Category Archives: English

intendedness vs effortlessness, consideration

It is clear to me that as a media we are making progress at least in some ways. Sure there is more technical know how and horsepower than there was 40 years ago. There is more knowledge and more people doing glaze calculation and substantive kiln innovation. But even the pots themselves are getting better. This can be demonstrated pretty well by looking at handle attachments. I have joked about looking at upper handle attachments pictured in CM from the first issue forward using the criteria of intendedness(1). But I am not so interested in quantitative research in the field. I just want to generate thought. Still it seems that progress here can be demonstrated.

In this regard I have been looking at Simon Levin’s handles on cups. Really the whole cups are wonderous but it is the handles I am most in to. The mimicry of the smooth upper attachment is so well done at the bottom that the effort that goes in is not apparent. There are no signs of any effort. The bottom attachment looks as is it was accomplished the same way the top attachment was, no muss, no fuss. But it wasn’t. Simon has apparently developed the skill  and technique to make the bottom attachments look the same and a lot of effort went into this.

The lack of unresolved details in the bottom attachment meet my definition of intendedness. Every part of the attachment looks like it was considered. The details look like they were all intended. The clean lack of struggle, the lack of unintended marks, makes these lower attachments look effortless and I wonder if the terms “apparent consideration”, “intendedness” and “apparent effortlessness” are not in some ways relating to pots, synonymous.

(1) Intendedness: This is the appearance of intent, rather than intent itself. Something can look like it has intent but if it is actually accidental, or a controlled accident it still has intendedness. The Bauhaus  designers used to say that every aspect of a design needs to be considered. This is an important principle, but in my opinion poorly stated. I say that every aspect of a design needs to look considered or intended. They do not need to be intended. How well something conforms to this ideal, this look of intention or consideration is its intendedness.

Once something looks intentional it is possible or easy and almost automatic to either think you know why something was chosen the way it was or to wonder why. Either of these is a gateway to meaning.

 

Din Phao, Din Phao: ดินเผาดินเผา

Dankwean Dinpaw , the sales area on the road is hurting. Based on quick appearances……..There has been an incredible building of sales malls. People are still building them despite lots of vacancies. Perhaps, hopefully, people believe that sales will improve. The old large potteries are falling into disrepair. Umdang is closed essentially and the business that they do is via phone sales and visits to sites where they design installations, murals and bas reliefs. The have almost no road sales except perhaps tiles.
Chao Din (people of the earth) seems to still be producing murals, but the bustling stream of visitors and buyers seems to have ended. Its once immaculate display area is getting funky. The fish pond is full of algae and the air and water pumps not working. The koi are oblivious, but as a visitor it is not nearly as nice looking.
The old professors are dead. Ajahn Pit who was always welcoming and nice to me died a few years ago and his daughter and son took over for a few years. I am told that they are now in the US. Like Chao Din the once brilliant and organized display of Ajahn Pit’s Din Phao has seen better days. Eddie McGrath wrote that there is a tendency in restaurants to rather than keep up on maintenance to just “let it go” and sell out to someone who wants to sell cheaper food and build a newer restaurant. The tendency may have some similarities here, but it is not working, Only a few nik-nack shops across the street seem to be doing well with street-side sales. I have seen several places packing work up for sale elsewhere.

Ajahn Wirot from Din-Dam has been dead for some time and his once chaotic display and museum is hard to see among the weeds and behind the distracting buildings. It would surprise me to find out that any sales at all were going on there.

Across the street from Umdang there is a place where tour busses stop because the displays are clean. They sell espresso there for 45 baht and about 100 yards away it is only 25. There apparently are people buying little nicknacks still.

The hand skills on the “traditional” carved surface Dankwean pots have continued to improve. There is truly some incredible carving going on. I hope that the scrafitto workshop really takes hold as this would help create an opportunity for these skills to translated to fired surfaces. That said the painted surfaces look better and better every year I visit.

Up Wind

I am preparing to go to Thailand. I have lists and even a list of lists. I have packing lists, lists of paperwork to duplicate, lists of people to contact, letters to write, and files to transfer to the laptop. Oy.

