March 29, 2010

Simon Says

Dear Simon Says,

I am really into boxing. I don't know why. I have been tracing the early career of Muhammad Ali from when he was Cassius Clay. The history really interests me, but I also really love to watch a good sparring match. My boyfriend thinks it is too violent, we decided that if you are a fan of boxing he would let me enjoy the sport without nagging me. Are you a fan? Do you have a favorite boxer?

-The Ring of Truth

Dear Ring,

I am into boxing, but I actually prefer double boxing. I feel it is much safer especially when, as you say, you are working with a glasseous clay. I just don't think the risk is worth it not to double box. Now I am not a glaze guru like Pete Pinnell, but I can tell you that Kona F4 and G-200 are a pretty good match as far as spars go. Using more of them should keep your clay from being so glasseous.

I can't really say I have a favorite boxer. Each of my apprentices has had their strengths and weaknesses in this skill. I hope I have helped.


Dear Simon Says

Okay, I am a fully committed male in a heterosexual relationship. The thing is, at work I have developed a flirtatious relationship with a member of the same sex. I guess you could call him my "Work Husband". My fear is that I might be leading my co-worker on, as well as confusing myself as to which "team" I play for. Not sure where to go from here?

The Talented Mr. Guilty

Dear Mr. Guilty,

Now a lot of people say that just because I am some macho woodfire guy I don't like glaze. That simply isn't true. I just don't want someone forcing the glaze lifestyle on me.
I believe strongly that there are two types of people in this world. There are those who divide people into two groups, and those who don't, and I am thankful that I am neither. That being said, there are three types of pottery, Heterosectional, Bisectional, and Homosectional. These categories are nothing new, they date way back.

This Mycenaean jar is made with symmetry in mind making it a great example of bisectional work.

Now you may say, well that was just the way of the Greeks. Jomon Pottery But look at how flamboyant this Jomon pieces is. Now just because a piece is flamboyant doesn't mean it is homosectional. In fact I am certain that this piece was made with the top section added, rather than being carved from one piece. Moving over to Africa we can see this point even clearer, this pot is very understated but obviously homosectional.

What is great about ceramics today is that we can make whatever we want without worrying about being judged. We owe this privilege to artists like Peter Voulkos who started out as a raging heterosectional artist with works like this.

Eventually Voulkos took this to an extreme and ended up a sectional deviant.

Confronting societal notions about pottery during the sectional revolution, such avant-garde artists have left us a legacy of freedom. So go out there Mr Guilty, don't feel bad, make what you want to make, just be yourself. I hope I have helped.


Simon Levin is a regular contributor to Sawdust and Dirt. He lives and makes pots in Gresham, WI. To find out more about Simon Levin and his pottery go to
If you have questions for Simon he can be reached at