[Clayart] value of pots
bsalab at gmail.com
Sat Jul 29 13:00:09 EDT 2017
Value of pots
The recent discussion of price/value of our works has opened an interesting
aspect of what and why we do what we do.
The freedom to take earth and express myself is mine. What I do with that
material is mine to decide. Keeping that process, maintaining whatever
integrity I impose on that process is mine.
If I consider that process to be complete, in and of itself, that is my
For me, an essential component of that process is about making functional
work, things that humans can use in our lives. Part of that allows me to
connect with my fellow Earth Occupants, and expands my reach, so to speak.
When I am deciding while making, much of that involves how well I meet the
functional needs I am able to perceive. How a handle helps a pot to be
used is important to me, and how it fills my sense of aesthetic call is
All of these choices I consider to be sacrosanct, holy, part of the soul
work I simultaneously pursue in this work with clay.
When another person accepts my work, includes my work into their life,
expresses a joy as a result of that integration of my work into their
life, my purpose is fulfilled. When someone likes what I have done, and
goes so far as to put that work into use, a use I risked to foresee, my
purpose is fulfilled.
The value of that work, for me, lies in that realm of fulfillment.
If money, the exchange of money, becomes part of that transfer, that is
outside of that already wholeness, that completeness. Having met the need
with my work completed the process I have the freedom to pursue, by my
right as a potter.
Whatever one calls value, when expressed in terms of money, is for me an
oxymoron...the two are mutually exclusive. Money can be used by me to
continue my work, but it does not give me that deep sense of fulfillment.
That 'ca-ching' thing doesn't mean a thing, it doesn't have essential
value; it remains an item of exchange, with no inherent value. It doesn't
have meaning, if you get what I mean. I did not make the money; I made the
pot. The meaning I derive is generated in the making, the guessing, the
failing, the seeing. When I count the money at the close of market, that
experience goes on in my head, not my heart.
Getting into price leaves me with a bad taste, especially if someone
intends to influence my decision based on their concept of value. Because
other vendors choose to pay a mortgage, choose to buy and own whatever they
decide, all of those choices are driving their pricing energy. When I
price my work, I can base my decision on whatever I choose, even if that
decision doesn't make sense to others with admittedly abundant expertise is
collecting money. This expertise is called by some to be practicality,
that without it one will soon fail. Anecdotally, my fifty-plus years speak
to a different drummer.
So far I have always been blessed with clay to use, fire to complete, and
time and place to make. That completes the process, the circle, so to
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