But there are other preparations I have to make. They may be more important. I must slow down, remember the Thai manners, the cool heart – jai yen, slow, controlled not too excited. I have to remember to slow and greet people properly, the smile and the ability to let things roll off my back with a smile on my face. It is not just smiling that I need to do, but the smile state of mind.

The idea that desire is the root of suffering, that grasping creates disappointment, is at the heart of this change. It is a part of Buddhist philosophy but, it is so widely accepted and implemented in Thailand , that you have to succumb or find yourself swimming upstream. I no longer can swim upstream for months at a time. I have to smile, go with the flow, allow the troubles, the hurry, frowns, worries, to flow away, to touch perhaps but never stick. I have to learn to “mai pen rai” . To activate the phrase “its not a problem or worry” you have to make it a verb.

I have a huge agenda. It is work. It is too much. It would be good if I could get it all done. It is almost certainly undoable.  An agenda like this can add an off flavor to everything. It can prevent months of work from being productive, too much stress on doneness not enough flex to contemplate, think, digest,,,. I have to start by doing “mai pen rai” by turning off the worries and allowing the future to come. You can only swim upstream so long.

I  have to even stop my little social concerns. Did I fail to slow down and say Sawasdii, did I remember to call them “elder”, was I polite enough. I have to do this because really the first politeness in Thailand is to mai pen rai. It is a necessity like air. When you do this, the little stuff comes easy, and the hard stuff is easier.

 

Thrift Store Pots

I arrived in Helena with Gail and the boys. If I remember correctly Benny was an infant. I was supposed to be on a quick run to the Rock Hand Hardware Store but guiltily I stopped at a thrift store on the way. I did a quick run through the hardware area. I never buy clothes, well, hardly ever. I walked down one of the isles with pots and turned them over to see if any were made with clay bodies (compositions) from before the 70’s. One ugly little cup with a funky dead form, coil handle, poorly turned footring and bubbled glaze, that was rubbed down with a brick to break the bubbles, was old stoneware. It did not have the typical APGreen brand fireclay look. It was ugly so I set it down.

By the time I got to the end of the isle I was thinking again of the ugly pot. “Whose signature was that?” I went back and turned it over again. Clearly it was signed, “Voulkos” (right).
IMGP5147RosieVolkoussm
Peter Voulkos is one of the best known clayers of the 20th century. He made delightful functional pots until he began making abstract sculpture. He began studying pottery at Montana State University in Bozeman under Francis Senska and was a resident artist at the Archie Bray Brickyard. After Berard Leach, Shoji Hamada and Soetsu Yanagi lectured and demonstrated at the Bray (not sure of this it could have been before) the resident artists at the Bray were asked to make “Bray Standard Ware” (I need a source for this). One of the items was a small cup with a little coil handle just like this one. Voulkos, I think, resented having to make these, but made them. In defiance, (again conjecture) he signed his cups.

(Yanagi, Leach, Rudy Autio, Voulkos, Hamada, at the Bray Pottery)

Cup in hand, poker-faced, I paid my 25 cents and left with my cup.

A few months later at the same store I bought a cup by Rosie Wynkoop (left) who had been one of my students in the community classes at the Bray.  It cost a dollar. I think she made it while she was one of my students.

In graduate school one of the off syllabus things we learned was that garage sale and thrift store shopping was a competitive sport. The price tags were left on the pots. One friend was so well known at one thrift store that she received phone calls on the store phone.

On occassion, I invite my students over to my house to view pots. One time while talking about these two drinking vessels a student asked, “Wouldn’t Rosie be upset to find out that her work only cost a dollar?” I answered, “No! She is getting four times the price of Voulkos!”

