Sold!... Er, Bought!

Hi All,

Hope everyone had a good weekend. Ours was quite a whirlwind. Mrs. Rose and I bought a house! Well at least we started the process and will have bought the house in 2 months. We have been in the market for quite a while and after several failed negotiations and many scary houses, we now are heading to a place we can call home.

The purchase process was fast. We looked at the house first in the week between our trips to New Hamster, and the purchase negotiations took less than one day. So excuse me if a lot of the posts in the next few months are about ceramics for the house.

Although, this has lead me to thinking about a question I want to pose you all. Are Ceramics all about the House? Is it about dishes and tiles? Is it that people think about the home when they think about ceramics. Is that why they don't get the respect they deserve? Becase we view art and the home differently. Now I know that this particular community is different as we are art people. So we look at things differnetly, and art (and technical) ceramcis certainly don't fall into that relm. But what about everyone else.

Also I have decided that I want to explore a theme here on the blog. I am not a potter, although I did study pottery for a number of years. I was thinking about something that is often discussed but never really examined in Pots. That is the notion of food. Now every now and then we see a show that has pots dispalyed on a kitchen table. But that is not what I am talking about. What I am talking about is literally the notion of food on plates.

Isn't that the way that pots are made to be seen? Aren't they literally vessels for food. So why do we not talk about food? Yes there are certain pots of particular function that people make. But I am talking about the literal vision of dish an food together. I want to talk about food and pots.

Just some things to ponder...


Corey Fecteau said...

Matt, these are great questions about the purpose of functional (ceramic) art! In situ, in a way. We should fight about this sometime :-)

Anonymous said...

Interesting post and congrats on the house! I use my pottery on a daily basis. For food. I got tired of pointing out to people at craft shows that my bowls can and SHOULD be used for food, on a daily basis (this was in response to comments along the line of "I like it but I'm not sure where I'd DISPLAY it"). I took a bunch of photos of my bowls and plates with food (a bowl brimming with rice, a bowl filled with lovely fruit, a plate with some cookies, a mug steaming with coffee: you get the gist!). I blew the photos up real big and laminated them. Hung them in my booth. Would have thought it was obvious, but no! And yes, sales did go up! :-)
I think a related question to the whole issue of pots, function and food is price. How much are MOST people willing to pay for something they use every day? But that opens up a whole other can 'o worms!

Alex Solla said...

Talk about a fast turn around on the house-hunt! Fantastic!

As for pics of pots with food... we do that here. We try to add a few "in-use" pics with every photo session. Kind of hard to do without a food stylist... but we try.

I guess what I am wondering is what your larger question is? Are you simply curious to see how food looks on certain forms? Or are you looking to find something new and interesting?

Matthew Katz said...

hi Nick/miri and Alex.
I guess my question is why do we even bother to talk about pots as individual objects when their execution is incomplete without food. Are pots being designed to be interesting of themselves or do they exist to make food better? Because do they have any value without food?
Now let me say working in Academia we are horribly guilty of this,as we look at pots all day with out the context of food.
I should say I don't mean food in the notion of "function" so much as food as an integral part of the pottery experience.
We still put clothes on models to look at them. Even in the store they are put on mannequins. The art of clothing does not exist without the vehicle of people. The Art of pottery does not exist with out the the vehicle of food.

Matthew Katz said...

I refuse to give in to your baiting : P

Potters Council said...

I thought this was a great topic and posted this on my facebook account. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Westerville-OH/Potters-Council/47489382842

I hope this will generate more discussion.

Matthew Katz said...


Jessica Knapp said...

Hey Matt, Ceramics Monthly has run a few articles on Food and Pots (see December 2008 for articles on the pots WITH food, one for very specific foods by Euan Craig, the other for "types" of food, like roasters (shown with roasted veggies) or cakes (plum to be specific) by Robbie Lobell.
Alert: shameless linking to follow:
I know we at the magazine are interested in the idea of pots made for specific food, or potters and chefs collaborating. Hope the idea takes off on your blog with comments and links!
Hope you and Rose are doing well, and congrats on the new house. I hope the closing doesn't take forever, and that when the time comes, you're not overwhelmed by the mountain of paperwork you'll have to sign!

Matthew Katz said...

Hey Jess,
How are you doing? I haven't seen you since Pittsburgh! I hope all is well.
Nice articles and great pictures.
It makes me think of the chefs, when they are choosing ware, they are thinking "How do I sculpt my food to this particular plate". Yet for the most part the potter does not make the same consideration. At least that is the way it seems to me.
Although Maybe, as the article says, it might be an East/West thing.

