Hawai'i Craftsmen recently held its annual juried exhibition at the gallery at the Honolulu Museum of Art School, Linekona. As usual, it included a number of stunning pieces in several categories including clay. Some of the best pieces were purchased by the Honolulu Museum of Art and the Hawai'i State Art Museum. Below are photos of all of the ceramic pieces in the exhibit. Sorry I couldn't include each piece in every medium, but it would have been a little too much. I start the photos with pieces by Jennifer Owen from Maui who was one of three artists who was chosen by Hawai'i Craftsmen to present a small exhibit of her work at the show.
The holiday season is upon us and I'll be having pottery sales at my studio the next three Saturdays, December 8th, 15th, and 22nd from 9am to 2pm. My address is 2966 Oahu Ave. in Manoa. Below is a preview of some of the pots that I'll be offering. Hope to see you soon!
In the September blog I wrote about my visit to Raku Ho'olaule'a on the North Shore of O'ahu. I took photos of people decorating and firing pots and generally having a good time. I should mention that although the event is called Raku Ho'olaule'a, many of the potters also pit fire pots. The visiting juror, Scott Young, chose the best pots on the last day and these were included in an exhibit at Jeff Chang's gallery at Windward Mall in Kaneohe.
Mizusashi are lidded vessels that contain the cold water that's used to replenish the water in the kama (kettle). The exhibit is by Shofu Kai, a group of potters from the Hawaii Potters Guild who meet each Friday to learn about the Japanese tea ceremony and how to make and use the utensils for the ceremony. This is their third exhibition at the Hawaii Public Library's main location in downtown Honolulu. The exhibition will be up from October 1 through October 31.
This past weekend, September 21 through 24, the Hawaii Craftsmen held their annual Raku Ho'olaule'a at Camp Mokule'ia on the North Shore of O'ahu. About 50 potters camped together, decorated pots together and fired together. I've never participated in Raku Ho'olaule'a before but I decided to visit on Saturday to get a taste of what it's like. I took some photos that you can see below. I had a great time and hope to participate in 2019. Scott Young, a potter who's originally from Hawaii but who teaches now in California, was the juror. In a later blog I'll post photos of the pots he chose that will be on display at the Windward Mall in Kaneohe.
Last summer I visited the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. I walked all over the campus slipping into buildings where I probably shouldn't have been and taking photos. It's an incredible place. I especially loved the bronzes by Carl Milles and the campus designed by Eliel Saarinen. I even had a chance to visit Saarinen's home on campus which is a rare treat. I also visited their art museum which had a major retrospective of the designer Alexander Girard. I was a little overwhelmed at that point but when I went downstairs I found an exhibition that explored the "Finnish connection" between Cranbrook and Finland. Part of the exhibit featured the pots of the Finnish ceramic artist Maija Grotell. Maija was one of the most important potters of the 20th century and certainly one of its most important instructors. Among her more famous students from Cranbrook are Toshiko Takaezu, Richard DeVore, Howard Kottler and John Glick. Below are photos of her pots that were included in the exhibition. The descriptions are from museum labels.
This month I visited the Detroit Institute of Art while vacationing near Ann Arbor. The DIA has an incredible collection, one of the top 10 in the US. From what I've read, the city of Detroit owns the museum and several years ago considered selling off all of its art to pay its bills when the city was bankrupt. Thankfully they didn't do that. Below are photos I took of ceramics at the DIA. Most were displayed under low lighting and my camera doesn't do well in low lighting, so the quality isn't that great. However, the quality of the pieces is so high that I thought I'd present them here anyway. The descriptions are the ones supplied by the museum. Hope you find something inspiring!
One of the most important things you can do to promote your pottery is to take good photos of it. Images of your pots, if done well, can communicate alot about the beauty of your pieces, how they could be used, and what they might look like in someone's living space. I certainly can't claim to be an expert on taking photos of my pots, but I've learned a few things over the years that have worked well for me and may be helpful for you as well.
First, learn how to use your camera or cell phone to take still life photos. Photos of pots are done at close range and present unique challenges. For instance, I've found that some of my photos of pots will be distorted if I hold the camera too close to them. It's the same principle that makes your nose look too big if you hold the camera close to your face. In situations like this, I hold the camera a little farther away and use the zoom to get closer. You don't need a tripod since most cameras compensate for minor shaking, but you do need to adjust the settings for different types of light such as fluorescent, tungsten, or natural sunlight. Explanations for how to do any of these things should be in your manual or online in one form or another.
