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What Difference A Curve Makes

Large Salad Bowl Form by Weston Neil Andersen: 10 inches diameter copyright Andersen Design 1970
Prototype of Form before lip was adjusted

The Large Salad Bowl with the two tones of blue leaves has been around for a long time. All the while I thought it was a beautiful decoration done on a bowl which had warped in the casting.

Recently. when photographing the bowls
together, I realized I was wrong. The reason I thought the bowl was warped was
because of what appeared to be a mis-shaped curve of the rim. I took it to be
that the bowl had been trimmed when it was too wet and had released and curved
inward. On closer examination, I realized it was not a casting error. The bowl was
cast from a mold with a higher curve to the rim.
lip comparison

Observed side by side
with another bowl it is obvious that there is no warping in the globe of the
bowl. The blue flower bowl, shown from the back side, is the one on the right
in the picture. Both bowls have perfectly formed globes. It is only the curve
of the rim line which is different. This revelation identifies the blue leafed
tree bowl as an original prototype which was cast and found unsatisfactory and
so the form design was reworked, reshaping the curve of the cut-out lip.

The correct curve of the lip



This makes the bowl a very rare one of a kind casting of a prototype in the works. The bowl has some additional defects in an indented mold line, which is visible in the photo below and some small irregularities in the glaze application. While the curve of the lip is not right for the form of the bowl, this is only evident when looking down on it, Viewed from the front at a common placement, the curve of the lip is attractive and adds more room for the decorative tree, painted by Brenda, to grow. In the photo at the top of the page the form of the blue leaf bowl is not noticeably different from the other two and the tree is vibrant and vivacious.

The Working prototype is signed with capitalized letters spelling ANDERSEN, written in sgrafitto 


The bowl to the left is a vintage large salad bowl, ten inches in
diameter The bowl
is decorated with artistry characteristic of Brenda’s work.
  


The execution of the form was problematic.
The bowl was cast too thick and should have been tossed back into the slip tank
to be reprocessed, but sometimes, in a moment of weakness, the slip-caster
can’t bring themselves to do that and instead tries to fix it by thinning the
curved lip of the bowl, causing a visible ridge along the rim as the thinned
lip meets the heavy cast of the body. The bowl cracked during firing but the
crack does not go all the way through the bowl and it holds liquid.
  


The decoration of the bowl is perfectly
executed in the first instant without any re-dos or touch ups giving the hand
execution of the pattern an elegant and natural beauty expressing the inner
confidence of the artist. The leaves have a crisp outline which requires a
perfectly balanced white glaze and a perfectly adjusted decorating color. The
former is done by the glaze maker and the latter is in the hands of the
decorator, who must pay attention daily to the balance of the decorating
colors. A talented decorator will develop an intuitive awareness through
practice, but it is always about the relationship between the glaze and the
decorating color.
  


All this goes as an example to slip-casters as to why the cast which is too think should be thrown out, to give a fair chance that a masterful decorative execution will be matched with a perfectly cast form. The whole is in the teamwork.

This bowl is signed on the bottom with a scripted AD, indicating that it was probably a production work rather than a prototype. This is not certain as I am not certain that the distinction between the signing of a prototype versus the signing of a production work was paid a lot of attention, but it should be in the future.






The bowl is shown in the picture below with another bowl, also decorated by Brenda. The second bowl is a better cast. The decoration is charming with exuberance, despite the leaves not being as crisp as the leaves are in this bowl. 




The bowl on the right is cast to a perfect thinness. There is room for it to go even thinner but it is fine at this thickness and adds strength against breakage without making the bowl heavy in weight.

This bowl is decorated by Brenda. It is signed on the bottom in an unusual way. with the name ANDERSEN DESIGN written out in capital letters. This suggests that it might have been created during the prototype process, but that is not certain.


