Show and Tell: The Ugly, The Bad, and The Good

February 22, 2009

Since my description for IComLeavWe mentions pottery, it’s time for some truth in advertising.

After the Great Pottery Catastrophe of 2008 took the wind out of my sails, it’s taken me a few months to get back into the studio. I’m currently taking a class in a technique I’ve never before encountered — it’s pretty unusual and quite amazing. I’ll show some examples of my newest work at future Show and Tells.

Almost every time I go into the studio for class, I come across some of my work that has come out of the kiln. These finds have revealed that the Great Catastrophe actually involved more than one kiln firing, since different ruined pieces were at different stages. They have also revealed that the kiln has been fired at least once since the Great Catastrophe without incident. I’ll show each find at two different angles — from the side and from above. The Ugly, The Bad, and The Good. To give you a sense of scale, The Ugly are 5 inches in diameter, The Bad is 8.5 inches, and The Good are 5 and 6 inches.

Find #1: The Ugly. From the Great Catastrophe firing, a glaze firing that went horribly wrong and destroyed months worth of my work. These were both supposed to be turquoise — don’t adjust your screens, the horrible green is true to life. Adding to the ugliness are giant chunks missing from the bottom where the pots stuck to the kiln shelf, as well as unsightly bumps which absolutely weren’t there when I created them (seen on the second photo, the blotches inside). These little pots were some of the replacements for my Zen Non-Attachment pot, which itself had turned out perfectly except for the final step where I dropped it on the ground. A suitable replacement for that one still does not exist.



Find #2: The Bad. On the next visit to the studio, I noticed this piece sitting on an out-of-the-way shelf. When I last saw it, it was waiting for its first firing (called the bisque fire). Now I have proof that the fateful Catastrophe glaze firing wasn’t the only firing that went poorly. This came from bisque firing that clearly was fired far too much, so that it looks as if it’s been through the second much-hotter firing (called the glaze fire). At this point, it doesn’t really work to try to salvage it by glazing and refiring — it just won’t absorb the glaze. It also has some of the same odd bumps seen in The Ugly.

What’s especially funny about this piece is that it’s the fifth chip-and-dip I’ve tried to make. One of them has made it all the way to being a finished piece — though there was a problem with the glaze, so that itself is not what I intended (but it is attractive in its own way and fully functional). The others have faltered during the process of drying: I throw the chip part and the dip part as one piece and the dip part often tries to escape (technically, it cracks away from the chip part because the part where they connect is thicker than the rest of the piece). The one you see here was an attempt to prevent the dip from fleeing, successfully achieved by drying it ever-so-slowly over a period of five months last year with finishing work done periodically through the drying process. Once it was perfectly dry, I put it on the shelf to be bisqued and patted myself on the back. The next time I saw it, it looked like this. Technically it’s still functional, but again, this is not what I intended. If you’re wondering if it hurts more to see a perfectly-shaped piece get ruined, the answer is yes.


Find #3: The Good. The following week, I was shocked to see that these bowls had come out of the final firing wholly intact. There is nothing wrong with them at all. In fact, they match, and the smaller one nests inside the larger one quite adorably. That sums up my pottery life lately — I’m shocked when something turns out well. Come to think of it, that sums up my fertility life as well. If IVF #3 turns out as well as Find #3, it will be the most pleasant surprise ever.


Visit Show and Tell — very little ugly or bad, mostly good.

29 Responses to “Show and Tell: The Ugly, The Bad, and The Good”

  1. Arian Says:

    The last set is beautiful. I always love seeing your pottery. I wish I had the time to invest in trying it myself! It looks like so much fun! Hopefully #3 will be as successful as the last pictures.

  2. 'Murgdan' Says:

    I love your pottery. Especially the good. That color is gorgeous!

  3. Very nice! I can see how it would be so frustrating to see your product look fine, but not as you intended. The color of The Good are very beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Liv Says:

    I’m normally the person that says, “Oh, it’s not that bad!”

    But, uh, the first entry…Yeah, not so pretty!!! lol.

    The Good does take the cake! Love the color.


  5. It’s been so long since I’ve done any pottery. Since I am familiar with throwing, firing and glazing pots, my heart cried to see what had happened to the first two batches. Really, really sad!

