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The Craftsman Tradition

I refer to the craftsman tradition rather than to a "style". Although there is a certain look to artwork identified as "craftsman", the craftsman movement and its proponents had more to do with values and philosophy. The most important hallmark of the movement was the emphasis on quality and beauty --and the confidence that these were achievable goals. John Ruskin, a leader of the movement in England, was reported to have said,

"There is hardly anything that some man cannot make less well and more cheaply. Those who consider price only are that man's lawful prey."

The Craftsman Movement is generally thought to have arisen primarily in the United States and England as a modernist reaction to the Industrial Revolution. Faced with an avalanche of mass production which threatened to replace the pleasant and salutory shops of craftsmen/artists with crowded and oppressive factories which would foist inferior products on an unsuspecting public, the Craftsman Movement grew as both a social and artistic movement. It was believed that the creation and use of thoughtfully designed and well crafted objects of daily living would raise the spiritual level both of the maker and of the user. Parallel to this development was the growth of Art Nouveau which is virtually indistinguishable from the Craftsman Movement, except that it tends to refer to European decorative arts and did not share the socialist overtones of the former.

Stylistically, art which is described either as being in the Craftsman Tradition or Art Nouveau emphasizes imagery taken from nature and borrows liberally from the East--both from Japan and Byzantium. I find there is an interesting comparison to be made betwen the post-Industrial Revolution society which witnessed the development of the Craftsman Movement at the turn of this century and the situation in which craftsmen/artists find themselves at the dawn of the next century.

Today the major revolution changing the quality of our lives is sitting right in front of you. Like the Industrial Revolution which gave us some degree of material abundance but which altered our way of life irreparably, the technological revolution is bringing us access to information which has and will continue to improve our lives--but it will change us both in our way of life and in our spiritual nature. It has already changed the way we meet people and communicate with people. It has changed how we work and how we shop and how we are entertained. What will this revolution do to our relationship to the objects of daily living? How will it affect how we view our homes? I believe these things will become more important than ever. As it serves us to deal with much of our lives on a "virtual" level, we will cling more closely to those items whose "real" nature reminds us of earlier pleasures.

If a beautiful handmade vase was a beacon in a sea of mass produced ware--how much more brightly it will shine in an age when most of our aesthetic desires are resolved by digital images. I do not think we are living in a time in which the handmade object is being marginalized as many in the Craftsman Movement feared. Rather, this technological revolution can provide us with the wealth and leisure to appreciate and support the creation of beauty if our souls and spirits are up to the challenge. Enjoy!      ^up

How I came to be an artist

Pottery was not the career I planned but rather one that took me over.  I went to law school, I became an expert in securities law, and I had a successful career in that field.  Then, in 1987, a near miss with an airplane disaster caused me to reconsider what I wanted to do with this wonderful gift of life and what I wanted to leave behind.  Over a period of time I discovered my passion for ceramics and by 1995, I was able to sell virtually everything I was making. Doing art as a business has not diminished my love for creating in clay. The type of work I do as an artist requires both design skills and craft, or technical skills. I was lucky to be born with a facility for design and a passion for decoration.  I acquired the technical skills through night and weekend classes, internet and public library resources and lots and lots of trial and error.

Why I chose to become a studio potter

The reason I feel so strongly about art as an endeavor is that I believe that our ability to be transformed by artistic experience is a highlight of our human nature.  For me, making work that is beautiful, strong, and, hopefully, compelling, is a solitary enterprise. When I sign a piece it means that I believe the decoration, design and form have come together as an integral whole.  It's a question of quality--not simply good or bad quality-- but whether the pottery which comes out of my studio has the quality of a work of art and fulfills my goals as an artist.  ^up


How the pots are made:

I make all of the pots on the potter's wheel using either a black stoneware clay or a red stoneware clay. The base of each pot is individually trimmed to suit its shape. When completely dry, the pots are kiln-fired to approximately 1800 degrees to ready them for glazing and for a second glaze firing.

The decoration process:

The decoration process is critical to the Woodside Pottery designs. The technique described here, although time-consuming, ensures a textural effect that cannot be duplicated with transfer prints or other industrial methods.

I handpaint the designs in wax emulsion directly onto the once-fired pieces. All of this work is done freehand, without stencils to preserve the sponteneity and freshness of the design. It is a painstaking process leaving no margin for error as the wax cannot be erased after it is painted on the pot. The wax serves to resist the glaze which is then applied with a variety of brushes and a hand-dipping process. Each glaze is applied in layers to achieve an optimum thickness (which differs from one glaze to another).

Finally, the pots are fired a second time to approximately 2200 degrees. At this temperature clay and glaze are transformed creating a cohesive and strong piece of art pottery which, with care, will last a lifetime or more. Because of the extensive handwork both in the forming and decorating, only a limited number of each piece will be made and each is signed by me using the same wax resist process.    ^up


I currently sell through galleries in Northern California, at 9 or 10 art shows in the San Francisco Bay Area and at my 2 open studio shows. Currently (as of July, 2002) the following galleries have a good selection of my work:

  • Millenium Gallery, Sebastopol
  • Greenwood Gallery, Mill Valley
  • Connextions, Sausalito
  • Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino
  • Water Dragon, Fairfax
  • William Lester Gallery, Point Reyes Station
  • Meadowlark Gallery, Corte Madera
  • Elemental Arts, Los Gatos
  • ACCI Gallery, Berkeley

My next open studio and seconds sale will be at:

  • 9 Mariele Drive, Fairfax, California
  • December 7 & 8, 2002, 11am to 5pm each day LOTS OF FREE PARKING (but come early for best bargains!)

My next shows will be at the:

  • November 9 &10 Association of Clay and Glass Artists (ACGA) Clay and Glass Festival at Fort Mason, San Francisco 10am to 5pm
  • November 23 & 24 Celebration of Craftswomen at Fort Mason, San Francisco 10am to 5pm^up

Directions to the studio:

Take highway 101 to the San Anselmo /Sir Francis Drake exit. Drive on Sir Francis Drake through San Anselmo following the signs to Fairfax. After you drive through the little main business center of Fairfax look for Oak Manor Drive on your right. Go right on Oak Manor all the way to the top of the hill. Then make a right on Manor View and another immediate right on Mariele Drive. 9 Mariele Drive is on your left as you go around the first curve. Go to map

Another Way:
If you want a somewhat quicker but less scenic route, take the San Rafael exit (two exits north of San Anselmo), make a left onto Third Street getting into the center lane and stay there until you meet up with Sir Francis Drake. Bear right onto Sir Francis Drake and then proceed as described above. Go to map   ^up

Mailing List

I maintain a mailing list of current customers who receive postcard notifications of my open studio shows. If you are interested in being on the mailing list, just fill out this form:

I do not sell or disclose names on my mailing list to anyone so you don't have to worry about a potential avalanche of catalogues descending on your house.

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