If all of my digging through ceramics magazines has taught me anything.... it's that they don't make ceramics world fuckery like they used to. Back in the '70s, ceramic artists may have been a bunch of cavemen who tended toward misogyny (and perhaps alcoholism), but they had a sense of humor, dammit! At some point, I'll cover some of Clayton Bailey's wacky performances at clay world events, but I think I might have just discovered my favorite conceptual ceramics piece of all time.
I was totally excited to get an email from Rimas VisGirda, a legendary ceramic artist (who I'm certainly not accusing of being a drunk misogynistic ceramic caveman). He saw one of my previous posts on Ceramics Monthly ads featuring mustachioed gentlemen throwing gigantic pots, and clued me into his "Captain Ceramics" project, which started in 1977.
From what I've been able to glean from Rimas and a brief Ceramics Monthly article, Captain Ceramics was Rimas' alter ego--the helm of a massive '70s ceramic enterprise that set its sights on crushing every other hobby-world ceramics business on the face of the planet. '70s ceramics ads were heavy on pretty ladies and machismo (and for the most part, they still do). The above postcard image shows the patented "Captain Ceramic" splashguard, which was guaranteed to keep dirty ol' clay off one's go-go boots or fishnet stockings.
The piece de resistance was a potter's wheel called the X-1 that was powered by a 300-horsepower V-8 engine from a 1965 Oldsmobile (pictured at the top of this post). The X-1 wasn't their only potter's wheel innovation--they also sold a wheel they claimed was the world's "least powerful". The "Home Hobby Potter's Wheel" was a portable metal plate and spindle that was powered by a pull-string.
Captain Ceramics also carried specialty products like pre-centered balls of clay and pre-thrown cylinders for the lazy (or simply wheel-challenged like me) people. I've started to see some young folks out there who are creating ceramic performance pieces. This is incredibly exciting--but I challenge them to push themselves to ever-crazier feats of ceramic weirdness. They have a long way to go before they can go toe-to-toe with Captain Ceramics.
Stay tuned! I'm hoping I can have some more Captain Ceramics surprises for you in the coming weeks!