One pound of clay. As Matt Long points out in this excerpt from his full-length DVD Vessels for Victory, making mugs is a great way to warm up in the studio. After all, you are more likely to let go and try new ideas when you are only working with one pound of clay. I know I have a tendency to get stuck in my studio work because I let the work become too precious. I worry about messing something up and that keeps me from exploring new ideas. So, I am turning over a new leaf. Next time I am in the studio, I am going to warm up with some mugs and see where it takes me. I recommend doing the same if you’re feeling stuck in your work. I also recommend watching this clip to learn from an excellent teacher. (I know. I am a former student!) – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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From “Matt Long’s Moments of Victory,” by Glen R. Brown, originally published in the January 2004 issue of Ceramics Monthly:

“To be in the front of the cupboard, to be on the counter top, to be
set on a table where someone is having a conversation with someone they
care about: that matters more to me than making money or driving a
better car. Maybe my flasks get passed around at a family gathering to
celebrate the new year, an anniversary, or the birth of a child –
events that really define who we are.”
– Matt Long

is clearly one of the central themes in Long’s work. The principal
forms that he has developed, in particular the martini glass and the
whiskey flask, are designed less with an interest in pure utility than
with a concern for their potential social role. In fact, the primary
reward that he seeks for his efforts is the knowledge that his work has been successfully integrated into someone’s life, especially into that person’s interaction with others.

contact with others through the medium of a vessel is a process that
one might easily characterize as expressive, as paralleling, in other
words, the way in which artists are sometimes said to “speak” to the
viewer through their work. Long, however, is less concerned with
conveying a personal communication than with relating the general
message that his vessels are produced through direct involvement of the
human hand. While he professes no aversion to the products of modern
technology, he believes that the handmade vessel adds an element of
uniqueness to the experience of use that no mass-manufactured object
can match. “I think that people sometimes confuse quality with
convenience,” he explains. “I’m not after convenience, and I’m not
trying to compete with industry. I only want to suggest that there are
aspects of experience beyond what machine-made objects like paper cups
or Tupperware pitchers can provide.”

To see images of Matt’s work, visit his website,

Today’s video was excerpted from Matt Long: Vessels for Victory,
available now in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore!

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