[Clayart] books etc/long

mel jacobson melpots at mail.com
Thu Feb 23 18:49:09 UTC 2023

When I started working on the kiln book, Tony Clennell said to me...."I think you may
be too late to write a kiln book, in a couple of years no one will be firing with
gas or wood. It will be all electric."  And, of course he was correct.  Building
a home gas kiln is out of fashion. And, only the young and hardy will even think "wood".
And, the programmable gas kiln like Baillie's is fool proof. (and safe) And without doubt
the programmable electric is a wonder.

Ron and John's book changed the world of home firing kilns. They gave people a quality
avenue to make pots. No longer was the "cowboy" potter firing with gas the way to go.
And, as I have said often..."the best potter in America is a woman with an electric kiln
in the garage, we have just not found her yet."  Although I think I know five of them.

After years of running clayart I can make that list about 500 fine women potters, on their
own, making damn fine work. They control the world of cone 6 with amazing understanding of
mid range glaze. They don't need the community center any longer to fire with gas. In fact
with the variety of potters around, how can anyone fire a kiln with gas to satisfy the crowd.

It is the same problem confronting a book on porcelain. Is it outdated?  The number of people
wanting cone 11 porcelain is shrinking. (I know, I know, not just cone 11.)

I see a huge resurgence of raku and pit and outside firing. Our own haycreek gang is making memorable
raku/horsehair etc. Ray Bogle is doing outstanding work. Bill Schran is doing wonders with crystals.
These examples are just because they are all friends and I know their work.

A mid-sized electric kiln could easily be a money machine for anyone wanting to be a potter.
It has dignity in 2023.

Gas prices are also a huge problem. The home potter cannot afford in any way, a programmable kiln
like the Blaugh.

Colleen who is running our pottery in Minnetonka, just got a call for 50 electric fired mugs
with logo. And, with the electric kiln she can match anything she wants. These will be exactly
the same as an order she filled three years ago. Mel6 clay, 5x20 black and white. It no longer
is necessary to be a cone 10 reduction potter. And, without doubt, those coming from college
may not have any skill in firing fuel kilns.

We make all of our work for the electric kilns with dark brown clay. We have never been confronted
with customers that want "white clay".  They do not care, or even desire white clay. I think that white
clay has become the `go to` for schools. It is not dirty.

I loved building the Kiln Book. It was so great to have many fine potters with great skill and knowledge
contribute to the book. It is a great book because of that. It is not filled with pictures of "MY POTS",
in fact no ego stuff at all. It is great information, and now it is free of charge. What I say is, "The book
is there for whatever, whenever someone wants it. The information does not go away.

I learned to be an author because of clayart. My fear left me. Win 95, MSWord, and a texas instrument calculator
changed my life. I can even understand algebra.

I tell everyone, you have a style, it is yours, like your pots, like painting, writing is just a style. If others
do not like you. "screw them". You get an "iron butt, and a turtle shell." And, you can always find an editor to help
you if you need it. I still think one of life's best thrills is seeing a book, with your name and title on the front.
I remember when Bill Jones handed me a new copy of "Pottery, a Life, a Lifetime" while sitting in a bar with about
20 clayart friends around. The goosebumps had goosebumps.

Robin Hopper had a copy and read it that night. He sat down at breakfast and said. "that is one of the best books I have
ever read about clay. Mel, you are now in a new club forever, one that writes a worthwhile book." I was stunned. But I also
remember that as he was dying I named the best pot I have ever made the "the Robin Hopper teabowl".  I was able to call
him that last week and told him. He understood.

I have completed the new book "Letters to Colleen" an autobiography of my life as a potter and how Colleen came to me
a broken human being and turned into an amazing person. "THE CLAY DID IT." Skill, trust, understanding and life long
friendship wins the struggle.  The book is dedicated to my one year old name sake. "Melvin Richards" so it will not be
publicly solicited. If you want to read it, let me know by email only. I can download it. The very expensive thumb drive
will be placed in a fire proof safe, and he can read it as an adult. Colleen's Mom is doing the same for her grandchildren.

I hope many of you feel the spirit and do the same thing. It is critical that we write the story. Who cares what the style
is, it is the story that counts. The future awaits your story.

website: www.melpots.com

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