Russell Coburn


For me, as I create pottery, I access three major components. First you learn the craft. You learn the materials, clay, the feel and limits; glazes, their formulation and components, and the firing. Once you have a certain mastery of the full craft, including some of the science behind it, you can move forward.
Secondly, you have the knowledge and study of historic and prehistoric pots which goes back 20,000 years. This is a never-ending absorption and fascination of pots of the past. Third is the one creative force, the energy that comes through you but is not you. That un-manifest energy, the source of life and creation. If you can integrate those three aspects, you can then use that for your own human creative expression; and create your own body of work that will have meaning and beauty. 
Each pot is a specific creation. It starts as a thought, an intention. Then you begin to manifest that intention, but you do so in a “loose creativity.” That means you are flowing with the river. It’s not a non-thought process because you have to have the thought first: a plate, a mug, a Ming shaped bowl, a rimmed bowl, an un-rimmed bowl…. You have to begin with the thought of form.
You sketch the pots mentally in a sense, and allow them to form because you sketch. But you know what you are sketching. You know what you want, you have a desire for it, so you have intention. This intention and the thought precede the doing, and the doing is done within a loose framework of creativity. 
It’s rare for me to sit down and make more than 8 or 10 of a similar object. If I am still attracted to that idea, the form or shape, then I can recapture it. If I’m done with it, out of the flow of true desire, then no amount of effort can create that feeling of flow again. I’m just trying to duplicate then, which is never satisfying to me, and if it’s not satisfying to me, it will not be powerful. And if it’s not powerful, the viewer will know that. 
I hope that in my life I will continue to be able to take these materials; these most mundane and abundant materials of this earth, and through the process of creation, be able to make rare and precious objects that will add to the ceramic traditions and be valued by many. I hope I’ll never stop being a student. never stop learning, never stop getting deeper and better expressing through the clay, the glazes, the Self