This is a momentous event for me. I am doing something called blogging, a novel behavior for me invented well past the middle of my life and now employed by me well into my old age. I need to confess my insecurities, seeking an immediate sympathy for my inexperience in this radical media of a brave new world I barely comprehend. I indeed do not know if you will ever see or read these words. I am now using word processing familiar to me to create this statement and then somehow will have to figure out how to transfer this message to the blog site. I think I am up to the challenge. I had some warmed up leftover spaghetti for lunch, and then had a nice long nap, and now marshal all my concentrated efforts on this project. I do think it prudent to confront this awesome project before my 4:00 whiskey.
I am a retired university professor, a lifelong iconoclast, troublemaker and overall pain-in-the- ass to all established authority. I am not this way because I wish to upset people and I certainly do not wish to invite hostility from others. I do not perform this recalcitrant behavior as an adolescent affectation or to draw attention to myself. I am just that way, that is my temperament and nature. My own idiosyncratic logic and sense of things are a natural gift or curse of nature, depending on how I am experienced and the wide range of responses I have received over the years. I march to a drummer whose beat appears to be largely unheard by most others. I would like to think that those who value originality and creativity, those potters and other craftspeople out there in the world beyond my own neighborhood that I have yet to meet; also experience and celebrate in their work and lives what it means to find your own unique voice and vision. This is articulated in the soft clay that eventually hardens into the affirmative statements of your own personhood and imagination.
I attempt to use words like potters would use clay. I have spent my lifetime honing the capacity to match my patterns of thoughts and feelings with a composition of sentences and configurations of themes that form my reveries and meditations on how I make sense of the world and try to justify my existence in that world. When you speak in the first person, you become naked on the finished page. I have never hid behind a detached third person voice, safely describing the ‘other’ as a supposed authority while attempting to conceal my own passions and prejudices. All of us are fallible and incomplete in the world. All of us have a need, however we boast of our rugged independence and existential autonomy, to be heard, to be at least respected if not completely accepted in all matters. I define courage as that capacity to place yourself in public view, either through the printed page or the result of the potter’s wheel, and receive those who engage your artifact with a generous spirit. I share your hope that somehow you have managed to convey into that compressed and smoldering object just out of the kiln those attributes that document everything you care about and everything you cherish. All this is made possible by the evident demonstration of your well-earned skills and highly developed operational intelligence.
I do not know the length of your attention span. Do people who read blogs have about the same attention span as television viewers? I was told, when a young teacher, to try to squeeze in about seven minutes segments what I wanted students to learn. That is about the length of time between television commercials. I just want to add a few more items and then I will retire from this first effort. I wrote a book, “Searching for Beauty: Letters from a Collector to a Studio Potter”, published by my British publisher, Kestrel Books Ltd. in Wales. I am very fortunate to have the Laguna Clay Company as my American distributor. In the future I want to tell you more about the book, share with you some quotes and maybe offer some things I am currently writing about. If someone actually reads any of this and responds, I promise to reply to you. If you do respond and are not rude in doing so, I will invite to my home and pottery collection, even sharing my scotch if you arrive around 4:00.
I do want to end this with my sincere thanks to Julie Brooks, Director of Laguna Clay Company. Julie has been a friend of mine for some time. She has been so supportive of me and my book; sponsoring this blog, and before that, sponsoring my appearance at the last NCECA conference in Phoenix, where I signed books at the Axner Book booth. Her desire to be the American distributor of my book was a wonderful and much appreciated affirmation of my efforts as a writer. I am truly enjoying this last hurrah coming after a long lifetime; as a writer working on my fourth book now, as a speaker going on lecture tours of ceramic courses all over Britain, twice a speaker at NCECA, and meeting potters from all over the world at international ceramic conferences. I am a defender of craft, an advocate for the potter and the ceramic artist, a collector of pottery whose home is a treasure house of antique and contemporary pottery from cultures and countries all over the world. There is nothing I value more than the opportunity to join that greater community of people who create the wondrous objects that emanate from the genius of the human hand. Those of us who engage and collect your creations are your natural partners and firm friends. I hope this blog site can become an avenue to develop that partnership and friendship.