search  current discussion  categories  business - production 

unknown production potters/long

updated wed 28 jun 00


Joyce Lee on mon 26 jun 00

I often mention our Clayart gurus and the incredible thought and energy
they give to assisting the rest of us (and each other) in understanding
clay and effective, safe ways to work with it. I love and appreciate
each of them, as do many of you ...... could never list all of them
...but Tom Buck, Vince, Tony, Dannon, June, Ron, Marcia, Michael, Ivor,
Mel, David, Diana, Craig, Paul jump to mind. Then there are many who
occasionally post info about specific areas; these posts and suggestions
have re-directed my thinking and my work and made me the happy clay
person that I am. That said........ more and more I'm aware of a
phenomenon that I'm sure the majority of you have recognized for years
... the production potter who may not be on Clayart or even heard of it,
or if so, is a lurker. As I've driven up&down west coast highway 101,
crossed southern and northern Canada (yep, including Yellowknife), then
dipped south again returning home by various routes I've developed such
admiration for those production potters working in isolation, shipping
their pots out for sale (a major undertaking in itself; I have trouble
actually getting 20 pots door to door safely), and then hitting all the
weekend fairs&shows. Talking to them I've noted one common thread .....
most have NO time for workshops, seminars, sharing with other potters...
time really is money ... a day away from the studio is a day when
production shuts down... no work, no pay.... Their freely shared
conversation tells me that they keep plugging and hustling NO MATTER how
they feel or what dips&turns their lives take ... they keep plugging...
and continuously work on improvement in spare MINUTES; they have few
spare hours and no spare days. They work on improving their present
line, adding to it, attempting to change it. "Fun" projects happen
seldom but are relished when they do have a moment. I know enough now to
know that some of their work is extraordinary! They, too, have to
balance family needs, most definitely including financial, against their
wishful desires to "someday" have time to play with clay and bring to
fruition the wondrous ideas that abound in their heads and hearts. To my
discredit, only a few names pop into mind at this precise moment....
Aguilar from British Columbia, Canada.... Dietrich from Manitoba ....
but there have been dozens, maybe hundreds. They all, without exception,
have been friendly and welcoming, volunteering to show me their
shops/their workrooms, seeming to enjoy talking about clay. After a
question or two they invariably ask, "Are you a potter?" When I respond
that yes, I am, but still very actively in the learner phase, they are
encouraging and helpful, offering glaze secrets and revealing just how
they achieved certain admirable forms. I would never ask; this, after
all, is their bread&butter; they VOLUNTEER such gems. I'm sure they can
tell by the look of me that I'm maybe going to spend $20 to $100.... I'm
obviously on vacation, not on a buying/collecting trip. It disturbs me a
bit that I've received unsolicited discounts AFTER we've settled on
price and the pots are wrapped ... it's rude to do more than say thank
you, of course; however, knowing I'm not going to be a repeat customer
(as they are aware, also) it bothers me to take sure money from their
pockets and keep it in mine ... however, I recognize that it's in the
spirit of camaraderie potter-to-potter, so thank you it is and goodbye
to an experience that often has not only made my day, but my whole
vacation. I so admire these potters/artists ... who've worked out a way
to support themselves and others doing what they love .... having
developed a lifestyle to be envied ... although, as with all things,
there is a price to be paid for such freedom. I'm missing them this
summer ..... my unknown claybuds ... members of such a
joyous, hardworking fraternity ... one in which I will be forever
grateful to belong......

In the Mojave pointing out that I was kidding when I referred to
HayCreek as HaySeed..... thought it was obvious... mistake... sometimes
one woman's humor is somebody else's insult ... I wasn't attacking Mel
... he's a perfect claybud friend ... and I couldn't have
attended if I'd had the opportunity.... but I HAVE been inspired by
their goings on this week to push just a bit harder......

Marcia Selsor on tue 27 jun 00

Well said. I think the potter to potter is a universal thing. Clay
humbles us all and makes us appreciate each other. But the hard working
"unknown potter" is one to be respected and admired. I have a potter
friend in Spain who can throw 1100 morteros in one day! His wrists are
bandaged but he keeps the family pottery going. I agree with you about
all those wonderful claybuds out there and how meeting these unknown
ones can be a warm and humbling experience. Glad the folks at the farm
are pushing us to move on. Life is short, so enjoy it.
Best wishes,

Marcia Selsor