I make utilitarian pots using a precise, clean, and efficient geometric language as I try to define perfectly handmade. The act of making allows me to practice my craft repeatedly while looking for the nuance of how much evidence of handwork I put in and how much hand I take out.
I am curious how functional pots continue to retain relevance in our evolving and modernized society. I believe this importance is due to our innate need for connection to expressive and creative thoughts. Working as a functional potter provides me an opportunity to invent objects that fit into daily experiences that enhance the user’s life through the use of originally designed and exquisitely crafted objects. The resulting establishment of a personal connection between the user and the maker through the object is reserved only for personal production for personal use.
The simultaneous attention of the user on the objects and the attention of objects on the user speaks to the unique nature of personal production for personal use. The constant refocusing of the viewer/user allows a more conscientious operation of the objects, hopefully presenting questions of what is perfection and what occurs when the popular aesthetic definition of handmade is circumvented.
Why are the pieces expensive?
I feel that being able to buy an original piece of individually handmade artwork that can fit into our daily lives for $75 is an amazing bargain, and of exceptional value as compared to other original handmade works in other media. I understand expensive to be a highly relative and subjective term that is more shaped by a person’s experiences and opinions than anything else.
I use the definition of expensive to be something that costs more in comparison to what someone is used to paying for similar items. I ask in return, expensive as compared to what? My pieces are not the same as other commonly encountered industrially produced ceramic wares. Please keep in mind my pieces are individually made by one person using premium materials as opposed to anonymous mass production with a division of labor using the most inexpensive materials possible. Within the field of Ceramics I do compare my prices with my contemporaries in order to stay consistent. I do not want to undersell anyone’s else’s expertise or overvalue myself.
What makes your work worth its price?
Ultimately I see this question as more for the buyer than the maker, as when the work sells it therefore becomes worth the price, but I’ll take a go at answering it. The easier aspects to explain would be the quality of pieces due to techniques, labor, skill, materials, and rarity. The more difficult aspects to explain would be why concept, position in the field, and curatorial accreditation raise prices.
Considering supply and demand and acknowledging that I produce very few pieces per year, the high value we frequently associate with marketing terms of “limited editions” or “one-time drops” are true for me as well. I don’t release very many pieces in order to ensure the quality of the ones I do release. I use the absolute highest quality materials along with best practices in pursuit of pure technical perfection. I use a few exotic materials both in my clay and in my glazes that industry and production potters will not use because of their cost. I use them as I have zero compromise in my efforts to produce the highest possible quality achievable. I am a ceramics technical nerd, and I love learning about all things in the ceramic process. I test new recipes constantly, respond to the results, and test some more trying to continually outdo myself. This habit of desiring technical betterment has been a difficult path to stay on, and I’ve gotten off at times because it’s too difficult, but I come back to it and completely believe in the quality of the work it now allows me to make. I establish the highest of standards for technical flawlessness associated with concepts surrounding perfectly handmade, which means a small glaze crawl inside a footring will disqualify a piece from being labeled as a first. Wabi-sabi, and the acceptance of imperfection, has no place in my studio practice.
Throughout my time learning how to make pots, I have greatly enjoyed studying and researching the field of Ceramics. The old stuff, the new stuff, all of it. I try to use everything I’ve seen as a guideline for what not to make in pursuit of originality. I hope my combination of concepts, techniques, and historical awareness begins to make my work feel original. When trying to consider public acceptance and accreditation, I am honored to have been acknowledged by organizations like the National Council for the Education on Ceramic Arts, Arrowmont School of Crafts, The Society of Arts and Crafts, and others while exhibiting in various shows around the world. At this point in my career, I can say that I have been accepted and accredited by the critical and curatorial communities that oversee the field.
Since slip cast pieces are made in a mold, shouldn’t the work cost less?
This question implies a comparison to pieces that are hand built or wheel thrown. I work in all three methods, hand building, wheel throwing, and slip casting, and I can say with absolute confidence that slip casting is by far the most difficult and time consuming process of the three. Slip casting requires several additional skill sets beyond hand building and wheel throwing, which is at least part of the reason why the technique is less popular in a studio practice setting.