June 2, 2008

A Must Read

CM has published a great series of essays this month. The suite is titled "The Potter's Life". For your convenience you can read them here. It's the best writing I've read in this ceramic Art PR Machine in a long time. Here is an excerpt from my old (and I do mean old) buddy Mark Shapiro's essay.
So much physical work takes a toll. Throwing is repetitive and asymmetric on your joints-so many potters have lower back issues, especially on the side of their dominant hand. I have been throwing standing-and seated on a treadle wheel for trimming and throwing off the hump-for the last twenty years, which has helped my back. I also try to use the softest clay possible for the pot I'm making. The softer the clay, the less resistance it has to shaping and the less stress there is on the body. For small bowls and the like, the clay I use is so soft it feels like you only have to look at it to move it. Of course, for taller and thinner forms I use the harder stuff, but I've taken to using a powerful propane torch-a weed burner, in fact-that I think of as fixative, enabling me to use softer clay, but adding stiffness where I need it. This has also opened up new possibilities of form and scale.