Patterns in Stoneware Penguins and Trees

In my last post I began a discussion about how one identifies the author of a piece, pointing out the importance of the signature but that the signature can also be misleading. The true signature is in the hand of the artist which is as unique as handwriting. This One of a Kind Vintage Emperor Penguin was created when the decoration for the production design was under development. The overall uniformity of the pattern is one of the keys to identifying that the penguin is decorated by Weston and not by Brenda.

https://store13231446.ecwid.com/One-of-a-Kind-Vintage-Jar-Vase-decorated-by-Weston-Neil-Andersen-p137192786

Weston’s hand is patient, disciplined and rhythmic. The pattern is systematic but not mechanically uniform. Weston takes a philosopher’s approach to pattern. The components of the pattern are integral to an inseparable expression of wholeness. The state of mind is at one with the beingness of existence. Weston patientently executes the teardrops in an organically flowing rhythm on the backside of the Emperor Penguin. A similar approach to pattern is shown in the vase, by Weston, to the left. The parts are irregular dabs in an organically organized formation which produces an overall effect which appears deceptively as regularity, like life


Brenda’s approach to pattern is as a narrative, While Weston’s approach might be compared to that of the drummer, Brenda is the dancer who lays a linear story line over the background of the beat, one might say, a beatnik pattern maker, as the artists culture was called in her day.

Brenda is likely the creator of the tree pattern. Trees all tell a story of life, responsive to the rain, wind, sun, moon and stars, causing their branches to reach out in a way unique to each individual tree. The philosopher focuses on beingness while the narrator tells the events of an individual journey through time

My own childhood artwork can be identified by the wreaths I placed around the  characters. This is how I envisioned the world in my first philosophical conceptualization, as I sat, at the age of five, in the midst of an unmowed grassy field, most likely the first summer that we lived in Maine. I thought about myself as a circle, and my family as a larger circle, and the other people in the world as an even a larger circle.The whole world was the largest circle but it could blow itself up. That didn’t make sense and ruined the whole concept. I had going in my head.

If the figure in the center looks dismayed, that is why. That’s my generation, the first generation born into a world which could blow itself up. We had to practice hiding under our desks but we knew it was much worse than that. Other generations have since been born into the same world but the way of dealing with it changed and children in sub primary class no longer have to practice hiding under desks preparing for an atomic bomb attack. Now they have to prepare for other kinds of attacks coming from their most immediate circle,

My narration went off pattern, when I leaped from the immediate to the far, The atom, or that non-thing that we call atoms, takes a quantum leap when it goes from one orbit to the next. It doesn’t happen in conventionalized time and space. Within the nucleus within the nucleus within the nucleus, there is only consciousness.

That takes us deep into the process of creation, the essence of what makes us human. The process of creating a pattern is a process of consciousness, Creating a pattern is a state of being like chopping wood and carrying water and dancing around the room to the beat because there is no one to stop you from doing so in your own studio, and why small studios are in the Andersen Design master plan.

The eyes of the Emperor Penguin repeat the tear drops in stark black and white. Gray claws grip the base like a pronouncement of creaturehood. The sculpture has the mildly rough surface of a freshly sculpted piece cast in its first mold and the beat goes on.

Original Vintage Prototype Stein in Blue and White Stripes by Weston Neil Andersen

The Blue and white stein is
an Andersen classic. This stein is probably the original prototype. It is
signed on the bottom with a hand scripted “Andersen”, painted in blue
decorating color against a background circle glazed in white.

It is very rare to find the
signature on glazed background indicating that the work was created early on, before
the glazed background was dropped for production reasons. 

Before Weston designed the prototypes for individual pieces, he made many
sketches of a complete line of functional forms on any piece of paper handy,
including napkins from road side diners, This is likely the original prototype
of the stein because he wasn’t thinking about brand identity when he signed it
in simple script with his last name.


By the time Dad did the second
stein, shown with it in some pictures, the idea of a brand identity, complete
with a logo, began to evolve as Weston started to sign his work with “A”
instead of “Andersen” The way the signature on this stein is written in fluid
decorating color, makes it difficult to determine if the spelling is “Anderson”
or “Andersen”, but I interpret it to be “Anderson”. The changing of the
spelling from the Swedish spelling to the Danish spelling indicates the thought
process at work in developing a brand identity. Weston’s ancestors are Danish.
The decision to use the ancestral spelling of his last name is an integral
acknowledgement of who he is and how he came to be here in the grander scope of
human history.

The stein is shown with second stein made around the same time. The second
stein is signed with an “A’ on an unglazed background. In the early fifties
Andersen Design was called Ceramics by Anderson.


