Wednesday, February 11, 2009

stayin alive.

I've been busy this last week. I've finished all the little details on the kiln and built these fancy stairs seen below. That's not the permanent placement for the door brick, it just happened to be where they are right now. I spent the morning cutting posts for stacking and after my class this afternoon I'll be grinding some shelves and then it'll be time to start loading this evening(with a break for lost of course!)

Critique my pots.

I've had some free time while teaching my advanced class so I've been tinkering with squaring my pots. I've done lots of square pots but always have paddled them and ribbed them so I lost much of the surface gesture. I really wanted to keep the ribbing marks because they sort of take on a whole new dynamic when you square the piece. These three pieces are the ones that I felt are the most successful, though the far left is a clear rip-off it'll prove useful as a jumping off point for future pieces. Feel free to rip me a new one if you like, I can take it.

I'll post some photos of the loading when I get a chance.



Tracey Broome said...

These look great, no rippage here! I love this quote from Alex Matisse, works well in this situation, I hope Alex doesn't mind me quoting him:
"It was Matt who told me first that there are no new forms, only old ones turned well or turned poorly. As potters we are not always asked to invent something new, but instead carry on a thoughtful conversation with what came before and out of that conversation, new ideas emerge."

Anonymous said...

I like 'em. I enjoy the knockout at the bottom on the one on the left which creates individual feet instead of a foot ring. Makes them look not so heavy and weighed down.

Although I like the lids that are on there, I wonder what they would look like with lids that extend over the edges. Possibly it would look too much like a roof. Just a thought.

Keep up the outstanding work!

I'll definitely remember that quote above when I completely rip off a Phillips pot. Ha!

ang design said...

i like em, maybe a stamp or 2 wouldn't go astray....i do like your little handles too...and once you make them for a while they stray from the original form anyway and become yours..

Ron said...

Nice job. I know what you mean about losing the surface gesture from the throwing. I've been struggling with that myself with this slipware. I'm wanting to keep all that throwing action.

Anonymous said...

i think the one in the middle is off. the lid sits too far down in the piece i think. i like the form though.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Doug, the lid on the middle one sits a little too far down. I think I would like to see them with a slightly larger proportion between the mouth and the foot to get a more slanted side. Other than that, I like the surface texture remaining as opposed to paddling.

Shane Mickey said...

really nice jumpin off pots, they are obviously derived from rock creek pottery, not just the shorter one, but all three. as to the matt jones (i assume thats who alex was talkin about) comment. no there are no new forms, but thats where my agreeing ends. and old form by another potter thrown well is still just a copy! its sometimes labeled tradition! no, its copying. this is brash but i see those who apprentice then go on to copy their master for several years as lacking creativity. take a traditional form and put a new twist on it. matt has finally done that in the last few years and i am happy to see that. brandon, quickly find your style and your work will be taken more seriously by the clay world, i wish we had more folks being that honest, and not coming at me with pitchforks for being brutally honest. keep up the good work

Tracey Broome said...

Shane I agree with you on the apprentice comment. But I do like the idea of using an old form and adding your own inspiration to it. I see the blatant copying a lot, working in a community studio. Like right now, everyone is carving trees on their pots, a few months ago only one girl was doing it. Drives me nuts!

Shane Mickey said...

yes, i thats the joy of potting taking something and making it your own. i teach part time at acommunity college and see what ur talkin about all the time. keep you nose to the wheel me lady

brandon phillips said...

thanks for the comments everyone. i like your quote tracey but i think i fall nearer to shane's thinking. how many potter's are there out there running around making mark hewitt pots? ok, maybe just a few but you get the idea. living out here in the middle of nowhere in a artistically devoid state(over-dramatization-i admit) i am not able to see or handle good pots very often. my work method is if i see something i like to make one to find out what it is that i like about it and then move that form on from there. sometimes it's fruitless or really slow to evolve, other times its quick. and sometimes you need people to nudge you along as in this case.
shane- thanks for stopping by, it's good to have a few brutally honest people around. i try to be one of them but it's hard when you can't see people face to face!

Anonymous said...

This is a test comment

Anonymous said...


Sorry about the test comment above, but I don't do much blogging and wanted to make sure it would work before typing a detailed comment.

My buddy Alex Matisse (former apprentice) put me on to this discussion, and although the contents have been long debated and hashed ad nauseum it still interests me. I wanted to offer a few thoughts to counter Shane's argument.

I've taken a few minutes to scroll through some of your work and I do see lots of other people's style being used as reference points in your own work. You openly acknowledge ripping a Kyle Carpenter pattern, and I see (as Shane points out) some Rock Creek influence as well. But I think that is what gives your work some strength as you search for your own voice, and it is certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

Rock Creek pottery itself is a joining of Ruggles and Rankin's vision with ideas from Warren McKenzie and Michael Simon (probably many others as well).

Warren McKenzie's vision references his understanding of Leach/Hamada. That doesn't mean he never found his own voice.

Shane has children, he knows that kids can't learn to speak without mimicking their parents' voices. Ask a musician you like a lot who has been an influence on their work. No band or songwriter bursts onto a scene without listening to and absorbing older material. Why not play a few covers that you like before you settle down on something that has never been done before.

As for Mark Hewitt, and his sphere of influence, Mark certainly didn't burst out of a clear blue sky. He made pots for Todd Piker in CT for 3 years, and before that worked for Michael Cardew (incidentally, though I did tell Alex about the "no new pots, only those made well and those made poorly" idea, I was merely quoting Cardew's statement)and worshipped the ground that Svend Bayer walked upon. He absorbed these influences over many years and combined a few elements of NC folk pottery and added his own bits and pieces and a lot more salt before his cohesive vision or body of work came together.

What I'm getting at here is that as the old saying goes (and I find myself using I with my son whenever his younger sister copies him): "immitation is the sincerest form of flattery".

Shane is doing his own thing, but "thrown and altered" plus "anagama" doesn't equal something that has never been done before. He probably has looked at, admired and absorbed Japanese tea ceremonial wares, the work of Nick Joerling and Randy Johnston and many others. If he doesn't ever want to copy anything, that is certainly his prerogative, but it doesn't necessarily make people take his work more seriously.

If you don't know me and my work, I could point you to my website, but I haven't updated it for over 5 years. I spend most of my time making pottery that excites me, and leave the computer mostly alone. I do occassionally check email at

Thanks to Shane and you for willingness to speak directly.

--Matt Jones

Shane Mickey said...

ok so i just got an email from a matisse, and thought i'd respons here also. i am glad brandon liked my honesty and frankly he is all that really matters in this discussion since he asked for critical input. now, matt and i go back a ways and have always been on different paths. we know each others work, and have a profound respect for each other, matt thanks for continuing along in the global pottery tradition. I will speak to the idea of copyin again. i am merely pointing out that it is a good way to get started but that we need to find our own voices quickly even if its within a regional or geographical style. I never have nor plan to claim my work to be original, my inspirations are numerous and inmy opinion obvioius. i do think my work is my own at this point and does not directly reference any other potters. this topic has been discussed ad nauseum as matt said, much like the art/craft debate, these are still releveant discussions. in the end, i try to be honest, and helful in my critical responses and expect the same back. brandon, keep up the good work.