[Clayart] pots and clay variety

vincepitelka at gmail.com vincepitelka at gmail.com
Tue Apr 25 22:48:56 UTC 2023

Wonderful story Hank.  Thank-you for sharing with us.  You have lived a rich and rewarding life.  I have too, at least partially because Linda and I eat our dinner every night off your beautiful shino plates.  
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Potter, Writer, Teacher
Chapel Hill, NC
vpitelka at dtccom.net

-----Original Message-----
From: Clayart <clayart-bounces at lists.clayartworld.com> On Behalf Of Hank Murrow
Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2023 10:18 AM
To: ClayArt discussion forum <clayart at lists.clayartworld.com>
Subject: Re: [Clayart] pots and clay variety

And I remember in 1963 attending the workshop at USC in Los Angeles, where he and his son Shinsaku came into the studio around 4am to begin throwing so they had things to trim later that day. Hamada's hands worked quietly and quickly on his traditional big wooden wheel head, and when it slowed, he would give it a flick or two with a stick and continue. The clay was from Westwood Ceramics, and he glazed the pieces with Carlton Ball's glazes, who did all the firing of their work in the gas kiln there. There were about 70 of us in the workshop, and I was among five or so male potters, the rest were female. In the show of the finished work at the end he had priced their work so that anyone could afford it; and I bought a largish salad bowl for $20. I had it appraised in Japan while I was there in 2004, and it was said to be worth $8,000 to $10,000 at that time, even though it was made in the US. We pull it out to serve salad when potters are visiting. 

A student asked Hamada how he knew how to use plant ashes when there was no analysis. He replied, "I ask the plant 'what is its job'?”. The woman said, “The ash I want to use is from rice straw”. Hamada replied, "The job of the stem is to carry and protect the seed, so the analysis would reveal about 98% silica”. Ask the plant! Jane Heald and I usually had lunch with them, as Jane brought extra Mexican food from her kitchen with her for lunch time, and Hamada and his son loved it, saying “good peasant food!” Which they washed down with Dos Equis beer. I learned a lot from them, and from Jane.

Cheers, Hank in Eugene

> On Apr 24, 2023, at 8:30 PM, Village Lady <villagelady10 at gmail.com> wrote:
> I remember in the 70s - when an elitist attitude about clay bodies was blooming - hearing that Shoji Hamada was asked what he used. He replied that it was a local clay he had used for 40 years yet still had not exhausted its possibilities.  The he added, “And it’s a bad clay body.  I don’t know what I’d do if it were a good one.”
> Karen Shuler
> Villagady10 at gmail.com
>> On Apr 23, 2023, at 8:24 AM, mel jacobson <melpots at mail.com> wrote:
>> The joy of working with clay is the options. So many it is hard to 
>> name them all.
>> Any potter can spend a lifetime working with clay bodies. Throwing, 
>> slabs, slip casting and on and on. White clay, brown clay, buff clay, red clay.
>> High temp, low temp.
>> Or...you can order a box and not even know what is in the box. "It is just a box of clay."
>> Then you can make glazes for the rest of your life.
>> or, they arrive in a bottle. sky blue, fire red, soft tan or even "periwinkle".
>> If you want computer programs to make a thousand glazes, have at it.
>> If you have a chemistry mind, making colored glass to cover clay pots opens up the world for you.
>> or,
>> you can be a pyromaniac. Kilns, fire, electric coils or burning wood or straw..
>> There is no best way, or better way, or right way.
>> It is all about the one you love best.
>> But, if you start making things of clay, you have a lifetime of 
>> activity for your mind and body.You will never be bored again. 
>> Quality activity is never boring, just the people become boring.
>> mel
>> At 5 a.m. I walked down with a cup of coffee and sat next to my small stoneware kiln.
>> All the snow is melted, but it is still only 35F. I brushed the kiln, 
>> straightened shelves picked up sticks and told the kiln that she 
>> would be working soon to help me make pots of clay, glaze and her fire. I have spent my adult life doing all the tasks of being a potter.
>> I make clay, I make glaze, I build kilns. I love the variety.
>> website: www.melpots.com
>> www.melpots.com/CLAYART.HTML

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