Tag Archives: pots

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.

Suspension of disbelief


1 minus 1Some of my experiments are in the kiln; I am yet to discover whether they come out as fine upstanding pots or a mortifying fifty fragments.  And I may say that it was pretty chilly loading the kiln this morning clad in slippers and a dressing gown (though the thermocouple is not very well calibrated for the low end of its temperature range).

This weekend I read:

2 tall shipsThis copy is from the third 1915 printing, an economical volume, bound in thin book cloth, roughly printed on cheap paper (now foxed and embrowned throughout), and what were its odds then of surviving a century of boys, dusty shelves and second hand stalls?  Yet here it is, being read once more.

The stories are all based around one fictional naval ship in the early months of World War I, when patriotism was fresh and Jutland no more than a premonition.  How difficult it is to re-cast oneself as a fourteen-year-old boy in 1915, even to decide if they found these innocent tales inspiring or risible. Did the first recipient hunker down in a quiet corner and devour the chapters in one sitting, or indite formal thanks to an aunt and then stuff the volume into a dark cupboard?  Indeed, although the context in which I acquired this suggests boys, I’m not completely sure what its target readership was:  some stories have female protagonists, though perhaps this was meant to enshrine Womanhood in the imagination of unregenerate youth.  Or were the books, as some reviews suggest, meant for adult civilians, to keep their spirits up?

A faint familiar whisper teased me as I read; though Patrick O’Brien was too good an author to copy direct, I have a personal bet that Bartimeus was on his reading list.