In Remembrance: Warren MacKenzie
(born February 16,1924 - December 31, 2018)
Warren passed away peacefully at the age of 94. Warren will be remembered for enriching the lives of many with handmade pieces of pottery, passing on knowledge to new potters, and inspiring people to artistically express themselves.
In his 65 years as a potter, Warren brightened the tables of generations. Since the 1950's his plates, cups, and serving bowls have made meals into special occasions. Perhaps it was a new guest who asked about the Warren serving bowl, leading to a conversation that brought everyone at the table just a bit closer. Or maybe it was a Warren platter that Grandma loved to serve from. The use of a bowl made by a human instead of a machine brought a level of appreciation to each meal. There is something enriching about eating or drinking from a piece of pottery that someone created for you and is full of memories.
Warren's artistry earned great acclaim and he was recognized by galleries and museums. But his love for making utilitarian pieces never stopped. He truly loved being a "mud man" and he loved making pots from which someone would drink tea or wine or even a splash of bourbon. Even as he made utilitarian pieces, they were never without expression and his gesture is evident in every piece he made.
His contribution to society did not stop there. His ability to stoke the fires of potters to go out and start their own pottery is most apparent in the Minnesota area. His willingness to share his knowledge, his studio, or even his home with other aspiring potters will become his legacy. The area has become known as Mingei-Sota, a tip of the hat to the Mingei art of Japan that inspired Warren.
America has lost a great Master Potter and American Treasure, but we have gained a legacy of pottery that will continue for generations.
Warren was a mud man. He enjoyed making pieces. Though he studied art and was an accomplished artist with ink, paint, and lithographs, he never enjoyed decorating pottery with the brush. Alix was the decorator, but when she passed Warren had to learn to overcome the brush. He learned to decorate pottery by using a combination of implements to Paddle, Strike, Distort, sgraffito or alter the shape with flutes and facets.
CLAY - Warren typically used stoneware, which he varied through the years. He mixed his own through 2002. He used porcelain on and off, but ultimately, he preferred either stoneware or a mixture of stoneware and porcelain.
SHAPE - Warren threw on the wheel and as such, most items were round. However, he would then take a round piece and withe tools or hands either square a piece (fluting or paddling), triangulate a piece (typically the belly would be triangular, but foot and lip remain round).
GLAZE- Warren employed shino (more than one formula), matte gray, matte brown, tenmoku, salt glaze, yellow ash, dark green, dark blue, white, hakeme, kaki, soda pop green, amber, and celadon glazes, alone or in combination, in order to decorate pieces.
DECORATION - Warren used the following methods to decorate his pieces. He may paddle to add texture or surface decoration. He loved to facet/flute a round piece in order to alter the roundness. The use of implements to strike or otherwise distort was a favorite. Finally, the use glazes as layers/dimensions/decoration,