Saturday, March 30, 2013

I absolutely LOVE this guy's work,

He is a New Zealand potter; lives on the western side of the South Island in Hokitika, a place where New Zealand jade is plentiful and jade galleries abound in town. We marveled at a solid jade breakfast table and a bolder the size of a small settee.      

Weaver's main gallery space is a nice showroom at the edge of town. When we arrived, the owner said he had just left. He was one potter I really wanted to meet. I so admire his work. I had intended to buy one of his black teapots, but found a sauce pot I liked even better.

I don't know if he steam bends the wooden components of his pots or if someone else does them, but they always look just right on the piece.  I especially like the yardstick handles.

Design Inspirations - More Cast Iron

I once did a unit in secondary school that required each student to take a look around their house and pick an object that was of good design or poor design.

They were to bring it to class for discussion about why it worked or didn't; functionally and design-wise.

It turned out to be one of the most successful class units ever. (Especially since we had run out of art supplies by mid-year and the budget to buy more was non-existent. But that's another story entirely.)


The beautiful pot below is by Alessi La Cintura di Orione and designed by Robert Sapper, a German industrial designer born in 1935 and based in Milan.

It is a really successfully designed oval shape.

Of course, the handles definitely would not work in clay, but in this case, their overall treatment certainly works well.

Why? because of the beautiful proportion and contrast of the bulk of the vessel offset by the lightness of the side handles and lid top.

All three of them relate to each other and counterbalance the mass of the pot.

You can certainly believe you could lift the pot with the side handles without burning yourself.

The only thing that bothers me about this pot is the lightness of the lid top.

Sapper has taken advantage of the strength of the material in the side handle designs

And by modifying the shape, he has retained enough of that look to relate the lid top to the side handles.

But, I would make the lid top loop a bit larger and thicker.

Also, I would prefer a galley under the lid so liquids would not spill over the rim. (Maybe there is one and it isn't obvious from this view.)

The casserole below designed is designed by Sori Yanagi, son of Soetsu Yanagi, the leader of the Japanese Folk Arts and Crafts Movement. That group's philosophy was  to design an object that is not only simple and beautiful, but equally practical.

Sori Yanagi was born in 1915. And his work stands the test of time well.


The rim outside promises liquids will roll back into the pot.

The handles are sturdy and the shape flows outwardly naturally.

You feel that can pick this up and have confidence in the strength of the balance of the side handles.

The top knob is not in conflict with the simplicity of the side handles.

I'm not crazy about the removable lid lifter, but it is simple and functional.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Design Inspiration - Casseroles

I was perusing a remodeling site and ran across a summary of beautiful cast iron casseroles.  I've always had cast iron in the kitchen and love to use it because of the good heating qualities and just the great look of it.

So, of course, I had to stop and look at the selection.  It made me start to think about good design in large functional bakers and how these ideas in iron could translate into clay.

Even though a couple of these vessels look very modern, some of them have been around for decades.  So it only goes to show how good design always prevails and looks great even though it was first created long ago.

The first example is one made in 1960 by Timo Sarpanerva.

The handle is wooden, but easily slides away from the loop handles for baking in the oven. It makes me think of a yoke. I've coveted this casserole for years.

The handle is so cleverly made that it doubles as a lid lifter also.  

(It makes me think of my grandmother's cast iron stove and the lid lifter she used. She would hook it into a recess in the round iron plate, the fire would leap up--very exciting to a little kid--and she would deftly slip small kindling pieces into the hole, then slip the plate back on, remove the lifter and cook a whole meal on that hot, flat surface.  She could make that old stove hum.) 

Here's an oval variation by Sarpanerva. Somehow, though, to my eye it does not have the wholeness or the unity of design the round one seems to have. Without the completion of the negative space of the handle, it begins to have a 'laundry basket' look.

I would worry about the stress on the wooden handle and think it should be more arched for eye appeal. 

