David Greenbaum Philosophy and Technique
David Greenbaum has been working in clay for 37 years. His pottery reflects the unique designs and classic forms of the style he developed in his youth. Today, these pots radiate tranquillity and harmony as a result of David finding peace within himself and with his work.
"As potters, we have many different directions we can pursue," he says. "I believe my work in clay is reflective, as it should be, of our journey in this life. After exploring so many avenues, I returned to the comfort of the pots I began with. I found that my technique flowed easily, it was not forced. As a result, I'm making the best pots of my life and I've never known more joy working with clay."
"The organic quality of the process is so direct," David says. "I adore sticking my hands in the mud and shaping it. It's that grittiness that rang true for me from the start."
When David throws his pots, he is focused on the design and perfection of the form. He prefers the classic form concepts explored by potters for thousands of years. "These forms have withstood the test of time," he says. "There's a reason they have endured so long. A pure form is balanced and harmonious and that gives it a universal radiance that draws us to it. When I throw a pot, I concentrate on finding its harmony. When it clicks, there is a certain rightness and an inarguable truth and unity."
As he strives for perfection of form, David spends a great deal of time perfecting the craftsmanship of his carving and finishing. His production is limited, so each pot receives a lot of attention. He uses handmade tools for carving - usually looped guitar strings that leave precise impressions in the clay. When he begins to carve his designs, he relies only on experience and his remarkable ability to create perfectly spaced, repeating patterns.
David prefers to burnish rather than glaze his pots even though it is more time consuming. Using a hard polished stone to compress the clay's surface particles, he burnishes the pots on a wheel. First he moistens the bone-dry pot with water and burnishes it until the surface is smooth. Next, he applies a thin coating of olive oil and repeats the process. The wheel's rotation helps to eliminate the burnish marks, contributing to the pot's luminous surface quality.
After they are burnished, the pots are initially placed in an oxidation firing, then the black vessels are "sagger-fired", a process that subjects the ware to intense carbonization which permeates the clay, producing the intense black.
David's designs and techniques are not static. "There are infinite variations," he says. "The slightest alteration produces a different form - the subtleties are fascinating and the possibilities are almost endless. I have so much creative potential to explore within the parameters of my style."
"All valid, good art endures," David says. "I believe one reason for that is a tranquil approach by the artist. I hope my work lives beyond the temporal impact and continues to have a radiance that pleases me and the people who buy it."
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