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State of Craft Interview

George Scatchard

Potter and Teacher
Dates Active: 1960s on

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I like mud! I think it's an inborn defect. I'm better with my hands than I am with my head, probably, and I really like making things. And clay, it still is a miracle to me, the fact that this weathered rock can be reshaped and fired and made into stone again.

What I wanted to do when I got out of college is make pottery for the folk! I wanted to make mugs and whatever people wanted locally and sell it to 'em and survive sort of like a subsistence farmer, I was going to be a subsistence potter.

For years and years (in the 1960s) I would load up my micro-bus full of stuff and take it either to Boston or New York, or both. I would load it up to the windows. It would...just barely make it up a hill anymore and away we went. And the deal with them was I'd bring 'em the pots, they'd pay me the money, I'd go back home, buy some clay and make some more.

It was a way to escape to the country...a lot of us just kind of wanted to get out of the cities, get into the country, and so here we were, with no visible means of support....

I guess I...was a free spirit.

I got a really warm reception from the Vermonters, which shocked me. I drove into Woodbury with an old Volvo...with out-of-state plates on it. And here came this weird-looking guy with a beard and long hair and drove up the road and they welcomed me like a long-lost brother. They were used to loggers and other strange people hanging around. It didn't bother 'em in the least. They helped me in every possible way. Taught me which trees to cut in the winter for green wood if I absolutely had to, 'cause I didn't have any dry wood. And taught me the ropes of living in Vermont and they were the warmest, most open, friendly people.

Vermont was a place where you could afford to buy land in those days. I mean, even people without a lot of money could get a toe hold in Vermont and if you didn't mind working you could survive. There were no real jobs, but you could work here.

Volume is the key 'cause you've got a certain amount of overhead; any small business person knows that. Until you pass that break-even point, you ain't got nothin'. No matter how much, how hard you worked or how much you've done or how much you've spent, until you pass the break-even point, there's nothing left for you to buy groceries with. Production's the answer. And for me it has been. And if you don't know how to get famous very quickly, then production is a good way up.
People don't realize, I don't think...For a potter to go to a craft show, you've got to shut down all that stuff, cover up everything, and get it kind of put to sleep, so you can take a day or so, load all the stuff in your van and go to a craft show, get there before everybody else, 'cause you got to set up all this sturdy display equipment, then lug out all your heavy, fragile pots and display them. Then you go through the craft show with nothing you can possibly do on your pottery, other than make some name tags or price tags or something. When it's all over and you're not allowed to start tearing down until the show is over, and then you're obviously the last one to leave 'cause you got to lug all these big heavy boxes out of your truck, put away all your pottery so it won't get broken, and then pack your display, on top of all that, and away you go. It's a drag!

I've been a rebel. I mean, I wouldn't do what my parents said--I won't do what anybody says. And the only way you can do that is kind of make it on your own some way.