Linda Starr said...

Hi Matt, congrats on your home purchase; hope all goes smoothly.

I think you have hit on something important here. I've thought about how flowers or food might look or be displayed in pots I've designed and made but I haven't thought enough about it. And I definitely haven't photographed the pots with food or flowers in them. For an example here is a post I did last year featuring a triple serving dish I specifically designed this dish to use for condiments or for those small amounts of leftovers often found in the refrigerator. I thought why not have one dish for three different items. It is efficient to place on a table without a lot of room too. This dish is very popular with folks and most seem to automatically know what a great functional piece it is. I also posted about a biscuit bowl, a colander (before I knew crackle wasn't a good thing for functional ware) and a leaf spoon rest, but the post would be so much better with another photograph of each piece in use. At shows I bring along a serving spoon and rest it on my leaf spoon rests and folks readily gravitate to the pieces and remark about them saying it is a good idea for their use. Otherwise with a leaf they might think it is only for display.

Judging from what Miri has encountered, it seems many folks purchasing pottery are thinking the pottery is for display and not for use. That reminds me of a time I was at a show and a woman looked at several large cylinder type vases I had on display and asked what she could use them for. I said for flowers. It seems pottery isn't displayed enough with the function in mind; I should have had a few dried or fresh flowers in the cylinders or perhaps some utensils to show what they could be used for. And yet when folks purchase pottery, they don't purchase it with food or flowers in it. So the pottery has to first appeal to the eye of the consumer and then they think about the function. But perhaps chefs think think about the function first and then the beauty. I had another woman purchase a casserole dish I made because it was the perfect size to bake brownies (the glaze was one which did not appeal to me at all and I didn't think it would sell - yet it sold right away). I guess there aren't any hard and fast rules with pottery and it's use.

I'm going to make a concerted effort to display my vases with some flowers, my pots with some food, my soap dishes with some soap in them, etc. And hopefully I can start posting photos of pots in use on my blog. You've also reminded me I need to think more about how food will look on or in a pot.

I love Miri's idea (thanks Miri) of using enlarged photos of pots with food in them for a booth display.

On the flip side I also think there are pots which can have a use other than for food, for interior or exterior decoration for art. Lots of folks put tiles or plates on their walls as kitchen decoration, never intending to use them for food. Vases are put in a bookcase never intended to be used to put flowers in. Bowls on a table with pebbles or some such purely as decoration, as a sculpture. Many times these pieces of pottery for art are chosen because of their size, form or color. They might be useful but they are never used - only for a visual feast if you will. Lots to think about here. Great post.

Beth P said...

What I find interesting is that none of you have mentioned what, in my experience, is one of the great "unsung" aspects of this --- most potters I know are also great cooks! How odd, now that you bring it to our attention, Matt, that we don't think more about the food we (ostensibly, anyway) put on our plates! So many of us cook, bake, and simply enjoy eating! Hmm... *pondering*

Matthew Katz said...


You bring up and interesting facet of the relationship and that is the role of the user.

So lets see we have 3 people in play, The Potter, The Cook and The User...(wasn't there a movie about that?..hmmm). Here is what I see about the tricky part of the equation. I don't think that the users is of the potters concern. Because as you state, they are gong to do whatever they want with the ware. You had better believe that my wife and I were going through the new house yesterday talking about where all of our pots and Art will go.
I do not mean that the user is unimportant, just that their experience is their own.
Where as, the potter (as Beth points out above me) that the real relationship is between the potter and the cook. That is what is going through my head when I ponder this notion. How can we cater to the chef? How do we help the food be the best it can beZ? Not just making a great pot. I think that is inherent in the nature of "Great Pots"

Alex Solla said...

I think we're almost at a point here to start a new thread... But this is too good not to come back to.

As for using pots and making pots TO BE USED for food (or flowers)...

My take on this is pretty straight forward. We make pots WE use ourselves. Now, it is hard, in a retail situation to demonstrate all the ways any particular form can be used. But Nancy sure tries! Sometimes it can be as simple as making sure we have fresh cut flowers in vases in our gallery. Other times she uses pitchers instead. Those days we usually sell a LOT of pitchers.

We tend to use some very basic props to help folks image pots in use... but we're talking about IN THE GALLERY here. As for photographing pots at work, I think that there is definitely an under-representation there.

Heck, for that matter, I would love to see a photo of someone's big assed soup tureen being upside down in a dishwasher (before and after).... does it come clean? Would anyone do this?