Sip Service: How to Make Sets That Blur the Lines Between Functional Pottery and Ceramic Sculpture

<p>Liquor Service, 12 in. (30 cm) in length, porcelain and earthenware, porcelain bisque fired to cone 06 and glaze fired to cone 9/10 in reduction, earthenware single fired to cone 04.</p>

Liquor Service, 12 in. (30 cm) in length, porcelain and earthenware, porcelain bisque fired to cone 06 and glaze fired to cone 9/10 in reduction, earthenware single fired to cone 04.

Making a set is a fun challenge for potters. There are special considerations that should be taken such as how the pieces relate to one another: Will all of the components look the same, or will they just hang together because of one element? If there are differences are they distinct enough or does it look accidental? Right now I am working on a set of mugs for a friend of mine, and it has been fun working through my ideas and coming up with a plan. It’s a relatively simple plan compared with the well-conceived sets of potter Mike Jabbur though. Not only does Mike make lovely functional sets, but he also creates display units for them that elevate them to a more sculptural realm. Today, Mike shares his process for one of his liquor service sets. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


Making a set is always a complicated, challenging task. You must consider the relationships among various elements of a single pot, relationships between pots, the finished presentation, and the processes and materials that best convey the idea of the set. I enjoy this task; it allows me to orchestrate function and consider my pots in a sculptural sense. While every pot has a sculptural presence, working with multiple components challenges me in a unique way that often leads to less obvious compositional solutions.

Pouring Vessel Process

Fig.1 Compress and smooth the cylinder then make a spiral on the bottom half.

Fig.1 Compress and smooth the cylinder then make a spiral on the bottom half.

Throwing the Pourer

When centering clay on the wheel, I always cone the clay to allow for even water distribution and a more centered ball of clay—centering throughout the entire ball of clay, rather than just centering the outside of the clay. Pots that will have a trimmed foot are always opened with a bowl-shaped bottom, creating an inverted arch that provides support for the finished piece during the firing process. After opening the clay, push the thick wall and rim into a cone shape, preemptively countering the centrifugal force that occurs when throwing on the wheel. With each pull, raise the clay, straightening the walls. Because I stretch my forms from the inside, I prefer making the basic shape (prior to altering) more of a cooling tower form rather than a straight-walled cylinder.

Fig.2 Stretch the form from the inside until it is near the point of collapse.

Fig.2 Stretch the form from the inside until it is near the point of collapse.

 

After pulling the cylinder, rib the wall, first with a wooden rib, then with two different ribs. I do one pass with a rubber rib on the inside and a flexible steel rib on the outside, and then one or two more passes with one rubber rib on the inside and one on the outside. This process allows me to compress any throwing rings and to create a tight, skin-like surface on the outside of the form, a surface that I find ideal for dramatic stretching.

Fig.3 Cut the rim with an up-and-down motion using a cheese slicer.

Fig.3 Cut the rim with an up-and-down motion using a cheese slicer.

Once you have a smooth surface, create a band at the bottom of the form, then use a soft rib to make a severe spiral that will gradually become subtler through the stretching process (figure 1). I find that throwing lines and rib marks on the same piece often compete with one another, and I generally prefer one or the other (and in the case of my work, I prefer the mark of the rib). As you stretch from the inside, follow the pattern of the rib mark while remaining aware of the overall composition and gesture of the form (figure 2). For this pourer, cut the rim with a cheese slicer to create a dramatic, meandering line (figure 3), then soften and round the cut with a sponge and chamois.

This article appeared in Pottery Making Illustrated magazine’s May/June 2010 issue. To get great content like this delivered right to your door, subscribe today!


Fig.4 Small trimming tools help create crisp, clean lines and transitions.

Fig.4 Small trimming tools help create crisp, clean lines and transitions.

Trimming and Assembling

 

Trim the pot once it’s leather hard (figure 4). I trim nearly every pot I make on a bisque-fired chuck with a leather-hard coil of clay on the top rim. After centering and securing the chuck and pot, apply downward pressure while trimming to keep the pot sealed to the chuck. Because I always leave a section of the pot unglazed, I create clean lines when trimming, which gives me crisp edges to follow when waxing and glazing.

Fig.5 Score the inside of the pot, attach a coil of clay to create a flange.

Fig.5 Score the inside of the pot, attach a coil of clay to create a flange.

After articulating the foot ring and matching the curve of the inside of the foot ring to the outside wall to assure even wall thickness, I cut three pieces from the foot to echo the gesture and movement of the rest of the pot. The three cuts create a tripod of sorts, providing movement at the bottom of the pot while maintaining stability. Flatten the foot slightly with the edge of a fettling knife, then polish with a soft rib.

Fig.6 Stretch a slab top into a shallow bowl shape and add it to the flange.

