November 28, 2007

Pot #59

In the Research & Development Dept. we have this quietly fantastic piece of pottery made by Daniel Seagle, a 19th century pottery from Lincoln County, NC. I first saw this fine and subtle pot at the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh 2 years ago. It's also in the companion catalog of the show, "The Potter's Eye" by Mark Hewitt & Nancy Sweezy. That's where I have been looking at it lately: in the corner of my studio where I gradually stack up books during the course of my cycle of work. This pot slays me. No doubt this shape/format was repeated by Seagle and many other potters for storage of food, serving of food, etc. This pot has survived the countless times it was used, as evidenced by the many little chips along its rim. From my experience this type of edge on a pot is vulnerable to chipping, yet this pot had enough clay to spare and has nicely "rounded off" over the years. Yet the squareness of the rim is intact and leads the eye to the overall shape that at first glance (and second, and third glance) looks square. But the measurement shows that it is 9" tall by about 8" at its widest. Not quite square, but by banding just below the rim Seagle has tweaked the proportions a bit. The handles or "ears", placed just below the ridges around the rim give this pot its sublimely anthropomorphic look. It may be without literal mouth, nose, or eyes, but this "head" listens, standing stoic, waiting. This stroke of brilliance happened not by the use of calipers, or labored thought, templates, etc. but probably exist here as a result of all the jars that Seagle made up until this pot. I don't mean to say that this pot was a fluke, but it was made with many others like it. It was made in the course of a day's work. In our information age we can share with the world great things like this jar, I am influenced by these great pots. I'd love to hold this pot and "look it over". I'll add it to my list of pots to "look over".

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