A Potter’s Most Valuable Skill

Posted by on Apr 22, 2011 in Carving, Creamer and Sugar Set, Critique, Glazes, How-to, Plates, Slip Trailing, Surface Decoration | 0 comments

The most beneficial thing that I have gained by attending workshops is participating in critiques.  And, although subjecting my pots to open opinion was uncomfortable, I have had really positive experiences and gained a lot of insight.

Self-critiquing is a powerful skill that is worth incorporating.  Since I have been conducting self-critiques and critiques with Julie, I am more cognizant and focused about what I want to make.  I have begun to balance awareness of my weaknesses with recognition of my strengths.  And, I know what I want to do and what I want to try which makes me feel more confident.

For me, there are two main categories – technical (throwing questions) and aesthetic (design questions).  One of the most important aspects of a self-critique is the ‘why’.  Asking ‘why’ makes the initial and emotional responses to the pot tangible.  It also keeps me from being lazy and casually dismissing a pot.

Here are a few things that I think about when I critique my pots:

Technical

  • Is it proficiently thrown?  (functionality, weight, rim/foot thickness, handle width)
  • What is the first part of the pot that I notice and why?
  • How does it feel (sharp, heavy, smooth)?  Is that what I intended?  Does it work?
  • What do I need to be mindful of the next time I make this shape (more clay, throw thinner, leave rim thicker, clean up better, stronger attachment)?

Aesthetic

  • Does this pot ‘work’?  Why/why not?
  • Is it balanced?  Should it be?
  • Does the surface embellishment enhance/hide the pot shape?
  • Does the glaze hide/enhance the surface embellishment?
  • Does the glaze enhance/hide the pot shape?  Is that good?  Why/why not?
  • Does the transition from one glaze to another work?  Why/why not?
  • Is there an opportunity to enhance contrast (use a satin/matte with a gloss glaze; add complementary color glaze; incorporate more texture)
  • What will I change the next time I make this form (glaze, texture, shape)?

What questions do you ask yourself about your pots?

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