As a collector and a student of pottery, in the broadest sense, I am constantly looking for the perfect piece. Though I know each individual measures the perfect object differently, we all do have those measures both consciously and sub-consciously at work each time we view an object. Another necessary factor at play, while pursuing the perfect, is the budget. Trying to acquire those pots that meet a certain standard, have a meaningful dialogue and fitting a budget are all parts of the puzzle.
My wife and I collect as a democracy and both approach the decision making from almost opposite ends, but there is one thing that we both agree on. It is far better to collect a great piece by a good potter than a good piece by a great potter. One exceeds his daily talents and the other falls short of his potential. In living with objects, we are constantly searching for pieces that complement our environment and are not necessarily redundant of what we already live with. This makes for a constant vetting process and we are constantly switching out the pieces on display, acquiring new pieces and letting other pots go on to new homes.
Quite recently, we encountered a chawan; high up on our, well mostly my, hit list. We have a mental list of a few pots we are on the lookout for and this piece seemed to fit the bill. At first glance there is that initial excitement, then the mental triggers kick in and the critical decision making comes in to play. The form was okay but not great, the lip and mikomi were not as well addressed as we would have liked, the surface seemed fussed with, the foot was just a bit atypical and the interior was soiled from some use. I know you are thinking, how could this chawan have even been on the radar? The faults I mention are not really that obvious, unless you take the bowl to task against other examples by the potter. In the end, it was obviously just not the right pot. Our long wait would just have to get longer.
Acquiring objects to enrich ones lives and environment is an ancient pass time going back to the time of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. It would seem to be part of many psyches and in fact, may date back to prehistoric man. Surrounding ourselves with objects of spirit and comfort just seems natural. I am sure there is some deep seeded psychological reason why [we] collect, but as long as I remember that I collect to live with the object(s) and not for them, I think all will be fine.