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The Best of Sawdust and Dirt

A record of the goings on around Michael Kline Pottery!

Filtering by Tag: Don Pilcher

Reflection

Michael Kline

I have been writing each morning for a week or so, now over at 750words.com and it has been really great. And in a recent convo with Cynthia Guajardo (@ceramicscapes on twitter) we were getting nostalgic about the olden days of pottery blogging. There was a time, before Facebook ate Blogger, where some pretty awesome stuff was being recorded in pottery studios all over. And still is to an extent. But mostly I see updates linked on FB more often than at the actual blogs.

SO maybe Cynthia and others will return to the long form again. Or not. What are your thoughts??

But before you answer that question, let me offer this retro-blog post from Don Pilcher in 2010.

Don Pilcher pottery sculpture rascaware rascal ware Champaign



  So I’ve concluded this: nice clay, a well-made form, a sensuous glaze treatment and a toasty firing. What have I got? A ceramic fashion show; not much more. It’s what Ralph Bacerra described as “just a pot with a glaze on it.”

After twenty-five years of making those pots, with some success, I quit ceramics to attend to a slew of life’s other demands. In the process I got a new job, new car, new house, new dog, new wife; same kids, same town. [READ MORE]

Put In My Place

Michael Kline

Don Pilcher lives in Champaign Illinois where he taught for many years at the University of Illinois. A gifted potter, thinker,and provocateur, Don shares his unique views on the field of contemporary ceramics. Visit Don's web site where you can read more of his stories.





When Ralph Bacerra wanted to deliver his final dismissal of some piece of work he’d say, “What is it, Don? Just a pot with a glaze on it.”

I thought this summation was much too inclusive. He couldn’t possibly mean to excuse the great Sung Dynasty, a hundred and fifty years of American salt glazed jugs, Swedish porcelain made under the name of their King and even some fairly recent wonders by Ken Price. And then I thought about the source; this was coming from Ralph Bacerra, who never let an empty space pass for very long and whose brushwork celebrated even the inside of his elevated foot rims. Reluctantly, I concluded he was just asserting his personal creative terms and that a pot with a glaze on it simply didn’t do anything for him. Turns out I was wrong.

Earlier this spring I received a letter from the Director of the Racine Art Museum, a small but very nice museum on the western shore of Lake Michigan. He was writing to tell me that some of my work would be on display throughout the summer in an exhibition of recent acquisitions to their permanent collection of American ceramics. He closed by inviting me to drop in and see the collection.

As luck would have it, I had scheduled a trip to Milwaukee that very June. My wife would be along and she has a real interest in these things as she’s the one who got me to return to ceramics twelve years ago. Racine is only a few miles off Interstate 94. Parking was easy. The exhibition was in several galleries on two floors. You could see the first and largest gallery as you approached the entrance.

Lots of major work there by a Who’s Who list of American potters. In addition to Ralph, there was Betty Woodman, Don Reitz, Beatrice Wood, Adrian Saxe and more. Not mine. Not surprising.

The second large gallery, adjacent to the first, had equally fine work by folks with a little less reputation; people like Paul Dresang. (How does he do those leather satchels? They look as if they are grown rather than made.) But no Pilcher. There was another large gallery upstairs and we struck out again. I was ready to skip it and get on to Milwaukee but Linda insisted that we ask someone and just then a museum assistant appeared. I told her my story, said we couldn’t find my work, and she said, “It must be in the intensities.”

INTENSITIES? I’ve been going to museums for six decades but I’ve never heard of an intensity. She assured me I’d find the intensity cases at the end of the hall. So out of the galleries, down the hall, past the restrooms, past the office spaces, past the janitorial closet and, finally, we reached the intensity cases. Still in the museum, but just barely. These are glass front cases, about chest high, the size of a huge office aquarium. Inside were about sixty pots - as tightly packed as any bisque kiln you ever saw, tighter than white on rice. Mine, a porcelain bowl with a black glaze, was larger and near the back, partially hidden by a Sandy Byers jar, a Heino bottle and a Natzler bowl. I think there was also a McKenzie pitcher nearby. The fact that you couldn’t see all of my pot was just as well; certainly not one of my best. Well, that happens.

