12 June 2008

Another Minute of Fame

Andy Warhol's quip about 15 minutes of fame comes to mind every time I see my name in print. My own 15 minutes seems to take the form of 10 seconds here, a minute and a half there. In November of 1994, I managed to track down and post the portion of the US Armed Forces Military Chaplain's Manual of Religious Requirements and Practices that pertained to the practice of Wicca; Witchcraft. For a number of years, probably until the relevant materials were revised in 2001, I would occasionally run into someone who knew my name in association with that document. I met several people who had used the document to support their religious freedom in custody hearings and anti-discrimination suits and who said that it made a real difference for them. At this point, it takes a bit of digging in a search engine to connect those dots and it's not something that I bring up on a regular basis.

My fame in the field of ceramics is based on a bit more history. Whether it's posts on the CLAYART email list, links to the handbuilding lessons that I wrote and posted on my website, ceramic beadmaking techniques and firing information, the article that I wrote for Pottery Making Illustrated, or the tips that I've submitted to Ceramics Monthly, I have a reasonably high profile.

I'm contacted frequently by people who are interested in using my written materials in one way or another. I've received email from teachers in Europe, South-east Asia, South America and throughout North America asking for permission to use the handbuilding lessons in schools, rehab facilities, prisons, community centers and home school environments. I'm thrilled to know how people will be using these lessons and to know that the material is out there helping people. I almost universally approve the use of the lessons for teaching purposes and have only ever denied someone who wanted to combine them with other materials for sale on a CD-rom.

That article from Pottery Making Illustrated, on the other hand, has been reprinted by the American Ceramic Society in the book Pottery Making Techniques: A Pottery Making Illustrated Handbook and again on their website as part of their Ceramics Daily Feature. These reprints have come as surprises to me and as such I have mixed feelings. I found out about the book because I saw it at NCECA the spring following its publication. I found out about the Ceramics Daily reprint because it popped up in a google alert. (As an artist, I have several search notifiers set up so that I'm notified when new information about me is archived in Google's search database.) Sure, the reprints are good and keeping that information in front of people can only help my name recognition, etc. On the other hand, it would be nice if a publisher were kind enough to contact the authors whose work they were reprinting and let them know what's going on. Afterall, I feel like a complete idiot when someone says, "Congratulations, I saw your ______ on the web." and my response is "Huh?!?! Where? When? Are you sure?"

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