Don Pilcher and Rascal Ware Pottery  

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Rascal Ware and the Rock Pile
By Georgette Ore

Chapter Eight

Rascal Ware ch 8Late yesterday afternoon, in an unusual moment of self disclosure, Junior let it be known that he’s worth about a million bucks - unless you factor in his Rascal Ware project. In that case, the figure drops to less than $17,000 - just enough to buy a previously owned pickup truck.  That should be sufficient since Junior himself is previously owned…twice.

The subject of who’s got money and how they got it always gets people to talking and thinking (in about that order) and this time our conversation turned to that moment when one’s art goes public and becomes a commodity; you actually sell your pottery. It’s curious, that moment – you slave over some half understood impulse to give substance to your imagination – you risk looking into several dark recesses -  you conjure the aesthetics of affection - you throw time and money at an uncertain manifestation of personal truth…and then you’re asked, “How much is that worth.?” It’s priceless and probably worth more than what we can get for it right now. But we are realists. We live in the moment and we know that there are people who wouldn’t give you a dollar for the Mona Lisa.

Junior says that value, all value, comes from authenticity and that the value increases if you can marry it to something unique. In our attempts to make Rascal Ware authentic and unique we attend to every possible detail. We use the best materials and processes, true state of the art, at least for the 19th Century. That’s real gold on those shiny, metallic beauties. It’s traditional to apply gold with a little two-haired brush. But we apply it with a floor mop. And we go to any length to mine our own clay and formulate our own glazes. That’s how I spent my morning, digging clay from a roadside and loading it in the back of a pickup that has no doors. (Can there be ANY connection between serious art and such a vehicle? Or any price that adequately rewards an inspired labor of love?) Finally, we present our mud pie alchemy to the public with no certain knowledge of how they, meaning YOU, will respond. What follows may help.

We are using this freshly dug and wholly authentic clay to make ceramic rocks. If you follow the ceramic art scene, you know that imbedded shigiraki stone is all the rage. We are of a mind that this technique is suffering the franchise effect; too many outlets, too little impact. So, with this exhibition, we’re introducing an original Rascal Ware product, STEROID STONE. It’s bigger, better, more rare and, over time, it will likely require an asterisk in the literature on ceramic history.

Since all the Rascal Ware employees agree that we are more interested in asterisks than money, we take these stones seriously. Sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic – we’ve made ‘em all. Junior gets credit for the concept. When he introduced the subject he inspired us by reading from the Book of Genesis, wherein God says, “Let there be firmament in the midst of the waters.” It turns out that’s actually the world’s first ceramic lesson – you always add clay to water to avoid lumps. Reading farther along, he came to a part about Adam’s deep sleep, a rib and nakedness. I wasn’t having any of that. But I did offer to make the igneous samples. They’re hot and I can do hot!

These unique rocks exist as carbuncles on our otherwise overly ripe pottery forms. “Overly ripe” describes the lot of us. We have all come to that age where we are defined equally by our genes and gravity.  Our forms have an insouciant posture which is actually old age and scoliosis. They and we are distended, amended and slouching toward assisted living. Pilcher insists that using commercially prepared clay is an early onset form of assisted living. If true, that fact dignifies my digging and leaves me free to exercise my still wily fingers. These overly ripe pots also share some similarities with Peter Voulkos plates and Famous Amos cookies. In addition to their appearance, all enjoy huge markups. These thoughts bring joy to my heart and a smile to my face. Perhaps I share a little something with Mona Lisa… if you can overlook my toothsome grin.

One last thought about money. Rascal Ware is authentic and occasionally unique. Therefore, it’s not cheap. While you decide if you can afford it, we’ll be debating another price increase and looking for a pickup with a four door cab. If you think you qualify for the collector’s discount, you’ll have to speak directly to Junior. Remember, he’s box square but, as a rule, he’ll work with you because his pride is always trumped by his generosity. That explains the $17,000.

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