The year was actually 1952
The original prototype stein is perfect in form, representing the way that Weston intended it to
be produced. The cast is thin and the stein is taller than the second stein
shown with it. The difference in length has to do with a longer grinding process
used on the lip of the second stein so that it is not only shorter but it does
not flair out as much as in the original prototype.

                              Purchase this Rare Vintage Prototype Stein for your special collection





This stein is a product of a
moment in history and a perfect example of the prototypical form of the classic
Andersen Design Blue striped stein, all hand-made and decorated by, Weston Neil
Anderson.

Andersen Design is an American Designer Craftsmen Studio established by Weston
and Brenda Andersen in 1952 on Southport Island, Maine, USA. The studio was
started with a philosophy of creating hand crafted products affordable to the
middle class. Andersen Design remained an American made ceramic studio when
most of the western ceramic industry moved production to foreign labor markets
and competed successfully in a market flooded with foreign made imports,
producing a hand-made art product affordable to the middle class. Andersen
Design stands as a singular American original design company taking a unique
alternative path during an era of global transformation.



The Early Correspondences of Weston Neil Andersen

  • Thank You for supporting the Andersen Design Museum of American Designer Craftsmen with a donation

    1956 Statement by Weston Neil Andersen

    From the fall of' 1948 to the summer of 1952 I was a member of the staff of the Akron Art Institute as Supervisor of Education of the Art School. This project to be quite an undertaking and exciting too. In the school we had a well-equipped. ceramic laboratory and. I soon found myself fascinated with the material. In several years I decided I preferred" pottery making to teaching.

    1956 Statement explaining why Weston Neil Andersen, left an “exciting” career as Dean of the Akron Art Institute to start a ceramic art and design slip-cast production on the Coast of Maine.

     

    Weston Andersen 1964 letter Seeking Capital to grow business

    First page describes leaving the Akron Art Institute and embarking on a sales trip on the East Coast as the Andersen’s look for a suitable location for their ceramic slip casting endeavor

    The Andersen’s develop their line, expand their facility and deal with that “old bugaboo: insufficient capital” Weston discusses advantage of slip-casting for Maine Feldspar market.

    Page Three tells of the addition of the wild life sculpture line as a commercial success, the reorganizing of the production facility, during which time production was slowed. The subsequent addition of a larger staff

     

    Page four discusses working with an agent, entering the New York and Boston Gift show, and figures on sales .

    The 15000.00 dollars in capital that Weston was targeting in 1964 would be 119,819,05 today: https://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm

    1964 Letter Requesting Samples From Industrial Design Magazine

    A 1964 letter from Industrial Design magazine requesting samples of the Andersen’s work

    To date, I do not know if my father ever found the capital he was seeking. Hopefully we will find more records to piece together the story.

Honor Thy Father – Remembering Weston Neil Andersen


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Weston Neil Andersen was an American ceramic designer, craftsman and entrepreneur who in 1952, established Andersen Design Stoneware with his wife Brenda in the coast of Maine, USA, . He was also my father whom I loved and cared for and was cared for by during the latter years of his life. This is the story about the last five years in which he suffered from a brain injury. Weston was known throughout his life for his analytical mind, which was not affected by the brain injury but it compromised his ability to express his thoughts in complete sentences. During the last five years of his life, Weston spent many hours in deep reflection, seldom seeming to be bored. At times he would sleep for a very long time and when he awoke , he would say that he gotten a lot of work done. In mild weather, he spent many hours of the day sitting on the front porch taking in the natural surroundings and the community walking up and down the street which usually left him in a very good mood.

During his younger days, both Weston and his wife Brenda professed to be agnostics but both in their own unique ways came to accept the existence of God.

Brenda died in 1994.  Before her death, Brenda was in a coma for many hours with the family gathered around her. I was at a turn of holding her hand when suddenly I felt a spiraling motion swoop down. encompass and transport me into an open sky colored pink and filled with gold rimmed clouds. I felt an indescribably deep love and then just as suddenly l was back in the room and Brenda was conscious and calling for Weston. Brenda told Weston that she loved him, not words that came easily to her during her life and then she died.

