I Think I Got My Cash Blue

There is a joke among potters… just make it blue and it will sell! 

Well I have always had this thing against blue pottery…  I feel like it just covers up the form.  Or it’s kinda like a paint chip just shouting out to you– COLOR!  It always seems too reflective, or boring, lacking depth, or just too much hippy, drippy, blue.  For years I have not used blue… until a couple of years ago.  So many customers were asking, “does this come in blue?” Finally I broke down.  I starting using blue in little bits on my urns, then a subtle blue/greeny kinda speckly glaze (bordering on hippy, drippy).  Next I introduced a dark blue to my line of FoodieCeramics, with butter keepers, garlic grates, and salt cellars.  But have really kept it at a minimum. 

As time goes by I have asked myself, why do people like blue so much?  The next favorite color seems to be green.  I love green pots, so that has always been a part of my pottery.  But what is it about blue and green pots that people like so much?  I think it comes down to this…  they are both calming colors.  People walk into my studio sales and see variations of green pots, a common reaction is, “it’s so peaceful, so calming”.  Another thought I have about these two colors is that they are the colors that surround us… big blue sky, blue/green ocean, and large expanses of green grass and trees.  who out there doesn’t feel peace while sitting by the ocean with a big blue sky over head!

Over the years I have looked at as many blue pots as I could, to find ones that did not have the negative attributes I mentioned earlier.  I found some very nice blue pots.  One in particular tipped me over the edge by my friend Molly Cantor.  It was one of her wood fired pieces that had this magical deep blue on the inside of a mug.  I think that was the first time I thought wow, I could get a nice blue that wouldn’t take away from my form.  So after years of trying out little bits of blues here and there, I decided last year it was time to do some experimenting with glazes.  This past month I have come up with one I like.  Here is a sketch plate that came out of the kiln the other day.  It has a lot of depth to it, which doesn’t show well in the photo.  I think it has potential though! 




12 thoughts on “I Think I Got My Cash Blue

  1. Hey Lucy, We have only a few blue pots and they have a fake ash blue glaze on them. I’ve never found one that I cared to use on my pots other than the occasional dot or two (and those sold right away!)

    I like the way your blue glaze (foodieceramics) breaks on the edges. It has nice variation where it pools and runs a bit.
    This new one is nice too, good depth and action around the design. I think in the right hands a blue glaze can really work. It will be neat to see that new glaze on some other pots.

    Warren Mackenzie uses a blue glaze from time to time. The glaze is made from all the glaze sweepings from his floor. To this he adds some percentage of cobalt. We have 2 pots of his with this ‘floor glaze’ on it (more blue pots I had forgotten about) and they are nice.

    Thanks for the great post.

  2. Ooh! Ooh! I think you nailed it! This is a lovely color. Very soothing, as you suggest. I think it works pretty well with both the throwing lines and the decoration. You should definitely continue to use this one!

    I’m like you. I had this prejudice against using blue, and I had trouble understanding why it was ‘wrong’ to use on serious pots. I think maybe it is because most blues are such strong colors that they distract from the actual pot and you can hide a whole lot of poor craftsmanship under a blue glaze. A bad pot with a blue glaze might outsell or be more appreciated by the masses than good ones in different colors. So I think teachers sometimes discourage their students from using blue as a way of keeping them focused on the quality of their pots rather than the false sense of security that a poorly thrown blue pot will give them. But I think a good pot with blue on it is still a good pot whereas a bad pot with blue on it only seems like a good pot. And being able to tell the difference is what teaching is all about. So, using blue isn’t necessarily wrong. It just confuses the issue.

    That’s my take on it at least…. Keep up the great work! We need more blue pots that REALLY ARE good pots.

  3. Thanks Carter, I toally agreee with what you said about blue covering up a bad pot! I once had a class of students who collectively asked me, “Lucy do you have any glazes that cover up the flaws on our pots? WE are not like you, we don’t want every detail to show up!”

  4. I don’t see a thing wrong with blue, but then I live in Chapel Hill, NC where everything is Carolina Blue and the sky here is the bluest I have ever seen anywhere I have lived! I like blue pottery as long as there aren’t daisies or some odd flower painted on, but your blue is one of the nicest I have seen! I have a mug by Michael Rutkowski (not sure about that spelling sorry) that has an amazing deep cobalt blue interior that I love combined with an Ohata Khaki looking glaze on the outside. Blue can be really good if it’s sophisticated!

  5. Hi, Lucy. I’ve had the same attitude about blue for years and have had a difficult time explaining to friends why I haven’t done blue pots. Telling them, “Well, too many people want blue pots” only makes them laugh. I’m still looking for a blue I can live with. Anyway, a few years ago an oceanographer/chemist friend of ours explained his theory about blue: We evolved from fish and fish lived in the ocean before they crawled up onto land. Therefore, we ex-fish have a genetic memory dating back millions of years to the ocean. A preference for blue pots – and I suppose green pots, too – is a reflection of a genetic nostalgia for the day before we clambered up onto dry land to live with the full spectrum.

  6. Thanks Tracy, we will see what I do with it now. I did a few more sketch plates in the latest firing, some applied thinner, it’s all looking good. Now it’s time to test on a vertical surface to see how the patterns move.

  7. I tend to like pottery in neutral tones (Lucy – I especially like the dark brown [black oil glaze?] you use), but one of my favorite colors, especially in the kitchen, is cobalt blue. That’s why I sometimes choose blue pots.

  8. Our dark background leafware used to be more of a brown black, but occasionally a group in the glaze kiln would come through blue. The blue ones flew out of the booth at lightning speed. Pete was doing some tests on our slip which was flaking like crazy when we finally figured out that if the glaze went on a bit thicker the slip shifted to blue. Lucky for the people (myself among them) who don’t like blue as much, not all the pieces are the same color because of the human hand factor, but blue is what I strive for because I know it will sell–which is the only thing that guarantees I can keep working.

    Personally, I prefer browns and blacks and rich deep orange, and I get to indulge that when Sam lets me put some pieces in his wood kiln. Those are my favorite pieces, but they are much harder to sell. Of course, they are rare so the price tag also reflects that, but in terms of wide appeal, not as many people even will pick up the brown ones (it’s mostly other potters).

    Ultimately what I love about YOUR work is the colors are not flat and never boring in application. You have richness in the glaze with activity, pooling and interesting flow. I think I look for these qualities more than the particular color a piece happens to be. In looking at your work the viewer can see that you look for that, too. And that is why I love your work.

  9. Hi Ev, Thank you so much for your thoughts on my work. And thank you too for sharing your experience with selling blue pottery and making a living. I must tell you as I write this one of your blue trays is in my view in the corner cupboard… it is used a great deal in our home, and I must admit I really like that blue glaze!

  10. Hey Melinda. Thanks for the comment. That dark brown glaze (black oil spot) is my favorite along with the waxy off white blush. But as Evelyn said in her comment brown is so hard to sell. I find mostly creative types go for it!

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