Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Black as Carbon Trapped

Have you ever seen a B&W photo and then found out that it was actually a color photo?  

That happened to me when I was scrolling through an etsy search.  Not many product photos are B&W, for a good reason.  B&W is more artistic than descriptive.  The product photo is the first and most important selling tool, and color is an important selling point.  I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before in this blog how I sometimes try to add eye-catching color to my photos.  If the point is to catch attention, you want the searcher's brain to say "Wait a minute, let me take a closer or longer look at this."  That's the only way a seller has a chance in a sea of product photos on the internet.  


So, I'm looking through an etsy search and here's a B&W photo - I thought.  I marveled that Ray Morales had posted a B&W product photo, I wondered what color his cup really was, and I clicked to read the description.   

It was a huge surprise to me to realize what I had actually been looking at.  Ray explained in his description that he had applied a pale teal celadon glaze, but that he reduced early in the firing process and the celadon glaze unexpectedly trapped a lot of carbon, giving the cup a rich black exterior surface!

Then, setting my mind straight, I saw another photo where a blue interior peeked out at me, surrounded by a "B&W" exterior.  I was in awe.  It was almost like it was photoshopped. 

I have to admit that since I played with shino back in college - back when shino was considered an exotic glaze - I learned an awful lot about how to fire a gas reduction kiln, about flame paths and atmosphere all because I wanted to figure out how to trap the maximum amount of carbon in the best possible way.  So, I'm a real sucker for carbon trapping.   


If Ray had not included the information about carbon trapping in his description, I probably would have just moved on to the next thing that caught my eye.  He had a great product - so great that I bought it! - but the photo and the description worked together to bring me around to understanding what I was looking at.  I keep trying to analyze what it takes on the part of the buyer and the part of the seller to make an e-commerce sale of pottery.  In this case it was seeing a photo that kept me from skimming past it, even though in this case it was for a reason I wasn't expecting, and a description that connected with my own experience and interest. 


Now that I have it in hand, I can tell you the cup's beauty is more than skin deep!  It is thin and lightweight, "delicate" enough to be a lady's teacup if it only had a handle and saucer, and small enough to tuck intimately into the palm of my hand.  The lip is soft and rounded, feeling very pleasant when I drink from it.  

I have had my eye on Ray Morales' work for quite a while, waiting for that "tipping point" that would connect me with the cup that would make it into my collection.  I never would have expected that what I was waiting for would turn out to be a case of mistaken identity. 


  1. This blog post is a great compliment to my work. I really appreciate the thoughtful description and compliments. I'm especially liking your picture holding the cup. I always wonder about the afterlife of my work and this is a beautiful recap.
    Thank you.