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production methods/richardnotkin/

updated thu 31 jul 97


Mark Bolton on thu 17 jul 97

>"Robert S. Bruch", You wrote:
>Having recently attended a Richard Notkin slide
>presentation, I would be careful about denigrating
>the casting process as not being creative.

>There are aspects of all methods of work that could be
>beneficial to newcomers to the ceramics world, and there
>appear to many such people on this list. Maybe we should
>take some amount of care when overstating our own
>personal biases.

I personally can relate to what this original message concerning "production
methods" (or I guess they are called threads) was about. In response to Bob
Brunch s statement, I have yet to see Richard Notkin or P. Warashima touting
works at a local craft fair and I think that is what the massage was about. Of
course when you have achieved a level of notoriety all mediums are completely
viable and acceptable. In this case I took the topic as competing with cast
ceramics i.e. "Wednesday night ceramics class in the neighbors cellar where you
pick your pot out of a catalog" taken to a level slightly higher than paint by
numbers and using glazes then passing it off as hand thrown/crafted pots. The
public is naove enough and can be swayed enough to buy these pots simply by
having a hundred bucks in their pocket and wanting to leave with the most
"stuff" for that hundred bucks rather than one or a couple of really beautiful
pots. Now yes we would all love to say "well that isn t the work that
satisfies me and I m not going too make anything less than that which moves me"
and cast these consumers off to the purgatory of WalMart, The Christmas Tree
Shop, and so on to buy their mass produced wares, but unfortunately as awful as
it is to have to deal with, a lot of us have to be concerned with cash flow and
dollar volume through our business. Coming from a sales background I am always
fighting not to look at pots in the same light as big business but the
principals are the same,.. if your not selling it is simple to look at why and
what the answer is. It is either: marketing or a lack of , or your product isn t
what your venues are looking for, so then your decisions are simple: its either
change marketing , change venues, decide whether you want to alter your
lifestyle enough (reduce your financial "nut") to allow you financially to make
these pots that aren t selling until they catch on, or make different pots.
Deciding on and implementing which ever of these you pick is what I find hard. I
have chosen the "alter your lifestyle" option so that I can still make pots I
love, not the ones I love most but I still love them. I realize also that
reducing your financial "nut" to afford you to make pots you love and making
different pots (probably not the ones you love) are the two hardest decisions to
make emotionally however give immediate results. The other two are I feel harder
to see quick results from. They take time, something that you don t have when
you are wondering about the financial viability of your studio in your day to
day life. I guess I got off the subject here but was simply stating something
that has probably been stated here a million times that hopefully some of us are
on our way to being the Richard Notkins and all the other potters we see in CM
and alike but on the way, if we decide at any cost that we would rather make our
living in pots and pots that maybe don t totally float our boat rather than
working for "THE MAN" until we can make only pots we love, have to make one
thing and that is money. How much or little of that you need is up to you. I
feel I would make pots that I don t keep on a pedestal all day rather than stack
a U.P.S. trailer or crunch numbers just because I refused to curtail my artistic
(hate that word) needs. The artistic pots will come.
I know this was long, sorry, and I m not a writer so I m sure this has a
bounty of run-on sentences and bad writing skills but hope it wasn t too bad if
you made it to the end. Mark Bolton

Robert S. Bruch on fri 18 jul 97

The problem being stated here is not the validation
of various methods of creating ceramics, but rather
honesty of people who sell their work as to their
work methods.

At quality antique shows, there are people charged
with the task of reviewing all of the items for sale
and judging wheter these items are what the dealers
say they are. The people charged with this are the
managers of the event, although many dealers will
police the shows themselves. This is needed in the
antiques industry because of the number of "fakes" or

I don't know how well this analogy fits the ceramics
business, but wouldn't the producers of quality shows
want the exhibitors to be honest? Notice that I said
"quiality" shows.

Bob Bruch

Michelle Blum on fri 18 jul 97

Hi Mark

I am interested in learning more about Richard Notkin and awhile back I asked
Clay art subcribers for information on this artist (thanks for all the
responses). Since, you were lucky enough to attend his slide show. I would
love to here about it.... Please give us some insight on Notkin's work. I put
together an entire semesters worth of art lessons, for high school, based on
his work, and I am always looking for interesting bits of information to
spice up my lessons. Any information is greatly appreciated!!!!!!!!