Fig.6 Stretch a slab top into a shallow bowl shape and add it to the flange.

Next, I compress and blend a coil to the inside of the clay wall, (figure 5). This addition allows me to add a bowl-shaped slab top, creating an enclosed form (figure 6).

Tip: Good scoring and a little bit of Magic Water (3 grams soda ash, 9½ grams sodium silicate, 1 gallon water), applied with a dropper, are ideal for making all attachments with porcelain.


Fig.7 Attach one end of the handle to the top, pull and attach the other end.

Fig.7 Attach one end of the handle to the top, pull and attach the other end.

Use a slightly moist sponge to compress and blend the seam between the slab top and the pourer. Excess water at this point encourages cracking as the pot dries.I usually pull handles directly from the pot (figure 7). With this technique, I can visualize the proportions better than when pulling the handle first, then attaching it. Score the top and bottom points of attachment to make sure there is a strong connection that will resist separation due to the porcelain’s high shrinkage rate.

Fig.8 Stretch the back of the spout using a blunt tool.

Fig.8 Stretch the back of the spout using a blunt tool.

Next, throw and attach the spout. I like to attach spouts when they are still fairly wet so I can shape them to match the contour of the pot. Use a rib to shape and compress, then make a small dent with the edge of a wooden rib and stretch from the inside with a blunt tool on the opposing side to create a gesture in the spout that relates to the rest of the pot (figure 8). Push the spout back in the middle (on the dented side). Then, supporting the middle, push the top of the spout forward to create an S-curve that you find both visually and functionally successful. Use a make-up type sponge to remove fingerprints and to shape the clay without otherwise denting or distorting it.

Fig.9 Cut the spout from the hump at an angle with a wire tool.

Fig.9 Cut the spout from the hump at an angle with a wire tool.

After cutting a hole in the pot for the liquid to pass through, wire the spout off at an angle (figure 9) and remove extra clay from the inside. Clean the cut edge with a fettling knife and then use a soft rib to roll and smooth the edge. Hold the spout up to the pourer, trace the edge with a needle tool, and cut away excess clay from the hole to about 1/4 inch inside the traced line. After scoring both surfaces and applying some Magic Water, attach the spout (figure 10).

Fig.10 Score the clay and carefully attach the spout to the pourer.

Fig.10 Score the clay and carefully attach the spout to the pourer.

To make the stopper, throw a small, steep-sided bowl shape off the hump. Cut the rim then smooth it in the same manner as the rim of the pourer. Shape the outside with a soft rib before cutting the stopper off the hump using a needle tool.

Fig.11 Score the knob and the inside bottom of the stopper then attach.

Fig.11 Score the knob and the inside bottom of the stopper then attach.

Alter a coil for the knob using the edge of your thumb, and cut the top at an angle with a sharp knife. Score the end of the knob and the interior of the stopper then attach them together (figure 11). Bend the knob into an S-curve. Add a small lug of clay to the back of the stopper to prevent it from falling out when pouring (figure 12). Cut a hole in the top of pourer to accept the stopper, soften the edge using a little water, and cut a notch from the back of the hole to make room for the lug (figure 13). Apply a couple of strategically placed slip dots to visually key the two parts together (figure 14).When throwing the shot glasses for this set, I always use small, individual balls of clay rather than throwing off the hump, to prevent S cracks.

Fig.12 Add a small lug to the back of the stopper to lock it in place during use.

Fig.12 Add a small lug to the back of the stopper to lock it in place during use.

Fig.13 Notch the back of the hole to accommodate the lug.

Fig.13 Notch the back of the hole to accommodate the lug.

Fig.14 Apply two slip dots to visually key the pourer and stopper together.

Fig.14 Apply two slip dots to visually key the pourer and stopper together.


Display Piece Process

Fig.15 Measure and lay out the templates for the cabinet using already high-fired pieces and a flexible curve

Fig.15 Measure and lay out the templates for the cabinet using already high-fired pieces and a flexible curve

 

Firing the Vessels

I bisque fire my porcelain to cone 06 and glaze fire to a flattened cone 9/soft cone 10 in a reduction atmosphere. I leave some surfaces—such as the spout, knob, and handle—unglazed. I sand these unglazed surfaces at the bisque stage with drywall and fine-grit sandpaper, then again after the glaze firing with wet/dry sandpaper.

Fig.16 Construct a maquette from the templates to help visualize the finished clay piece, then disassemble it.

Fig.16 Construct a maquette from the templates to help visualize the finished clay piece, then disassemble it.

