Sunny weekend

What a weekend! Beautifully sunny and hot, well Paul reckons it’s warm but for a red haired hay fever sufferer believe me it’s hot. I don’t do too well in the sun you know and it’s bringing out a lot of pollen by the feel of it. However it is lovely and the world around is responding very swiftly to it, you can see the flowers stretching and revelling in the warmth and light.
Some pots are still being slipped and decorated along with the glazing and firing that is reaching the end of SF preparation here. The other pots though still have to be made and are going to keep moving along for as long as I can make them before it all stops and I have to start preparing the place for visitors, all being well that will start Thursday…

This is the back of the owl plate, couldn’t decide whether the two loops at the top looked like eyes or something other than eyes.

I lost of few of these little fat mugs this afternoon, they collapsed in flurry of slip, I think I’d just damn well thrown them too thin, annoying but it happens. Where’s the line do you think between being inspired by things and down right copying them even when you don’t have it in your head to do that. These fat mugs, yes the shape I tried to copy at first from some 17th C pots, they never were exactly the same and they’re probably even less the same now and of course finished they won’t look anything like the originals, probably even barely recognisable as there even being a link. However I know there’s that link, sometimes, like now, that really bothers me. I know nothings new, especially with a tradition going back as far as this one does, but is it ok to make pots that draw so heavily on the past, for myself I like the fact that there is that link, that connection but what would people looking in on this think? Do those who know old pots think – pah look at that, poor copies? They aren’t reproductions, I’m not clever enough nor a good enough potter to be able to pull off that trick, I’ll leave that to those to whom that is their speciality. When I left working at Jason’s pottery I was very much aware of making pots that looked like Jason’s pots, it was how I’d learnt, it was bound to be in there. I think I’ve talked about this before in previous posts. It took me a good while before I felt I was starting to make my pots rather than Jason’s pots though in truth to anyone that knew Jason’s work for more than a passing glance they weren’t alike but the connection was obvious. Again I like that connection, I like the fact that there is that link through time, a sort of family tree, there are aspects of Jason’s work that I feel clearly mark the fact that he worked for Mary Wondrausch and at Aldermaston for Alan Caiger Smith and again I think that’s no bad thing.
The pots that I make and the inspiration that either consciously or sub-consciously contributes to them comes from every source you can think of, sometimes things happen that you have no notion where they came from. Occasionally you do something and think hey that’s a great idea only to pick up a book and see the self same technique illustrated in it or look back through a magazine you’ve flicked through or at other potters work you’ve seen and lo and behold there is the link. Again it won’t be the same, how can it ever be? We are all different people with different skills and different ways of being but you can see the link again, if you look hard enough. In many ways the way that ideas and possibilities are passed around the world now is just a bigger, faster, easier version of the way they always have been. To potters in times gone by you would have been able and indeed can now trace the way that a technique or idea travels slowly, over seasons and years rather than today’s minutes and seconds, across regions and countries as the itinerant potters and craftspeople worked their way from job to job, county to county. You can see the spread of European decorating techniques spread across Britain when the delft ware, to use one example, arrived on our shores. I wonder what historians in another 100 years time will think when they look back at what we do today. Will they be able to tell for example who was reading what magazine when they started making their ‘x’ range of pots, or which potter someone had seen demonstrate at a show before they started using a technique that didn’t appear in their work before?
Phew this is turning probably into a lot of indecipherable drivel, the point I think of all that is that sometimes I have trouble working out how much of my pots are me. Sometimes it bothers me, sometimes it doesn’t, I suppose it depends how I’m feeling and what else is going on at the time. The rest of my world and what happens in it affects me and my pots and then each of those in turn will affect the other I suppose, blooming heck the links are endless. Does that make sense? Hope so.
Anyway bluebells are here finally, later than those in bonny Devon of course, at least our leaves turn orange and fall before yours do Doug, I think that’s probably the end of the year that we beat you at most successfully.
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8 Responses to Sunny weekend

  1. potterboy says:

    I think you can safely say all the pots you make are Hannah pots, uniquely. I shouldn't worry about the historical connections or the Jason connections – except for the obvious broad slipware/sliptrail thing, it's not obvious at all unless you explain it and then it becomes a point of interest.It could be worse, you could be at my stage of making where everything I make looks exactly like and at the same time nothing at all like Nics pots.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I think you worry too much! I agree that all your pots are easily recognisable as yours, and certainly not copies or overly influenced by other peoples work. Love the swirly Winchcombe pot by the way, just like the real thing…..HA! Only joking. Dead excited now about the tiles…..Dave & Sue

  3. Sure, Hannah, of course it makes sense. Any potter who's paying attention to her or his life knows that they are taking influence from the work that came before theirs. How could we not? Most of us take more or less of what we learn from our teachers (and by that I mean not just the ones we have in class, but the ones we see in books and magazines) and incorporate it in our own work. If it works for us, we use it. It can go too far, and it does at times, with people doing outright imitations of someone's work. But I think that's fairly rare among thinking professional potters, especially those who make functional work.Dan Finnegan will tell you that some of the mugs he makes are taken from the standard ware at Winchcombe, where he worked with great production potters. You can see Hamada in the work of Phil Rogers and Jim Malone. And Bernard Leach turns up all over the place. There is not much totally "original" work out there and much of that is a desperate reach to be "original." My thoughts, anyway. You work in a particular tradition most of the time, so the boundaries seem to be pretty defined. What you do within that tradition makes those pots yours.

  4. Anonymous says:

    A very thought provoking post which can be applied to many individuals not just potters. Can be very tricky if you start to peel back the layers, but u need to reconcile this and not just ignore it. Good way to end with the Blue Bells.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My father once wrote in 1949 " Tradition is not a form to be imitated but the discipline that gives integrity to the new ." All the best , Guy Wolff

  6. ang says:

    yeh its called contemporary tradition we're all influenced by each other…and cute bridge is that a foot or bigger cant quite tell from the pic and look at all the fernery our trip so scotland when i was 15 has lots of memories of heather everywhere… very picturesqueeee

  7. Anonymous says:

    A very thought provoking post. I think maybe when your work becomes too heavily influenced by somebody elses you need to question what it is that makes you do it. Everbody's work reflects somebody elses somewhere along the line, but I guess the trick is to make it your own. Again tricky. No point obsessing and agonising. Best to just get on with it and make the pots you make. Always make sure they come from the heart then your own style will shine through.

  8. paul says:

    What I meant in my email Hannah was that I believe someone to be using you as something more than "inspiration", not at all that I believe you are doing the copying. Of course immitation they say is the greatest form of flattery. I still think you are brave putting your work so openly in the world, I know you feel potters are a good, kind and honest breed but I beg to differ with certain ones who it seems are unable to admit their own use of others' hard work. I see recently the one with whom I was so frustrated has credited his latest blatent reproduction with the name of the original potter, why he is only able to do this for the one with possibly the "biggest" name is an interesting aspect. My apologies for taking so long in my response.

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