----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2004 1:58 PM
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
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
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