Friday, April 30, 2010
THE ANACHRONISTIC JUG
When I first started making pots my sole intent was to “master” throwing the teabowl form. Once I allowed reason to prevail, I realized, best to learn to throw, then learn to throw a variety of forms and finally “master” the teabowl itself. During the early days I would sit and watch Bill Klock throw his masterful pitchers. A medium lump of clay would spring into an elegant, full and potent jug in what seemed an effortless instant. Try as I may, I could not figure out how to throw or form a pitcher. Not only was it beyond my fledgling throwing skills, but it dawned on me, I had not context or cultural relevance for the form itself.
Growing up, I remember only one pitcher in the house. I must have been 7 or 8 when the magical box appeared at our doorstep and out came the plastic, mass produced Kool-Aid pitcher and set of cups. For a number of Kool-Aid proof of purchase labels and $1.98, together with significant nagging, pleading and begging on my part, my parents mailed away for the first pitcher I can ever remember.
Over the years as first collector and then potter, I built up a better understanding of the jug and pitcher forms. Studying the historical and modern archetypes, I began to understand it’s use, form, volume, weight and the necessary handle. Armed with this new and continuing frame of reference, over the years I would make jugs and pitchers and measure them to those I knew as good examples always with a constant eye to how Bill made his pitchers.
As I make pots for a living, I found that the jug and pitcher is not that often ordered and is most likely not a staple of most households now days. Possibly a percent or two of my output is a jug or pitcher though I make them for any show or large sale I would be in. In terra cotta and stoneware these forms can take on a variety of forms and surfaces and this has allowed me to develop a personal approach to the jug and pitcher as both functional vessel and visual object. In time, I am hoping to match those jugs I saw Bill throw way back when and hope that someone will come along and use them as they were intended.