Saturday, March 28, 2015

Why Pitcher?

Why do people use pitchers in this day and age (I was asked)?

1. Because good potters keep making them.

 2. It *might* be the most iconic item a potter makes. I know dozens of guys who play instrumental music of their own composition....

You know how condiments come in those little plastic packets? try every which way to get them open, frustrated just shy of resorting to getting some scissors....until you finally notice the serrated top that allows you to tear the packet open?

Musical 'covers' and pitchers are like those serrated tops. They offer an opening into better and more quickly understanding what we're hearing or looking at (or using). They help make the ambiguous less so.
When a musician plays a piece of music with which I'm familiar (a cover), I am given an opening into better understanding where he's going with his own compositions. 

Look at how a potter makes a pitcher and you'll more likely know who she is, where she came from, what's important (and not) to her, what she's wanting to say with the rest of her pots...

Pitchers are like google translator.

3. Pottery pitchers elevate the common use of pitchers. Do tupperware or other plastic pitchers serve to function better? Sometimes. Maybe even 'usually'. But if life is going to be reduced to MERE Anthony Newly sang, "Stop the world, I want to get off."

4. Pitchers are a potter's heritage. It's where we came from. We're post modern folks trying to come to grips with a culture that accepts 'new' as superior. We intuit that that's not right, while simultaneously acknowledging that nostalgia may not be an any better reality.

But embracing our heritage ain't no ways nostalgia. It's dues. And it's pleasure. It's humility of the best kind -- grasping the reality of our place in a long continuum, the timeline of which we can hope we aren't even to the mid-point on.

5. Because pitchers are awesome.


  1. Pitchers (or even jugs!!) are truly awesome

  2. This is a really fascinating idea that a specific form allows people standing on the 'outside' to translate what they are seeing and make sense of an otherwise unfamiliar world.

    I think there are many such cues, and I'd be tempted to identify surface decoration as one of the foremost means that potters have of making their work 'translatable'. As far as specific forms go I find that I personally use pitchers maybe once every other year in my own kitchen. Back when I thought I could potentially sell them to people in Athens it struck me that a good percentage of folks buying them considered them decorative. Which as far as translation goes seemed only part of the message. If someone sees a pitcher and only sees something that belongs on a shelf or mantle place, I'm not convinced the complete message has been received.....

    My own sympathies would have been to identify mugs and bowls as more universally communicative. Its odd for even children these days not to know what a mug or bowl is for, and even stranger if they don't use more than one several times a day everyday.

    If the form carries the message the less ambiguous the form the more agreement we can sometimes unearth from them. But then its not just down to the forms to communicate but the responsibility of the audience to also dig for meaning. Nothing is entirely self evident, not even pitchers.....

    Sorry! Rambling here! Its obvious I need to think more about this. Glad you opened the conversation in such a delightful way!

    1. I could almost go with your mug/bowl idea. I mean, when mugs work that way they work that way. Trouble with mugs though, is that they don't usually work that way in the contemporary world of pottery that finds itself in some limbo between the worlds of art, production, studio, and hobby pottery.

      In some of those worlds potters put some care and thought into their mugs. I know I do. But that's also why I know that we potters also don't.

      Get it?

      Yeah, I know. Clear as mud.

      What I mean is that for too many pottery studios I know, mugs are sort of an afterthought/loss leader/kiln stuffer. Too many potter's mugs are a generic good-enough-to-sell item. The economic pressures are immense. Most potters aren't known FOR their mugs (even the ones who do, indeed, make a distinctive statement with their mugs). Because of this, it's not unusual for potters to not even make mugs. I'll go for years without making them.

      No, most potters are known for something other than mugs. And it that regard, you're probably closer to the mark to point to surface decoration.

      I think maybe I'm just stuck on the idea of pitchers as google translator because I'm a collector of other potter's pitchers.

      But my thesis is totally incomplete, if not completely flawed. That's how I roll. Careless. Dangerous.


    2. Hah! I love it!

      The interesting thing is that personally I do treat my mugs as the sort of 'masterpiece' statement. There isn't much I do that would qualify as an afterthought, but it would never be mugs :) Maybe its just different pots for different potters?

      I generally collect every type of pot that strikes my fancy. Plenty of pitchers in my home, but interestingly I also have somewhere over 200 mugs from different artists. Maybe I just collect the mugs that are made by potters who put the same quality effort into their mugs.

      "Mugs are the gateway drug of pottery" Julia Galloway just said that on the live feed workshop I am listening to. How's that for coincidence!

  3. I love the quote by Julia. I prove it by my own collection.
    I love pitchers. Filled with ice water, watching the sweat roll across a fat belly or slick handle. They can make the dinning table sexy.