Thursday, December 23, 2010

Filling Jars of Clay

One of the things I enjoy most when I watch Antiques Roadshow is the number of times I'll see items brought onto the show that are examples of things created simply because someone wanted to make them ... with no future intent to sell them. These items represent the profound enjoyment of working with one's hands and seeing an idea become material.

It's said that the motivations behind a fella's actions and efforts can be traced to an attempt to fulfill mankind's two basic needs -- security and significance. Deriving no significance from that which brings man security leads to the decline of excellence. And deriving too much significance from that which brings us no security leads to potters and guitar players.


  1. I love jars- they are the most useful piece you can have next to a bowl.
    Then again I love to just look at jars and wonder what I can fill them with.
    these are pretty damn wonderful!

  2. I remember years ago reading an article in a magazine, where Martha Stewart was talking about her house. They showed a picture of a room, with nothing in it but rows of clay jars lining the walls and shelves. They were all the same color blue. It struck me as very wrong.

    She probably bought them all from some factory, though I could see some poor potter being happy to take on a commission of that size. But it was the epitome of excess in so many things. A perfectly good room, with nothing useful in it. A lot of perfectly good pots, that could have been used to hold something, sitting there, empty. The fact that they were all exactly the same color, and more or less the same shape, all picked just to create an effect when you walk in the room. Everything was meant to be viewed once, then passed by.

    I don't know why I was so annoyed. It still bothers me, and I don't know why I remember it. I don't even particularly dislike Martha Stewart. But rooms should have uses. Art for arts sake is wonderful, and some beautiful jars in a room are marvelous. But a bunch of jars that do nothing but look blue, are landfill waiting to happen.

    Your jars look wonderful, John. That color and texture make me think of being in China, when we went to get our girls. And that makes me feel good.

  3. Thanks, and glad you share my love of jars, Cookingwithgas (I love bowls too!)


    Totally. Great comment. Coincidentally, I recently met a potter while I was in Florida who thought he was arranging a wholesale pottery contract with Martha Stewart...

    ...only to find out that it was assumed on the Stewart end of things that the potter would be making the hundreds of pots free, with the assumption that he might gain some great advertising for his pottery.

    Now where's that rolling eyes emoticon?

  4. Well, if he was making half a dozen that she was putting on some display in a big installation, with his name and contact info. But hundreds of pots? I know we all assume that potters are all incredibly wealthy and can eat that kind of thing for a bit of promotion, but perhaps that's a tad much....

  5. While growing-up, most of the adults around me had a craft to keep their hands busy during winter months, They created most of their work without a thought as to it's sell-ability. For many, the idea of "beauty before bread" is simply to work for the joy of work in the pursuit of creating something beautiful... the result was (and still is) often heirloom quality masterpieces.
    To be able to explore
    craftsmanship and ideas of "Significance" while covering issues of "security" is a luxury beyond most of us.

    With jars like those, you are completely golden. Absolutely beautiful forms and stunning surfaces.

    Potters, guitar players, and fiddlers...

  6. "For many, the idea of "beauty before bread" is simply to work for the joy of work in the pursuit of creating something beautiful... the result was (and still is) often heirloom quality masterpieces."

    That's it exactly. Nicely said.

  7. Jars are like boxes.
    They can hold everything or nothing at all.
    Their beauty is derived from knowing a human being took the time
    and care
    and skill to
    create them.
    As you know, I love your work John.