But here’s the kicker. All of the pieces in the intensities, as Ralph would have it, were just a pot with a glaze on it. Not a mark of overt decoration anywhere. So prescient. What’s going on? Could it be true that a straight forward, finely made pot, beautifully, even exotically, glazed can no longer entertain, inform and gratify in today’s larger world? Or at least the cultural world inhabited by people like Ralph and this curator? Was the canon tossed while I was away? Does anyone still teach Yanagi’s theology about the unknown craftsman? I’ve been letting this museum experience turn in my mind for several months now. I have concluded nothing. The questions mount.

Do simple pots like this need an app to sufficiently and dramatically amplify the potter’s art? In this case, somebody thought so. For this collection, the museum boldly aggregated our expressions and then, like those photos of hundreds of nude people on London Bridge, intensified the viewing situation into something as curious as “Where’s Waldo.”

I’d love to share this experience with Ralph, but he’s gone now. Still, his caution remains and it resonates while I consider my place at the back of the pottery bus. After all, I was warned and it seems appropriate to ask oneself why this has happened.

Is it the pots? Is their sin simply one of being small and undecorated? Or is this a new time and place? Does America now move so quickly and loudly that we have no eye or ear for the inaudible yet very real chords of form, weight, color, texture and function? Maybe. These are qualities that were indispensable when most of the pots in the cases were made. But in the last fifty years, most Western nations have been overtaken by disposable containers. Time was, at most gatherings where a beverage was involved, the party ended with twenty minutes of kitchen time - washing, drying and putting away the china or glassware. Seems quaint now. As a result, we are living with a least two generations who know almost nothing about hotel china much less Royal Copenhagen or Rose of Canton.

If simple, quiet containers are now seen as simply dull, should I be moved to respond? At my age, do I want to be jacked around by overcrowding in Racine? Some good company there. Maybe I should be happy to be in any collection at all. And how much mind-time do I want to yield to this curator?

Then again, to think more ambitiously, every day that I walk into the studio is the first day of the rest of my life… as it is for all of us. I am retired to the extent that artists ever retire and I work primarily for the fun of it. Rascal Ware actually has a license from the State of Illinois to make whatever we goddamn well please…as long as they can collect sales tax. What’s to be lost with some new and very decorative moon shot at ceramic extravagance? (Whatever extraordinary hand skills might be necessary have now been lost to arthritis -and mine were never a match for Ralph’s - but there are ways around that.)

In a world of no coincidences, the current issue of Time magazine has an article on the “secret” that every parent has a favorite child. The gist is that the better looking child is usually favored over the plain child. I’m guessing the plain child is just a pot with a glaze on it.




apples



oranges

So I conclude here with photos of two pieces; a Japanese cocoa pot that came to me via my great grandmother and a yunomi by Shoji Hamada that I bought directly from him in San Francisco in 1963. I have an obvious attachment to both. I leave the intensity question to you. The apples/oranges problem is clear. But be certain of this, in the actual museum world of Racine, all the oranges wound up in the intensity cases, gasping for air and light. What might we draw from that?

About Time

Michael Kline

Don Pilcher lives in Champaign Illinois where he taught for many years at the University of Illinois. A gifted potter, thinker,and provocateur, Don shares his unique views on the field of contemporary ceramics. Visit Don's web site where you can read more of Don's stories. He can be also reached at don@sawdustanddirt.com

O
n page 86 of A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway suggests that we all carry the seeds of our own demise – but that the best of us cover them with finer soil and higher yield manure.

