I had another chance early in December to go visit Dick Lehman and study his fine pottery. As an added bonus, he also had his basement open for browsing which was full of his early work and work from many other great potters that he has collected over the years.
I got to talk with him about his work for a while and asked him all kinds of questions. It’s been a while since the conversation took place but I’ll type out some of the details I remember and post some of my favorite photos. So take everything I say with a grain of salt since my memory is far from flawless.
These are the special pots. Dick said he has held on to these pots because he learned something from each one. The first paragraph of the paper in the photo:
Here are works of mine that I’ve set aside over the last 30 years. In some cases they represent the best of the best….others mark transitions…some were fired in other places – some of them exotic…a few were made from tiny bits of clay that I spirited back from my first trip to Japan; some represent relationships or influences, others simply celebrate the freedom to work in a variety of ways.
I guess when your work is on the cover of Ceramics Monthly, you’ve made it as a potter.
He said he ordered the boxes from Japan. They are made from a certain kind of wood and are common over there. Pots are suspended inside by the straps which help keep the pots in one piece during earthquakes. The wood also helps protect pots during floods and fires.
The picture doesn’t do this pot any kind of justice. It is fantastic in person.
I got to see him demonstrate how he makes these square-ish dishes at the summer workshop. I believe most of the stuff in the picture above was fired in his gas kiln.
Dick told me about some more of his wood firing experiences. He used to have a small wood kiln in his back yard. He had it worked out so he could stoke it 5 times throughout the day. Breakfast, lunch break, when he got home from work and twice before he went to bed. That way he could fire it for 15 days and build up a bunch of ash and then he and some others would crank it up at the end to reach the peak temperature. He showed me some pieces that he fired in that kiln but I guess I didn’t take any photos of those.
I tried to get an idea of how he prices things. One important thing he considers is the surface. Generally the higher priced items have the more unique and outstanding surfaces. Surfaces that you probably won’t get again.
We talked a little bit more about Kintsugi. He showed me the different metal powders and gold leaf that he uses. You can really tell the difference between them when you see them side by side. The gold leaf is much brighter but also more expensive.
I love that piece in the middle. I think it might be from another planet.
There were other good conversations. Unfortunately I don’t remember them all. He told me about some of his biggest influences and about some of the pots that he has collected over the years. I talked to him and his wife about their house and how they were planning to move closer to Goshen. I even talked to one of his sons who teaches music.
Overall, a pretty good day.
I made one purchase, a nice bowl (possibley a brie baker?) with a fantastic color inside which came with a wooden knife. Apparently I didn’t take any photos of it yet. I bought it intending to give it as a Christmas gift. But it’s still on the shelf. Merry Christmas to me…