Designing the Display

Presentation is important and I create customized displays for my porcelain sets out of a contrasting earthenware. I begin by making a poster-board full-scale model of the pedestal, or cabinet for the pouring set, using the already high-fired porcelain pieces for my measurements. A flexible curve helps create graceful and perfect mirror image curves (figure 15). The poster board templates are carefully cut out, as they will later be traced onto clay slabs. Since I build the pedestal using earthenware, I find that I don’t really have to account for shrinkage (but I build just a little larger than my measurements to be safe and to ensure a comfortable fit). The maquette is useful for visualizing the finished piece (figure 16), and once I disassemble it, the parts are used as the templates for the earthenware slabs (figure 17).

Fig.17 Cut all the pieces for building the cabinet using the templates before assembly begins.

Fig.17 Cut all the pieces for building the cabinet using the templates before assembly begins.

Roll out a large slab from groggy earthenware, and trace templates onto the slab with a sharp knife. As I trace, I score halfway through the slab, then tear the rest of the way through the clay to create a ragged edge that contrasts the smooth, refined edges of the porcelain pieces. Center the slab for the base of the cabinet on a drywall board before cutting it out. From this point, the base is not moved until the finished piece is leather hard. For the other parts, lifting the cut slabs and poster board templates from the drywall together reduces stretching and distortion of the slab. Assembling this cabinet on drywall helps with the drying of the piece; the absorption of the drywall aids in even drying from top to bottom (figure 18).

Fig.18 The top slabs should be stiff enough not to slump into the empty spaces, but soft enough to manipulate later.

Fig.18 The top slabs should be stiff enough not to slump into the empty spaces, but soft enough to manipulate later.

Having already made the maquette to scale, I simply reassemble the original design using clay slabs (figure19). Slabs are put into place, traced, removed, then scored for attachment. Using a ruler helps maintain even spacing—a slight error in spacing can become a major problem later. The slabs are still very soft at this point, so it helps to build the form in a sequence that supports the vertical walls. The attachment of all slabs is done with a slight back-and-forth motion to work the scored areas together. The top front edges of the cabinet are stretched upward so the cups fit in and out easier, as well as to break up the static horizontal line. The back column becomes a closed form. A small hole pierced into the bottom once the piece reaches a stiff leather hard to allow air to escape during the firing.

Fig.19 Add a small dome to the top of the column. Cut a hole to prevent trapping air between the two slabs.

Fig.19 Add a small dome to the top of the column. Cut a hole to prevent trapping air between the two slabs.

Finally, the porcelain pieces are put in their places as a last chance to make sure everything fits correctly. Dry the cabinet slowly over several days. Cracking is less of a concern with a groggy earthenware body, however slow drying is still important and helps dramatically with any warping issues that often occur with flat-slabbed pieces.After the cabinet is single fired to cone 04, the set is ready for presentation.

Mike Jabbur received his BA in graphic design from Virginia Tech University, was a resident artist at Red Star Studios in Kansas City, Missouri, and received his MFA in ceramics from Ohio University. He is currently the Studio Director at Santa Fe Clay in Santa Fe, New Mexico. To see more of his work, visit www.mikejabburceramics.com.


 

 

Comments
  • You need a master’s degree to make stuff this ugly???

  • Mike,

    Thanks for sharing your work and your process, very cool.

  • I agree with Elaine! Mike, thank you so much for sharing your work with us. I find it so helpful to read about and follow pictures of other people’s work, and I love the tip for “Magic Water” to bond the porcelain. Where else would I learn something like this – I take classes but can only learn what my instructors know there!

    I’d like to say in response to Joe and Regina – it may not be work suited to your aesthetics, but why be so disrespectful? Look elsewhere, and keep your immature comments buttoned up.

  • Mike, i don’t know who you are and unlike Joe and Regina, i don’t care what a degree you have, I love your work. you have a great talent of turnning simple ceramics into a real art work. love the idea with the display.

    adi tal

  • I find your work beautiful and I thank you for presenting it. THAT you did is the gift. Harvey

  • Joe, why don’t YOU make all this effort and post your works… and then we’ll judge who’s stuff is more ugly… So mean!..
    Thanks Mike for sharing!

  • For myself as I pursue a more functional direction in my pottery craft, I struggle with the desire to distort the form for artistic effect. My first question would be can you use the vessels or are they to look at? Mike’s creative process is clear and precise showing many years of training and experience, yet to deliberately distort a form reminds me of mistakes I’ve made. In conclusion, beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder. I long to throw forms on the wheel which have symmetry and purity of design.

  • I like it, I think it is really cool.

  • I found the whole concept of a built display case inspiring. Working mostly as a hand builder but doing some throwing, finally having a way to blend both in a finished piece is very exciting. I can’t wait to try out the concept. Your process was very well explained. Thanks for sharing.

  • I thought this was an adult forum now I’m not so sure. I’m ashamed that someone (2) wrote something so rude. I’m with Janna, Joe and Regina post your work and let others judge you. I’m sure there are others out there who may not like your work and it would make you mad to hear other talk bad about a piece of yours. So if you can’t be an adult then keep your comments to yourself.

