White Pots: A Meditation on Ceramics

by Grace Bonney

Have you ever had a moment in your life when you look at something happening and you feel like it’s somehow tied to your future in some way? I feel that way every time I talk to a potter or watch them work. The motions, the repetition, the slow and deliberate (but still light) movements they make on clay — all of those feel familiar and entrancing to me in a way that makes me feel like one day that will be a part of my life. There are some great pottery classes up here in the Catskills, so I’m hoping to start inching closer to that dream this year. Until then, I truly love watching potters at their wheels. There’s something so graceful and determined about their work, and the dedication required to get something from wet clay to beautiful, finished piece is admirable.

So today I’m very happy to share a video from Ayumi Horie, a potter I’ve admired for a very long time. Ayumi is based in Portland, ME and creates cups, plates, bowls, jars and much more that embrace traditional techniques and a decidedly modern bit of illustration. Of all the artists I’ve got stored away in my brain, Ayumi’s work has always been something I could spot and identify immediately — she’s got her own very special style. Ayumi recently launched a site and Instagram feed called @potsinaction to showcase the life of potters’ pieces after they leave the studio, and today she’s sharing a wonderful video she made to share more of her process and the thought behind her work and practice. Whether you’re a potter-in-the-making or just enjoy watching the beauty of a handmade design come to life, I hope you’ll enjoy this video as much as I did. Ayumi’s inspiration for this video is below, in her own words. xo, grace

“What goes into making handmade pottery? What then happens to handmade pots after they leave the studio? These two questions connect my two most recent projects: a video and a new Instagram feed called @potsinaction. This video reveals some of the most beautiful moments of making that happen behind the scenes. When the term “handmade” exists on such a spectrum these days, I wanted to show how working with a material as soft as clay, and so directly, can create an object that hopefully speaks of humanity through flaws in making. A finger swipe imprinted on the wall of a pot freezes a moment of play in time forever. My Instagram feed, Pots In Action, shows the life of handmade pots after they’re in private hands. I feature slices of domesticity and the best snapshots of pots brought along to work and on vacation. I like thinking about the span of the life of a pot from the intimacy of the studio to the crowdsourced contributions coming in daily from all corners of the world.”

*Video Credits: Molly Spadone (Studio Assistant), Michael Wilson (Director and Filming), Chloe Beaven (Video and Sound Editing), Miles Beaven

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  • Grace,

    south of florence in a small town called Certaldo is a school called La Meridiana. Each year for four days, starting Jan 2, they run a throwing marathon. You’ll learn to throw over those 4 days from Pietro, who is the owner. You also live at the school, so you wake up overlooking Tuscany each morning. You eat at the school, they have a chef. You work in the most beautiful studio you can imagine. Go. Learn to throw, then find someplace at home to follow up.

  • All my friends who’ve taught at La Meridiana have had a fabulous time and rave about the food. Sounds dreamy!

    Thanks so much for your lovely post too, Grace.

  • I LOVE her stuff so much and I wish it weren’t all sold out! I looked at it a few years ago and still regret not buying when it was available. My potter brother-in-law will definitely get some to put in his collection if I can ever find any for sale! Thanks for sharing.

  • Taking a ceramics class was the best choice I ever made in college. So much so that I almost switched gears entirely (late in the game) to major in studio arts! Practicality won out, but taking–and falling in love with!–ceramics jumpstarted my love of making. I wholeheartedly encourage pursuing ceramics! There’s just something SO satisfying about about getting your hands covered in clay. Good luck!

  • This post and video resonated with me so much. I just started a ceramics class last week after marinating on the idea for quite some time. All I can say is that I almost cried a couple times as we worked cause it felt like home! After so long concentrating my creative energies on digital media I am so beyond excited to explore a new world and get back to using my hands to create something tangible. Best wishes in your endeavors Grace and thank you for sharing the link to Ayumi’s work… will have to check it out when I visit friends in Portland :)

  • Great post Grace! I love Ayumie’s work! When you are ready to begin, you might want to check out the program at Sugar Maples in Windham, if that location works. Or in the city
    , Greenwich House Pottery-I took classes there many years ago.