Ruminating on the intimate connection between making wares, and who will use them, I thought of ceramist John Christie from Scotland, and his process.

This is made for you by another person…it’s not made by a machine.

John Christie


His work is modest, and fully intended to be functional and practical, especially in the context of food preparation and presentation. He speaks plainly about not making works that distinguish him from others, but reveal his similarities to those who’ve come before him. He strikes me as a “show up to work and work” kind of person, rather than reinvent the wheel and run. 


As time goes on, you benefit from the disasters that you experience.

John Christie

Again, further validation for the notion that all of us, myself included, learn by doing: in particular, we learn through mistake making. Push the clay and form past the point of no return in your learning process. Eventually you will metabolize it and your ever-changing limits, and meet somewhere in the middle with a piece or two. 


Another reason I wanted to share this video is that we gain a privileged glimpse into watching Christie fire his wood kiln. “We’re not really masters of the kiln…the kiln is the master.” He fires for 28-hours straight, and makes a variety of ash glazes sourced from materials nearby his studio. 
A most gratifying moment is towards the end as we see him pull one of his finished baking dishes (the clay of which came from a mile away) out of the oven with a delicious crumble baked by a local chef using local ingredients. What a challenge that would be to do here in NYC, but no less a point to ponder: where do our materials and ingredients come from?
“The best of my pots have a message for the person using them.” 
And my message to you is to keep your hands happily immersed in clay.

Happy hands make for happy hearts. 

Auguste Elder