While I am busy making and glazing I find myself contemplating the difference between sculptural and functional work. While sculpture finds its place in someone's home or in a public setting, most often seeing little change from the way it was displayed in the gallery to how it is displayed in it's final home, this is not the case with functional work. In many ways the potter merely begins the piece in her studio, but it is the owner and daily user of these pieces that truly make them into what they are. A mug becomes more than a form created on the wheel, but rather an essential part of the morning coffee ritual. (We hope. Nothing makes me happier than to hear from a friend that they really enjoy using a mug that I have given them.) The baker that the customer bought from us becomes the preferred vessel for their famous mac n cheese because that dish looks so much better in our baker. The vase that was picked up at a sale really comes into its own when filled with flowers from the customer's garden.
While, for the expression of my own abstract ideas, I prefer making sculptural work, there really is a joy in knowing that the functional work that I make can be used and appreciated by the buyer or receiver of that work and that it becomes a part of their life and is enjoyed on a regular basis. There really is no higher compliment.