The market days this summer have brought me a wonderful set of new friends and acquaintances. One woman in particular has been a boon to my confidence as a potter. But in a recent conversation she made a statement that gave me pause. She said, "Love the primitiveness of your design.. and simplicity.. Keep throwing.."
Up until this point, I had never thought of my pieces being described as "primitive." It almost seemed like a dirty word rolling off my tongue....primitive. But then I began thinking about the influences for my pieces. As a child, my grandmother had stoneware bowls with simple blue and pink stripes around them. I loved their simplicity (and the wonderful things that came out of them). I don't like for my pieces to look identical. I think each piece has a mind of it's own. I begin with an idea and the clay may have another direction for me to take. I don't like for functional pieces to just sit upon a shelf. I want them to be used and loved. I want someone else's hands to know the piece as well as the hands that created it.
I have been pouring over a book, "Pots in the Kitchen" by Josie Walter. In it she traces the development of handmade pots used for cooking from the first century AD to the 20th century. It is all about function and form, about making a pot for cooking. In looking back over the photos and at my own work, the pieces are not refined like those brides pick out for their wedding china. They are sturdy pieces that are meant for work, kitchen work.
In this day to some, working in a kitchen daily at home is something only a foodie or their grandmother participates in. Frozen, bagged or boxed, toss it in the oven or microwave, drive thru, carry out, delivery. Who has time to prepare, slow cook and enjoy the fruits of the kitchen? Someone who is a bit primitive. Someone who appreciates the smell of turned earth, the growing season, the harvest, and the slow melding of flavors as the fruits of their labor simmer together in a happy pot. Primitive....it may not be such a dirty word after all.