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education is expensive--ignorance even more so

updated tue 7 jan 03


Dupre Mr Marcy M on mon 6 jan 03

Dear Compadres and Fellow Mudslingers,

I have been following with great interest the threads on glaze recipe
exchanges and theft/twit/tightwad. I suppose in some cases I have been a
tightwad, wanting to get the answer for free, and I have been a twit, not
knowing how or where to look. Never a thief, that I can tell, at least not

One of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain is, "A man who carries a cat by
the tail gets a lesson he can learn in no other fashion." This pretty much
sums up my consideration of education. All knowledge costs, whether
directly in cash, or in scars from experience. Most of us pay for our
education in one form or another, but the lessons we remember the most are
the ones that cost us dearest.

I paid a lot for my college education. Both in dollars and in experience.
I remember a great deal of what I had to work hard for. I was married with
a kid, working two jobs, no scholarships, carrying a heavy academic load.
That is not a fish for sympathy, but a notation of cost. To stay in school
and graduate, I had to "pay" fro the experience and the privilege, yes,
"privilege" of being in school. (We Americans have a tendency to take this
for granted.)

Either by having to sweep several miles of floor, or cutting up a half beef
into market packages of meat, or by "carrying my cat by the tail" for the
experience, I paid for knowledge. The vast majority of us mudslingers are
generous to a fault with our knowledge, even thought we paid for the smarts
we have. I see nothing wrong in sharing a recipe for a ^6 Floating Blue
glaze with someone who asks. But I usually extend the caution to TEST,
TEST, TEST. Your mileage may vary.

Now, if I knew that someone had simply renamed the glaze to "Barry's Blue
Bonnet," fired a bunch of pots with it, and put the glaze out as their very
own, "formulated after years of study and laboratory testing," I might have
a tendency to blow their ship right out of the water.

There was a story on this forum a while back about someone who actually
stole another's studio name and sued for exclusive rights! Tragic, but all
too possible. Can a glaze recipe be "stolen?" I would say so. That could
be called plagiarism, to call someone else's work your own. Proper
attribution is the way to extend credit to those who have helped.

When I was in school, I made exactly two original recipes for glazes, from
absolute scratch. Both were dismal failures. I am now working on testing a
^6 palette and a ^9 palette fro electric fires. I use base recipes for a
clear glaze, an opaque white "liner" glaze, and a few "special effects"
glazes. Why re-invent the wheel? But here, the experience of formulating
and testing the glazes is the "payment" I make for the knowledge I gain. It
takes effort, either way.

Unfortunately, I see evidence of the "instant gratification" syndrome, so
rampant in our society. We want it all, right now, and we want it to be
perfect. I get guilty of this on occasion when I get impatient with my own
perceived progress. But, it takes what it takes...

After 31.5 million seconds of work in pottery, I have a year's worth of
experience. Not before. There is no way to speed it up.

So, for all of us, I appreciate you answering my questions, and I will
continue to answer yours as best I can. I will also ask a lot of questions,
gather and filter the answers, then TEST, TEST, TEST. If I can avoid some
of the pain of experience, why reinvent the wheel?

So, pay for what you need, and be certain to need what you pay for. Yes,
you can hurt yourself in ignorance. And, as the sign on my studio wall
says, "Stupidity SHOULD be painful!"

A very Happy and prosperous New Year to all. Thanks for being a part of my

in Springfield, VA--white, cold, stark, and beautiful.