New addition to the Gillies household

Can you spot the new addition? (Hint: the initials are BP!)

I can’t imagine anyone reading my posts and not reading Tracey Broome’s excellent blog, but let me just take this opportunity to give a shout out to her post today. If you know Tracey you know what an inspiration she is. She does her job with the clay in hand but also with her mind and her words. We are lucky to share the same space in this wide open either as she does!

So her post today was the potters’ favorite “a peek in my cupboard”. The pictures are a treat for the eyes, but her accompanying observations are also pointed and worth considering. In particular she points out that despite all the glorious beauty on display, non-potter/non-artists are usually confused by the tumbled beauty of an eclectic collection. Most people just want the Wallmart special when confronted with this choice among many beauties. Here’s the comment I left on her blog:

“You are such great inspiration! I just received a Brandon Phillips jar in the mail yesterday, and have been so excited to have it in my kitchen that I can’t stop smiling.

I feel so fortunate that when I started making pots I understood that it was also important to surround myself with other people’s cool pots. There is so much to learn from other people’s example. And visiting other potter’s kitchen cabinets is always a special treat! Thanks for sharing a peek at all the goodies you are surrounded by.

It always seems like the best appreciators of a potter’s work are always other potters. The confusion you describe about the non-potter/non-artist rummaging through your cabinets proves how much work we still need to do to educate folks. The beauty of a diverse collection of mismatched tableware, a jumble of bowls, a kaleidoscope smattering of mugs and cups, all these things are real beauty. But there is such a prejudice among non-potter/artist types against our kitchen and dinning ware not matching up in that Wallmart way. Always a blessing when someone else really ‘gets it’.

The trick, I guess, is in getting more people familiar with why pots are so cool. It seems that the more opportunity folks have to interact with pottery the better off everyone is.

Thanks for helping to spread the word and for making such cool and enjoyable stuff! The world needs more good pots in it, and your efforts are helping to make the world a more beautiful and livable place. Keep up the good work!”


So let me leave you with one last share of Brandon’s lovely jar in its new home. Isn’t it Beautiful!

Brandon keeping company with Linda Christianson, Ron Meyers and Terry Rolin

I had to steal this from Brandon's blog because the above picture is a bit fuzzy. Hope he doesn't mind 😉

About Carter Gillies

I am an active potter and sometime pottery instructor who is fascinated by the philosophical side of making pots, teaching these skills, and issues of the artistic life in general. I seem to have a lot to say on this blog, but I don't insist that I'm right. I'm always trying to figure stuff out, and part of that involves admitting that I am almost always wrong in important ways. If you are up for it, please help me out by steering my thoughts in new and interesting directions. I always appreciate the challenge of learning what other people think.
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13 Responses to New addition to the Gillies household

  1. Tracey says:

    Dang, Carter, that’s a chunk to live up to! thanks for the kind words. Many of the pots in those photos on my blog were mostly bought because I loved them, or they were gifts, but like you said, some of them I also bought so that I could learn from them and they keep teaching me. I am lucky to have three of Brandon’s pieces in my house. I don’t know what it is about his work that speaks to me, but they really like being here and we are happy to have them. Looks like we share the same love for brown pots 🙂 That’s a great new jar!! I love the way Brandon makes lids.
    I’m glad you posted this, hope it inspires more people to share their cupboards. Michael Kline and Ron Philbeck have done so in the past and it’s always a treat.

    • Well said! Potters collecting other potters work is a sure sign of whether the artist in question is in love with beauty for its own sake or not, and whether the artist is interested in further growth or not. One of the commenters on your blog related a conversation she had with a potter who only collected their own work. When I have encountered that I have always been a little bit sad for that person. More so than I am sad when non artists don’t see the beauty we are creating. Artists SHOULD get what other artists are trying to do, and they should want to share this journey with them. Or so it seems to me.

  2. Nick says:

    I’m not a huge Oprah fan, but she did have a term for all the matching stuff, she calls it “matchy-matchy poo-poo.” Which I always liked.
    You and Tracey have outstanding blogs, I read them every day or more (Tracey will sometimes post more than once a day – some folks can’t even post once a month).
    You two, and John Baumann, Ron Philbeck, Michael Kline always have something interesting to say, or going on.
    Keep up the great work!

    • Wow! Thanks Nick! That’s really incredible company you put me with. I’m honored to even be thought of as carrying the water for them! All those guys inspire the hell out of me. Definitely something that keeps me on my toes and trying to do the best I can. Thanks for the compliment.

