Day 1 – Making Cups, Alleghany Meadows, Make, Use, Look, Think

Haystack’s lack of wifi was frustrating (for me!).  To be fair there is wifi in the library and the lack of cell coverage is hardly under their control – still it was frustrating to be on the E with one bar.  It surprised me how much I have come to rely on the internet for my artistic practice.  Those 1980 college days of sitting in the library at Philadlephia College of Art drinking in ceramic and pottery books are long gone!  In recent years I have enthusiastically embraced Instagram, (for which you need internet), when I am inspired and this workshop really inspired me.  Alleghany’s attention to detail and thoughtfulness continue to inspire me.

Allegheny started the workshop making cups.  He asked us to make a cup that is personal to ourselves, a cup to be used for a specific ritual or need.  He challenged us to think about our own rituals, for example, what do you like to drink in the morning?  Here some thoughts he shared with us while throwing cups designed expressly for use in his expresso machine “Sylvia”.

Working on the inside of a form is most important because with forms such as a cup, unlike a painting, you look into it. Balance and proportion thoughtfully executed suggest confidence.


We choose to make things that show our vision of the world and we share our idea of that beauty or tension with people around us.  The work is alive as people experience it.

Alleghany explained his thought process of why he works from the inside out.  As one drinks from a cup, rings of tea or coffee are left on the inside, the liquid leaves traces of horizon lines, just like water rippling along the edge of the shore when you throw a rock into it.  Alleghany as a maker thinks about the experience of drinking the opaque liquid, seeing those horizon lines and finally coming to the last dregs of liquid and having the experience of seeing a change in the form.  What do those lines mean to you as they become markers of time? 

Risk and creativity are tied together, one has to take a risk to explore creativity.


After a glorious lunch which included sandwiches, multiple varieties of salads, two homemade soups, and the aforementioned cookies, Alleghany continued with his thoughts on use and making.  He posed the question what does it mean to be a maker in our culture?  While in Karatsu, Japan, Alleghany studied with Takashi Nakazato, who believes that our hands develop memory through repetition of form, and from this repetition one achieves the rhythm that is used in functional work.  Patterns built up from layers of memory ensures the work is alive as people experience it.

Clay as a responsive pliable material becomes the instigator of plasticity in one’s hands.  Our hands learn from the clay’s plasticity and our touch and sensitivity to the material becomes a direct communicator to the brain, to the heart, and to those that use these pots.

How does one’s work instigate change?  What does it mean to make a breakfast set for two which includes a vase?  Perhaps the new owners of this set find themselves filling the vase with flowers and celebrating breakfast together in a new and meaningful way.  How does the work change when the object is to make serving bowls that fit together?  These are some of the questions and thoughts we began our own making thinking about.

And one final thought – cicatrix – this word became our mantra as we talked about it’s meaning and how it can apply to much of pottery.  We came back to it many a time.  The dictionary definitions for cicatrix are:  1. The scar of a wound.  2. A scar of the bark on a tree.  3. A mark on a stem left after a leaf or other part has become detached.  

Initially, we were using the noun cicatrix to convey the connection between handle and mug but it grew to spouts, pitcher handles, and knobs.  A cicatrix became those moments in time, those connections, that convey a decision, a choice, an artistic practice.