May 22, 2016 § 2 Comments
Many moons ago, I asked my good friend Mike Lewis to design a webpage for me. He is an excellent graphic designer and created a beautiful page. It was a simple static page with links to the various aspects of Dove Street Pottery, such as the blog and shop. It was always supposed to be a temporary measure, and, for a long time, I understood that what I really needed was more of a one-stop site where interested parties could get an overview of what I was doing.
So, one of the first jobs that I gave to Joseph, after he had settled in a bit, was to work on putting together a new website. My partner, Claire Wellesley-Smith, uses squarespace.com for her site and said good things about it, so we didn’t look any further. Joseph has done a fantastic job. There are bits and pieces that need tweaking but we felt that it was better to get something up and added to it later. Having everything in one place and easy to access is the key, especially clear images of all the pots that we make. Allowing people to see the range of our pots, I am hoping, is going to make a big difference.
We had one quite difficult decision to take, though – what to do with the blog, The Hopeful Potter. Did we leave it where it was and start afresh? Did we just end the blog? Did we keep the name? It was quite tricky. I am posting less often than I used to do but I really enjoy writing the blog and it has charted my every pottery thought for the last 5 years. It appears that I was clear and decisive from the very first post regarding the trajectory that I wanted to take. I wanted to throw and I wanted to make functional ware – nothing has changed since then. But lots has changed otherwise. Some statements of the obvious – I feel like I am in a very different place now, my skill level is considerably higher, my experience immeasurably deeper. It may seem a strange thing to say but I am only just beginning to ‘enjoy’, ‘get satisfaction out of’ making pots. I feel that while one is learning it is extremely hard to ‘enjoy’ making pottery. I have felt a deep drive to do so but the satisfaction in it has been hard won. I always fell short of that pot that I wanted to make, that ideal version in my mind’s eye. I always failed. By the very nature of learning to do something difficult this always had to be the case, it always had (has) to be this way. It is extremely hard to come back to the wheel week after week, you have to have so much faith that it will eventually come good, that your fingertips will learn. This is the essence of ‘the hopeful potter’; it is an ever-present and ever-lasting state. Every day I say to myself, ‘If I can make these pots today, what will the pots that I make in a year be like?’. I am beginning to see that something might be possible.
I have never wanted to make OK pots – the striving has always been to make the best pot that I possibly can. Two things relating to this. Fleur Grenier said something interesting in this month’s Craft & Design magazine. She said ‘I think it can be very easy to be safe and comfortable with your work. This can become very boring not only for yourself but for customers who regularly see your work at shows or in galleries’. Challenge yourself constantly. The second is David Pye‘s well-known writing on the theory of workmanship in The Nature and Art of Workmanship. He writes about machine-made objects being made by the workmanship of certainty, where you are guaranteed a result every time. Hand-made objects, he says, on the other hand, are made by the workmanship of risk – they are taken to the edge of failure every time. They have to teeter precariously on the edge but this is the only place of life and vitality. It is a dangerous place to live, yet, ultimately, a deeply rewarding one.
I am going to post this post on The Hopeful Potter site as well as this one. It will be a concluding post on that site and then all subsequent posts will continue here (on dovestpottery.co.uk). Be hopeful, be ever hopeful.