    But I agree that “The Good” are beautiful. The blue glaze is exquisite. I hope IVF #3 turns out as well as pot batch #3. 🙂

  6. Meghann Says:

    I really like the good pieces 🙂 And the chip and dip one isnt bad at all! Of course, I dont know too much about pottery 🙂

    *Here from ICLW!!

  7. Soralis Says:

    Sorry to hear that your firing and glaze went bad on the first too, they look like beautiful pieces!

    Here’s to #3! (#3 was my luck IVF number so I am wishing you the same!)


  8. Malky B. Says:

    I love the blue color of the last set – beautiful.

    My moms needlepoint is in a full bathroom and has been for years. The frames not perfect due to the fact that it’s over 30 years old but I don’t think the shower has ruined it any.

  9. luna Says:

    I actually like them all. the blue ones are gorgeous, yet the others have such character. life is flawed, my friend.

    you are quite talented!

  10. samcy Says:

    That last set are GORGEOUS! The colour is just to die for 🙂

    Lets pray that # 3 works out just as well as they did…


  11. ^WiseGuy^ Says:

    Not here from ICLW OR Show and Tell…

    I am here from my own blog…I would love to have you do this…

  12. strongblonde Says:

    i love love love the last ones 🙂 b does art and i’m always so impressed with his potter friends.

  13. Laura Says:

    I love your blog—so I gave you an award! Check my blog for details! (ICLW)


  14. Brenna Says:

    Pottery effort #3 certainly is gorgeous, and I’m soooo hopeful that IVF #3 has a similarly beautiful outcome.

  15. Mel Says:

    The last bowls are gorgeous. It’s a great analogy–the hard work and effort with the lack of intended finished product.

  16. Those are such a pretty blue.

    I like the way you analogize Zen non-attachment to both pottery and IF.

    I painted pots yesterday with some local bloggy friends and I thought of you. Also, I thought of you because I used the small vase you sent me as a dinner table ornament at a dinner party Saturday night.

  17. KimboSue Says:

    The last set is gorgeous. It’s a perfect blue. Keep up the good work!


  18. I didn’t think the ugly ones were that bad…not my fav color…but not horrible.

    The blue ones are stunning! GORGEOUS!!


  19. Nicole Says:

    Love the blue bowls Cass…you are so multi-talented! Even if there have been a few mishaps along the way. What a great metaphor for IVF! Here’s to #3

  20. Cara Says:

    Oooo- (averting eyes) – I clearly remember the Great Pottery Catastrophe of 2008! And – if the third times the charm, in pottery and IVF, then – you are looking good my dear!

  21. Amy Says:

    Pottery is such an apt metaphor for life. I’m glad you got some good in there with the bad and ugly.

  22. ^WiseGuy^ Says:

    Quite an analogy you have….the last ones are real good!

  23. Wishing4One Says:

    I actually like them all, even the bad first set, they are cool in a strange way. The blue ones though are amazing!

  24. Rebecca Says:

    Your work is amazing…even the not so good (which I actually think are gorgeous and perfect in their own flawed way…aren’t we all?). Thanks for sharing!


  25. Victoria Says:

    I like all of them! The imperfections make them unique, like us. 🙂

    I just went back to read about the great catastrophe – that must have been awful. Did you decide to get your own studio space after all? My hubby was a ceramics major in college and would love a place to work but we’ve never looked into making our own studio. It would be cool to hear about what you might do.

  26. Caitsmom Says:

    I love pottery and I learned so much about the process from your show and tell. But, I especially was inspired that you are finding ways to put art into your life. The blue bowls are lovely : )


  27. as someone who has little to no artistic or creative talent, it always amazes me to see what others can create with their hands (something my psych recommended to me, over and over. does typing count as using my hands?).

    the blue pots are actually quite nice. I had to laugh at the color of the first set, that is a crappy poo-green. I’m sorry. My talent in pottery is nothing at all compared to yours, but it was fucking funny. As you intended. =)

    I’m hoping for the IUI or the IVF #3!! Let’s hope it amazes you with how well it works. xx

  28. Michelle Says:

    I think you have a wonderful talent. I wish I could do that. The blue bowls are beautiful!

  29. Dora Says:

    Well, I think you labeled them accurately. Love the blue glaze. It’s hard working in a medium that’s about control, yet there are factors out of your control. Then there’s the fragility factor. 😦 I still ache for some pieces that didn’t survive.

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