Some will surely find the telling of this experience unbelievable but I can only testify to what happened as I experienced it, which seemed an experience in which there was no separation between my mother and myself as she/we were embraced by God’s love. My Mother’s encounter with death as revealed to me through the experience was as emotional as the way that she lived her life. As Dad used to say, she was always emoting. The visual imagery that I experienced was consistent with the Catholic background in which my mother was raised as a young English girl in London before and during World War II.

Weston & Brenda in the 1950’s – photograph by unknown

During the years after Brenda’s death and before Weston suffered macular degeneration which interfered with his ability to read, we shared many common reading interests uncommonly found in our larger community. Dad and I both read extensively in esoteric wisdom and quantum theory- which is to say the philosophy emergent from quantum physics, which does not prove the existence of God but which is consistent with the teaching of esoteric wisdom. Dad read Carlos Castaneda and I read Christian Hermeticism and we both read David Bohm’s Wholeness and the Implicate Order and The Non-Local Universe by Menas Kafatos and Robert Nadeau among many other books. When he could no longer read, Weston listened to the entirety of the New Testament on tape.

These three early wine decanters display Dad’s approach to ceramic design and glazes

Through out his life Dad was accustomed to seeing ghosts in our very old house in Maine. This did not frighten him, nor did he consider it to be anything unusual. The ghosts were as much a part of the natural world as any other phenomenon  He often spoke of the Sea Captain in the living room. Once he told me that the woman in the other room was very up set and that I needed to go that I needed to go and talk to her. I did so, although I could not see the woman.

Weston was a man of great intellectual and analytical capacity but with the brain injury limiting his ability to express his thoughts, his heart took on a stronger presence. He spent hours contemplating his life and often spoke of his wife, his mother, father, siblings and others he had known in his life. At his age he was aware that his days on this earth were numbered and it appeared to be that he was preparing himself for his own judgment day as he spent hours upon hours in contemplation of his life, past present and the future when he was gone.

 During the period after his brain injury, Weston relived his life chronologically and so we came to know him at many different stages of life As a boy.Weston lived on a chicken farm. One day, as an elderly man he suffered a seizure. When we entered the hospital we heard someone screaming  “Chicken” . It was Dad, who appeared to be reliving an early memory when he first realized that the chickens were destined to be killed. and was very upset by it.

When World War II broke out.Weston considered declaring conscientious objection but realized that if someone were trying to kill his family, he would kill them and so he enlisted. One day during his latter years he was in tears over a recollection of a man who had returned from the war missing his legs.

The morning that I took this picture of Weston, the expression on his  face was clear and innocent. I probably told him that he looked so handsome. Many of the caretakers who saw Dad over the years would say the same. At many times he had a engaging  and gentlemanly nature that charmed the people around him.

On other days he looked like this:

I am thinking thoughts too intense for words !

When my parents started their ceramics business in 1952, they did so on a shoe string budget and so they took their own photographs and published their own catalog
Years later I followed in their tradition designing our website and taking the photographs of the ceramic work. I set a makeshift studio up on the kitchen table where my father usually sat. 

In this picture Dad is sitting at the table on which my makeshift photography studio is being constructed. The bright sunlight comes streaming in through the window as father is sleeping in his chair.  Weston designed and constructed The kitchen table in the 1950’s when we first moved into the house and it became the center of many different activities.
This is a photo that I took  in one of the kitchen table photography sessions of of the ceramic Blue Jay designed by Weston,
This Portrait of an Eating Dick is the last sculpture that Dad created in his life time.

The bright afternoon light streams in the window interacting with the shadows and light of the makeshift photography studio on the kitchen table. Suddenly Dad became very animated and was in a verbal rhapsody describing the rhythms and forms in the display and counting them.

After Dad’s brain injury counting and the spelling of words took on particular significance, used for emphasis or explanation. If in pain, the word “ow” was spelled. Once when we called the paramedics because Dad had fallen out of bed, Dad explained everything to them by spelling the words as if spelling the words clarified the meaning, a curious phenomenon indeed. Spelling has to do with the ability to express thoughts to others involving the part of Dad’s brain, which never fully recovered. leading one to wonder if the actual process of thinking is primordial to the process of communicating in language. Did spelling take on such meaning because of its function as a tool of communication?