  • Thanks for sharing your work and ideas. Joe and Regina’s comments are destructive and should be ignored; unfortunately there are people like that in this world and we are forced to put up with them. Perhaps there is a bit of jealousy involved in their negative comments. You did a great job explaining your process; thanks again.

  • Anyone who is willing to list their email address or email me at mistermug@comcast.net will get to see a photo of a 24 inch shino serving bowl that was on exhibit at the shino redux in NY recently, as well as some majolica and reduction stoneware work of mine.

  • Let me add:
    My comments are not relative to altered forms, but to the disturbing proportions of the work

  • I enjoy these partially thrown and hand built techniques. I will try these out. Thank you. 🙂

  • Very cool work. I usually skim these articles but kept going back and forth, reading your demo, to understand how the piece was created as well as your decision-making process. Your work is very smart and I was inspired! I strive in my work to maintain function while pushing the architecture – you do this incredibly well. Thank you.

  • I often relate one art to another. As I am an accomplished pianist I listen intently to other artists. When someone has a different interpretation I rush to the printed score to check what the artist has done. I find this exhilarating rather than just feel..oh year.. that was a good performance.
    I have been enthused to re-visit my pottery after reading Mike’s description of his work. I won’t be copying Mike’s work as it’s the inspiration that makes it a special. Well detailed process. Thanks you Mike.

  • Joe, perhaps if you could be more constructive in your comments you wouldn’t sound as immature and slightly jealous. It was quite a personal and confronting comment with no insight into what it was about the piece you disliked. I have no interest in going to your site since I wouldn’t want to encourage you in any way. You must think all your work is just maaagnificent.
    Personally, I find the ‘wabi sabi’ in ceramics the most appealing. The perfect and regular pieces hold less intrigue for me. Thank you for sharing the process, there were many useful techniques on display.

  • Thanks Mike, This is exactly my kind of artwork, I mean I always want to make something different. Perfect pot any one can make and we can find it in the stores, but this is art. I wonder what are you going to make next.
    Homaira

  • My idea of composition leans toward the golden mean, although I think I understand what you mean by wabi sabi, having had a japanese teacher for a couple years, and having spent a summer in Tamba (at the Ichino family pottery, where Hamada went for some of his mingei inspiration)
    I have issues with the incoherent negative space on the pouring vessel, the twig like protrusion, assuming that is pat of the lid, the jammed up profile of the piece, the oversized pouring spoout that seems like it should be on another pot. It seems to have about five elements with the cup like top about the same size as the bulging bottom which has a horizontal line seeming somehow at odds with all the other “soft” profiles. I think none of the elements relate to one another. Kenzan made the comment that skill is a bad master, but I think one needs it in order to flaunt it. I’m having a laugh at the idea that I’m somehow jealous, by the way!!

  • I also hope my commentary can inspire some serious discussion of the works presented instead of the fawning comments I usually read.

  • As a new potter, I am grateful to see that everything does not have to be “level”, concentrically “perfect”, and as boring as coffee cups at Walmart. Having come to this craft many decades after discovering my love of working with clay while our elementary school teacher read to us, it is refreshing to see the freedom and joy that spontaneous art can bring. Kudos, and many thanks.

  • Joe, do you really expect your “ugly” comment to inspire serious discussion? I’m all for honest critique of work, but your comment was just snark. Let’s not confuse pugnacity with critique.

  • hi i think is a great work well done to you but why dont you post us a dvd so we can apreciate more your work thanks for you effort on posting your work claudia

  • in regard to “comments” i do think that people need to comment and criticize is not all that bad, however what lit the fire of discussion here, away from ceramics and art, is the terminology.using the world “ugly” when commenting is not productive particularly when relating to art work. and this, i guess is the reason why so many of us were “emotional”…

  • Joe and Regina have you ever heard the old cliche’ “If you don’t have any thing nice to say, say NOTHING at all”? This applies here!!!!! While I do believe in CONSTRUCTIVE critiquing you did strictly a negitive attack. I believe what Janna and Sue said is exactly correct. And, the other old saying “put up or shut up” is what some of us are trying to get across to you Joe and Regina. You’re May 31th closing sentence, Joe seems very arrogant and child like. So Joe “Put up or SHUT UP!!!!!

  • When I was in grad school I had a couple of instructors who were harshly critical of student work, often taking it to a personal level. Joe and Regina’s responses reminded me of this strange and cruel vein of communication which exists in some parts of the art world, particularly academics. However, since I have been a professional I have had nothing but supportive and helpful critiques from my colleagues. Even when my work is not to their taste their goal is to support me in my explorations as I constantly move forward in refining my aesthetics and craftsmanship. I do the same for them and my own students. Criticism which is meant to wound and not to support is very destructive. We artists have enough struggles in a world which often doesn’t understand or appreciate the creative process. We don’t need to suffer it from within our own ranks.

