Saturday, May 2, 2020



1. Framing (construction), common carpentry work
2. Framing (law), providing false evidence or testimony to prove someone guilty of a crime
3. Framing (social sciences) a set of concepts and theoretical perspectives on how individuals, groups, and societies, organize, perceive, and communicate about reality.
4. Framing (visual arts), a technique used to bring the focus to the subject
5. Framing (World Wide Web), a technique using multiple panes within a web page.

I woke up early this morning. At 3:40 AM (that's "3:40 ayem-in-the-morning" if you're a Hoosier) I awoke with a start. The chilling fear that I might have left 20 porcelain mugs open to the heated air of the shop last night popped me out of bed faster than the sound of a hairball retching cat.

That's fast. Abrupt, even.

So, after making coffee I've been out in the shop (turns out I did remember to cover the mugs after all) and I've been watching a series of very inspirational potter's videos -- all stirred up on a perpetual youtube playlist by initially following Cary Hulin's link to a Svend Bayer video.

Because I was watching the videos one right after the other I began to notice the framing:

Contemporary MTV-style cropped imagery that made even a plastic tub of water seem somehow as pastoral as a Millet painting.

Eerie, emotion-stirring instrumental musical accompaniment to the video imagery.

Disembodied narrative, well-rehearsed. Phrases from the canon of sayings that potters have rehearsed, repeated, and handed down from potter to potter in our family since the time I first ever touched spinning clay.

... Phrases so well-used that -- like the old joke about the comedian's convention -- we could simply attach numbers to in order to save time in the re-telling.

But I wouldn't want to save that time. I want to hear the stories. The phrases. I like to hear them told over and over and over. They are like hymns.

"Today we will be reading from Leach. Turn if you will to page 77. 'It seems reasonable to expect that beauty......"

I know the hymns. I know the stories. I still love to hear them anyway. They inspire me.

And a few contemporary creative souls are adding to that hymnbook: Dick Lehman, Tony Clennell, Tom Coleman, to name a few. Souls generous enough to take the time to explain what they're thinking as they're doing it so that I might approach what I am doing in a more inspired way.

Well, in typical fashion, I couldn't wait to interrupt myself with that rabbit trail. But back to the subject:


The videos reminded me that the framing isn't the work. (see definitions 3 and 4 above)

I remember the first time I took a pot out of the frame of its presentation and brought it home -- only to discover that I had been seduced by the frame and not the pot.

For the longest time I wondered -- beyond timing and marketing concerns -- why I didn't like to enter my pots into exhibitions with other potters. It's because in doing so I lost control of the framing. I don't like to lose that control.

Upon that self-discovery, I began to realize that it belied a lack of confidence in the work alone. If forfeiting the power of framing bothered me so much, it was a tacit admission that I thought the work inherently weak.

I don't know where that introspection has left me, but I'm forever conscious of trying (even if mostly failing) to make pots strong enough that they need neither the additional support of framing, nor the excuse of explanation.


1 comment:

  1. It seems we are all in a slow spin, your pottery, as usual, is a strong force. I wonder as we spin our way through this what will change, everything or safe