Despite the brain injury and despite the fact that cameras had changed dramatically in appearance since the days when Dad took photographs, he understood the process of taking pictures from within and without. Once, when the afternoon sunlight was particularly bright, he said “I hope you know what you are doing !” It amazed me that he grasped the process of taking a picture and how such a bright light might affect the results. In this picture he is smiling for the camera,  So sweet !

In the years after Brenda died, Dad worked on this sculpture. After his brain injury he spent time observing it. One day while sitting on the front porch as he often like to do, he turned to me and asked that I would make a sculpture of him.

Dad would become involved when I worked on a sculpture, turning it as I worked and always letting me know what he thought. Here he is touching some wax sculptures in the works.

Here Dad sits in the morning having his coffee. The mug on the table with the funky tear drop designs is a form created by Weston, who designed a series of original mugs and a large line of functional forms  in addition to a line of wild life sculptures.

The day Dad fell and injured his brain, he was working on a project to have the mugs produced for the commercial market. I have now taken over the project. This is one of my favorites. Dad hand scraffitoed the spiral on the mug himself. I have to figure out how to translate this decorative technique into a commercial process. I understand his thinking on this project, not just in terms of the mug but in terms of the evolution of our family ceramic business.

Two hand cast stoneware steines, one decorated by Brenda and the other decorated by Weston

 One day Dad was looking sad and said that he had nothing to do. A few weeks later he said, “There are three people here and so there a three musicians.” (This was said as a full sentence which was extremely rare.) I gathered up all the instruments I could find and we all played. Dad took to the keyboards. As a young man Dad’s mother had wanted him to learn to play the piano but he refused. He did not play in a learned way but he played with deliberation, He preferred to play when no one was around but we could hear him in the other room.

Throughout his life Weston enjoyed classical jazz. As a young adult he went to Chicago and New York and listened to the greats playing in small venues.

One day we put on Sade and he listened to her for several hours. He said it is very involved. We introduced him to Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan and Mazzy Star, He stayed up late into the night listening to trance like music of Mazzy Star over  and over again.

A few days before Dad died I was picking out the notes to Sweet Georgia Brown. I asked Dad if it sounded right and he looked at me and smiled his sweet smile,

During his life Dad was in the hospital on many occasions and we became accustomed to hearing the  lectures about how he may not make it this time around. The most convincing time was when he fell down and suffered the brain injury. The doctors said that what was good for the heart was bad for the brain and that Dad would never be off the breathing tube. That night as I drove from Portland to Boothbay with my nephew we both agreed that although Dad had had many miraculous recoveries this time it sounded much more challenging and then we both said at about the same time- But this is Weston! The next day Dad woke up and removed the breathing tube. By the time I returned to the hospital he was already walking around the place in his walker although he had a giant bruise on his head. The older doctor looked at the younger doctor and said “Forget your ever saw that MRI !”
In the days afterwards, while recovering from the brain injury Dad was speaking over and over again about system management. That is when it hit me how that Dad’s unique talents were as much about system management as about art and design. He was system managing his own brain recovery. He was also speaking a great deal about fishermen and fishing, It did not escape me, with the common interest I shared with my father in esoteric wisdom, that the fish is an ancient symbol of Christianity.

Dad survived that injury to live five more years, dying at the age of 93. Three days prior to his death he was sleeping deeply and as peacefully as I had ever seen him sleep. Around five in the morning of the day that he died, my sister checked on him and found him sleeping with a karge smile on his face. Dad often worried during his life time and I would tell him, you just have to have faith. I think he found that faith. He chose when to go. Of course I wanted him to stay longer but I have accepted the wisdom of his decision. People say the are sorry for our loss, which I appreciate, but I really do not feel a loss because I do not feel my father is gone, he just went on to another stage of his journey, like the ghosts he used to see in our house and consistent with the nature of time in quantum theory and esoteric wisdom, Dad is still very much with us. 

And still enjoying the view from our front porch.

Honoring The Father

Father’s
Day is June 16 This email is devoted  to honoring our father, Weston
Neil Andersen,  the founder of Andersen Studio and Andersen Design, 91
years old.

A youthful Weston Neil Andersen

Last night I sat with Dad alone on our front porch overlooking the pond
and he spoke of  concerns for his family and the future of the
business. Dad is a man who cares profoundly about others, both in the
sense of family, which is the deepest concern of all, and the terms of
community, as in an extension of family.  


