Looking and Learning with Forrest Lesch-Middleton and Joe Singewald / by Heather Tietz

A few weeks ago, I went to a "Looking and Learning" conversation, hosted by the Northern Clay Center featuring Forrest Lesch-Middleton and Joe Singewald. These installments invite artists to bring objects of inspiration and significance and talk about the importance of the objects. Here are a few take-aways:

  • Setting something in front of you for a long period of time (at the wheel for example) can affect the way you work and view/experience the object. (I need to do this.)
  • The pot and the work are strongly associated with the maker. Looking at the pot is not only just looking at the pot, but makes you think of the maker and those experiences. (Yes!)
  • "That's why we all have cups." They are *almost* replaceable and affordable. Those little pots we throw on the side are sometimes our most treasured work and say the most.
  • If there is a connection to an object, you recognize the inherent value of the piece, otherwise it's likely perceived as just a tchotchke. 
  • Ceramics = Around dirt. Importance of what it can teach. As simple and complex as that.
  • In craft, the content of the pot is about functionality/serving and history - the work is supported in how we talk about it, the stories. Know how to explain technical influences in your work.
  • Because the clay community is sometimes self-containing, selling to other potters is common. This gives us hope that the community is growing and supports itself.
  • Also, buyers of clay objects sometimes want to be a part of a community rather than just needing a pot.
  • Forrest and Joe can't imagine living without pots. 

Ways to refresh work if feeling stuck:

  • make a "manmade" piece vs. an "organic" piece (A Mackenzie teaching point)
  • trim vs. untrim work
  • make old work - there's immediacy in that
  • make a list!
  • integrate aspects of your hobby into the work
  • collaborate