Demise has been on my mind. I just got word that my classmate from art school, Elsa Rady, died last week. In that way she joins the list of vital southern California ceramic artists, recently departed – Paul Soldner, Otto Heino, Ralph Bacerra. I don’t know the details of their estates. But I do know that many potters my age and beyond have made some highly detailed provisions for their heirs. I also know that nobody offers workshops on how to orchestrate the very last phase of a studio life or how to ensure that one’s body of work finds a deserving and appreciative home beyond one’s lifetime. But if you keep working and don’t die, you must eventually confront these matters…or roll the dice with your heirs.


In my own case, I’m driven by this story from a few years ago. A story about a friend of mine. The potter died leaving thousands of finished pieces; he made in the thousands and sold in the hundreds. I can relate to that. None of his five children wanted any of his work. (That’s a story of its own.) His wife was able to gift about a dozen pieces to a local museum…who, in truth, cherry-picked the collection. Friends and distant relatives took another hundred. But she still had a very full basement and a guest bedroom absolutely bursting with pots of every description.

Now, in my imagination, the potter is given a four-hour pass from heaven. He’s back on earth, standing next to his wife at the door to the impassable guest bedroom and she says to him, “What do I do with all this pottery?” Long silence. And the pottery is not all. What about the poisons in the studio; the barium and lead? And the exotics; that five pound bag of rutile, smelted with spar and re-ground into colored grog; the only compound like it in the whole hemisphere? Who gets that? In this scenario, where is the fine soil and high-yield manure?

Before I answer that, I’m also considering an e-mail I haven’t yet deleted. I received it as a forwarded copy. It was written by one of America’s premier dealers and concerns the retail potential of a large body of work by a prominent potter who was most active in the 70’s and 80’s. He’s still living. The dealer was kind but very clear. He wrote that there is a ready market for the work of about eight ceramic artists and he named them. After that, there is virtually no reliable interest. (That’s probably a true statement when discussing established brick and glass galleries. But through the Internet places like Rago Arts and E-bay move plenty of work.)

Now, about the fine soil: the finest we can provide comes from extremely careful and realistic planning. Again, online, there is a planning document about end-of-life decisions entitled “Good to Go” – clear enough. It contains general medical directives, information on revocable trusts, various financial provisions and so forth. For my directives, especially related to my ceramic life, I’m expanding those items to include a detailed list of potters, schools, art centers and institutions who might want (and know how to handle) not just my work but raw materials and equipment. And I’m having short conversations with most of them to gauge their interest. It’s not that I know of any particular urgency, but these are the kinds of jobs that can remain undone until it’s too late.

It’s neither fair nor realistic to expect that my heirs will know how to manage toxic chemicals or delicate pyrometer couplings. To this end, I’m establishing a fund of several thousand dollars to hire a knowledgeable individual to distribute my studio assets and rehab the space for some other use. This step has the added advantage of bypassing that famous scene from “Zorba the Greek,” a re-distribution of assets that unfolded like vultures on a carcass.

As to my work, I’ve set aside a number of boxes bearing the recipient’s name, containing certain pots and a letter from me. Since my name is not on the list of eight, I’ve left the rest of the pieces to my executor to dispose of in any way and at any time he or she sees fit. One of the saddest conversations I’ve ever had was with a husband and a dealer concerning the recently deceased wife’s work. The three of us met at the dealer’s gallery. The husband was sure he had been left a fortune. Time has shown that the work was nothing special. The conversation began obliquely. I said, “I don’t know who might show this work.” It ended thirty minutes later with the dealer saying, “I doubt they’re worth anywhere near that.” Long silence.

Almost every year a few of my pieces go into museum collections. They are gifted by collectors of my early work who are getting to that age. They are NOT purchased by the museums. But the collectors or their heirs get a nice tax deduction. The curators contact me to authenticate the work and, in the process, I’m occasionally able to enhance the gift in some way; a tax deduction for me and some personal pleasure. This is one of those times where deep sentiment and self-interest meet social good. And it may be the only way some of us get into the Met.

