Archive for the ‘John Worrell’ Category

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

June 24, 2012

“We make your children’s antiques.”
-Joe Jostes

When does something become antique?  What’s the difference between “antique” and “collectible?”   Does the status of a pot change when its maker retires?  When they die?  A hundred years later?  Where on the continuum would the item lay if it was in a “traditional” style, an extension of what went on before?

I ask because of the number of great craftspeople today who do historically based work.  Some  were brought up that way, some love the challenge of reproductions, and some are just into history and don’t know what else to do with their time.  What they make is an amazing collection of work solidly rooted in respect for the past.

A definitive  list of “traditional” potters is impossible.  But everyone has their favorites.  Here is a brief sampling, a sort of “greatest hits,” of potters I admire.  If I had more time the list would be longer.

Lester Breininger bridged the gap between old and new.  The grand master passed away a few years ago.
Ned Foltz is another who led the way for us youngsters.  I had the great pleasure of actually meeting him once.
Don Carpentier is the undisputed modern master of mocha.
Greg and Mary Shooner are a powerhouse team of lead glazed redware potters.
Michelle Erickson does exacting reproduction work – when she’s not veering off into the blurry world between “traditional” and  “idiosyncratic.”
Julia Smith, semi-retired, had an incredible command of a wide range of period types and styles.
Ken Henderson makes the best Rockingham, hands down.
Sue Skinner and Joe Jostes of S&J Pottery are my favorite, and perhaps the best all around potters.  Walking into their booth at a show is a trip across the spectrum of early pottery.
The “Devonshire Potter,” Doug Fitch must be included here.  He lives in Devonshire, England (duh).  I hardly know of many modern English potters.  But if you’ve seen his work you’ll understand why some of us here are glad he doesn’t live near us – job security!

John Worrell wrote an engaging essay about early 19th century New England potters titled “These Were the Potters that Dwelt among Plants and Hedges.”  Perhaps that was so.  Although I’m sure the people listed above all live in very nice houses, they are the potters who propel the tradition into the future.

Readings

“These Were the Potters that Dwelt among Plants and Hedges.”  John E. Worrel.  Old Sturbridge Village/Sturbridge, MA.  1980.

Advertisements