----- Original Message -----

From: Ryne

To: ken@turnerpottery.com

Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2004 1:58 PM

Subject: Interview


Hello Ken,

My name is Ryne Maloney -Risner, and I am in RaeAnn Engdahl's English class.  At my school, all seniors must complete a senior project.  This is a year long process that requires the student to learn and research a new skill or craft.  For my senior project I am beginning to learn the art of pottery, specifically with a wheel.  One the requirements is an interview with an expert in the field of my study.   I would be very grateful if you could answer the following questions:

 Do you believe that working with clay, or with your hands in general, has any sort of therapeutic effect? And if so, what sort of benefits does it provide? 

 I have no doubt about the therapeutic benefits of working with clay.  It is very satisfying spiritually; the primal act of manipulating clay and transforming it from one thing to another activates your senses, relaxes you and naturally shifts your mind into a creative mode.  Working with clay to provide a living can be a very physical challenge, but one who works smart or has the genes for it can work well into their 90's+!  Over 90% of psychologists and practicing art therapist find clay work beneficial for their patients.

 Does doing work you enjoy for a living make a positive impact on your life?

 Without question, following your passion, doing what you love, and receiving acknowledgment for it, gives you a great sense of self worth and accomplishment.  This can only be healthy!  However one must always make compromises in life, sometimes you must do things you would rather not do in order to do the things you want to.  This is the life.

Is working with pottery an expensive hobby/profession? 

If you’re passionate about something the price is never too high!  It's like anything else, you can spend a fortune if you have it, but it's not necessary.  One can get set up with the necessary equipment to get started for very little money, or work at a facility in ones community.  Space is usually the biggest issue, but I know people who work in very "limited space" studios and produce beautiful work.  Work with what you've got and build on that! 

What materials (equipment and raw materials) are required for making pottery? 

Your hands, heart, and mind are most important, and of course clay!  One can dig that in most areas, but it can be bought with mush less trouble these days.  It has really become so easy to get started, I would suggest taking a class to anyone interested first.  If hand-building is your thing there is no reason to buy a potters wheel.  There are many different firing techniques that produce a wide range of results.  A kiln is necessary to fire your work, but you have to know what type of work you will produce in order to chose a kiln that will meet your needs.  The necessities are tools, which very depending on the work you will create.  Raw materials include clay and glaze materials.  A flat working surface, shelves, batts, more tools! Brushes, banding wheels, scales, air compressor, spray booth and guns, slab roller, extruder, pugmill, ballmill, bench grinder, Drimmal tool, etc.

What sort of challenges come with making a living as an artist?

 Many of the same challenges that everyone working for themselves face.  Health care, taxes, social security, and the challenge of putting something aside each month after paying the bills are always concerns.  Most artists don't have a retirement plan or a pension.  If you're injured or sick you're not working and no one pays you sick leave.

 Do you believe that public schools should make art a larger part of the curriculum?

 Unquestionably!  It is a narrow-minded administration that would deny students the opportunity to explore the arts and round out their education.  One measure of the success of a society is determined by its ability to support the arts.  If children are not exposed to the beauty of the arts, their appreciation for the arts will be diminished.  If our education system doses not value the arts, why should our students?  We teach by example!  Not every child experiences success academically or through sports and needs the arts to find their own self worth.  NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND!

Could you tell me what a day in the life of a potter is like?

Work, work, work.  You do everything from purchasing materials, preparing them, testing them, to creating the work, firing, glazing, decoration, firing again. Cleaning all the time.  Marketing, packing shipping, retail and wholesale sales, banking, and paying bills and taxes.  You are responsible for everything, if anything goes wrong, and things will go wrong from time to time, you are ultimately responsible.  It's a lot of work but very satisfying at the end of a good day!  Remember work is a good thing if you are passionate about what you are doing.

What are the different kinds of pottery? 

 Clay is hugely abundant and therefore not of great monetary value however life on this planet would be very different without this magical material.  I read once that there was only one place on earth that man inhabited where no clay objects where found, it escapes me now, but the fact is that nearly every society in every culture has used clay to make pottery, ritual artifacts, shelters, body adornment, and more.  My point is clay is use for much more than pottery.  Ceramic engineers are developing new ceramic materials and uses for them at an astounding rate.  Think of the silicon chip in your computer, or the protective refractory tiles on the space shuttle.

Is clay-working a lifetime hobby?

It certainly can be for many, and what a great hobby it is!  I have students working in clay who are in their nineties, and I see the incredible benefit to them.

It would be great to receive your response by Friday 12/10, but it is certainly understandable if they come at a later date. E-mail me if you have any questions.  Thanks again for helping me on my senior project!  I am looking forward to the lessons I'll be taking in January.