  • Mary, you hit the nail on the head! I am a graduate student at a school that likes the “stick it in your guts” approach to critique. It is hurtful, and very rarely productive. I find it amusing that we call it the “New York Studio School Approach” to critique and Joe said something about exhibiting in New York. Maybe we aren’t so far off. LOL.
    Mike I also combine my work with their own displays, usually out of wood, and I thought that the combination of earthenware and porcelain was especially nice. Thank you for your article.

  • Joe you need to grow up a bit and learn that it isn’t all about YOU! Appreciate that there are differences in this world.

  • The first time I saw Jabbur’s work, I immediately contacted him and bought a pot. I like what he is doing now and am anxious to see where he goes from here. I wish Joe had posted a website so I could take a quick look at his stuff. While I obviously don’t agree with Joe and think he should have criticized Jabbur’s work in a more constructive way, I do agree with him that we need serious discussions of the works presented here instead of the usual fawning crap that is even more offensive than Joe’s comment. I’ll take Joe’s nastiness any day over Linda’s “If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all” nonsense.

  • I dont especially like the work presented above, but that’s my personal opinion.
    But it would never occur to me to call it publicly ugly, because my

  • (sorry something wrong happen while sending this post)
    continuing….
    I enjoy reading/ watching about new techniques, hoping i can get inspired and maybe learn something.I don’t have to like every piece presented on this site.
    I use the knowledge to produce my own pieces and dont waste energy and other peoples time by posting arrogant comments. Joe, noone is asking you about your opinion.you might be a good potter but you sound like horrible person with a low low self esteem.
    one more to think about: who is better ( since it seems to be your favorite game)?
    a potter or a sculpture?

  • Mike thanks for taking the time to give us insight into your thoughtful, creative, design process. I love the way you tie it all the elements together with the a design of the display. The use of the cheese slicer was something I’ve never seen before (other than in world of facets) and I’m thinking of a parallel effect with a yumi. Your spout looks fantastic…the bend is sweet (if they put those bends on fuel pumps we’d never drip gas when removing them from our cars). How did you induce the cracking effect of the edge of the teapot? …thanks for sharing

  • I’ve been looking at teapots as part of an assignment and trying to get past/analyse reasons for my aversion to same. Concluded am drawn to pots for tea that have interesting form, gesture, movement and/or have humerous/jaunty aesthetic. Yours strikes me as the latter with the unusual proportions mentioned. The tip on applying pressure at the back of the spout was especially helpful. I suspect if making one for a Samuri who would be drinking directly from the spout such an adjustment would be essential; for me gives a wonderful organic softness to the end of the spout. Aversion faded away on examination. Thanks for helping with that process, and congrats on your timely, for me, article in CM.

  • Yes, I do believe Joe has clay envy…

  • Folks –

    Looks like there has been quite a lively discussion here.

    I’d like to remind everyone that we recently launched the Ceramic Arts Community forum and there is a whole section on it devoted to aesthetics: /community/index.php?/forum/26-aesthetics/page__s__0587daa23eb812e1a9b2c3e15a83fca4

    Another reminder: spirited, lively discussions are great, but do try to be respectful of others and constructive in your criticism.

    Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

  • Thank you Mike for sharing your process. I like the idea of mixed clay bodies. I am a ceramics major student and I appreciate seeing different styles and expressions of creativity. I struggle with spouts on my teapots and seeing your example has helped me and give me some fresh ideas.

    Joe and Regina you are unfortunately beings and I feel sorry for you. You have no right to be critical of someone’s work without explaining the criticism. There are many great aspects of Mike’s art.

  • Joe needs to grow up a little bit. Thinking all of this is all about him – very juvenile. Joe.. hope your not too old to grow up :o)

    Mike. Thank you for sharing your work. I am hoping to some day be able to plan that far ahead in my sculpting. I need practice and lots of it. Your work is inspirational.

  • For those of youo who were interessted in my work my email address is available above, thanks to you who decided to avail themselves of that

    I apologize to anyone whom I’ve offended by my “brutal” criticism

  • Joe,Joe,Joe!! Go to your room until you can behave yourself.

  • Like the idea of making a display piece for the set. Mike, you are obviously highly skilled and have a mastery over controlling that tricky porcelain.

    However, the drinking vessels do not appear to be very functional. Considering the title of the article, I was expecting them to be. I don’t see how fluid would travel very well from the bowl of the vessel to the drinkers’ mouth at the rim. Naturally, not being able to personally test them out, I might be wrong…

  • I’m very fond of the abstract form. Porcelain is a difficult clay body to work with; and to control a distorted, wheel thrown, altered, and hand built form, is quite a challenge. Whether or not one cares for the esthetics is irrelevant, there is always something to learn from other artists techniques.