I often throw tarot cards. The card most often representing Dad is the
Hermit Card , showing an old man on a mountain holding up a lantern.
Weston has wisdom, of the sort that one wonders  who will carry it on
after he is  gone. Today old values are slipping away like the Mists Of Avalon– 
a book I read many years ago about the transformation of culture as it
evolved from paganism to organized religion. These times are as
transformational and
Dad is now an icon of the past.


The Hermit card shows a man standing alone and independent on a
mountain with a lantern of shining light. Dad created an unusual
independence in the art business that he founded. It is a complex
business that in-sources just about everything from design to production
to marketing. As such the only outside authorities passing judgement on
the value of the work are our collectors and the market, and so we were
raised amid an  independence of art world institutional authorities but
with affirmation coming from our parents and the community with which
we interacted through the process of operating a business. Our
collectors identified the work produced by our studio as art in the many
correspondences that we received. Weston has long been recognized for
the work he achieved in ceramics and business but now wonders if what he
built will survive after he is gone. This is perpetually on his mind.
It is a business that came to birth through years of struggle and
devotion, which is unusual to come across today.

Weston Neil Andersen , der of Andersen Studioa nd Andersen Design Ceramics in the 1960'sDad
has always read a great deal. Before Dad had macular degeneration, we
shared an interest in quantum theory philosophers. One book that we both
found inspirational as as well as informational is The Non-Local Universe,
by Menas Kafatos and Robert Nadeau. The theme of the book is that of
wholeness existing in all parts and parts exisying in the whole,
illustrated by using the hologram as a metaphor.


Dad continued to listen to books on tapes after he could no longer read
but a few years ago he fell down on the pavement and suffered a  brain
injury. Then he stopped reading but he thinks all the time, sometimes
about his life and at other times about the future. Once he slept for
two days and when he woke up he told us that he had gotten a lot of work
done.

When Dad was in the first
stages of recovering from the brain injury, he was talking repeatedly
about “systems management”. That’s when I connected with the central
strength of his character. Many recognize our father for his talented
work in ceramic design but behind that- which made it all possible , is
my father’s incredible understanding of systems management-  an
understanding that involves the way that the whole is in the parts and
the parts are in the whole. As my father was recovering from the brain
injury, he was applying the same understanding to recovering his own
mind. 


The
Floating Gull is the first Nature Art created by Andersen Studio, The
slightly stylized work has a whispering geometric appeal with out losing
its natural quality


After the brain injury, Dad’s essential character remained the same but
his psyche was rearranged in an interesting and unusual way. I can no
longer engage in a discussion of the molecular make up of ceramic glazes
with Dad, a capacity which uses the intellectual capacity of the mind,
but in place of that has emerged an intellect of feelings. Dad expresses
his feelings with a childlike purity merged with a mature understanding
of life. His thoughts are often expressed cryptically. Language is
constructed in creative and original patterns. Sentences are short or
even partial. Dad will talk about a person but not identify who they are
although I can often probe to find out more. He often answers with
merely a nod for yes or no, sometimes speaks in sign language and at
times refuses to speak at all while at another moment can become quite
loquacious with a flow of thoughts which are  perceptive and
economically delivered. Weston Neil Andersen at 90

A
while ago Dad went with us to meeting with our lawyer We met in a room
in the Damariscotta Library. Dad walked in and announced “We can do a
lot for this community”. That’s the way Dad thinks. Before the meeting
was over he had switched places with the lawyer at the head of the
table. He made an emphatic point to the lawyer that he had married his
wife, with whom Weston  still remains deeply connected. 


This
time when Dad came home from rehab the very first words Dad had to say
are “We need to work with people we do not know” He is right of course.
We need a  organization with people of many different sorts of skills.
As a starting point we are looking for a business consultant who
understands licensing.

I keep an on going blog about our business at Andersen Studio KickStarter Diaries. I hope some will enjoy following it with interest.

Tufteitmouse by Mackenzie Andersen in wax 

                 Another view of the Tufted Titmouse Sculpture waiting  mold making process to commence.

