In graduate school, my experiment involved melting glasses made of fly ash in silica crucibles in a six-burner, gas-fired Remy furnace. It was great — fire, heat, the white-orange glow of a furnace at temperature, the final burst of flame from bleeding the gas lines. Making glass was very satisfying.
Every now and then, though, the furnace got too hot for the glass composition. I’d open up the furnace to grab a crucible for quenching and instead find a slumped freeform shape with glass flowing out like lava and foamy slag gurgling up and over the sides.
Our field of engineering is unique. Our medium — ceramics — has intrinsically common ground for science and art. Just enough of our technical ceramics world overlaps with the art ceramics world that we can appreciate artisans’ mastery of form, dimension, composition, color and technique.
The American Ceramic Society is very active in the art ceramics community through its affiliated Ceramic Publications Company. CPC publishes Ceramics Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated and produces the Ceramic Arts Daily blog, and just last week CPC introduced the Society’s first app: Daily Clay. It is currently available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
The app offers seven images per week (one per day, on a rolling basis) and users can save images in their favorites library in order to keep them beyond that seven days. They also can add notes to store with saved images, share images via social networking and sort their favorites by category. The free version allows up to 20 favorites, while the full version (US$2.99) offers unlimited favorites. The images are selected by the editors of Ceramics Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated, and its website, Ceramic Arts Daily.
Sherman Hall, managing director of CPC explained how the app was born.
Our intent with Daily Clay was to make an app for ceramic artists that was useful in the studio, in the classroom — really wherever a customer happened to be — and to satisfy a market need in a way that other media can’t. In surveys of our current audience for preferred content, the type of content that scored highest was (not surprisingly) images of finished ceramic art. As it turns out, we have a lot of those, so it became a matter of structuring the delivery package and coming up with the proper depth of functionality (sorting by type of work, links to further info, social sharing, etc.).
Even with virtually no formal publicity, Daily Clay has been downloaded more than 2,000 times in its first week in the iTunes App Store. An official launch is planned for the second week of April (after the launch of a completely redesigned Ceramic Arts Daily website). Hall says, “One major launch at a time is all we can handle!”
He is expects the app to be well received. “Our surveys also suggest that our current Ceramic Arts Daily audience of 100,000+ registered users should include at least 25,000 iPhone and iPad owners, so we’ll be looking for that download number to jump significantly in the near future. “
For us tech-types the app is a nice way for us to admire the beauty of our favorite material and the skill of the artists who create them.
The app is available through iTunes.