    Thanks for sharing your work with us.

  • Alls I have to say is hit the clay not the people. -JCH

  • Thanks for sharing this this very inspirational work. Al I can say beautiful. I may go back to my wheel.

  • Joe, I can’t find “alls” in my dictionary-what does it mean?

    I think we are discussing semantics here. Visually you may be uninspired, but in the tactile realm, you might be enchanted by these same pieces. A picture is often not worth “a thousand words”, but touch may be, or vice versa. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder-isn’t it great that we didn’t all find the same person to be the only one for us?

  • This is not the same joe that made the odd comment at the start of this conversation but the one a few above. As for Nicolette, I am from MN and its just a slang used in my town. I love this post and would like to see more like this. Sets of pottery are very intresting in how the artist pulls all the peices together. -JCH

  • Thanks for the update on what “alls” means. I’ve heard it used, but figured it was something like our “yall” or “you all” but it did not fit the context, so was curious.

    Aside from that, we did Raku firing yesterday at the studio where I am a student (in TN). People out of the area are amazed at the incredible, shiny, copper color that our pieces have. Having fired to crackle, horse hair, and the copper, I find the copper objectionable-it is a bit too “commercial” for my taste-too shiny. Mike’s finishes resonate with what I call “beautiful”, and call for us to take a piece of the beauty into our hands.

  • El mundo de la cerámica es muy complejo e interesante cuando algún individuo se preocupa por enseñar de alguna forma lo que ha aprendido en la vida gracias Mike por mostrar su trabajo.

  • I appreciate David’s comments, but with limited Spanish understanding, ask that we request English as an affirmation of our founding as a Christian and English speaking nation in correspondence. Having traveled a bit, other countries do not require that we understand or use their language, but that we adapt to their ways, language, traffic patterns, schedules, etc., which are very foreign to us. In the U.S., it appears that we are to bow to the foreign entities, legal or not, and subjugate who we are as a country to accommodate differing cultural entities.

    On our last trip to Mexico, during the gasoline shortage, every gasoline station served Mexicans who pulled up to the pump after we did so that the nationals could be served even if they ran out of fuel before “gringos” would be served. Mexico wonders why we are against illegal aliens? Look at how you treat your host, the USA. We were there on legal passports, not attempting to defraud their government, abuse their educational system, displace nationals for needed jobs, or to do more than enjoy their country and feed its economy. What would happen if we were to be found in a foreign country illegally or after our visas had run out? We would be imprisoned, questioned, perhaps tortured, and then shipped home-why are we stripped of the power to do the same thing? Why is fair only good when it rewards those who don’t respect our nation, but unfair when it holds people to the laws of the land?

    En English, por favor.
    ————————————————————-
    From the editor:
    While it is true that the Ceramic Arts Daily website is based in the United States, our mission is to be an online community for active potters and ceramic artists worldwide. We are thrilled that we have subscribers from more than 117 countries and that we often get comments in languages other than English. I have received hundreds of emails from artists from every corner of the world telling me that we are their only access to this kind of in-depth information on ceramics. To better serve our international users, we recently installed a Google translator tool to the site (upper right hand corner), which translates our web content into more than 33 languages. English is not one of the language choices for translation because it is the original language of the site, but I would suggest that those who do not understand comments visit the Google Translate website for translation http://translate.google.com/ .

    Ceramic Arts Daily is about our collective passion for all things clay. We strongly encourage participants from all cultures and geographies to comment in whatever language they are comfortable with. We’d like to remind everyone to keep the spirit of community alive and treat others with respect. Please think before you type. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

  • Magic water was actually a recipe that Lana Wilson has been sharing for many, many years and the stuff is great…as is just plain sodium silicate for re-bonding some raw clay body to another, and after bisquing too. I made figures of porcelain and attached to functional lid of a jar. Re attached it with s.s. careful not to get to the edge so it would take the glaze and it has worked again and again.

  • Hi there, this is truly beautiful work. People like “Joe” should travel more and see what is out there and what is acceptable, particularly the work produced by Japanese masters. What a Philistine! It is only when you have mastered all the ‘acceptable’procedures that one can do and create these lovely vessels. Mike is on his way to becoming one of our “masters”.

  • Joe: You are ugly.
    Mike: Very lovely worK, Thanks for sharing.

  • Nicolette: I find your comment about David’s use of Spanish on his posting and your subsequent outpouring of narrow, possibly racist thinking, to be absolutely shocking in this forum.

    Here are some questions for you. Aren’t we talking about ceramics here? Isn’t the experience of making, viewing, and discussing ceramics the perfect invitation to open our minds to the traditions of all of the contributing people of the world, in any language they offer? If the making of ceramics isn’t a unifier, what is? Why are you using this forum to spread hatred?