      “Matchy-matchy poo-poo” is hilarious. If Oprah said it I can’t believe its just getting to me now. Maybe we should campaign to have it included in official pottery vocabulary. I’d love to see a list of words potters use that would mystify outsiders, give us the allure of doing something grand and important and untouched by humble day to day concerns. Maybe something kind of like our own specialized jargon. Perhaps “matchy-matchy poo-poo” would convince academics that potters are cutting edge and need to be taken seriously. Heh, heh….

  3. Robert says:

    I Hear you Carter. My wife is the OCD type that must have everything in the kitchen matching. But she does see the beauty in my small collection of pots-as pieces of art (nonfunctional unfortunately). So, I keep the ones I use at school, where I use them in class. The better to inspire the students with, eh?

    • Good points Robert! But at least seeing beauty in diversity is a step in the right direction, and yet one more person swimming against the currents of conformity that we are pressured with. And sharing this with your students is a truly generous act on your part. I used to have pot luck dinners for my students at the end of every term just so they would get to see what a potter’s house looks like. Almost every one of them was blown away by how much pottery surrounds me in my day to day life. I know it helped inspire some of them to see what we do in a new light, and to start them on a more serious path to including more beauty in their own worlds.

      Thanks for sharing your story!

  4. Becky says:

    Very nice! I noticed right away that you had a BP jar! To be honest… that’s the first one I could place with a name. 🙂

    I did a post similar to this last fall because I realized that my cupboard was double stacked with cups, mugs, tumblers etc and I was curious as to what the cupboards of other folks looked like. Here’s a link if you’d like to take a look at my collection. I love having different kinds of mugs for all situations. I like it when my friends come over and I tell them to pick a cup and it takes them 10 minutes to decide. Then, it’s even more fun when I ask them why they’ve chosen the one they did. 🙂

    • Ooh la la! Those are some yummy goodies in your cabinet!

      I love what you do to your friends by making them choose their own. I do it too! I think this is one of the easy ways that we can help educate others about beauty in general and pottery in particular. When the choices are taken out of our hands, when they become default, we stop learning about the world. We get to turn off because things are not up to us. But needing to decide means needing to engage. It means we are forced to be aware and to decide between the differences. And this means that the more we do it the more we understand about the world.

      In an extreme example of this I once used to put tiny spikes on the surface of all my cups so that a drinker could not take the act of drinking for granted. Admittedly this probably didn’t win me any friends or devoted cup users, but some folks got what I was trying to say and appreciated the message. Thankfully I soon moved on to other interests and no one was scarred too badly (Just kidding! The points were uncomfortable not razor sharp). But isn’t that the whole issue with taking things for granted? Comfort breeds lack of engagement and is poor nourishment for growth.

      Thanks for the comment! How did the sale go?

      • Becky says:

        The sale went really well… REALLY well.. now I’m freaking out a little bit about inventory (again).. but I have about a month before my next sale. The trouble is that planting season is coming up, and I’m going to have to go do a little truck driving for about two weeks. *eep* It’s not too bad, and we usually work normal hours, so that means if I have any steam left at all, I can come home and try to get some work done. 🙂

        Oh, and the big After Opening Sale starts in my Etsy shop on Wednesday, if you want to check out some of the finished mugs from the first six I made. 🙂

  5. Brandon Phillips says:

    I thought I was a pretty loose potter but looking at all those other jars makes me look like a tightass potter 😉 Thanks for the pleasant words and the plug. I almost didn’t sell it because I was going to keep it around for awhile, so I’m glad you got that pot.

  6. Nothing like having Ron Meyers as an instructor to teach you the real meaning of “loose”!

    Outside of the two Micheal Simon pots your jar is keeping company on those shelves with The Master Ron and two of his students, Terry Rolin and myself. I always thought of myself as a balance or compromise between Ron and Michael, and perhaps I see your pots as a balance between my own and Micheal’s, still loose but more “sensibly restrained” than me, Terry, or Ron.

    But I love it ALL. And your jar definitely belongs on those shelves. Thanks for letting it out of your clutches, and for honoring my home with allowing it into mine!

    • Scott Cooper says:

      The form of that jar is rock-solid. I particularly like how the widest point comes just below the middle of the body. And the lid could practically stand on its own! Also like the interaction of the decoration and the form; the way those panels drag your eye around the curving belly. Makes me want to hold it in 3D space instead of just seeing it in a photograph.

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