Monday, July 15, 2013

Fine Artisan Ceramics vs DIY

I listed this platter on my website and then pinned it on Pinterest .

Where it soon acquired this comment:

@ Savannah Hall cool idea to incorporate lace to make pattern in pottery when you make it.

One of the dilemmas we’ve all encountered as artisans is the perception that images of our works for sale are also DIY projects that any beginner could easily achieve. When, in reality, this piece has been in design production for years. It has evolved out of pressing lace in clay, such as in these ornaments That I made for Grovewood Gallery from 1996-2009

In 2010, I helped my daughter design this tray:


and here in one of my own from 2011

By 2012 I was partially obsessed with lace trays, with organic shapes. Here are a few:


And here are the lesser quality pieces from the same kiln load; all experiments done on the same day:

and a similar piece:

I want to encourage everyone to play around with clay, as it is a lot of fun. I do, however, want to dispel the impression that what I do is so low-skill and easily replicated that anyone in Ceramics 101 can whip them out. The work on my website represents countless design tweaks.

So here is the reply I posted on my Pinterest Pin:

It's an easy technique, but don't expect to get results like this in your first 1,000 tries!


  1. lee,
    those of us who work at our craft truly understand all that it takes to achieve an often understated final result. it takes diligence of the hands and the mind to refine techniques to this extent. only hours of 'failed' attempts (aka opportunities for learning) give one the true knowledge of their medium and its subtle nuances.
    your work speaks for itself - it exudes quality in both a physical and aesthetic nature.

  2. wow you are very creative :) i wish i can try crafting these too someday :)

  3. Lee,

    As someone who, just over a year ago, began playing with porcelain and ceramic clays, I just want to say I agree with you completely on this! I started working with clay thinking I would be able to come up with a design or two to add to my polymer work and, now 14 months later, I finally have one or two ideas that I am ready to roll out! lol

    But while acknowledging that difficulty, I want to also add that it is vital, I think, for people in life to stick it out with a chosen craft/art. They're not supposed to be easy to master and they're not going to be a quick "golden ticket" to success . . . and, in truth, if they were, they probably wouldn't be very soul-satisfying in the end. It's what I've learned, in the process of making those messes, that have been the greatest gifts of all.

    Love your work as much as ever! So great to see a blog speak of the evolution of a craft.