Finally to the high-yield manure – best for last and an alternative ending to the stories above. In this narrative we skip two generations; we think conservation, not conversion. Arrange to keep the body of work intact. The custodial heirs or other interested parties can spend fifty years developing a compelling history of the artist. Include notebooks, photos, press clippings, articles, monographs, catalogues and an infamous appearance on YouTube. Once all the contemporaries are dead, the next generation ushers that work onto the collectibles market. Even splitting the assets, the great-grandchildren could do alright. Really good to go.

Criticism

Michael Kline

Don Pilcher lives in Champaign Illinois where he taught for many years at the University of Illinois. A gifted potter, thinker,and provocateur, Don shares his unique views on the field of contemporary ceramics. Visit Don's web site where you can read more of Don's stories. He can be also reached at don@sawdustanddirt.com



Earlier this week the Arts section of the New York Times had a headline which read, Still a Little Sloppy, but That’s the Point. I was moved by this line, so apt and so fully conscious of what can happen when somebody actually makes some art. That headline is the kind of description and summation which signals a host of skills we hope for in our critics; observation, context, understanding, synthesis, evaluation, conclusion and, at last, pithy expression.

Then my mind jumped to several messages I’ve been receiving almost daily now from NCECA about a new basis for criticism in ceramics and a conference out west to launch the effort. Lots of prominent people in attendance, many of whom have done good work in our field. It may be a seminal event, not unlike that confab on big ideas in Aspen every summer. But I think the odds are against it.

First, as I read history, no one since Wittgenstein has come forward with a unique context and language for common human experiences like squeezing and firing clay. And while our production is ongoing and belongs to a case that could change, it’s not very likely. The primary reason for that is found in the old saying, “God creates, man arranges.” Too much of the time, we, makers and critics, forget what a truly modest thing it is we do. We arrange and we re-arrange. But to hear some potters tell it, lighting and firing a kiln is like proving the Second Law of Classical Thermodynamics…and it is, for the umpteenth millionth time. And according to one critic, some potter’s huge jars are nearly unprecedented in size, technique and vigorous decoration. Maybe, if you ignore a couple million Greek and Minoan leftovers.

Secondly, we have presently in place an almost unlimited number of reasonable critical perspectives – reasonable, meaning they employ some measure of knowledge about ceramics. Such knowledge includes its history, broad applications in the arts and sciences, potential for function and expression, subtlety, and finally, the nearly magical capacity of the material to emerge from a kiln and simultaneously recall its ephemeral, plastic state and yet insist on its igneous permanence. In fact, these perspectives, taken together, are how criticism works in most of the humanities. And, to me, it all works well enough. Our shortage is in better ceramic artists, not better critics.

And finally, I’m a little bothered by the argument that ceramics is a special case and requires a unique context. I suppose this is not exactly parallel, but beware of the prospective mate who claims to be a special person and that practically no one understands the very special considerations due them. If you go along with that, you’ll eventually find yourself at the bottom of a human shard pile with folks who breathe in empathy and expel self-pity. I’d hate to see ceramics go there. We’re in enough hell as it is, having accepted the idea that everyday decorative objects are a legitimate form of ceramic art. That’s a very low bar, even for arranging, and makes me crave something that’s more…well, just a little sloppy.


Rascal Ware, Georgette Ore 2005

Guest Blogger: Don Pilcher

Michael Kline

OK. We’re back by popular demand…and unpopular demand. Chewing
nuts; I must have hit a nerve. I got one proposal of marriage and two
suggestions to drop dead.

The nut I was chewing was the lack of depth in the endless, light-speed
postings on numerous clay sites; lots of text and pictures about how many
this and gee wiz that. No doubt digital technology is perfectly suited for “up
to the minute” communication. But I fear that too much Twitter could turn
us into twits, crowding out more reflective and nuanced discussions. So this
is my plea for some deep, personal story telling, stories that go beyond your
new log splitter. I’d love to read about life’s interior matters – the things
we can’t necessarily see from outside; the potter’s private insights which
eventually result in personal, and occasionally, great pots. I suspect that
some of the best of these private inspirations linger out of sight and remain
there because most of the best potters write little, if at all. (Pricked by my
own pen.)

