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teabowls/work ethic of masters

updated wed 1 oct 03


mel jacobson on tue 30 sep 03

it is silly to compare teabowls, chawan to `cute little bowls`.

they are more easily compared to rare wine, great paintings, or the
work of a `stravinsky`.

the great bowls are picked from a series of maybe a thousand
made teabowls. it is a rare person, with great aesthetic
that determines when and what they are.

it is not casual.

and, it is not european. it is japanese, or better, asian.
it is their idea and aesthetic, not ours.

it would be like saying....`primitive pots are crude and unskilled`.
no, the potters of africa are very skilled, very. potters of
india are very skilled, but, they do not have our modern machines
to aid them in the production. and, many of them do not approach
making pots as `studio, hobby, art...` it is to make a living.
work that is produced to eat food from or store water. we can
look at the work and admire it, but we usually cannot make it, or
care to. it is not ours. we can try, we can be inspired by it,
but, it is still not our style.

the japanese master potters that i have met, visited and worked
for were among the hardest working folks i have ever met.

they did not do as american painters do....brush stroke a month...
and sigh...then talk and talk and talk. for japanese potters it is
about nose to grind stone...10 hours a day..six days a week.
it is foolish to assume that we can compare, or even understand
the ethic of work. the skills of the average japanese thrower
are so superior and finite you cannot believe it.

go to mata ortiz, mexico and make a 20 inch coil pot...thin, perfect
with the patterns as intricate as can be...grids inside of grids...
and you will find out a great deal about skill. primitive folks, i think

it is not easy to compare what many of us do here in america...out
our back door, making pots and selling them at art fairs. our public
is small, just a few folks that admire `hand made work`. the bulk
of folks still prefer `walmart`.

(i just bought two sets of dishes from k-mart, solid cobalt blue
plates and deep green pattern. 16 pieces to a set...
11 bucks a set. total 22.50$. made in china and damn nice to say
the least. use them at the farm as they match our decor...`crude
primary.` i could not pay myself to make that set...for twenty bucks.
simple production pottery, and nice to look at. not art, not high
craft...just gets the job done. )
a well trained potter does not have one style of throwing, certain
fingers, we use the entire hand, fist, elbows and legs.
what is this.... finger thrower crap?
i just came in from my studio, made 50 pieces,,,,and not
once used the same fingers. the big bowls are made with knuckles.
the tiny pitchers i use fingers..just the ends...if i made a one inch
teapot i would use a pencil to throw with.

Minnetonka, Minnesota, U.S.A.
web site:
or try:

Hendrix, Taylor J. on tue 30 sep 03

Mayor Mel,

Just for the record and in all the seriousness I can=20

Would that be a #2 pencil or...?

Taylor, in Waco

-----Original Message-----
From: mel jacobson [mailto:melpots@PCLINK.COM]=20
Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2003 4:22 PM
Subject: teabowls/work ethic of masters

...if i made a one inch
teapot i would use a pencil to throw with.