Sunday, February 13, 2011


John Bauman just had a post about inspiration and it got me thinking about things I do to keep myself inspired to keep making stuff.

One of the things that I have done for the last 30 years is a collaborative series of pots with my friend Lennie Kesl. In about 1980 Lennie and I were both teaching at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, and I asked him if he would like to decorate some pieces if I made them. He was thrilled and we thus started a body of work that has persisted all this time. We started out with stoneware and slips, progressed to stoneware with underglazes, white earthenware with underglazes, and finally to red earthenware with glazes, underglazes, slips, crystals and whatever else Lennie can put on there. This first one I call the Alien because it seems very strange to me, like it's from some other planet. The glazes and underglazes are built up, sometimes a half inch thick.

This one here is a bit crazier. It's about the size of a dinner plate. Both of these were done in 2004.

Finally this last one is kind of a takeoff on Pre Colombian ceramics. We really have fun with these and this one was one of the most fun. You can not see it here, but there is a face which is facing straight down, and one of the tripod legs comes right out of that face's third eye, as if a horn on a devil. Lennie is quite serious when he does these, and while the humor is there for all to see, Lennie is very serious about it all.

Lennie turns 84 in June. We are going to make some more things real soon.


Linda Starr said...

I'd love to see one of these in person to see that layering so thick and it doesn't pop off, amazingl wonderful collaboration.

John Tilton said...

Hi Linda,

Next time you come to Gainesville, come on by.


nick friedman said...

Seeing these plates brings back so many great memories of Gainesville, John. I always loved Lennie. People come into my shop all summer long and ask about the crazy sounding jazz singer coming out of the studio. "Oh, that's Lennie Kesl," I tell 'em. "Got a minute? Let me tell you about Lennie............."

John Tilton said...

Hey Nick,

Still singing, still partying -- He is incredible for 83. He just paints all day. I have tried to call him to schedule a session and he's gone to his studio by 8.30 am. No answering machine, no cell phone, no phone at studio, you just have to call him early. What energy.