Weston Neil Andersen- A Natural Wonder Of The World

This is Weston Neil Andersen, the father of
Andersen Studio Ceramics. This photo was taken a few months ago when Dad
was at Maine Midcoast Hospital. He recently returned from rehab,where
he was diagnosed as “in decline” as is the way things are trending in
health care for the elderly these days.. Dad caught a bad cold but it
was diagnosed as “swallowing troubles”, which we didn’t think true, and
as it turned out, we were right..When we brought Dad home, he could
hardly hold up his cup and he barely spoke and if he did it was in
partial thoughts.

But he has been getting better ever since
because what ailed him has common causes with common cures. It’s amazing
to see him improve. He now talks in complete sentences with complex
thoughts even though he suffered a brain injury about two and a half
years ago. His physical strength is getting stronger as well.

I
have long been aware that Dad reads my mind. I write blogs and engage in
internet discussion forums and even though Dad is not involved with
these activities, he  engages the ongoing train of thought.

So
today he looked at me and quite suddenly said “I know what you feel” and
I knew what he meant since I was feeling all the tension of being
engaged in the progress of this project, which is somewhat  like being
in limbo. One has to normalize but within a thirty day time span more or
less,which really isn’t normal at all.

So I sat down with Dad by
the fire because I knew he wanted to talk to me and he spoke about “it”
being involved with one’s whole life. Everything he said made sense
without specifically identifying the subject of the conversation. We
both knew what it was.

This process requires a lot of thought
control, doing things to get one’s mind off the project and then finding
one’s self promoting it like an involuntary activity that just occurs
on its own.

My plan is to work on a sculpture that has been lying
dormant for quite sometime in the wax stage, which comes after the
plasticine stage. My brother, Iain, delivered another sculpture that
needs some work. I placed  both sculptures on the kitchen table and Dad
became very involved with them. I have not seen him take such an
interest since his brain injury. He said of my brothers sculpture that
it had four sides. I asked if that was good and Dad shook his head no. I
understood what Dad meant. A sculpture should keep the eye moving
around it- not stopping the eye. It’s very exciting that Dad’s interest
in sculpture is returning for the first time since his brain injury. It
looks like Dad isn’t in decline.

Next Day: Today I opened a book I have of photographs of the Tufted Titmouse. Dad Said  “Don’t go by counting”  I said you mean “don’t go by the numbers”? Dad nodded his head. I said “you mean “Don’t go by the pictures ?” Dad nodded his head again.”You mean just go by feeling. Dad nodded again.

Interesting advice, which I am going to follow.

Ceramics Slipcasting: Art Meets Business As A Way Of Life

This is the current Introduction to our soon to be launched KickStarter project- still a Work in Progress

A Ceramic Slip-Casting Studio: An Art, A Business, A Philosophy and A Way of Life

by Susan Mackenzie Andersen
Andersen Studio’s Mold Making Kickstarter Project
is a foundational process  for kickstarting  our envisioned evolution
of a historical family run ceramic design and production studio,
established in mid-century by our esteemed parents, the twentieth
century ceramic designers, Weston and Brenda Andersen.  Our dream is to
pass on the creative lifestyle
and a living legacy in the form of the Great American Ceramic Designers
Craftsman Network built on our brand,
Andersen Studio- Andersen Design Stoneware established in 1952.

A page from Images of America showing Andersen Studio Andersen Design
in
the early 1950’s when we were known as Ceramics by Andersen.
Click to see
more.




Andersen Studio is a local historical landmark
on the Boothbay Peninsula on the coast of Maine. Our lines of wildlife
sculpture and functional design are established classics which the local people
and summer visitors began collecting in the mid-century days when Weston and Brenda
opened their first gallery in a 200 year old barn on Southport Island Maine.  Today there exist many collections that date back
to the 1950’s, handed down from one family generation to the next. We receive many
correspondence from art lovers who have rediscovered our work after many years
and connect with it as a icon from their own personal history

Weston Neil Andersen in 2012

Brenda died in 1994 and Weston is 90 years old, seemingly
with nine lives as the medical profession has told us  many times over
that Dad has barely a chance to survive  A few years ago Weston fell
down and suffered a serious brain injury. The prognosis was convincing
when we were told “multiple system failures, what is good for the heart
is bad for the brain, and that he would never be off the oxygen” –
convincing until Weston woke up and ripped off the oxygen mask. He lives
with us today in the house that he purchased in the fifties containing,
in addition to a home, the business that Weston built as part of the
architecture and life lived within it. The brain injury brings the heart
into focus and re-arranges time so that we have come to know our father
at many ages of his life. Weston’s mind is still very much on the
business as he made very clear, in his typical manner on a morning when I
greeted him as he was waking ,and  he said  “The whole thing would work
better on a larger scale”- and that is what we are hoping to achieve
with our Kickstarter project.

