Greetings from Pittsburgh! It’s been quite a week. I’ve met a lot of great people, put faces to names that I’ve come to know through this blog, caught up with old friends, bought pots, bought tools, heard great speakers, participated in lively discussions, and looked at and picked up what must be hundreds of pots and the conference is only half over!
I wanted to share a handful of images of pieces that I’ve seen at shows this week. This is just a little itty bitty taste of what I’ve seen. Enjoy! (click on the images to see a bigger image.)
. I find this piece incredibly endearing.
. I just love how the drawings are on the inside of this cup.
. I love Diana’s work and this is the first time I have gotten to see her work in person. It’s even more impressive in person.
. Her works makes me crave spring even more than I already am!
. I am such a fan of Simon’s work. I don’t know anyone else that gets surfaces like his out of a wood kiln (or any other kiln for that matter!).
Blog Action Day is a day where blogger from all over the world write about one specific issue: the environment. I am excited to have an extra push to write this post that I have been wanting to write a post for months on what someone can do to be a “greener” ceramic artist. I was inspired by Laura Zindel’s post on one black bird; Mary Anne Davis‘s post on being Carbon Neutral and her list on her work’s environmental impact; and on Soderstrom Pottery Blog. They have started a great discussion that I would like to help continue with within the ceramics community.
I think my aversion to actually writing this post that has been in my head is the same thing that stops many of us from creating greener lives. I wanted this post to be epic, to have all of the answers. It was going to be very complete and very satisfying. But that is truly an impossible task. When I think about all of the environmental changes that I want to make at home or at my studio, the ultimate goal is overwhelming and paralyzing. The only way to get past the paralysis is to stop for a moment, and break it down into steps. The steps will get you closer to your end goal, but they are much easier to conquer than taking a gigantic leap.
Here are some steps that I have taken on my path to being a greener potter…
- I use almost all recycled materials for both shipping and retail customers. I actively collect bags, boxes, packing paper and bubble wrap from friends, family, students and customers.
- I recycle my clay scraps and try to aggressively edit unfired work. I don’t want to turn greenware that is reclaimable into something that is not if I am not truly satisfied with the piece at that stage.
- I try to make my test pieces as functional pieces (like small cups) that might go on to live a life beyond just testing a slip or glaze.
- I live close to my studio so I can either walk or drive a very short distance. I teach in the same building that I have my studio so I don’t have to commute to class too.
- I work in a co-operative type studio that conserves resources in many ways. One specific way is by ordering clay and materials together so there is only 1 delivery truck instead of 20.
- My studio space is small and efficient. Each space has multiple uses. One table can transform from a wedging table to a decorating table to a glaze table to a display table. Much of the furniture in my studio is on wheels so it can be more easily converted.
- My studio display lights are on a timer. My studio is often open to the public even when I am not there, and the timer stops the lights from being on all the time. (Does anyone know of nice track lighting fixtures that are energy efficient?)
- I set up a “free-cycle” area in a common area (hallway) at my studio where the studio artists can pass on unneeded things to the next person.
- I sell my seconds as “flawed yet functional.” They are still totally usable, but I can’t send them off to a gallery. Customers get to go on a treasure hunt, and give life to a piece that might otherwise be doomed as landfill. In response to the “flawed yet functional” sign in my studio, I once had a customer get teary eyed and tell me that that was exactly how they felt… flawed yet functional.
I know there are people reading this that are working under very different conditions from 60 different countries. Some are students working at a high school, university or art center. There are country potters with lots of land, and urban potters, like me, that are working in a smaller studio. The problems and solutions that you face are going to be very different if you’re a tile maker, production potter or a sculptor. I hope that you’ll share the steps you take in your clay world to being a little bit greener with the rest of us.
update- 10/15/07 – another clay blogger, Anne Webb, wrote a Blog Action Day post
update – 10/29/07 – Pam McFayden wrote a great post over at lureart ceramics about studio recycling.
This is an update (a long overdue update) to a previous post about clay blogs. When I first wrote about blogs that focused on ceramics, there weren’t too many out there. I am so happy to find this time around that there are a lot more now! I didn’t include ones that I listed before. And these are in no particular order. Enjoy- and please let me know if there are more out there for the next time around!
one black bird by Diana Fayt
A wonderful blog that I just discovered. (I don’t know how I’ve missed it all this time!) Great posts by Diana and guest bloggers. It’s been a lot of fun reading through the archives.
A Potter’s Journal by Ron Philbeck.
Great photos of Ron’s work in progress. I love the how-to posts as well as the studio updates.
The Pottery Blog by Jennifer Mecca
Jennifer writes about her day to day life in her studio, balancing her family life with her clay life. This is why blogs are great- you can share your personal experience in a way that you can’t through a book or a more formal publication.
Davistudio: Modern Table Art by Mary Anne Davis
Seeking to stretch ideas about peace, art, design, function, value, culture and making.” And lots of happy pots!
Lurearts Ceramics by Pam McFadyen
A fairly new blog- but I think there will be some interesting things on the horizon, like her new Tool Talk series. Keep ’em coming!
This Week @ St. Earth
A weekly update for what’s going on at St. Earth Pottery in Fillmore, IN. I love reading about other potter’s work cycles. And I think one of my favorite parts is listing the music and podcasts of the week.
Douglas Fitch Blog
Maker of “country pots.” When you see the beautiful photographs on his Douglas’ blog, you can see how the landscape effects his pots. Something that I think about a lot as an urban potter.
by Vicki Liles Gill
A nice (and fairly new) blog that has a lot about the business side of pots, and some how-to’s and other studio updates.
Sister Creek Pottery
by Gay Judson
“The occasional musings of an overly-enthusiastic-senior potter who recently found her way to the potters wheel.”
One thing that I really like this blog is
that Gay writes abouts the ups and
the downs of making pots!
Design Realized by Julie Rozman
A new blog by a Lillstreeter (def: someone who works at Lillstreet Art Center in Chicago) which documents her thought process and her new ventures into selling her work. Keep it up Julie!
Jeanette Harris: A Clay Engineer’s Blog
Jeanette’s blog is hilarious! In addition to the humor she has some great info including documentation on her glaze testing, and reviews of books and videos.
by Taylor H
Taylor has great tutorials – directions on how to make things like plaster bats and terra sigillata. Great information illustrated with helpful photos.
Soderstrom Pottery Blog
“A Minnesota potter, trained in Japan”
Check out his wind powered kiln :)
Karin’s Style Blog – Looking at the world with a designer’s eye
I love this blog! Karin’s work is beautiful and she has endless links to other makers and designers from around the world.
Whip-up: handcraft in a hectic world
This is a group submission site that is about all things handmade. A must visit often site!
See this page
to learn more.
Tara Robertson Pottery
A great photo tutorial on pit firing. I’m also enjoying reading about Tara’s venture into Etsy.
Well, I think that’s enough for now… I hope you have enjoyed this tour. I have thoroughly enjoyed researching this. I have discovered some really exciting new blogs to subscribe to!