Working Red

Bowl; circa 2oo0

Bowl; circa 2oo0

This is the only pot I’ve held onto from the series of work Ron Philbeck was kind enough to write about the other day.  This is wheel thrown terra cotta fired to Cone 1.  The surface is composed of layers of white slip, terra sigillata, sgraffito and tin glaze.  A lot of these elements don’t like each other much, at least they didn’t enjoy the way I introduced them to one another.

Aside from the wear and tear of the 1/2 dozen moves this poor bowl has suffered with me over the years there are also glaze pops, organic discoloration and the rim looks like a very small beaver got at it.  The question is Bugs or Features?  For me it is always a mixed bag.

Below are some of my favorite pots thru time:

Neo Babylonia; c.600BC

Neo Babylonia; c.600BC

Egypt; c.100BC

Egypt; c.100BC

Crete; 13th Century

Crete; 13th Century

Great Britain; 13th Century

Great Britain; 13th Century

*(still having trouble w/ formatting, thanks for your patience)

It’s the chips, cracks, rubs and patinas on these pieces that really turns my crank.  It is the power of pots like these that made me want to make pots in the first place.  So it seemed natural for me as a young potter to try to get THAT stuff into my work.  I feel that I was successful to a degree with the bowl above and other work from that time.  I still like looking at that bowl as it sits in retirement upon a high shelf.  I am still proud to have made it, but I do have my questions about it.

These days I wonder about the honesty, integrity and quality of that poor little bowl.  Those pots from history earned their scars over centuries and millenia.  Mine has yet to pass a decade.  It is a pot about good pots and in that way I worry that it has no chance of being a good pot itself.

Now this is all water under a bridge but it does speak to some of the challenges of working red.  I’d like to sit here all day and try to come to conclusions but I find that the only satisfaction I ever acheive about big questions like these occurs in the studio.  I’m sure I’ll chip away at these issues of quality as the days go on.  After all it’s Autumn and a good time to think about these things.


3 Responses to “Working Red”

  1. 1 K Rhynus Cesark October 24, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    Hi Steven,
    I like your site. …..unique and all encompasssing. Thanks for sharing. Mine is under construction…up soon I hope.
    See you next week. I voted today……..
    I like The Obamaware!!!

  2. 2 Christine October 25, 2008 at 1:27 am

    It is so good to see some of the same pots which fired me up when I first started. I was drawing one of these huge chests from Crete in the British Museum last month as it happens. I love your little red bowl, which already has a timeless feel. Also congrats on the Obama ware, what a brill idea.

  3. 3 Steven October 26, 2008 at 5:33 am

    Hi Christine,
    Thanks for stopping in. Any idea what scale that Minoan chest is? I don’t have a point of reference on that.

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Detail from Pitcher - 9.o9

lunch plate ; circa 2oo9

October 2008
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