Tag Archives: pots



The beach clay pots are in progress, and I am trying to possess myself in patience and retard their drying to a suitable slowness.  This is difficult, as they are completely in the way, all over the kitchen – the conservatory would risk them drying too fast, or unevenly if the sun caught them on one side.

Some of them have cracked anyway, but on this occasion I don’t think it is my lack of patience.  The three are all made from the same batch of yellowish-grey clay, which is a 100% failure rate for this particular clay body.  Lucky it wasn’t one of the larger batches.  I shall not recycle the clay and try again; if it won’t do a slow dry without cracking, I can’t imagine it firing successfully either.

I’ve had some odd things posted to me by various nearests and dearests; this has to be one of the oddest.

Creaking slightly


and not feeling creatively adventurous.  I’ve used up nearly all the algae-encrusted, dried-out or slimy remnants at the bottom of plastic sacks, though, which is a sort of achievement.

The mugs and jugs are bog-standard stoneware and I hope their simple shapes will show off my favourite green glaze with its dark tan colour break.  Fingers crossed.  The main practical problem at the moment is to slow down the drying, as the conservatory temperature is peaking at about 85° in the shade.  So the kitchen table is now fully occupied with slightly whiffy clay, outgassing slowly.

Nothing much to be said either for the basic flowerpots made with the local clay from the beach.  Since I don’t know if they will fire successfully, I’m not going to invest a lot of time in each piece.  I’m guessing that holes at the bottom and in the rims may weaken their structure and crack the pots, but we’ll soon see.

Creak creak.



It’s fun to watch the young blackbirds bathing; not as funny as the blue tits, however, which are so tiny they are up to their necks when they get in.  Look at me swimming … glug …

Not much throwing lately; time to rectify this, but all spaces in this house have to multi-task, so first I had to remove from the wheel about forty agastache, bergamot and aquilegia seedlings, a tray of pricked-out snapdragons, an ounce or so of escaped potting compost, and some curly lettuce.  (Obviously didn’t move them far enough, as I then trod in the lettuce.  Never mind, they were annoying anyway.)

Some of the beach clay I collected last time was so fine it seemed worth trying to throw with it – most of the beach clays go for hand-building, as the coarse texture would sandpaper your fingers if it was whizzing on the wheel.  This fine one is very unspringy, and, being out of practice, the first thing I made was a splot, and another effort was destroyed by an undetected small stone in the clay ball.  However, there are now a few grey basics sitting on the side to play with and decorate later.  I’ve no idea how this will fire.

Then it was time to exercise my civic responsibilities.  Many compatriots will understand when I say that I came home with a large chocolate bar, and feeling glum.

I wonder if coloured paper and scissors and glue will make things better … and tea in a proper cup and saucer … and space opera?

Definitely space opera.

Thou foster child of silence and slow time


Salisbury was cool and grey.  (Click a thumbnail for the gallery)

And then it was the business of the day.  And yes – it went well.



… but muddy anyway.

A newish plant I know as Joseph’s Coat (but may not be) has put on new growth and is flowering.  I hope that means it likes its corner here by the window.


In the damp cold of the conservatory this little cyclamen is shedding lavish fragrance.  Why on earth don’t I have more?


This ravaged item looks sad – most of it has been harvested


along with other plants to do a propagation thing.  Some have taken already, and some are thinking about it.


Then I started sowing.  These are perennials, which may or may not flower for the first time this year, if I can get them an early start in their improvised propagator.


And then to get properly muddy with the remains of the paper clay I made using beach clay.  I’ve not tried to throw with it before, and it feels very soft and temperamental compared with the commercial unpapered stoneware clay which I usually use for thrown pots. Also found a few small stones as I threw – not a great idea either for the pot or the fingers.  Unfortunately to avoid this I would have to reduce the raw clay to a slop, push it through a fine sieve, and spend ages waiting for the slop to dry after that. I’m too lazy. Today’s focus was on making small funny shapes to test to destruction.


Marginally kippered


Raining raining raining (and on).

Mud pies are the first remedy.  I’m experimenting with paper clay, so I tried some hand-building.


Since I fully intend to abuse these pots in all sorts of ways until I’ve tested them to destruction, I’m not bothering with niceties like getting their curves symmetrical.  They are ponderous for their size, and, perhaps because it’s Sunday, and I’m half expecting this pot to explode at some point, I couldn’t help thinking of it as the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, à la Pythons.


After mud pies, setting fire to stuff is a good thing to do, so I tried a miniature barrel smoke-firing with some biscuit fired gash pots.  As the house is luckily in possession of a chimney, I could do this without annoying the neighbours or going out in the rain 🙂


I was aiming for a quick cool burn so as not to crack the pots, and that sort of worked.  Without a draft into the materials, the combustion is brief and incomplete.  I could make holes in the sides of the bucket or invest in a small incinerator if I want to get a thorough burn, but then again I do want smoke rather than hot intense flame.


Some interesting marks; and a lot of work to do before I get the process under any sort of control.  Still – proof of concept.


String. I knew I should want string.


Which was fortunate as I put a piece in my case and could thus make a ventilator with the bedroom chair.

Heat and crowds; but I escaped three times:

once to admire a large complex hole in the ground, walking, rustling, among tall dry stems of wild asparagus

secondly standing on a windy rampart, looking on one side over a thirsty and contradictory landscape, and on the other into a secret, green, formal space laid deep between two circumvallations

and thirdly on a platform where an almost purple deepwater swell burst steadily into the joints and frailties of the stone.

10th November:  gallery



The current fad is for twiddle muffs.  The local hospital is appealing for some, to comfort the restless hands of patients with dementia, so I thought I would try one.  I hope they do work for the patients.

1 twiddling

I can no longer sit down in the conservatory.  Every surface is full of seedlings, and now the recliner is filled up as well.  I was using up old seeds and thought the germination rate would be down, so I sowed an excess.  I think every seed must have germinated … especially the radicchio.

2 not sitting

The latest firing produced the second round of lace pots and porcelain bud vases.  One of the lace planters slithered through my hands, fell, and struck the concrete with a sounding clang.  Bizarrely, it then bounced, and was neither marked nor cracked.  That high fired stoneware delivers value sometimes.

3 tough

This vase looks like a teeny tiny cooling tower:

4 power station

A classic May bank holiday weekend


So, what to do with it?

1   Watch the squalls come over.  This one had hail and a small tempest inside.


2   Take your coat off and toast in the sun.  Once, anyway. For half an hour.

3   Cut the grass, whining and complaining throughout.

4   Do a lot more rolling out.

5   Get some small benefit for having once suffered geometry.


6   Stack the kiln.  As it heated, I thought I heard an odd noise … as of inadequate joints suddenly letting go.

7   Measure out exactly one gram.  The display of my new toy puzzled me by changing randomly:  turned out it was my breath on the weighing tray.

one gram

8  Stir and sieve until too cold to bear it any more.

9   Watch Shakespeare.  I’m still waiting for a production of Henry V which doesn’t fudge the hypocrisy and self-deception which I personally think that Shakespeare sneaked into his portrait of our favourite monarch.

10   It was, however, a mistake to watch Shakespeare, cook tonight’s dinner and tomorrow’s dinner, and hand-wash my best jumpers, all at the same time.

Above all, however, stay home.  The tangle of motorbikes, cyclists and tourists on the road was perfectly horrible.