    Mike: Lovely work! I love the counterpoint of roughly made earthenware to foil the contrasting polish of the porcelain… but the sensitivity of the forms you are creating exists equally in both clay bodies. Congratulations on your work and thanks for sharing. I also appreciated the succinct description of your method of throwing (along with magic water recipe) which I will be sharing with my high school ceramics students here in Trenton, Ontario, Canada (where we try to speak and embrace all kinds of languages).

  • Having read the previous 53 comments one thing rings true, our opinions are much like our own pottery. Some pieces are refined and others are somewhat crude. It’s the nature of the beast.

    I find concept of the pieces not being in proportion pleasing in that it allows my eye to create a different “look” with each viewing. To the potters who feel that it looks like their pieces gone awry please think again. There is a huge difference between the results of a bad throwing process and the deliberate act of distorting a piece for effect. After 20+ years of throwing and hand building altering the symmetry of a piece to achieve the desired effect is still one of the hardest feats to accomplish. Add the fact that the work is done in porcelain clay, which the majority of potters shy away from, and the pieces are even more difficult to produce.

    ………….keep spinning the “mud”.

  • I enjoyed the contrast between the rough red display and the smooth white pieces. I also like the idea of displaying the sets. I didn’t care for the radically distorted shapes, but still found the process of making them very interesting, and after working with porcelain a bit myself can appreciate the mastery Mike has of the medium.
    I found Nicolette’s comment to be more disturbing than Joe’s. Joe was slamming art, Nicolette was slamming an entire nation of people. Please keep your right wing, racist comments to yourself, and remember how America acquired that part of Mexico. We invaded their land and stole it from them. American foreign policies like the drug war and NAFTA have devastated Mexico as well as many other nations. Jobs wouldn’t be so “needed” in America if corporate greed hadn’t moved them to slave labor nations, whom they’re devastating as well. OK, rant over! Sorry, but I couldn’t let that comment go without counter commenting on it. 🙂
    Back to pottery! Thanks for sharing your process with us, Mike! It’s always great to learn from other potters, especially one who has mastered working with “cream cheese” clay. I make stoneware chests of drawers with templates cut from poster board. I let the cut pieces sit for a few days under dampened paper towels and plastic, which stiffens them up without drying them out. It makes assembly of them much easier. I smooth the beveled edges of them by putting a paper towel over the edges before smoothing them with my fingers to prevent the clay from dragging. You’ve inspired me to make a display for a thrown set of something, Mike. I haven’t figured it out quite yet, but you sure got my creative juices flowing, so thanks for that!

  • Thank you Doris, I agree wholeheartedly with your “rant” & comments!

  • I have no intention of knocking an entire race or nation, religion or ethnicity. I am knocking unfairness, and if you had understood the message as personal experience, perhaps you would not have stooped to name calling and judging. Americans come from every nation on earth and are welcome as long as they play by the rules. We are pleased at every person who goes through the “system” to become a citizen. If you don’t like the system, go to work to change it, but observe other countries’ systems before declaring ours to be needy of change.

    We are dismayed at the boatloads/busloads of people fleeing desperate circumstances who die by drowning, vehicle crashes where many have been burned to death. Very few of us can claim “original” citizenship in the US. My family can’t. My faith in Christ is my own-I do not denounce you for yours, but ask that you respect each of us in our attempts at “art”, whether we like them or not, respect each of us as valuable human beings with beliefs, talents, and experiences that differ from our own, and put our energies into helping one another to understand the diverse ways we present our differences without malice.

  • Nicolette,

    Besides all my other problems with your post, my first question to you would be why you think everyone who subscribes to this post is a resident of the US? Why shouldn’t there be commentary by speakers of other languages? It should be a celebration that others are moved to respond to the post in any way that they are able. The English-speaking voice isn’t the only one worth listening to.

  • Agreed, I stand corrected. Please forgive me.

  • I’m an Australian citizen and lived 10 years in England. Luckily both countries speak English so hopefully I will not offend Nicolette by daring to contribute in another language. Maybe she could broaden her narrow christian mind by learning some Spanish.

  • one of the reasons i subscribed to ceramicartdayly.org was to run far away from “politics” and to learn as much as possible from professional artists. the last few days and the comments made to this specific post of Mike’s work, made me feel i am back into “politics” and there no escape. I am not an American citizen, and i fully support Rebekah’s comment about the non-English speaking voices. i actually live far away from the USA, and i feel so happy sharing the “secrets” of the art of ceramics with people whom i doubt if i ever meet, however, when i read the posts i feel like part of a community that can share the love to ceramics without borders. please, let it be like that.

  • Thanks, Nicolette. I’m sorry I went off on you, but I’m really tired of hearing Americans blame everybody but ourselves for our problems. The lazy citizenry has allowed our nation to become systemically and corporately corrupt, which is not Mexico’s or Mexicans’ fault. As for the different laws and treatment of Americans in other nations, none of them claim to be the beacon of human rights we do. We’re supposed to be special in the tolerance department.

