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I found a cranky Victorian gentleman hiding in my basement

Victorian egg cup

Look what I found. Man, I had totally forgotten this thing. It’s an egg cup. I made it in my twenties. It’s quite small. In fact, too small to hold a jumbo egg — all I have at the moment, which is why it’s shown here eggless.

I got a surprise when I turned it over: a slightly raised signature in three different colors of glaze. Yes, it’s an “S” and yes that’s really my first initial and yes that’s how I signed stuff in my twenties. I must’ve thought I was going to be so huge they’d call me by my first name, like Michelangelo or Leonardo. Or Cher. Or Madonna. Or Buckwheat.

I didn’t do much 3D work in school, but after I dropped out, I had a fling with bizarre porcelain tableware. The thing about hand-built clay sculpture is, nobody likes to fire it. If you goof up and get an air bubble in the clay or don’t dry it properly, your piece can explode violently in the kiln. Worst case, it ruins everything else in the kiln, and sometimes damages the kiln itself.

This is very bad mojo when you make your living firing slipcast pots painted by little old ladies. So I had a hard time finding someone who trusted me and my stuff.

When he retired and moved away, I was screwed. So I thought, what the heck? I’ll apply for an arts grant and buy my own damn kiln.

I hate public funding of the arts. I think it’s been a gigantic factor in the butt-uglification of modern art. But I was very, very poor and I had an idea for a whole series of sculptures I was itching to do, and, hey, I’d paid taxes into the system for years. So I sent away for the forms.

First requirement? Attach photographs of twenty examples of the sort of work you have in mind.

Hey geniuses: if I could produce twenty of the thing I have in mind, I wouldn’t need your stupid grant. Feh. First and last time I tried to stick my snout in the public trough.

About that time, someone (I think it was the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston) sponsored a sculpture competition. The idea was to make a mad tea seat for a mad tea party. My entry is below.

I convinced someone to fire it because these are mostly slipcast rather than sculpted (less likely to ‘splode). Alas, before I got to the final glazing, the competition was called off for lack of interest. And that was pretty much it for my pottery fling. Not long after, I got my first computer and disappeared up it for twenty years.


August 14, 2007 — 6:32 am
Comments: 28