Tag Archives: pottery

More for potters and the obsessively curious

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(and also rather pretty).  Click a thumbnail for the gallery.

This time we looked at the glazes on pots.  Tricky to get a focus and no reflections on curved surfaces.

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For potters and the obsessively curious

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(Don’t say you weren’t warned.)

I have turned my Christmas present on a few (fired) clay bodies.  Click a thumbnail for the gallery.

Turning out at night

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Out back to the garage in the dark and cold, playing a kind of loathsome hopscotch over grey slugs which slime about even in December.  As always I was longing for the heat in my face, the clean smell, and the sense of relief or exasperation, as it might happen to be.

Rather less like milk chocolate, and luckily the local clay hasn’t cracked. I’ve rushed these little plaques and the edges are rougher than they should be.  Must check them over and use a carborundum to take down anything notably savage.

These are a dull idea, redeemed because they retain the chaste quality of the parent porcelain, while a judicious quantity of toilet roll (infra dig!) added to the body makes them lighter and warmer to the touch.  They take a crisp impression, which may be useful for a more sophisticated future project.

I’m unsure what to do with the small pieces, though there are a few experiments ready to go.  But the pierced hearts have arrived just in time to save my bacon; it’s the Christmas tree festival this week, and until this hour had no idea what to do for the family tree.

Stocking up

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These mass productions are beach clay with added paper; they looked rather like milk chocolate in the morning light

which was unfortunate as it isn’t time to have chocolate for breakfast yet.

I am stocking up with beaches while the weather lasts.  This one is usually visited when heavy surf is running in; it felt odd that waves existed only as almost imperceptible blue streaks refracted round the lighter blue of the bay.

Out in the garage I loaded the kiln.  The temperature was plunging, and I could scarcely feel the small icy items as I lifted them in with equally icy hands.

Taking five minutes

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I’ve not been here for a long time, and in the interval the parking has been made pay-and-display, and the knobs on the railings, which used to be painted gold, are all black.

The sea, luckily, remained blue, and I watched for a while,

as it slopped white water casually onto the prom (and my waiting car).

 

 

 

Let’s ignore the annoying middle of the day.

 

 

 

Later, there was a fortuitous concurrence of images.

Hard done by

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I have to de-spider the door before walking through it, de-spider the ceiling before crossing under it, de-spider the table before working at it, de-spider the glaze buckets before opening them, de-spider the chair before sitting on it, de-spider the kettle before boiling it, de-spider the pots before glazing them, de-spider the towel before drying my hands, and de-spider the kiln before packing it.

Now there are a few glazed pots to go in, and I am a grumpy bundle of arachnophobical twitches.

Saving the worst for last

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Not that I originally had any idea how annoying it would be.

One batch of beach clay was a rich, dark, intense orange-red, slightly gritty, and I soaked it for a long time to get the smoothest consistency possible.  Turns out that it is a pig of a clay – staining everything it touches, sticky and lumpy at the same time, and almost impossible to wedge up, as it goes from a glutinous unhandleable mess to a dense resistant lump with no apparent intermediate stage.  Of course, it absolutely did not want to be thrown; and after one attempt I damped it down (making it glutinously unhandleable again) and added some fine sand in an attempt to open the body a little.  This had no practical effect when the clay firmed up again (perhaps not enough sand) and it reverted to being a heavy, dense, entirely un-plastic clod.

Naturally I am far too obstinate just to chuck it out – having carried it three-quarters of a mile off the beach – so the intransigent clay and I sat to the wheel and beat one another into submission.  The throwing slurry is an even brighter colour than the clay, so I ended up red in tooth and claw, and the conservatory looked as if a massacre had taken place.

I can scarcely bear to think of the turning and drying and firing processes still to come; surely these pots won’t survive.

My forearms hurt.  Time for a nice little lie down.

Flat chickens

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I’ve trained them too well:  every time I walk out into the garden they rush under my feet, looking for breadcrumbs.  So far I have managed not to stand on them (much).

You would think I had stamped them all flat when they are lying in their favourite dirt bath, squashed down, spread out, heads extended at bizarre angles, feathers cocked inside out, feet projecting improbably, squirming their wings as if dismembered.  In fact, of course, they are just superbly relaxed.

I was not as relaxed as they were, having undertaken a maddening hunt for a pin.  I’m careful with pottery tools, but I’m always losing pins.  After half an hour looking in every drawer and receptacle, likely or unlikely, I found a brand new one.  Where the others have gone, who can tell?

Today was the start of one final collection of beach clay pots, from six or seven different small batches of clay, hoping for some good colour variations after firing.  Then I’m going to call a halt – at least until I have grown some new skin on my fingers and the palms of my hands.  Exfoliation?  Ow!