I have been thinking a lot about my recent conundrum: (do I think) That Josiah Wedgewood devalued pottery? (see this post)
Josiah Wedgwood use to work as a ‘thrower’ but an attack of smallpox meant he had to have his leg amputated. This mean’t he couldn’t work the machine he used as a ‘thrower’; he instead got more involved with the craft itself, the designs and the modelling. He started to experiment with clay mixes which made more durable crockery. His Etruria factory had a village attached to it where his workmen could live with their families. His interest in science and technology brought about new production methods as well as glazes which furthered strengthened his pottery.
Let’s also not forget, his interest in selling all this high-tech pottery brought about the construction of the canal system too!
His motivation was to make more money selling pottery that he couldn’t make himself anymore. So he did his research, made some discoveries and employed people to make his super durable, super glazed pottery. He did an awful lot of good for the industry yes, in fact he practically created it. Thats the thing though – HE created it all.
What if…he had applied his discoveries to the craft of pottery rather than to himself. What if he showed the craftsmen how to mix their clay and glaze their pots better. What if he had built the canal system with the intention of letting the potters sell their wares to bigger markets?
He would still have thought BIG but just applied it differently. Applied his ideas to the craft rather than applying the craft to his ideas. His thinking could have strengthened the craft of pottery – rather than (perhaps) diluting it.