A peek into private inspiration is a precious and surprising thing. I’m
talking about those self-critical conversations that we have with ourselves in
the shower where it’s safe to ask, “What is the weakest part of my work?”
(Public inspiration by contrast is that collective yippee we get when we fire
and unload a kiln together. It’s fine enough but not usually corrective to the
core.) I have a friend who is a big-time soloist at the Metropolitan Opera;
in fact, he sings all over the world. Of course his voice and musicianship
are wonderful. But what’s really interesting and instructive is to hear
him discuss how he weaves the story, the music and his character so as
to increase the artistic yield and still be a member of the ensemble. Not
many potters discuss their work in this way. I’d love to read what Donna
Polseno or Tom Spleth have to say about corralling an idea, nurturing and
perfecting it and then making something of that process that sustains their
artistic output for another five years. Like the doing, such writing is hard
work and it takes time. But what a gift to our collective conversation. (As I
write, I’m too proud to tell you how many drafts this blog will see, however,
I’m sure it will be at least one too few. Regrets are just part of the activity.)

Spleth doesn’t need me defending his work; he is one smart and talented
guy. (Just to be clear, we’ve met a few times but we have no established
friendship.) However, having mentioned him by name and reading some
of your remarks about his work, I feel I owe him some cover. This is why I
like his work. Where others appropriate forms, surfaces, bodies and decals/
finishes, he does it all from scratch. Does it matter? Yes, IF your perspective
requires that all art exhibit some element of love’s labor. And if, as Redd
Fox used to say, “Unique is what you seek,” then Tom’s scat pieces (pun
intended) immediately separate themselves. Not a small thing and, forgive
the professorial analysis, his letter fonts often cleverly mimic his word
choice in image, placement, color and gesture. In my view, that’s hugely
more satisfying than ad agency marks from an expensive Japanese brush,
loaded with oxides and dragged across a virgin surface. Call me a snob.

And add heretic. Another thing that dilutes our much too rapid
conversations is that we venerate and anoint some mediocre people –
just like Congress, big business and most other collective bodies. Those
mediocre models may point in the right direction but they fail to elevate our
sensibilities. One respondent to my earlier iteration said I was fortunate not
to have called Leach a hack and Hamada a poser for, if I had, I wouldn’t be
safe in the southeast. Well Leach was not a hack, but his grandson’s work
exhibits unmistakable regression to the mean. Too critical? Give me a break.
I’m entitled to an opinion and while I don’t intend to overhaul contemporary
ceramics, I can certainly take part in a frank discussion about the merits of
our efforts and whose work we salute.

Ours is a small business and most people are reluctant to speak candidly
for fear of reprisal. That’s not hard to understand. Folks have long memories
about criticism. Robert Altman described critics as people who come down
from the mountain top, walk onto the battlefield after the fighting has
stopped… and shoot the survivors. Who wouldn’t be pissed off by that?
But like you, I don’t reside on a mountain top. I’m one of the people on the
battlefield and I have an interest in the outcome. Ultimately we don’t dignify
our efforts or clarify our goals by “talking around” important matters. One
of my most valued possessions is a three page letter I received from Val
Cushing after he rejected all of my entries to an exhibition. His willingness
to explain his decisions, in detail, was most inspiring. Not because I then
changed what I was making, I didn’t. But he demonstrated that some people
in our group look closely and actually care about what they see. That’s a
group I want to be a part of.

