I have to reply to Michael Kline’s (link) comment on my last post here because I need to insert a picture. The issue is: what is it that can make small pots (and Elizabeth Taylor) so amazing???
Here are two cups I have of Michael’s:
I saw this shape of his first at Mark Shapiro’s house a few years ago, fell in love, then picked these from the KOBO cup show I think 2 years ago.
I love these: they completely embody ‘cupness’ to me. They are remarkably complex for such little pots, in both form and surface, without overwhelming their sense of being immanently usable. They are typically Michael in their mix of clunkiness (in the best possible sense) and grace. The form is impossible for me to make – oddly enough, and I’ve tried often. They remind me of French bistro glasses, while also looking like the lids on old maebyong vases. The decorations kiss French, Islamic and old North Carolina pots while being completely his.
What makes these great for me is the Michaelness and all the references do not dominate the cups – they are the cups. For everything these cups are about they are still predominantly cups, not ‘cups’. The ‘mere real thing’-ness and the story of the thing-ness are totally in balance. It requires no thought to use these, but when thoughts land on them they have the content to inform a vigorous response.
I’m wondering if all the complex pots we potters make these days in the US are simply a way to really understand how to make cups and bowls. That is, if our perceptions as makers were not stretched by weird, individualistic, labor- and design-intensive pots, would we make boring cups? Is this how we cultivate mastery for ourselves in the absence of a structured path of training? Does what we learn about handling clay and our own voice then come back to inform and bring depth to the ‘simple’ pots we make?
A favorite pot from my last firing was a 2″ bowl I had made for Isaac. I bet we fall in love with these simple little pots because somehow they are free-er, less burdened by our selves, and they recall for us why we got to doing this in the first place.