Thursday, January 3, 2008

first teapot

first teapot, originally uploaded by antfiresbetter.

This is a photo of a little teapot I made a few months after first starting in clay. The cork is in the spout, because I made the spout too low on the vessel, and the water pours out just after you pour it in the top! We use this now for pouring homemade mulberry syrup for pancakes. It isn't that good, but it works and I am fond of it, because it is my first teapot. I am posting this photo, because of this discussion:

On Etsy, I belong to a guild of sorts, the Etsy Mud Team. Someone on the forum for our team mentioned that on another very well-known potter's forum, ClayArt, there was some discussion about those who sell on Etsy.

A few folks said they loved selling and buying there, but several folks were very vocal about the diverse skill level that was on Etsy, and they felt that it was a bad thing to let those of lower skill sell with those of higher skill. And that customers are rather stupid, and need to be protected from "bad pottery". That got our danders up!

Of course, we all had to pop over and read their posts, and it got a lively discussion going on our forums too.

I stated my opinion this way:
"I think quality and craftsmanship are probably the most important thing for many folks, not all, but I would say for most crafters. I guess I just overreacted to the feeling I got of some of the postings there of "I worked for years to get here, and until you are at my level, you have no place in the artworld". One of our newest members has only been doing clay for a couple of years, and his stuff is wonderful! The idea of "paying dues" is the idea I don't like. Or that there is an absolute line between quality and crud. Or that customers are oblivious of all this.

I have bought handmade bowls from new students because I liked the bowls, being full aware that they had some distance to go to become on par with Leach. But I still happily use their works, even if it is not the creme de la creme of handmade pottery. There is often something alive and refreshing and joyful in a novice's pottery, even though the craftsmanship is lacking. I like the energy of a piece that shows that an fledgling artist is discovering themself."

I don't think customers need to be protected from anything! Why can't a customer like any style they choose? Who is foolish enough to say "This is good and this is bad, this is nice, this is ugly, so you can only buy what I say"! Phooey!

I was very unhappy with that thought, then Natalie, (owner of and said this, and I thought it was the perfect expression of how exploring our art and craft through clay should be viewed:

Natalie said:
"I have the first bowls I started throwing back in 2003 and wow, I'm really glad I didn't try to sell them. I have them in my kitchen cabinets and use them regularly and they are special to me because I remember what it felt like to throw them, and I remember that great feeling I had taking them out of the kiln that first time. It's a great memory. But its my special memory and so I have those first efforts and I cherish them.

I had a friend come over to look at my pottery and she picked up this very awful small mug. It was crude. It was a first try. The handle was not on properly. But she knew me. She was my friend. She loved me. So she loved that cup. She wanted to BUY that cup. I gave it her. She still loves that cup. God bless her! But I think she loves it because she loves me. And that's great. That's what its all about sometimes.

And hopefully, as I continue learning and throwing and reading and studying and handbuilding and learning and doing then others who don't know me or have a reason to love me will love my pottery too.

Ah to dream .... :)"

Perfect. :D

1 comment:

LeighWhitaker said...

Aww, sweet little tea pot!

I remember that conversation on clayart and it's one of the things that kept me from selling on etsy sooner. Probably a good thing, but I'm still reluctant to admit over there that I've opened a shop. I don't want people looking down their noses at me and my pieces. People like what they like, whether the craftsperson has 'paid their dues' or not.