Decadent Design for the Soft Surface Workshop with Ben Carter

It is an honor to listen to an artist talk about their work, their process, their inspirations. I love hearing ideas about process or inspiration put together in a way that I think ‘I have never heard that before’.  And the bonus: it makes me think differently about something going on in my own work.  This experience with words is analogous to teaching a beginner to throw.  We all use different words to communicate the process. I imagine that for most us these words come from our teachers who taught us to throw.  Learning to throw is hard and, I think, even harder to explain in words.  At some point the student must experience the process for themselves.  Sometimes, it takes a new teacher to use slightly different words for a student to understand.  When a beginner realizes how to use their body, their hands, when they experience the feeling of the right amount of pressure they get that “ah ha” moment and voila they can center the clay.

Yesterday while listening to Ben I was having lots of “ah ha” moments.  I have always thought that a mug should have a flat bottom like a coffee can.  Ben makes the bottom of his pots, even his mugs, with a natural curve.  He sees the whole interior as one plane as opposed to a horizontal and vertical space.  It sets up the pot for his decoration.  For me the “ah ha” moment came when he talked about arches and strength.  A catenary kiln arch is so strong that it is hard to take down.  The same could be said of a curved arched bottom of a mug – it is stronger.

I came away with another gem.  In talking about his desire to create soft surfaces, Ben said the tension created by the rib is released by pushing into the surface.  He is creating and releasing tension.  “Ah ha!”  I think about creating tension but not releasing it.  And then there was the description of form language.  A pot should have the same form language and not have a foot speaking Chinese, a rim speaking Staffordshire and a belly speaking German salt.  I smiled as I visually conjured up a pot with these three languages. “Ah ha!”  Thanks Ben.



William Daley: 14 for 7

I take photos for my own edification.  These are casual photos, not the best quality taken with my iPhone.  I started blogging to share my photos with my students and family.  This blog post contains photos from Bill’s show at the Philadlephia Art Alliance as well as some from his show at Swarthmore College in 2009.

Two weekends ago I went up to Boston to visit my daughter, Esther a Gastronomy grad student at BU, to hang out with friend Susan Strickler, and to go to Bill’s opening at The Society of Arts and Crafts.  Bill was honored and given SAC’s Medal for Excellence in Craft after the drumroll on his pot Pod Form.

“The Philadelphia Art Alliance is pleased to present “William Daley: 14 for 7,” an exhibition featuring a select group of Daley’s works made between 1954 and 2013. This exhibition comes on the heels of the publication of William Daley: Ceramic Artist, a career retrospective published by Schiffer Publishing. This exhibition unites 14 works from 7 extraordinary decades, celebrating Daley’s achievements both past and present. In addition to the works on view, the installation will feature a recent short film about Daley and his work, Mud Architect, by Thomas Porett, as well as images, drawings, and sketches from Daley’s studio, providing an intriguing glimpse of his studio. Famous for his intricate drawings and library of forms molds and ingenious handmade tools, Daley draws inspiration from natural and man-made structures from cultures and regions across the globe.”  Philadelphia Art Alliance website

These photos are from the Philadelphia Art Alliance show – many of the same pots are in Boston.

Photos of Bill and his tools.

Bill’s drawings

This is making for a very long post but I wanted to share these pots from Bill’s show at the List Gallery, Swarthmore College, 2009.  I took these for my own reference and learning.  I was interested and still am in the beginnings and endings of pots.  Each pot has a different rim, rolled, flat, angled, some are notched, have a square or a triangle at the ends, have a gully around the edge, and all of them have very interesting and intricate interiors.