NC Pottery Conference 2012

So much to take in……

Demonstrators from left to right: John Glick, Cynthia Bringle, Ronan Peterson, Martha Grover, Jack Troy and Jake Johnson.

I traveled to Asheboro, North Carolina this past weekend to attend the 25th North Carolina Pottery Conference put on by the Randolph County Arts Council under the incredible leader, Dwight Holland.  This is an annual event that occurs in March and always in Asheboro, right outside Seagrove.

The conference included six demonstrators and four slide lecturers.

Three of the demonstrators are considered to be America’s great potters and they each invited a new, up-and-coming ‘great potter’.  Jack Troy invited Jake Johnson, Cynthia Bringle invited Ronan Peterson, and John Glick invited Martha Grover.  It was great to see such a variety of styles and hear varied life stories about a life in pots.

NC Pottery Conference - demonstrations

Martha, Ronan and Jake presenting at the 25th Annual NC Pottery Conference.

Confession time:  I never really thought much about John Glick’s work.  I just saw it as cone 10 reduction pots.  Somewhat boring, really.  After seeing it up close, how it is made and meeting the man, I have come to respect and like his work.  Really…. I needed to know what was so special and now I know.  Not only is John a giving, likable presenter, his work is full of layers like some great abstract expressionist paintings.  And you know what… until I took a modern art history class, I didn’t quite get the abstract painting thing.  Now I love it.

Some John Glick pots, slipped/decorated, and a few of his handmade tools.

Another ‘American Potter Great’ that I have ignored until now is Jack Troy.  I guess I never thought to look him up.  He is not just a potter but a poet – and he read and recited poetry throughout the presentation.  His pottery is like poetry – using deep seeded technique to create inspired, intuitive art.  Think of that, John Glick’s work is inspired and intuitive.  It may be that I need to work another 25 or more years to get to that point in my work…..  Anyway, I LOVED Jack’s tea bowls!!!

Jack Troy textures a teabowl

Jack Tory adds texture to a teabowl (Yunomi)

Jack Troy's texture stamps

Jack Troy's texture stamps and yunomi

Jack Troy's feet

Feet of Jack Tory's yunomi

Of the younger potters, I was impressed by Martha’s ability to share her work with an audience.  Her personality is fabulous for the stage and her work is so interesting that I got alot out of watching her work.  The TRUE TAKE-AWAY from the conference for me was her lided vessels…. she throws a bottomless pot with a flange, measures for the lid and throws the lid bottomless.  Then both will oval and fit.  DUH!  Throw the lid without a bottom (top).  Why hadn’t I ever thought of that!!!!

Martha Grover's Slab lid

Martha Grover is placing a slab on the lid of the box shown behind it.

There were so many highlights to this conference, just chuck full of information, entertainment, good company, etc.  I could go on and on but I will spare you the details.

I do have to put in a plug for the fabulous slide lectures, though.

One of the reasons I attended the conference was to see Walter Ostrom speak.  I have always liked his work and now I love his lectures!  He is a hoot!!!  He is an incredible historian, particularly when it comes to the tin-glazed pottery (majolica or maiolica) process which I love.  He is also an incredible landscape designer/gardener.  He lectured on the history of tin-glazed pottery.  The images he showed were lovely and the stories were entertaining and informative.

Sunday morning there were three lectures; all of which were full of important history of pottery – Bob Armfield spoke about the Auman family and their work to put Seagrove back on the map as a pottery destination; Mark Hewitt spoke of his pottery history (it goes back generations in England- who knew); and Louise Cort from the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian spoke of pottery collectors in Vietnam, Japan and America.  This was a great take on the traditional historical slide lecture; focusing on how the tea ceremony in Japan created pottery aficionados, rice beer in Vietnam brought about international pottery treasuries and … oh – I forgot the American take.  Ooops….

The conference kept me up nights and I am still recovering.  The amount of information I got will still bubble in my brain for months.  I especially enjoyed my conversation with John Glick about critiques (especially of my own work)  and of growth.

I need to thank Dwight Holland for his work in organizing this annual event, and John Glick for giving me his ear and wisdom.

Thanks for reading my short post.  I could’ve gone on and on….

Be sure to check out all the artists listed here – and make plans to attend next year’s North Carolina Pottery Conference!  It is a great experience!

