Forrest & John inspecting work fresh out of the kiln!The story starts with a visit to Schaller Gallery in St. Joseph, MI. We were leaving my hometown in west Michigan and headed to Detroit to spend the night with my sister. We had been trying to make a stop to see the gallery for a while and we decided it was the perfect time. So we took the scenic route down to St. Joseph. It was a pleasant visit with Anthony that ended in a Birdie Boone purchase and a surprise wedding present!
Anthony facilitated a visit to John Glick's studio the following day. We had a wonderful visit with John and his studio assistant Julia Walther. John had spent a large portion of his career as a studio potter suffering from Sciatica. He has devised a setup for throwing standing up. He uses a modified Soldner professional model wheel with leg extensions. He designed a back brace that is attached to the wall. The brace can move up and down to adjust for people of different heights. He wrote two helpful articles in Studio Potter published in 1987/2001. To Sciatica and Back, and From Herniation to Rupture Down the Spinal Canal. You can access them through his website or www.studiopotter.org. They are both quick but informative reads. If you are one of the many with pain anywhere in your body it is a helpful read to guide you through rethinking the physical demand of your studio practice.
John with his wheel and back brace.I was interested to see John's system in person and to stand against the back brace. What I found most interesting is that the brace is actually two pieces one that fits into your upper lumbar and another at the buttocks/sacrum. This forces you to have a proper upright posture. Thankfully I do not have Sciatica by the sounds of it, it is excruciatingly painful. But I do have arthritis and I am always trying to reduce the stress on my body. I have moved my wheel to a standing position but I have not built the back brace, that will come soon! I have noticed though after a throwing session that my feet hurt and they ache for days. I have a standing pad below but it might not be enough support. I guess we are always playing a game of give and take.
In his first article in To Sciatica and Back, John says "If I could give a lasting gift to all potters it would not be a wonderful glaze formula or a new tool. Instead I would give the gift of awareness about the wise use of our bodies." Thank you John, I appreciate your gift and I will take it with me and I hope those of you reading this will take time to read John's articles and think about your body as it relates to your studio practice.
The glaze lab where all the buckets are raised off the ground.Thanks for reading,
-Forrest & Jeni
View John's work at www.johnglick.com