• Lee Ustinich

Rough Edges

Smoothing the rough edges off something when rough edges are at the core of my intent -my deliberate clay work style- is a head trip. (Yep, I am an aging hippie-can’t quite lose the lingo.)

I love sanding bone-dry clay (yes-I know about silica dust; yes, I use a good respirator w/the proper filter for the purpose; no, I do not hold that it is inherently better to smooth it all out before it gets bone dry.)

I spent a year willfully shifting my head & hands from the “art” of leaving cracks, holes, ragged and torn edges etc. right where they emerged (that being the point in the first place), to the “art” of producing more refined pieces, pristine edges/forms/finishing, lighter, traditionally crafted, sleek, commercially recognizable and pleasing, retail gift shop style ceramic merchandise.


Given that my longest running series is titled Excavations, that ought to provide a hint as to how much of a deep shift in technique & mind-set this was for me! It was more of an accommodation to wanting to generate some coin, than an authentic internal change in aesthetics. Interestingly enuf, tho, the more I did it the more I liked some aspects of what, for me, was a deep sea-change.


The herb markers, however, were the tipping point. They were lovely, very well-priced, and reasonably easy to produce with consistency. And, people really liked them! The problem was they bored me silly & sent my creative impetus into a coma-like state. That, and the COVID 19 pandemic wiped out many of the small independent gift shops where I could peddle my wares.



So, mainstream commercial venture: done. No regrets. 1/21