 10% each year, and in 1975 it was well over 20%..Interest rates were commensurate. Laughter Laughter
Potters had to produce quick and in quantity just to feed themselves!
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Post by studio-pots on March 12th 2019, 12:30 pm

dantheman wrote:not bad but where's the story?


I can't remember if it was Michael Cardew or Richard Batterham when asked why they continue to throw pots their reply was that they would continue until they got it right.



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Post by dantheman on March 13th 2019, 9:38 am

philpot wrote:Cheap to live in the 70's??????????????
For nearly a decade the inflation rate was over 10% each year, and in 1975 it was well over 20%..Interest rates were commensurate. Laughter Laughter
Potters had to produce quick and in quantity just to feed themselves!

what's wrong with throwing 200 vessels one day then making something special the next?

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Post by philpot on March 13th 2019, 10:15 am

Markets and money and time Dan
If you are a production potter,then that is what you are known for. It takes a very special 'Something special' for your normal customers to like, and be willing to pay a great deal more money, for those 'Special' pieces.
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Post by dantheman on March 13th 2019, 10:36 am

you're right of course.
My favorite modellers lived very thrifty lifestyles for most of their careers

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Post by studio-pots on March 13th 2019, 12:27 pm

In the 1960s the better apprentices at the Leach Pottery were able to make individual work after finishing producing what was needed for the Standard ware range and mark it as such.

Obviously, most would have been thrown but I think where you and I differ is that I appreciate the quality and subtlety of throwing more than you do. I am not saying that there is a problem with that, just that it might explain why you think the way that you do.

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