Several times a year I have the opportunity to step out into the field and meet subscribers, teachers, students, studio professionals, and part-time hobbyists who have taken up ceramics just as we all have, with one class followed by a million hours spent toiling in clay. Many of the artists I meet are eager to talk about ceramics, what they’re making, an exhibition they’ve recently visited, or pots they’re inspired by on social media. Their enthusiasm is always infectious. When I meet a new ceramic artist and have a bit of time to chat with them, I like to ask what’s new in the studio, what’s successful, and what’s failing but still holds promise? The flops are always fun to try figure out. Inevitably a sketchbook pops out—I love when that happens.
These one-on-one connections are such gems. They put faces to a field that is so often hidden due to the nature of our practice. On a recent trip to Tuscany with the ICAN International Tours, I met a wonderful artist, Nina. She is a vibrant woman (one cool cat), full of spirit, utterly charming, and a dutiful maker of functional pots. We chatted about workshops, artists who inspire her, and her joy in creating objects. We had a great time together. A few months after the tour had wrapped, to my delight, Nina sent me a note along with a few photos (see below) letting me know she was taking inspiration from projects published in PMI.
When Nina took the time to share her pots with me long after our travels together had concluded, I was reminded that building this field is more than our knowledge of material, our reach into the art world, or even our educational outreach. It’s about continuing the conversation. It’s about taking the time to follow up with each other to share how projects have evolved and problems have been solved. This single act of reinforcing connections does more for growing our field than any pot we can create or any technique we can teach.
In this issue of PMI we have added a few more projects for Nina, and you, to tackle. Cover artist Mercedes Austin builds wall installations with interactive planters. Marc Egan redefines the flower brick with a jaunty boat shape. Heather Smit crafts slab-built teapots based on the construction of old-timey, worn tin ware. Ann Ruel returns with an inventive cup and saucer turned cookie warmer. Also in this issue, inspiring creativity, brushwork, press-molded tiles, hump mold-made bowls, building larger with slip-cast pieces, and tips for writing and securing grants. There’s a lot to build in this issue! Happy making!