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State of Craft Interview

Robert Compton

Potter, organizer of the annual Potter's potluck
Dates Active: 1970's on

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I had a real strong work ethic, which is what made me viable as a potter because this is not a lucrative field to be in.

I just fell in love with clay. And it wasn't like I wanted to be a high artist, I just liked working with my hands, having a physical product.

The practicality was always part of my life...I wasn't gonna sit around making art, I had to make something that could be sold.

When people first come into the field they love what they make, they make this piece and they sell it for what they think is a lot of money, because they could only afford that themselves...but then they realize it didn't cover the cost of materials hardly and when they go to fill the orders realize you're kind of losing money at it.

I like working for myself, I like working with my hands, I like producing something visually. And I really like having control of my own destiny, even though the destiny isn't as maybe lucrative as it could be if you were doing something else.

I think I built 19 kilns here over the past 20-some years, which is not normal. I mean, a lot of potters build a kiln and that's their kiln for the rest of their life.

(The potters potluck was) a way for potters to get together and talk and we talked about shows and what we were doing with clay and clay problems and firing techniques and stuff like that. It just became this on going (event)...we've never missed a year...and it's been 30 years...that we've been doing this.

Each day is really important and what you do with every day is really important. And, you know, being a potter, being a craftsperson is about what you do every day.