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pinch - seriously! (part 1 of many)

Great to see Monday morning’s Ceramic Arts Daily post, featuring Emily Schroeder-Willis hand-building—pinching—a lovely full-bellied pitcher.

I really admire Emily's work, and as a larger-scale pincher myself, I am super-happy to see this fundamental technique receive more profile. A quick on-line search for the earliest clay pots around the world - Chinese, Jomon, Anglo-saxon, iron or bronze age - gives us pots that range from the ceremonial to the sublimely beautiful, a process in which humanity declared a relationship between form and function, and built joy via beauty. Because hand-building can do it all. 

Little to large... Everyday hand-built pots on my kitchen counter. Christine Pedersen. 2016.

From a making perspective: I like to mix up the methods.

Developing our design ideas is fundamental to building variety and refinement in our finished forms, and any technique requires dedication and an investment of time for us to become really skilled at it. So it seems that it is the process of exploring any and all techniques that will allow us to develop our very own "clay-idiolect”—a language or personality in the way we use technique. 

Fundamentally, pinching tells us how clay feels, and we learn to use and adjust the relationship with water in the body to get the results we want. And we find out what fingers can do versus other tools. I prefer to teach all the basic forming ideas - pinch, elbow pot, coil and small slab, and blur the divisions, moving between techniques on the way to achieving similar small forms, so that the properties of the clay—and its needs—are always at the centre of the journey. And what a journey! :)

References - enjoy images on-line and explore our clay culture with a good book. Here's a couple of links to my on-line reviews (links are to worldcat.org, also on Amazon):
1. Freestone, I., & Gaimster, D. R. M. (1997). Pottery in the making: Ceramic traditions. Washington, D.C: Smithsonian Institution Press.
2. Cooper, E. (2010). Ten Thousand Years of Pottery. London: British Museum.

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