In the age of digital communication and quick posting to social media, the letter to the editor has become a lost art of critical writing. When I first started working on the magazines (Ceramics Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated) ten years ago, we would then only receive maybe 5 or 6 letters a month—some with suggestions for articles, occasionally a note of criticism, a few with praise. But, over time even those dwindled to none. In fact I can’t even remember the last time my mailbox had anything in it other than invoices. But, the other day a colleague let me know that a letter had come in, and it was worth my trip to the mailroom. I grabbed the envelope and inside found a note from a young reader. It was from a 14-year-old subscriber, who writes that he looks forward to learning something new from each issue, loves to cook, and enjoys the recipes that come with the In the Potter’s Kitchen section. Jamie respectfully adds a bit of constructive criticism noting that we could include a few more articles on how to throw closed forms (see Jamie’s note below).
As print publishing around the world continues to decline and digital resources expand, the next generation of young artists find themselves with a plethora of online tools at their disposal. By no means do I condemn this diversity of options—I wish they had been available to me when I was younger—but, I must admit it’s encouraging to see a new generation of potters take a literary approach to honing their pottery skills. Sometimes having the paper copy of PMI open to a new project is the best way to spend a day in the studio. So, to young Jamie we say, if you continue to work on your pots, we’ll carry on with publishing the best techniques we can find, including a few more articles featuring closed forms.
And, to all readers, this issue offers what Pottery Making Illustrated does best, highlighting creative techniques from up-and-coming and established potters. Ali Tajrezaei shows us how to create elegant rims and feet. Momoko Usami demos a handbuilt storytelling slide box with drawings inside and out. Mike Cinelli develops layered surfaces on the traditional diner-mug form. Kelly Justice shares colored slip casting with multiple molds and textures, while Ashley Kim and Molly Anne Bishop handbuild cups and plates respectively with bright, active surfaces. Shana Salaff develops surfaces from historical and online pattern sourcing and Brent Pafford takes his pieces one step further with creative post-firing alterations.
Plus, we’ve also included a recipe for homemade fortune cookies so everyone has a chance to enhance their baking and creative writing skills. If you’re not a baker, try Peggy Breidenbach’s folded clay version or try your hand at a letter to the editor. I’m ready to read!