Podcast for Clay Peeps

Being a studio artist can be pretty lonely.  I teach, so I am not lonely (lacking interaction with people), but my creative/critical side is lonely. That is why I seek out other potters/artists online and in books and museums.  I read blogs, search Google images, check in with online galleries, buy books, subscribe to magazines.  Now, I can even listen to a podcast!

Brian R. Jones is a ceramic artist from Portland, Oregon.  He makes functional and sculptural clay work.  Last year he began recording conversations with other artists and posting them online via an iTunes podcast.  The conversations are not interviews but a discussion about art.  Listening to it, complete with airplanes flying overhead and interrupting children, makes me feel as though I am a fly on the wall listening to fellow potter/artists chit chat about what makes them tick.  Lucky for me, Mr. Jones was able to attend the American Pottery Festival in Minneapolis last year and got to interview two of my favorite potters: Linda Arbuckle and Simon Levin.  Recently he has posted a two-part discussion with Lisa Naples, another of my faves.

Visual influences abound in our current online culture to help me see the unlimited possibilities in pottery, but this can be overwhelming.  Sitting in on a conversation, however, seems to pull me in from gawker to participant.  It unleashes a more critical thought process to help focus my attention on what I need to consider when taking that next step to better pots.

I encourage all clay peeps, potters or sculptors, novices to professionals, to listen in on the Jonescast to be part of the conversation.

Color Trends

Who knew my pots would fit into the 2012 Color Trend Predictions by Panetone?!

I don’t follow trends. Never really have. I like clothes that are comfortable and timeless, not constricting and/or ‘in’ one day and ‘out’ the next. As a potter, I don’t have the income to allow for seasonal shopping sprees and honestly, with red clay all over me both in the studio and outside on hikes and in the garden, where I spend 90% of my awake time, I cannot justify new clothes. Of course, color trends are not just for the body but for the interior spaces we live in. As for my interior space, the more variation, the better it seems. I just cannot stop collecting other people’s pots, even though nothing matches!

(insert picture of my cupboards – maybe next time… my camera is at the studio and I am not)

Recently my ceramic hero and past college professor, Linda Arbuckle, sent a link to some fashion color trends for 2012 and it got me thinking about today’s interior color trends and of course, tomorrows. So I did a google search and I was happy to find that my pottery colors seem to fit into both this year, 2011, and will continue to fit the color trend of 2012! GREAT! Or… who cares? Who follows these trends anyway? Do you change your interior colors annually or seasonally?

Some would say that a functional potter, someone not only interested in making functioning kitchen wares but ones that look nice, must care somewhat about trends. Of course, we potters need to sell our pots to make a living, so it would make sense to sell what people are buying; and if people buy based on trends, then it is obvious to make pots that follow the current trend. Birds are trendy. You can find images of birds on practically everything…. and I do believe birds sell. But do people really buy based upon trends alone?

A potter I greatly admire is an avid glaze color tester. This means she wears a respirator for many an hour while meticulously measuring various clay powders and colored stains into test cups, mixing them with water and putting them on fired clay tiles that she spent time making. This is a tedious process that my instructors over the years have encouraged me to do all the time. We potters are to continue to make our pots while also testing new glazes in each kiln load and new forms when the creative energy strikes, just to keep the excitement and interest in our work. Unfortunately, I seldom test new colors because my glaze mixing studio is in my basement and after a long day at the studio, I don’t want to spend hours wearing my respirator and mixing glazes in my dungeon. My lack of glaze mixing enthusiasm is similar to, say, knowing you should exercise but not having the energy to get up and do it. Kristen is that go-getter that knows what she must do and gets up and does it! I think she introduces new colors at least annually, and I think color trends influence her choices for testing. It really works for her and I admire her for that. It also exhausts me just to think about keeping up with color trends like she does. Similarly, my friend Trish is that person that gets up and exercises every day…. she knows it’s good for her and so gets up and does it!

So… whether or not you or I follow trends, it is nice to know that I still have another year before I really need to buckle down in that basement and come up with some great new color schemes for my pots! In the mean time, I can continue to think about how important it is to keep exercising the body and color palette and not doing anything about it!

Do you follow the trends when it comes to decorating your home or buying pottery?