new year, new pots

pots in the workshopI’m back in the workshop after my textile Christmas, starting with making to replace stock sold.
I’ve also made a dozen bowls, for a commission. set of bowlsThey are to be a present, bowls to be used every day, for soups or puddings: practical, yet still special. The great thing with high-fired porcelain is that they are practical: tough and dishwasher-safe.
With bone china, like Spode or Wedgwood, the decoration is in a layer on the top of the glaze, so it can fade or wear over time. set of bowlsWith my porcelain, the colour and texture are an intrinsic part of the pot. I haven’t tested mine longer than five years – that’s how long I’ve been making these variants. But in China, you can find shards of porcelain underfoot, in old kiln-sites. Made just like mine, with similar body and glaze composition, but hundreds of years ago, they still look as fresh, clear, blue as ever.
The cold weather makes working with clay difficult: mostly because it’s hard to predict drying times. Greek Vase When I was first in my workshop, thrown pots would go mouldy, instead of drying. Even with insulation, and a bit more heat, I sometimes come in after the weekend and the pots are still too soft.
In 8th Century Greece, there was a fashion for having large ceramic urns as markers on graves. But they were only made in the summer: the potteries closed in the winter. I used think – what wimps – but I can see why now! Heating would be expensive then, as now: in Crete, at from the Bronze Age on, they were so short of wood that they would often use olive waste to fire kilns. The few unburned pips are good for carbon dating, luckily for us.
writing practicewriting practiceAt this time of year, I try and develop new work, for submission to the Eisteddfod in Wales. This year, I’m using the famous Welsh poem Yr Wylan, The Seagull, as the basis of the work. I’ll be wiring some key words on the pots, using a few different techniques. More to come on this.
I also visited a really interesting exhibiton, currently on at Peckham Platform. Called The Subject Index, the artist Anna Best has extracted key items from the Southwark Local History Library and Archive, and rearranged them in a new ontology. The opening included the most rousing talk about the importance of everyone contributing to local archives, that I have ever heard, by Steven Potter, librarian at the archive. It made me want to write my own history down, as well as read others’. Amazing.


2 responses to “new year, new pots

  1. I’m struggling to get going too Carys. My workshop is sub zero. I’m wishing I put in more insulation, but it would be boiling in summer. Hmmm. I can only throw for about two hours before my hands hurt too much. Not good. Will just have to keep on sketching inside instead. Roll on spring.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not sure which gets colder, glaze or clay! At least wedging warms me up. I do put a dollop of boiling water from the kettle into my throwing water though. I keep forgetting to drain off some water from glazes, so I can top up with warm. I do recommend mixing glaze wth warm water (Kettle again), I think they mix more easily as well.
    Good to do sketching though. I hope, somewhere warm…


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