[Clayart] books etc/long

Bonnie Hellman mou10ms at gmail.com
Fri Feb 24 16:39:15 UTC 2023

I have a somewhat different perspective because my background is a BA in
Art History (and a Master's in another unrelated subject), plus many
credits in accounting subjects that allowed me to take and pass the CPA
exam. I came to clay later, roughly after working as a CPA for 13 years. I
learned by doing and by reading Clayart starting the year NCECA was in
Rochester in 1996 (?). I didn't get to NCECA until it was in Columbus, OH
by which time I'd found Clayart and learned a little.

However, when I think about it, very few undergraduate or Community College
degrees actually train people to earn a living. Certainly this was true in
accounting. And had I wished to work in Art History, I would have needed a
PhD AND then it was unlikely I would have been able to support myself in
that field unless I found a tenure track teaching job or got hired by a

 I believe that education teaches us to learn and gives us the basics in
our chosen field.

Those of you who actually learned enough to go out without further training
and earn a living had an experience that may have been unique.

Most people either learn on the job (if they are fortunate enough to select
a field where this is possible and find a job where people are willing to
teach their new employees) OR they take advanced degrees that MIGHT teach
enough to make enough money to live on but more likely these degrees get
them a job where someone teaches you to do the actual work.

You may think my view is jaded and that may be true.


Bonnie Hellman
Tax CPA since 1982
Ceramics enthusiast since 1992

Date: Thu, 23 Feb 2023 19:49:09 +0100
From: mel jacobson <melpots at mail.com>
To: clay art <clayart at lists.clayartworld.com>
Subject: [Clayart] books etc/long

<trinity-1f0e3b06-3e29-4707-b31f-6a905e3814aa-1677178149215 at 3c-app-mailcom-lxa16

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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.
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
Bonnie D. Hellman CPA
PO Box 1210
Ouray, CO 81427
Cell: 412-607-4455
Landline: 970-325-4131
mou10ms at gmail.com <mou10ms at gmail.com>
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