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Maureen Mills, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Maureen Mills' jar, 12 in. (30 cm) in height, wood-fired porcelain.

Maureen Mills' jar, 12 in. (30 cm) in height, wood-fired porcelain.

The addition of a lid or cover on a form adds additional complexity to the making and the composition of both form and surface that I find challenging. The covered form allows for play in scale of form and surface treatments as well. A covered form should have a well-fitting lid with strong form and confident surface treatments, whether it is decorated or not. But good design is just that. Without the spirit of the maker showing passion for the work, it will be just a good pot. That’s not particularly tangible, but I feel like we all know what that is when we see it.

There really are unlimited opportunities for exploring scale and proportion in a covered form. Then, modifying the details of the lid or knob, foot or bottom, and the surface treatments so that they are appropriate for the form are good challenges to focus on. Jars are always intriguing to potters, and I am no exception. While they insinuate function, because they hold something and have a cover, the actual use of my jar forms becomes much more personal to the buyer without any imposed function.

It does not always bother me if someone buys a piece and does not use it. There are some pieces that beg to be used more than others. In my experience, jars are an appealing form for both the maker and the user, and they have the option of being functional, but they are often objects that find a way to usefulness once they are in the home.

This article was excerpted from Contemporary Functional Pottery: A Discussion of Handmade Pottery by 11 Working Potters, which is free to Ceramic Arts Daily subscribers.