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Gustav Stickley (ed.) / The craftsman
Vol. IX, Number 6 (March 1906)

Binns, Charles F.
The craft of the potter,   pp. 854-856 PDF (1018.7 KB)

Page 855

   The absence of this, the very germ and marrow of all productive
work, makes for dissatisfaction and no one with a spark of artistic fire
can be content to copy the design of another or to merely add the fin-
ishing touches to work begun in a factory.
HIS feeling has caused china-painting to give place to pottery-
      making. The former consisted in buying finished china and
      painting upon it with ready prepared colors using, probably,
some published design or drawing. Some of the work done under
these conditions was, and is, good, even excellent, but it is executed
by persons who are artists through and through and who would do
well in any medium. The fact remains that the bulk of the work was
copying of the poorest quality. During the last three or four years
the quality of this production has much improved. Many of the
weakest have abandoned the occupation of china-painting and those
who have held on to it have purified their work through the pain of
practice. But the best of these are now looking toward clay as a
creative and expressive medium. In ready-made china there is
bound to be some deficiency. The artist is by nature exacting and
this purchased piece does not entirely please. It cannot be altered,
however, and it is this or nothing. Thus the artistic instinct is vio-
lated, the standard lowered and one feels like a caged bird beating its
ineffectual wings against prison bars.
   When, however, the attempt is made to work in the clay itself,
liberty is found. Not immediate success, necessarily. In fact suc-
cess can only be secured through long and arduous training, but liberty
has a different source. It springs from the consciousness of honest
effort. One may not wish to exhibit one's first endeavors but there
comes with them the pride of parentage, the satisfaction of something
    Clay work is beset with difficulties. Not long ago it was the fash-
ion to say that it was easy, but this is not true. Of course it is easy
to produce any kind of work-of a sort,-but the time has come when
such work will neither be put forth with satisfaction by the producer
nor accepted by the public. The standard is rising rapidly, the peo-
ple are being educated-are educating themselves-and the workers
must keep the pace or be left behind.
    Certain features of the potter's work contribute toward making

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