Thursday, September 17, 2009


#1 cylinder
Sam Taylor, circa 2003

To end the day I made a few cylinders! One of the most basic shapes to a potter, the cylinder is usually just the starting point for more "well-rounded" pots. My favorite cylinder of all time is one I use pretty much every day. It holds a bunch of wooden spoons next to our stove. My buddy Sam Taylor made it and it holds a kind of mystery for me. I ask myself, "how can such a simple shape be so profound and functional!? It seems that all of my favorite pots have this question as part of their mysterious attraction.

From time to time, I take a stab at the cylinder! My results were OK. What came to mind during my after supper session was the other important concept of repetition and pottery. As an art student back in the heady days of post-modernism and Alphabet City, ideas were king and the output was secondary to my big ideas. That attitude never really jibed with the satisfaction and the organic process of discovery that is so central to the way I make pots. That is, making the same pot, over and over, in a series.

first ones, l to r
Here is a lineup and an evolution that in just a few pots I settled into, more or less. I started with slightly tapered vases and ended with a very different proportion and shape (at least in my eyes).
last set, l to r
There were a bunch more, I just wanted to use these as illustration of the way the proportions changed every so slightly. Working in a series lets me update each one as I go along. It gives room to tweek or just get it right. The first ones I made this afternoon were larger, about 4 lbs. The above were made with +/- 2 lbs. of clay.
Another design element that came to mind during their making was "Are the forms clear? Do they read as cups or vases? I made them to be vases and one of the things I tried was to taper the vase more so that it wouldn't be easy to handle and was more clearly to be used as a vase. Their weight is heavier that I would expect from a cup or any pot to be picked up casually. Maybe that will help mark out the functionality of these shapes.

I'm sure there are more thoughts in my head that have just escaped because of the hour.

Hopes and dreams...

Speaking of which I think it's time I did a little dreaming in the prone position!

z z z z z z .