Back to basics

Posted: January 20th, 2010 | Filed under: In the studio | No Comments »

Well, there’s nothing more basic than a pinch pot—probably the oldest forming method in the history of ceramics, and all you need are your fingers and a ball of clay. No fancy tools required, no need to consult how-to books, no need to have any artistic training whatsoever, and you still get a usable piece out of the deal. Sometimes I find it’s great to get back to basics, and I’ve had the opportunity to do this over the last year as I have taught introductory hand-building classes to kids and adults.

It doesn’t matter how old the student is, if she’s never touched a piece of clay before, the pinch pot is foreign to her, and so I get to revisit this most simple form again and again. Teaching, in turn, has made me kind of re-interested in the little old pinch pot, and I find myself making little porcelain ones with just the right number of fingerprints showing, or trying to see how big of one I can make.

Again, that white glaze is what really makes the pinch pot shine! A good, even application of glossy white makes even the two-minute dish look sophisticated, albeit with a bit of rugged flair. In school and as practicing artists, we are encouraged to make these amazingly “perfect” objets, being careful not to mar the surface of a thrown bowl with messy fingerprints or dents, but it can be such fun, so freeing, to purposely leave one’s mark. The humble pinch pot might just be the most expressive vessel a person can make.

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