I’m not alone in a search for serious thought. I see the next issue of Studio
Potter will be about the uses of failure. Mary Barringer has chosen exactly
the kind of subject that shows us at our best. Almost anybody can buy a
good porcelain, mix a batch of Rob’s Green, soften cone 11 with 3 cords of
split pine and get beautiful, complicated, nuanced, seductive pottery. But
practically, professionally and emotionally, it’s more valuable to learn how
to dispose of a weakness for Rob’s Green in order to make room for your
own formula. (Take a look at the new glazes Tom Turner has produced. Talk
about love’s labor!)

I’ll close with my own account of the shower conversation from just
this morning. What is the weakest part of my work? I’ve concluded it’s
an attitude, an attitude shown by vases that don’t need to hold anything
and bowls that are already full when they come from the kiln. My work
doesn’t serve in the usual sense. It postures, makes jokes, presumes to be
instructive and so on. I’ve never been clear on whether that’s asking more
of a pot than we should ask, or, if that kind of idea should be attempted
only by people with huge talent. I keep hoping I haven’t yet cracked the
shell of my talent and that the nut is still there, but I can’t be certain.

Don Pilcher lives in Champaign Illinois where he taught for many years at the University of Illinois. A gifted potter, thinker,and provocateur, Don shares his unique views on the field of contemporary ceramics. Visit Don's web site where you can read more of Don's stories. He can be also reached at don@sawdustanddirt.com

Guest Blogger: Don Pilcher

Michael Kline

don pilcher (l), george ohr (r)*

So I’ve concluded this: nice clay, a well-made form, a sensuous glaze treatment and a toasty firing. What have I got? A ceramic fashion show; not much more. It’s what Ralph Bacerra described as “just a pot with a glaze on it.”

After twenty-five years of making those pots, with some success, I quit ceramics to attend to a slew of life’s other demands. In the process I got a new job, new car, new house, new dog, new wife; same kids, same town. The new wife was eager that I make some pots for her. I held her off for about ten years and then relented. What should I make? I can make anything. Same old things? Those classic, bold, precise, graceful, androgynous forms? They lived at the intersection of Danish Modern and the Sung Dynasty; not a bad address, but really not my address. I was just renting – take my word for it.

After a lot of thought, shaped by a provocative, existential question from Tony Hepburn – ‘If you knew that nobody, anywhere, would EVER see your work, would it change what you make?”(A question which requires you to birth your own pleasure) - I decided to employ the formerly silent characters of my personality; some of the dozen or so members of the committee meeting that is my mind. I won’t list them all but I’m sure other people have similar voices within them – curious, funny, skeptical, greedy, smart, impatient, hopeful, scared, wicked, ambitious, dirty, generous, resigned…add your own. It’s been almost ten years now with this crew. Our product is called Rascal Ware.

Rascal Ware is equal parts literature and pottery. I/we write stories about life in the pottery and then make pots to illustrate the stories. Each chapter has its own body of work. The people who work there, in addition to me (the retired professor and “ceramic know-it-all” who can turn any remark into a seminar and who has all the answers to questions nobody asks any more), are Junior Bucks, Georgette Ore, Hairy Potter, Mosley Bunkham and Shakespeare, the studio dog. You can read all about them on my web site.

At present we are living Chapter 10, More to Pour. Georgette is the author and the subject is pouring vessels which, because of age, no longer pour so much as drip or just seep. These are more than just pots and glazes. These are allegorical tales and cautionary icons, or, if you don’t think in such terms, they are just jokes. But they have the singular privilege of being unique and the artistic leverage of being true. We call them sperm bank coin banks. The coin bank idea is from George Ohr, his bare issue is seen in the first image. The seminal sperm bank part is from Rascal Ware. George is first in time; Rascal Ware is first in audacity.

(You can submit jokes, or gags, about first and second comings to my web site.)

*(Original George Ohr pottery courtesy of Richard Mohr)

Don Pilcher lives in Champaign Illinois where he taught for many years at the university there. As a gifted potter, thinker, and provocateur, we hope Don will return often with more rascal stories. In the meantime you are encouraged to leave Don a comment below or at don@sawdustanddirt.com
Visit Don's web site
Other reading: Dave Toan's essay "Why I Think Don Pilcher is Important".

