This article about the history of ceramics across the world claims that clay is “a durable material with a history spanning 10,500 years that is significant to the study of archaeology and history.” There is complex archaeological, ethnographic, and historical evidence for the importance of pottery across the world. Each region of the world has unique traditions and methods. For example, the earliest Islamic potters inherited traditions from Egypt (blue and green glazed wares); Syria, Iraq, and Iran (alkaline-glazed ceramics); and Rome (lead-glazed ceramics). As Islam spread, various hybrid production models and products were distributed along with it. Now, works from different Islamic eras can be found in museums in Cairo, Oxford, and New York City.

In this article, the author raises an interesting question about the functionality of ceramics. When a $400,000 vase was knocked off a shelf at a teenager’s house party, the author claims “the tricky thing about studio pottery is where to put it–in more senses than one. It isn’t just whether it will be safer on the mantelpiece or in a cupboard. There is also the problem of how to categorize the stuff: is it art or is it craft, and what’s the difference?” The majority of this article outlines a history of British potters, including Bernard Leach, William Staite Murray, Christopher Dresser, and Hans Coper. The author acknowledges a group of potters, including Leach, Murry, and their successors, that “regarded pottery as a spiritual exercise” more than a trade. In the end, however, he concludes that when potters think of themselves as artists, bad things can happen, so potters should focus on functional ceramics.

The final article I read was about one person’s experience with a handcrafted ceramics business. Kate Sheenan was filling in for a ceramics teacher while he was on leave when she fell in love with handmade pottery. Her business, Ikigai, a Japanese word meaning “finding a reason for being” was developed after being inspired by living in Japan in 2015. She comments that “ceramics can be a very cruel art form, unpredictable results, kiln disasters, warping, there is so much risk involved.” Sheenan continued to say that hand-build pottery is time-consuming and frustrating, but that it allows her to slow down and practice patience. In the end, she concludes that loves clay and bringing small elements of sculpture into her work.

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3 Comments
  1. Johnny 1 year ago

    Amy, this is such a fascinating piece of writing and such a cool topic. I did not know how much of an impact ceramics has made throughout history. I have taken a ceramics class at judge along with at my old school and there is still so much I don’t know! I look forward to hearing more about ceramics.

  2. Raine 1 year ago

    Amy, I think this is so interesting! I think it’s so fascinating how ceramics has played such a large role throughout history, even though post people don’t tend to normally focus on it.

  3. Joseph 1 year ago

    Amy,
    This is a very interesting post and very informative. I didn’t know much about this topic but now I am very intrigued and want to research it more.
    Here is a link to a link to some cool ceramic projects:
    https://ceramicartsnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/7GrtPottPrjcts2ndEd.pdf

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