Monday, May 3, 2010
A CONSTANT MEASURE
My introduction to pottery happened rather round about and later than usual. I had been doing free lance writing for several publications and was writing a forward to a catalogue on ceramics and figured I may want to go and get some input from the “local” pottery professor. I made an appointment and met with Bill Klock, professor of ceramics at Plattsburgh State University. Naturally, I had tons of questions and Bill suggested that I come into a class and try it for myself. Once there, I was hooked and was allowed to audit the class, fire kilns and become friends with a great teacher.
Bill, William Henry Klock, was not your ordinary teacher. He had apprenticed with Bernanrd Leach, spending some time visiting the Cardew pottery, and later in life, trekked to Korea to work with Korean craftsman and fell under the influence of the Onggi potters. His ability in clay is equally matched by his skill working with wood and his insightful draftsmanship. Bill’s style of teaching and making pots is casual. It shows in the rhythm of his pots and his pupils. His command of throwing and sculpture has been a constant measure as I work, always wondering what Bill would do and how he would approach it. We eventually made the next step and wood fired at his home in upstate New York, further cementing my future in pottery. His energy, patience and willingness to share was a boon to many, myself included, who have come in contact with Bill over the years. His command of stoneware and earthenware, sometimes made with his friend Clive Bowen, is best understood in hand and through the use of his pottery. Some of my favorite pots I own are by Bill and after nearly 20 years, the continued dialogue only deepens.
Bill retired from teaching and is Professor Emeritus of SUNY, Plattsburgh. He still makes pots and furniture when he is not off trekking about to England, the Caribbean or elsewhere with his wife Anna. Having worked/studied with three Leach pupils, a Japanese master and numerous others, I can say, Bill will remain a constant measure to guide me along the road of pottery making.
(All pots from the Bird Collection, always wanted to say that................)