On potting


One from the book rummage:  published in 1976, and transcribing recorded interviews with studio potters of that time.


The potters’ comments range from the bluntly practical, through poetic, to posy.  Favourites:-

Sven Bayer describes what it is like to look into his wood-fired climbing kiln during a firing: “Then, when it is really burning well and getting enough oxygen, the temperature rises and suddenly the whole thing clears up with very ghostly whisps of turquoise, blue and white.”

Alan Caiger-Smith on the problem of customer commissions:  “… people may ask for painted plates, when we know very well that certain kinds of painting are likely to get confused with sausages, gravy or bacon, and people might try to get their forks into the brush strokes.”

Ian Godfrey on his working life:  “Apart from the fact that it is complete agony some of the time, the making of pots is a wonderful way of being employed.”

Bryan Newman on failing to realise his dreams:  “… the thing I feel missing from my life is a tile panel a hundred feet high …”

Peter Starkey on fulfilment:  “As a child, I was always in trouble for lighting fires; now I can indulge myself entirely.”

Yeap Po Chap on finding a vocation:  “I … was a useless human being until I discovered clay about fourteen years ago.”

I was also very taken with Elizabeth Fritsch’s description of using decoration to create work in two-and-a-half dimensions.

But some sort of prize has to go to Alan Barrett-Danes commenting on his ceramic cabbages with faces:  “When I made eyes that were bleeding, it all became too obvious. … What I am going to do now I have no idea.  I have said all I can say through the cabbage-heads …”

(It might be the booby prize though.)


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