Lovely Intangibles


It’s the title I chose for my solo show at Plinth Gallery in Denver. I had jotted down the phrase months ago, but didn’t note the context. I believe I heard it on NPR in reference to something else, but it originated from the delightful 1947 film Miracle on 34th Street:

Look Doris, someday you’re going to find that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn’t work. And when you do, don’t overlook those lovely intangibles. You’ll discover those are the only things that are worthwhile.
~ John Payne as Fred Gailey

The “lovely intangibles” are something I think about when I’m working in my studio and reference about my pots when I teach: the importance of detail (different from decoration), which I define as anything from a slip-trail accent to the ribbed line that delineates a curve. Each of the aesthetic, technical and functional components that make up the whole of a pot —those big and little things that need to be there for me as the maker— may not be definable or even identifiable to the viewer, but if one or more is missing, the whole is no longer the same or as strong. I like the idea that it’s those lovely, imperceptible or even elusive intangibles that are crucial in the completion of a beautiful and useful object. We may not be aware of them when they are there, but somehow we are when they’re not.

The “important” details pictured, first row: 1. The negative space of a pitcher handle and crisp line that defines the handle itself. 2. The stripes that pop the stamped bunny silhouette, and slip-trailed tail. 3. The top flowing line of a cup handle that leads directly into the lip, and the lines the define the glossy interior and satin exterior. Second row: 4. The red stripes that wrap around and define planes and curves. 5. The cut-aways from a jar foot that create shadows and punctuate the softly squared corners of the body. 6. The thrown, altered and ribbed curves of a large pear jar.

7 thoughts on “Lovely Intangibles

  1. I love the details in your work and the glazing just picks it up so beautifully, I always think pots should have a beginning middle and end – each one finished off to it’s ‘completeness’! ha ha

  2. Reading this feels like being in a class again. You are still my favorite teacher ever! I so hope your journey takes you to a professorship if you want it to someday. You are a natural.

  3. When working in my studio, I think about your work almost every single day. It’s those tiny intangible details that I love the most. Thank you for always generously sharing technique and information and for always being a wonderful source of inspiration!

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