[Clayart] old statue found

Snail Scott claywork at flying-snail.com
Fri Aug 5 16:54:40 UTC 2022

> On Aug 4, 2022, at 8:32 AM, Lis <lis.allison at primus.ca> wrote:
> ...what constitutes 'hand made'. Is slip casting hand made? Is stuff made on a RAM press 'hand made'? Are underglaze transfers 'hand decorating'? Where do each of you draw the line? 

I am not sure there is a ‘line’…more of a gradient, really.  

Slip casting done by the artist, from an artist-made mold, pulled from an artist-made pattern which was designed by the artist as well, seems ‘handmade’ enough for most folks, but not all. What if the moldmaking itself was contracted to another professional? (It might be better quality this way!) And what if the casting itself is done by a paid assistant? Is there any change in the end product of the artist works as their own drone labor? 

What if the glazes came from a jar? Or just from someone else’s recipe? Is it better if it was developed ‘in-house’? or just more likely to be flawed?

Clay from a commercial supplier…most makers think this is OK; most buyers don’t even know there’s an alternative. 

Commercial decals and texture stamps are a no-go for me…why would I cede such an important part of my work to someone else? But many people (such as Leopold Foulem) use mass-produced imagery precisely for its accompanying 'baggage’ and content, ironically or otherwise. 

What if it’s fully handmade right down to the homemade kiln and hand-dug clay, but based mostly (or entirely) on work by another artist?  Is that different from working within a long-standing cultural idiom, making traditional forms? If so, how?

What if something is impeccably made by hand from scratch, in a foreign sweatshop for slave wages?

I see a lot of work on Facebook which amounts to little more than a kit assembly of premade components: purchased hump mold, purchased clay body, purchased stamps and transfers, purchased glazes, purchased decals, copied firing profiles, all to replicate a design seen on Pinterest or Etsy. I won’t do that, but clearly, some people will, and other people will buy it from them. (Worse artists, but better businesspeople?)

Inevitably, labeling something as ‘handmade’ will only mean what the customers assumes it does, and have the value they assign it. . Any desired legal definition will inevitably fall short, driving mediocre producers to take advantage of the loopholes. In the end, it is up to the buyers to decide what they want, regardless of methods. We cannot blame their ignorance of the nuances of production, or make them care about it if they do not.  If we can't make work that people want, or make it available to those seeking it, then we cannot complain if people buy elsewhere.


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