    Hearing other voices is one of the reasons I love the internet so much. It gets us out of our limited little worlds and adds the richness of international voices. Just with this one email, I get to learn from five different potter sources a week. Thanks for that, Ceramics Arts Daily! You really enrich my artistic life.

  • While it is true that the Ceramic Arts Daily website is based in the United States, our mission is to be an online community for active potters and ceramic artists worldwide. We are thrilled that we have subscribers from more than 117 countries and that we often get comments in languages other than English. I have received hundreds of emails from artists from every corner of the world telling me that we are their only access to this kind of in-depth information on ceramics. To better serve our international users, we recently installed a Google translator tool to the site (upper right hand corner), which translates our web content into more than 33 languages. English is not one of the language choices for translation because it is the original language of the site, but I would suggest that those who do not understand comments visit the Google Translate website for translation http://translate.google.com/ .

    Ceramic Arts Daily is about our collective passion for all things clay. We strongly encourage participants from all cultures and geographies to comment in whatever language they are comfortable with. We’d like to remind everyone to keep the spirit of community alive and treat others with respect. Please think before you type. – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

  • Thanks, Jennifer, the translator is awesome!

  • Though I agree comments were slightly personal, I would see it differently: we artists make work to express what we want to express. When we do so, why expect others to understand it (let alone like it). I recently showed a series that displayed a opposite energies and a senior collector said he sees a lot of tension in my work and why should he “buy” more tension. So, that’s his point of view. It was put a bit bluntly but Joe does not like disproportionate forms. So be it. He need not buy the work! and Mike need not stop making them.

  • Grrrrrrrrr!!! I just wrote a great comment and erase it by accident!!! I don’t have time to write another one like that. I just need to say, I think Joe is harmless compare to Nicolette.She’s just showing poor character and insecurity. She’s so mad, (maybe herself, because she just speak English), because if somebody writes a comment on French, Italian, Portugues it will be just fine with me, because I will understand every single word, I was surprise to see David’s on Spanish, but for me it was easy to understand because that’s my first language. Sorry to you all about this!!! I could not help it!!! I think when it comes to art, language and countries don’t not matter.This should be to learn about ceramic, about the art around it. Mike I love your work.Thank you so much for sharing your creativity.Can’t wait to see more of your art.

  • Grrrrrrrrr!!! I just wrote a great comment and erase it by accident!!! I don’t have time to write another one like that. I just need to say, I think Joe is harmless compare to Nicolette.She’s just showing poor character and insecurity. She’s so mad, (maybe herself, because she just speak English), because if somebody writes a comment on French, Italian, Portugues it will be just fine with me, I will understand every single word, I was surprise to see David’s on Spanish, but for me it was easy to understand because that’s my first language. Sorry to you all about this!!! I could not help it!!! I think when it comes to art, language and countries don’t not matter.This forum should be about ceramic, about the art around it. To learn and share.To have fun. Mike I love your work.Thank you so much for sharing your creativity. Can’t wait to see more of your art.

  • My second post…seems I missed reading what our dear friend Nicolette wrote. Doris, kudos to you.! It takes some courage to accept. I am an Indian but lived in USA for 2 years so can tell. Americans need to wake up to reality and get their act together…else the nation will lose. It’s a great nation with great values but high order of complacency has made the current machine rusty…if things don’t change all we will hear is that this part of the world took away jobs. Nicolette, wake up and stop crying!! Finally, really, let’s avoid using this forum for anything but ceramics (I know I am writing non-ceramics, but that’s what happens on provocation. I apologise to the group).

  • Wow, I have to say I’m astounded by some of the comments on here… am I allowed to speak in Atheist English English?

    Not sure how David sharing his view on ceramics and thanking Mike for sharing his work warrants a bizarre, racist rant, and all on a website that is accessed by people from all over the world!

    Anyhow, my rant over with…

    As a degree student I find this site immensely useful as it allows me to have instant access to current knowledge from all over the world, and knowledge that my lecturers are not necessarily specialised in.

    I particularly enjoy looking at other “genres” of work (my work is sculptural) as it broadens my insight into the endless possibilities clay gives us.

    I love the irregular forms Mike has used and the contrast between the porcelain and earthenware.

  • Joe and Nicolette, I used your horrid comments as a teaching moment with my kids–to demonstrate to my children what type of hurtful and shameful comments people are capable of and to show them how it only degrades those who speak or write them. Please keep future, non-constructive comments to yourselves.

    Mike, Thank you for all the time and effort you put into this lesson plan. I was able to follow along with the descriptions and photos very easily and learned some useful tips for me to incorporate into my next set of sets.

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