Michael Kline

It wasn't exactly a 12 x 12 kind of day, but in the end I handled a bunch of pottery! I loaded a couple of sinks into the biscuit box and two others into the dryer/de-humid-if-I box! I went really slow and found myself hanging with the "three o'clock club" waiting for my computer-free kiln to finish. Like most of the equipment I use to make my pots, the e-kiln is pretty old and decrepit. The kiln sitter can't be trusted!

So I made a bunch of square edge platters in the wee hours.

I've been using, not one, but two throwing buckets! I can't say enough about the two bucket reach as I dip for water as I center! I understand that most people don't throw standing up (you should) and that most people have little room for throwing tools, much less a second bucket. Just sayin'. Set up your stage!

OK, then!

I promise the following very soon:

  • a new blog post by guest potter/blogger Don Pilcher
  • sink tutorial
  • report from Penland
  • report from Somerville
Keep on folks. I'll be back soon!

Follow on Twitter if you need more info while I'm away from the desk!

Need bonus features? Gettim!

Later yall!

Twisted

Michael Kline

georgette is coming!

Evelyn and I were up in the shop the other day and she asked me to remake a funny mug that I had made a while back. It had a twist in the middle and I had put a handle on it to make a joke. But she really liked it. I don't remember if it broke, as a lot of pots do around here eventually, but here is that one's twisted cousin. I made this one a vase as the mug was hard to clean (for obvious reasons).

It just so happens that Don Pilcher is coming this week. Don is one of my new contributors to Sawdust & Dirt and hopefully we'll hear from him soon!

More fun ahead this week, I'm sure. This is "crank it up" week! Time to get BUSY!

Name Dropping

Michael Kline

Kelleher

After publishing the previous post, I realized that I forgot to mention that Matt K is in a show at RedLodge Gallery with Brad Schwieger, Matt Long, David Hiltner, Jason Hess, James Brashear, Ted Adler, Dean Adams, and our wood-kiln-map guy, Simon Levin! After all, what would this blog be without mention of Simon!? The show is called INFERNO! Here are some other pots from the show.

Long

Adler


Levin

Speaking of whom, Simon will be joining the Sawdust & Dirt columnists later this month, along with Mark Shapiro, Ayumi Horie, Don Pilcher, and Sam Taylor. More on this exciting news later.

Coffee Break vol. 24

Michael Kline


Wow! Guess what came in the mail the other day?! Yes it's a beautiful piece of Rascal ware by the notorious Georgette Ohr! It made for a most interesting coffee break. No doubt Georgette would have blended some chicory in her brew, but I am currently into the new Eight O'Clock Dark Italian Roast, yeah! This fine piece of rascal ceramic is made with a dark black porcelain which went well with the mud I drank from it. Also featured is this delightful super crawly glaze. You may be able to tell from the photo, but it has a great angle of repose. The tip of the lip gave me a pause before filling the cup all the way up, 'cause you know a full cup is hard to carry (without spilling!) Not that I was walking around during this here break. No, No, I sat outside to squint at the sun that graced the afternoon in all of its bright whiteness! After yesterdays rain it was a glaringly welcome sight.

Another obvious feature of this cup is it's bulge near its base. This "sit-down" bulge poses something of a secret. You can't really see under the bulge and that makes me curious. Maybe I'll need a dental mirror! Just last night, I was throwing a big 12 pounder when, just before I was finished with one last ribbing, the top dropped at a very thin place in the clay wall. It collapsed so evenly that it just hung there as I tried to correct it. Well, you can imagine who won that wrestling match. This cup masterfully exploits a similar structural circumstance and gives the pot it's distinct presence. Fozen by fire is this almost dilapidated flop of a pot that leans proudly in a defiant swagger!