At the recent workshop at Peters Valley Craft Center, there were comments from some participants that they hadn’t often thought about design when it came to putting surface on pots. One of my favorite books for looking and thinking about design changes is architect Brent Brolin’s small book The Designer’s Eye: Problem-Solving in Architectural Design. Mr. Brolin has also written the excellent Flight of Fancy: the Banishment and Return of Ornament, which was re-published under a title I felt less useful: Architectural Ornament: Banishment and Return. It’s a great book about ornament, not just buildings.
As a fun fact, Mr. Brolin’s mother-in-law was Eva Zeisel, the remarkable designer.
Excerpt from The Designer’s Eye by Brent Brolin showing the effect of off-centering the doorway.
The Designer’s Eye would not have been possible before digital image manipulation. A building detail is shown in 2 different versions, and a brief comment below remarks on how the change influences the way the building is seen. This is from a section on openings, and he conveniently shows another example of a teapot with an asymmetric opening. Basically, it’s a picture book with comments. The comments are often observational, rather than judgemental: not THIS IS THE RIGHT WAY, but that A gives a different visual effect than B, and you can see what works best for your own design goals. A way to practice visual sensitivity; good for your own works and for looking at other’s works for critique. Brilliant. Someone should do design make-overs with pottery. Click the image below to go to Amazon and pick up a copy if this interests you. Inexpensive used copies available when I looked. I think it’s a great look book.
Beautiful Peters Valley Crafts Center
Just back from presenting a 2-day workshop at the lovely Peters Valley Craft Center in Layton, NJ. Great people at Peters Valley and in the class. Pretty country location: I saw deer, bunnies, wild turkey, and a heron. They have a big anagama firing coming up next. Thanks to everyone who came to the workshop and gave such good energy, and thanks to the nice people at Peters Valley.
Before I left I got a few cups out of the kiln from a decal firing. Lindsay Rogers is curating a cup show at Crimson Laurel Gallery for later this fall, and chose a theme of water. Initially, I was a bit flummoxed about what to do for the show… water? One of my early pottery teachers said you are destined to make pots like your body shape. In reaction to that, my studio life has been a quest to make rising volumes that lift in response to gravity. For the water show, it seemed right to make a cup with a low, drop-shaped volume.
In 2008 I had the opportunity to go back to Jingdezhen, China, for an NCECA symposium on ceramic education. Jingdezhen is the home of porcelain, with over 1000 years of continuous porcelain production. Ceramics is a major occupation in the city, and you see it everywhere. They make both screen-printed underglaze and overglaze decals there. I fell in love with the overglaze orange carp decals and the pink-and-green lotus image and brought several sheets home, waiting for a good excuse to use them. This seemed the place. Not only do lotus grow in water, but the story of the lotus-eaters is about forgetting. There is a huge local flap here about a permit for a mammoth cattle facility and slaughter-house in FL that will pump 13 million gallons of water per day from the Florida aquifer. One of the local paper articles here. So, I think in some ways we are all lotus-eaters about the way resources are consumed. Looking forward to finishing up a few more water cups in this shape. Below, cup in terracotta with majolica glaze and Chinese lotus overglaze decals. If you’re interested in exploring the Chinese overglaze and underglaze decals, Chinese Clay Art has them for sale online inexpensively.
Water Cup: Lotus-eaters