Sunday, May 15, 2016

Pottery or is it Ceramics?

As we gathered for our annual meeting, I became aware of the talent that shares this space. I am a weaver, a spinner, a quilter, pretty much anything to do with fiber, but I know nothing about pottery. And yet, the potters are clearly alive and well amid their fiber friends.

Our guild has a sizable group of potters,  not only in workspace, but also in wheels, kilns, clays, paints and stains. Often as the kiln is loaded and another firing begun, I realize my love for winter pottery stems from the warmth radiating from even as it cools. Throwing clay and designing its shape upon a wheel is mesmerizing, and yet, I still know nothing. I understand that a glob of brown, tan or grey becomes something recognizable with human contact and skill.  Yes, we all remember the "Ghost" scene with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze.

I get confused in the distinction between ceramics and pottery because they are made in a similar fashion. The creation of any piece typically begins with the mixing of clay, formed into a shape using a potter's wheel or mold and then left to dry out. A kiln is used to fire or bake the clay in preparation for the decorating and finishing. Items are painted, stained or glazed before a second firing sets the work. It seems that the distinction lies in the meaning people place on the item. Fine Art pieces are thought of as ceramics, where as items with a function is pottery. The art form as a whole is often referred to as ceramics, whereas pottery is a subgroup.

I know as I have tried to explain pottery/ceramics, I am lacking. What I do know is that having the pottery punch bowls for our open house punch, platters and mugs to display our wares, and the basic esthetic beauty of the pieces created by our members is exciting and visibly dynamic. The piece above was thrown and glazed by Craig, one of our member potters.  Outstanding, isn't it.