Second, learn how to stage a photo. I'm still too lazy to work hard enough on this, so I know this is an area I need to work on. The photos of pots on this website are all taken on my kitchen table which doesn't communicate much about them. There are quite a few people on Etsy who are skillful at presenting their pieces in settings that show how they might enhance the beauty of someone's home. Some of the best photos of my pots are from collectors who take them home, fill them with flowers, and send me images. One of the best I've seen was someone who took a photo of her breakfast the morning after my sale. My bowl was filled with a beautiful salad and my cup was filled with a fresh green smoothie. It's also important to know how to take photos using a background. I don't have a lightbox but I do use a Flotone Graduated Background (white at bottom to black at top; 31" x 43") which I purchased from Amazon for less than $50. Photos using these backgrounds look like the sort of thing you see in museum catalogs. You can get many types of backgrounds with many different colors or even just white; I just happen to like white to black. These can be in vinyl or paper and are easily marred by dirt or scratching. I always brush off the bottom of a pot with a soft brush before photographing it, and I always brush off the background before putting a new pot on it. Even so, it still gets a little dirty and scratched, but I've never had anything show up in my photos since the next pots always sit where the other pots were sitting. I've used photos with a background like this for submissions to juried exhibitions and when alerting buyers what types of pots were going to be available at an upcoming sale. If you want a few examples of what my photos with a background look like, check out the blog below from April before my spring sale. All of the photos were taken at my garage using the Flotone Graduated Background that I attached to the back of a chair using plastic clips and held down on the table at the corners using books. Everything was set up on a table next to the entrance of the garage, and the garage door was open to the right. You can see how this created shadows that went to the left, but that's okay since indirect sunlight is great at reproducing colors that are closer to what our eyes see. This was better than what I was getting with the garage door closed. Even adjusting for fluorescent light, all of the whites were turning out yellowy.
Third, learn how to adjust photos after they're taken. Most photos don't look that great straight out of the camera. I've never used Photo Shop, but I use the software that Canon supplied with my camera. It's important to know how to make adjustments to photos, not to make them look better than they really are, but to correct flaws in the original image.
Fourth, learn how to use good photos to attract the attention of collectors. This website has hundreds of photos of my pots and a few thousand people a week look at them. Before sales, I send photos of about 20 pots to my mailing list so collectors know what sorts of things I'll be offering. One of the most important ways to use images is through Instagram. Even if the images aren't great, they can let collectors know what sorts of things are coming out of your kiln and will be available for sale.
These are a few suggestions about how to take better photos of your pots and what to do with them once you have them. Please let me know what you've done that's worked for you.
First Hawaiian Bank has it's main headquarters, First Hawaiian Center, on Bishop Street in the business district of Honolulu. It was designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox from New York City and is a work of art in its own right. First Hawaiian has made a unique commitment among local businesses to stage continuous art exhibits at First Hawaiian Center curated by the Honolulu Museum of Art.
The most recent exhibit features the ceramic sculpture of one of my friends, Chris Edwards. Chris is a graphic designer who started working in ceramics only 6 years ago. Now he's making monumental ceramic sculpture, many of them constructed from separate pieces. His work represents the most impressive burst of original creativity in ceramics that I've ever seen. Below are images of the pieces on display. If you're in the Honolulu area, the exhibit will be up through June 15 and is definitely a must see. If you'd like to see more of Chris's work, go to https://christopheredwards.net/
On Saturday, May 5th, I'll be having a holiday sale at my studio from 9am to 2pm. I have lots of cups for $15 and small bowls for $20 to $25. I've been making more medium size bowls and vases as well. I enjoy hosting people and showing them where I make my pots, so I hope you'll stop by and see what I have available. You can park in the driveway if there's room. If not, there's on-street parking as you head for Manoa Falls just after the five-way stop. If you can't walk that far, I'll have my assistant drive your car to a parking spot. Below is a sample of the sorts of things I'll be offering for sale. Hope to see you this coming Saturday!
I began potting in January of 2012. Because I'm so new to potting, I think I understand the challenges of beginning potters and hope this blog will be encouraging to them and a source of helpful information and comment. I hope you'll join the conversation!