It took a while to find a photo example. I don't think the oval one with the wooden handle is still in production. I did find it listed without the handle, though.

The round casserole is available, however.

So, could this be made in clay? Sure.  The idea of a lid lifter could certainly be adapted to clay. A wooden handle would look great paired with clay.

Elongation of the  handle loops and a reinforced design could be adapted. A new work in homage to Sarpaneva's design would be in order.

More iron casserole design examples to come.........

P.S. I usually don't make and don't particularly like oval bakers. Unless you're baking a chicken or larger bird. In that case, oval works well. And certainly oval bakeware stores nicely. But making a piece in clay is much easier to make in the round--especially with a well-fitting lid.

I did see Joe Bova make a beautiful oval casserole and he made the oval lid by slabbing out an oversized rectangle of clay, draping it over the leather-hard casserole and letting it slump naturally into a lid shape. When it became leather-hard also, he trimmed it and fitted it into the upper groove. He said he bisqued the piece with the lid inverted also.

Friday, March 22, 2013


You may have noticed a new disclaimer appearing at the right top of this blog.

It is there because I was recently duly chastised  by two people in the comments section because I had posted images of spoons that were unattributed, but had appeared on their 'collection' sites.

I hope this new statement explains and clarifies the intent I had in presenting those images.

I must admit, I was quite disturbed by their comments. So disturbed that I immediately erased and withdrew all the posts I had published and had queued up in draft form. I also erased their comments because I really did not want to know their names.

I was accused of lifting some of the images from their webpages to re-use in my blog. I frankly don't recall where all my references came from--that was not the point of the postings.

For myself, I don't care if anyone collects or shows my work without attribution. If I did, I would never post another jpeg. I own the image. I will own it forever. It's my work. I'm flattered if someone likes it and enjoys looking at it. I either own the actual piece or someone who loved it owns it.

It would be nice if, when the image is put on the web, it is attributed to me. But to expect that or to spend my time trying to police that, is utterly ridiculous IN MY OPINION. Other people might feel differently and they are in their rights to do so.

If I were trying to exploit, copy, or profit in any way from images of other's work, commercial or private,  that would be different. But art and artists thrive on sharing creativity.  The images present in this blog were offered in the spirit of that sharing; not exploiting.  The intent has always been on an objective basis; to discuss and appreciate elements of design, skill, technique, form, history.

Henceforth, whenever possible I will attempt to find an attribution for work.

Hint:  Many times just clicking on the image to isolate it onto a saparate page will give information concerning attribution and source.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Touching Greatness

(Sorry the photo is a bit blurred.)

Yesterday, I met Larry McMurtry. He and Diana Ossana were discussing their screenplay collaboration at the Tucson Book Festival  It was a packed audience.

And I had gone because I wanted to "clap eyes on him".

It was special to me not only because I admire his work, but because I'm actually a relative too. His great, great grandfather (maybe there's another great in there) and my great, great grandmother were brother and sister; the children of James McMurtry. The McMurtrys traveled through Missouri before settling in Texas and started a cattle dynasty. The saying goes, "If you talk about cattle in Texas, you're talking about the McMurtrys."

My gr, gr, gr, grandmother didn't make the Texas trek. She married and stayed in Missouri.

Larry grew up on a cattle ranch, but he didn't like it. So he's the Maverick of the family, I guess, taking to education and writing instead.


After the session was over, some people were crowding around the stage and after some hesitation, I joined them. I wanted to touch him. I NEVER want to touch someone, but I really had the urge to shake his hand and look into his face. So I did. I said, "I'm your cousin." and explained how we were distantly related. He smiled politely and I wondered how many people had said that to him. The McMurtrys were/are a big family. This has happened to him more than once, I would bet.

His handshake was firm, warm and polite. He smiled. And I felt somehow an odd ancestral loop of some kind had been closed.

He and Diana Ossana have a new blog that promises to be a delight. It is called Flash and Filligree and can be found at