I was attempting, somewhat unsuccessfully, to organize my studio the other day and my wife peeked in to comment, “What a mess.” It is not often she will set foot in my studio (but then it’s not really big enough for two people at one time). I replied, “Tell me about it! But wait until I have this thing whipped into shape.” It didn’t really happen—at least not yet—but I was inspired by the prospect of a fresh start. I got down into the corners where odd bags of mystery materials lay waiting to be discovered. I broke many old seconds that had become thirds and fourths over time. It continues to be hard work, but it is gratifying to see it come together as the very beginnings of an organized space.
I must admit, there is another organizing project that I’m absolutely giddy about. We have been hinting around our new redesign for some time, and next month we are letting it loose! I’ve told you about several ideas we’ve had percolating around our offices for a while, and we’re all really excited to show you what we’ve been working on.
First, this is a bit different from a redesign, meaning it goes beyond graphical updates. We are, in effect, relaunching Ceramics Monthly. Yes, it will have a new look, including a new logo (what better way to signal a change?), but it will also have a renewed focus on the studio, and several new items of content to address that focus.
One area that we are particularly excited about is called Clay Culture, which is designed to address not only the culture of clay in which we all live to some extent, but also those elements of culture that affect clay—which is to say any part of any culture that connects with clay in some way that is pertinent to studio ceramics. For example, we might map ceramic centers that sprung up because of local clay deposits and report on what their status is today. We may go looking for ceramics in public art and tie our findings to a mobile application or a web-based geolocator. Certainly we’ll bring in high-tech ceramics from time to time, as well as low-tech.
We’ll be exploring and sharing at least one glaze in every issue, discussing not only the glaze itself, including recipes, variations, and application tips, but how the glaze came to be and what makes it do what it does. We’ll range from low-fire aventurine glazes to oil spots to lava glaze to more traditional and historical celadon, tenmoku, and shino. If there is a type of glaze you’ve always wanted to understand, let us know and we’ll find the right expert to delve into it.
What is currently known as Suggestions will be expanded and enlarged to become Tips and Tools. It will remain practical studio tips from you, the readers, but its expansion allows for more images and more comprehensive how-to explanations for inventive processes and tools. So send us your best tips and tools (and don’t forget the pictures). If we publish them, you’ll get a free one-year subscription to CM.
The Upfront section is going to become Exposure, and will include current exhibitions only, with more images and links to see more—a sort of visual monthly snapshot of exhibitions to visit either in person or online. The reviews that are currently presented with Upfront will now be in their own section called (you guessed it) Reviews.
Some of our adjustments are based on the strength and maturation of the Internet and our endeavors there. We already have digital editions available to subscribers (if you haven’t checked it out, just go to the Ceramics Monthly home page and click “view this issue online”). Even five years ago, we could not have considered moving our listings online, but today that is where they are more useful and accessible by far than they ever were in print. The Calendar section, for example, will be online only, where it will be much easier to search and sort by keyword, location, artist name, venue name, etc.—far more handy, and much more robust.
Of course, many of the things you’ve come to expect and value will remain largely as they are. Call for Entries will stay in print as a one-page department (a nice tight package). We probably wouldn’t be able to touch Studio Visit without receiving a lot of letters we would rather not receive, so that will continue as it is. Likewise, we are keeping (and even expanding) Techno File, which has become a valuable studio reference. Same goes for our Monthly Methods sidebars with features, so they will be more instructive and applicable in the classroom and studio.
Another exciting department that will come straight from the artist’s studio is Spotlight (which will replace Comment on the back page), where we will ask a potter or sculptor probing questions (and perhaps a softball here and there) about a body of work, a way of working, an aesthetic proclivity, or a particular creative experience and discuss it from the perspective of the maker. After all, that is who this magazine is for; makers.
As soon as this issue goes to press, our Writing and Photographic Guidelines will be updated to reflect all of these new content areas, and I encourage you to go check them out at www.ceramicsmonthly.org (just click on “Submit Content”). Then send us your ideas, thoughts, and feedback. And, of course, when your March issue arrives, take a look and tell us what you think, what you like, what you don’t like. Then get in your studio and make something—and tell us about that, too! – Sherman Hall, editor.