We have followed in our parents
footsteps in doing our own marketing. In the fifties that meant taking
black and white photos of the work and publishing a hand crafted
catalog. Today that means taking our own photos, creating our own
website and developing our own seo, while engaging the social networks.

We focused our online presence on our line of ceramic birds in order to
capture prime real estate on the Google search engine for the search
term “ceramic birds”. Once attained it is effortlessly maintained as
there is little competition for the depth of our line of ceramic birds
developed over the course of decades, and classically popular for all
those years.

We focused on our Ceramic Birds but we have several other lines such as our Marine Life Sculpture

However marketing is only one piece of the
picture. We are currently doing our production in the small studio
attached to our house which was intended to be our personal design
studio. We have put a temporary stop on active pursuit of  internet
marketing while it continues to grow organically. The marketability of
our line is solidly established but the internet demands instant
delivery. With such a large line being produced in such a small space
and with a minimal staff, we need to shift our focus to expanding our
production and order fulfillment capabilities- which is the first
plateau of the ultimate goal of  our KickStarter project. The project –
creating rubber master molds of  items offered as rewards, enabling
production molds to be easily made by anyone with a minimal amount of
training  – will facilitate the ability to transfer production to other
ceramic slip casters, once we have an adequate production facility where
we can train the skills and attract the talent that is uniquely suited
to carry Andersen Studio into the future as a living legacy.

Since Andersen Ceramics was born in the early fifties we have been committed to being an American made hand crafted product.

Today , due to our history and the unique path taken by our parents, Weston and Brenda Andersen
when they set out not only to design but also to produce their designs
in a hand crafted process and then added a line of wild life sculptures
to their line of functional forms, Andersen Design -Andersen Studio has
carved its own unique place in ceramic history. Our small company is in a unique
position to move into the limited editions market which opens up an
inspiring new creative direction and lucrative opportunities for our
company. our collaborators and our collectors.

Andersen’s classic Sea Urchin Bowl decorated as a one of a kind by Mackenzie Andersen

As a small family
business producing a product which became a collectible through a grass
roots movement we are ideally suited for Kickstarter and Kickstarter is
ideally suited for us. Our family would like to shepard what we have
built into the future to ensure that the values with which this business
is started are preserved. This includes not only the beautiful products
that we produce which are treasured by so many but as importantly,
preserving the living working process into the future. Andersen ceramics
does not fit neatly into any pre-existing mold. The creative process
blends the attributes of repetition and spontaneity. When functioning
optimally one side enhances the other. Thus along with our standard
production line – the basis of a successful wholesale business, we have
always been creating off beat variations along side the standard.
Sometimes this takes the form of glazing a bluebird green and at other
times it may manifest as cutting and pasting our forms together in
unexpected ways.

Cutting and Pasting in the midcentury- A collaboration by Weston and Brenda Andersen

The discipline of the repetitive work perfects the craft in a zen
like rhythm of productivity, while the playful latitude results in an
unexpected variation of a form which keeps the spirit and interest alive
in eager anticipation of opening the next kiln. This is a process that
one has to be immersed in to fully appreciate. Those looking from the
outside in do not necessarily perceive the value of an internalized
meaning in the work process itself. Andersen Stoneware is not your usual
corporate culture and so the Andersen family is grateful to the
opportunity that Kickstarter provides to capitalize a birth of a new era
for our company without giving up control and ownership in the process.
We could use some “corporate management” help in some areas- such as
office work, data management, order and delivery, but we feel the areas
of design and production need the personal attention of those who have
lived the process.

As a private enterprise, we cannot offer a tax
deduction for contributions to our fundraiser but we can offer art,
which has an intrinsic in-the-moment value to its collector as evidenced
in the many letters of appreciation which we have received over the
decades- and another “collectibles” value which may increase in value in
unexpected ways over time.

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