BB: And then there was the compression testing.
Clayton: Yeah our biggest deal. That was even a bigger deal.
RW: I’m glad you brought that up because it’s mentioned on your website. So what is this compression testing.
Clayton: It was a collaboration between Jack Dollhausen and me. The theory was that you could find a component of the aesthetics of a pot by crushing it in a machine and calibrating compression strength. So Jack built a machine and I came up with the valuable pots that we were going to test, like a blue and white Chinese vase or a Greek, red-figured vase. We had a whole list of things including a Gilhooly frog and a piece by Richard Shaw. This was for a convention of ceramic scholars and students and teachers. We had an armed guard who brought in each of the specimens. It turned out that no museums would give us any.
BB: They wrote many museums, and the museums wrote back.
Clayton: Part of the documentation was getting the refusals from the museums. Anyway we made fakes that looked pretty realistic and we had an armed guard in a uniform who would bring them in one at a time. Then we would crush them. It turned out that the contemporary works by Gilhooly and Melchert were inferior to the old ones [laughter]. That’s the conclusion we came to. But mostly it was a spectacle of breaking all these valuable pots.
RW: That’s great.
Clayton: It involved making a whole lot of beautiful pots. Some of my students did most of it. We made them all for a 45-minute demonstration. But we had 2,000 people in the audience. It was good.
Clayton Bailey passed away June 6, 2020
See the whole conversation at: https://www.conversations.org/story.php?sid=328
The Bailey Art Museum is closed.
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