White pottery….

It’s Sunday…   last evening was my birthday dinner.  What a nice little party, great Indian food,  waiters to fetch and then tidy up after,  Many thanks to all my friends who came, and even to those who wouldn’t come because they couldn’t see the dang Ducks-Cal game.  You know who you are! There were lovely and thoughtful presents…  what a great bunch of friends I have, not to mention my sweet daughters.

Today I have to carve the last pots for my next firing, which hopefully will be Sunday the 18th of November.  I need pots!  While I work, I’m thinking of my show I’ll be having at Valley Art in the spring, ‘White on White.”  I will be making pure white porcelain work in the salt kiln, glazed within but without colorants on the outside.  I have a few pieces of this stuff around from other loads, and I like it a lot. It has occurred to me that part of the reason I want to make it is just because people say, “I love your work but it doesn’t match anything I have.”  Aw, so sorry….  how long did your Mother dress you?  I cannot accommodate those people! Most of them can’t bear to have anything in their home that isn’t part of a “Set”, one of my four-letter words, along with “Wedding”.

I really like white ceramic objects.  About the only white ceramic object I own is a teapot that is the last surviving piece of a dinnerware service I received as a child bride back in 1967, when I still knew everything.  It probably survived because it was seldom used – it was called “American Ironstone” and my first pottery mentor, Renee Goldin, was horrified by it.  She was a Cranbrook ceramic grad student that I  met while working at Crate and Barrel in Chicago, when there was still just one store over on Wells Street.  She taught me about mingei,  and I watched her throw pots in the basement of her parents’ suburban home.  She didn’t have a kiln, just a wheel, but it didn’t matter to her.  Her parents owned a pair of big dobermans who occupied the basement, and it would be just the four of us down there.

I never looked at pottery in the same way after getting to know Renee, and there would be no pots for me now without her and those afternoons in the basement.  I have just one her pots, a small brown salt-fired ricebowl.

I wrote a little squib for the show at Valley Art, kind of a “why I am doing this” kinda piece, which is more pertinent.  I mentioned that many potters love their pieces best when they are green – just before they go into the kiln.  There is a beauty about them that is somehow altered when they are fired. My own crazy slip decorating and salt firing sends unfinished pottery into one of the outer circles of hell,  where it goes through insane heat and caustic vapor assault.  Not all of it comes back in a state that allows it to perform domestic duty, but most of it does.  And once in a while there is a piece that is so exceptionally beautiful that it melts my heart and makes the whole grimy, arduous process worthwhile.

Those pieces are hoarded and put out for adoption carefully.  I don’t have to keep them, but I do save them up for preferred customers, family, dear friends.  I am hoping to get some great stuff from the white show process.  Here’s the image I sent them for the show notice.  It’s a silly pot, the kind a potter has to use for jury slides….  and this one won’t end up white, it will be coloured like my regular inventory and given an auspicious spot in the coming firing. It probably will never be quite as appealing to me as it is in this photo.


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