Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Buyer Beware

Tom Turner and I got together and solved the worlds problems over lunch, yesterday. Tom mentioned this pot on ebay that he was sure was from China, but the seller is claiming it was Catawba Valley: alkaline glaze, from the 1800's. Hmmm. See for yourself, here [link no longer available]. (Let us know what you think about this pot.) I had a similar feeling for some of the work I saw at the Hickory show last weekend. Were the pots being sold by the vendors old, authentic, or any good. Were the pots being sold by the potters any good? Since the vendors hadn't made the pots they were selling, I looked at their collection for a clue into their aesthetics. I had never sold my pottery among potters and antique dealers, and I found it to be very refreshing. This market mix of potters and vendors pushed my eyes to look a little harder, challenging my perceptions about the pots I held up as ideal. I was surprised to pick up a beautiful one gallon jar with a beautiful glaze and nice "loose" throwing style, to find it to be really heavy. It's survival through these years due, no doubt, to it solidity. I tend to idealize the old pots and the old ways. There is something to be said of appropriate weight, but this one was a door stop, or to put it another way it seemed to be already filled with something. It is basically a question that I ask as a potter looking at a pot, trying not to get too involved with the back story or history, but looking at the pot for what it is, form, color, etc. Then you have eBay...I thought it was hard to assess a pot in a museum case. Looking at pots on the computer is another way of seeing, but certainly not ideal So, buyer, beware...be ware?

7 comments:

  1. Michael, here's a book I think you'd enjoy. It's very much the English tradition but has some beautiful pots in it. http://www.amazon.com/Country-Pottery-Traditional-Earthenware-Ceramics/dp/0713648139/ref=sr_1_37?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1206565143&sr=8-37

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  2. ps don't know anything about the tradition from which the ebay pot is from, but I like the finger wipe decoration, I might pinch that design!

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  3. That pot looks Korean to me. Not NC for sure.

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  4. yea Ron, I thought i was looking at an onngi pot, but the pot is too evenly thrown(?) but the finger wipes look onngi. Yes Doug, it's a very nice pot.

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  5. Tommy T seems to be the king of finding mislabeled stuff on ebay. That pot has some funny lugs on it. Not funny bad just not North Carolina. As far as that show goes I think you are right Michael, it is really nice to have all the new pots side by side with the old like that. It does set a standard of sorts. Its interesting to thing of what holds up over the years and what makes a pot hold its own over time...a good solid wall and rim is one but the aesthetic is a little harder to pinpoint.

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  6. Michael, I dropped in here via Ron Philbeck's blog. Nice bowls, in spite of the boiled peanuts :-) Even though I was born and raised in NC peanut country (down east) I've never understood the appeal. The questionable pot looks like the kinda stuff they have for sale at World Market, Pier One, TJ Maxx, etc., at prices so low I'm amazed folks are still buying handmade. It does have some Onggi characteristics, but is thrown too rigidly. I once watched Mr. Yo Sub Bei coil/throw a 4' tall kimchi jar at Jugtown in less than 45 minutes. Work like that cannot be thrown tightly I wouldn't think.

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  7. kline,
    i would say its korean also, not ongi, but ampretty sure its korean, the glaze looks to be korean and those handles are indicitive of korea

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