Burnt Coffee

So, my second daily pot of coffee… I was brewing with the radio on.
Distracted. Boiled over.
Burnt coffee smell of my father melting the percolator.. but without burnt bakelite handle.
I opened the front door… 10 years old. Dad at work. It stunk but was not smoke so I went in.
Aluminum slag. Time for a new coffee pot.
Turned the burner off.
Smart kid.
Nother day.
Came home from school.
Opened front door. Smelled smoke.
Went next door to Sheri’s house.
“Mrs Simons, could I use your phone? ”
Dialed zero. “Operator give me the fire department.”
They came, no smoke.
“So, you decided to see the fire trucks little boy?”
Mother, Fern Katz , pulls up next to the fire truck.
“My son said there was smoke, so there was. Go find it.”
Mom gets extra credit and gold star.
Lint in the dryer caught fire and went out.
No one asked me how much smoke.
The coffee is good. Time to clean the stove top.

Appon’s Thai Food Site http://www.khiewchanta.com/

 

Appon might be an old Thai pronunciation of Apple in Thai. The letter that corresponds with ‘L’ ล (law ling) is only pronounced like an English ‘L’ as the initial consonant in a syllable. At the end it is pronounced like an English ‘n’ in Thai. Consequently ‘hotel” becomes ‘hoten”, and ‘Apple’-‘Appon’.

Regardless, the recipes on her site look to me like the real deal. They are not what you find in most “Thai Restaurants” in the United States. Chicken Feet in red sauce, and Haw Mawk Prik Kai  and Kanom Jiin Nam Ya Tin Kai are on my list to try.

http://www.khiewchanta.com/

 

List of Thai Clayers

This is a list of clayers, people involved with clay, in one way or another. If you know others that I should meet on my trip, please let me know via email.

  • Suwanee Natewong
  • Sudarat Kerdmongkol
  • Jum Kerdmongkol
  • Poonarat Pichayapaiboon
  • Bathma Kaew-ngok (Bat) บัทม์
  • Takood Nui
  • Suebpong Powthai มหาวิทยาลัยศิลปากร
  • Surojana Sethabutraสุโรจนา เศรษฐบุตร
  • Atiporn Thongborisut
  • Keofar Kesornsook
  • Lakkana Wongsawat
  • Krisaya Luenganantakul
  • Nino Sarabutra
  • Wasinburee Supanichvoraparch วศินบุรี สุพานิชวรภาชน์
  • Aroon Wattana
  • Vipoo Srivilasa (AU)
  • Pim Sudhikam พิม สุทธิคำ
  • Kritchnun Srirakit กฤชนันท์ ศรีระกิจ
  • Somluk Pantiboon
  • Ittikorn Pornmingmas
  • Torsak Prakhamthong, Vang-Kwang Ceramic Craft Factory
  • Nuttapong Prompongsaton
  • Jariya Kiranantawat
  • Amornthep Mahamart อมรเทพ
  • Chetta Subbumrer
  • Smith Takroodkaew
  • Sayumporn Kasornsuwan
  • Thanin Ton
  • Padungkeat Rattanasri
  • นพอนันต์ บาลิสี (Nop Caermic)
  • Pisarn Boonphoog (sp)
  • Aor Sutthiprapha https://www.facebook.com/aor.sutthi?hc_location=stream (SW)
  • https://www.facebook.com/pages/Benjametha-Ceramic/196406153763664?fref=ts I think this is a manufacturer with four potters, Baan Mayo Patani
  • Kritchnun Srirakit Chiang Mai
  • Potter Duke https://www.facebook.com/potterduke Bangkok’

Hello world!

I have been granted a faculty development leave next year January – May to visit Thai studio ceramists and traditional potteries. I expect to be gone for 4 months. I am not sure of my exact departure date. I have a long list of things I need to do before I leave, some of which I have already started.
One is working on abstract vocabulary, the other is trying to fill out my list of people and places to visit. I expect my time there will be very busy.

ปีหน้าหลุยส์จะไปประเทศไทย
และจะอยู่4เดือน
หลุยส์ไม่แน่ใจว่าเมื่อไรจะออกจากที่นี่
มีงานทำมากที่ต้องทำก่อนไป
ต้องเรียนรู้คำศัพท์อีกหลาย
ต้องทำรายการและปฏิทินจะรับเพื่อน
ศิลปินและเพื่อนวิทยุ
คิดว่าจะมีงานทำมากไปที่ประเทศไทยด้วยครับ

sisterCharlat