Monday, July 25, 2011


I was recently offered a rather wonderful piece of pottery and at a fraction of its worth. Sounds too good to be true, I was informed by the owner, that there was an insignificant kamakizu (kiln flaw) and a small piece had been broken off the handbuilt form from the firing. Pictures sent and pictures received, but what I was looking at was not a kamakizu or some damage from how the piece was made or fired, rather in the colloquial, it was a big chip. I spent some time examining the pictures at actual size and just came to terms with the fact that the damage was beyond what I could live with.

As a collector and certainly as a potter, I want my pots to be perfect, no chips, cracks, sharp bits or any other cosmetic or scructural flaws, nor would these be anything I would sell without full and detailed disclosure. I can not say all that I have collected is perfect either, though in all of our years of collecting, we have only ever bought one damaged piece intentially. That was a wonderful Persian bottle where the neck had been cleanly broken off and repaired so well as to be “nearly” invisible. The other damaged goods that we have owned, presently or past tense, arrived damaged and were either concealed by the original seller or broken in transit. My theory is rather simple and certainly not on the level of Schrodinger’s cat, but I fixate on the negative when looking at pots. To me, that Cindy Crawford mole isn’t an attribute, but a deficit, that is just how I am built. I know, I am not the half-full glass guy. Though the inevitable is that a certain pot will come along and despite some “slight” damage or a repair, it will be simply irresitable.

As I have written previously, I certainly understand and appreciate the “scarred beauty” of wood fired pots, but when it comes to other pottery, I admit, I have little tolerance. The damage that I see, impacts the intent and presence of the potter and pot. That being said, what would a good Ki-Seto vase by Arakawa Toyozo be without cracks that originated in the process and firing? Why I see those as different, I am really not sure, but when “someone” knocks off a lug of your favorite vase, that surely is something very different and having nothing to do with the original intent of potter or pot!