Looking into the Empty Vessel

The Value of the Vessel

by MARY CALLAHAN BAUMSTARK

The value of the vessel is worth the same as the value of cupping your hands, indispensable, and infinitely variable. 

Contemporary makers will argue about the authenticity of locally made pottery, but vessels made in factories were touched by hands, too. I don't think they feel "less than" for having been produced alongside their identical siblings and shipped across the globe. I do think vessels are sensitive.

Purchasing and collecting contemporary regional pottery gives your objects better stories than their IKEA counterparts, but not more authentic stories, not more "real" ones. I do think vessels are historical records. 

Vessels relatively the same: your grandmother's hobbyist china painting next to your toddler's bite-mark-ridden sippy cup next to your dripping Takura Kuwata teabowl. I do think vessels can be elitist. 

The more vessels you use and see, the more you realize that your preferences are as specific and expansive as the wrinkles in your hands, cupped to hold. All hands are good hands, but perhaps you like your handle crooked like your pinky, your glaze as speckled as your sunspots, or the predictability of mass-produced diner-ware with a reliable french manicure. They are still your hands, you are still a vessel. Useful. Valuable.

 

 

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