Sunday, November 30, 2008

more shameless self-promotion

Don't worry, I'm working up a good, thoughtful blog post. I don't forget about my blog even when I'm totally buried. For the moment, you will have to be satisfied with some self-promotion. An magazine profile, a cute little online interview where I get to babble about food, and a reminder to some to my open studio this weekend!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

meditative mood

It has been relentlessly sunny and warm here in Northern California, except for today when we woke up to a nice fog bank and cool temperatures. Frankly, it was a relief. I live here for a reason: I love mild weather that does not challenge me. Some would say I'm soft, and I won't deny it. When you live in this temperate climate, you lose track of the seasons, what month it is, and sometimes, yourself. My theory is that Californians come by our reputation because: 1) the rest of the country is jealous; and 2) because your brain does get a bit lazy when you walk out into the same kind of day for years on end. Back when I was an anthropology student and exploring the origins of human behavior, one idea I was fascinated with is that inclement weather pushes evolution forward, because it forces one to innovate and invent in order to deal with the problem of changing seasons.

Last weekend was particularly spectacular and show-offy weather, perfect for visitors. In my ongoing quest to get out of the studio and interact more with the pottery world, I went to Trax gallery to attend a workshop with Linda Christianson, a renowned potter from Minnesota. Linda and I could not be more different as potters. She sat in front of the room on a treadle wheel (the kind of wheel you pump with your foot) and get it barely moving. She threw down a chunk of clay, raise the walls twice, and done. The process took about 2-3 minutes, and the thrown piece was chunky, even irregular with lots of action on the sides from her throwing rib. It was a very meditative and thoughtful process. I thought about my own method of throwing in production, where the wheel is going at about 100 mph and I'm throwing off piece after piece, totally smoothed out and perfect looking, like it just came off a lathe.

Linda also talked while she threw, and the topics ranged from the sound of the train whistles nearby, to how she prices her work. She wood fires her pots, so she builds up a big collection of work, fires it off, and then wants to sell it as quickly as possible so she can make more. Her work is pretty inexpensive for someone of her stature, with cups in the $30 range. I think it can be a little insulting to say that someones work is too inexpensive. It implies that they don't value their own work enough, or don't have the confidence to raise prices. I don't think either is the case for Linda. I thought she regarded making pottery as a practice, and a process of her life. The getting paid part of it is important, of course, but not the point exactly.

Speaking of points, I'm not sure I have one today. Maybe Linda got me into a meditative mood and that, combined with my soft California brain, is making it hard for me to wrap this up. I'm off to the studio now to make more pots, and hopefully sell them off as quickly as possible so I can make more.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

the artist's life

Christa Assad is one of my favorite potters, and one of my favorite people as well. She is an amazing talent, garnering some well-deserved recognition lately, including a cover feature story in the latest American Craft magazine. Read the extended interview from the magazine article right here. I always appreciate Christa's intelligent, humorous, and articulate take on her life and work. You will too.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

looking to the past, looking to the future

I had an interesting week. Last weekend I flew East to attend my 20 year high school reunion in Delaware. This is an event I would have never thought I would attend. I hated high school and I was not fond of most of my classmates, with the exception of my best friend, Missy. I was a shy and angry person, which combined into an overall surly kind of attitude. Missy was the opposite, probably one of the most popular and well-liked people in our class, and she kept me from complete social pariah status.

I think a lot of people don't want to go to high school reunions because they are afraid the event is going to be a re-enactment of high school, with better booze. What I found is that people were just interesting and interested. Few seemed to be there to prove anything about themselves. In a lot of ways it was just a no-bullshit event, so it was very unlike high school. I had a blast.

I flew home on Monday and was immediately swept up in the anticipation of the election on Tuesday. I loved the juxtaposition of these two events in my life, and they seemed totally related. I'm always surprised and gratified by the human capacity to change. The capacity to change and grow up into a thoughtful and decent human being, and our overall evolution as a society.

Sometimes when I look around, I think of this planet and all the people on it, and how we are all sharing this moment. We are all going through this life together for the first time, though it can feel like we are hopelessly mired in the past, and the future will just bring more of the same. Maybe we are mired in the past, but maybe we don't have to be. Maybe that's just a choice we make, because it's easier than being brave, having hope, creating change. I think we should all enjoy this moment of change together, really soak in how exciting it is, and never forget the work it took to create it. And then let's think about what we are going to do in the future to bring change to our own lives and to the rest of our world. It's a small request!