Saturday, 24 September 2011

Did you carve it?

It's a hard life, I just knew that this was going to be one of those events. The Melbourne Festival and Arts Trail is always interesting, Artists are put into all sorts of venues, ranging from peoples homes, Estate agents, Church Halls even the Undertakers. We were in the Catholic Church Hall and as I had been down to demonstrate making on the stand, we set up on Friday. The stand looked good, and Laura had done the business with the flowers, and the clay and few tools I need and use were at the ready.
I had hardly begun on a large jar when the first visitors arrived and having fielded the first questions about throwing. ( I get a lot of that )! Someone asked if the bottles were hollow, were they carved and how did you get the clay out of the middle. To complicate things the concept of spending a day or so making something and then putting it in a kiln and taking it to temperatures five times more than a domestic oven proved too much and the poor soul retired looking even more confused.

By Sunday the pressure was beginning to tell and a walk round to look at some of the other Artists, restored my belief in what I do and there was a final push to finish off the rather large vessel. I was still getting asked if the pots on display were thrown, even though the rather large sign says Handbuilt, Coiled Pottery and a large three quarters finished coil pot sits there in front with me rolling clay for Britain.
There was a steady flow of visitors all weekend, some interest and a "They look nice Enid, bit pricey though" It's amazing how people are completely oblivious to your presence if you are working and say things they wouldn't say to your face. We sold next to nothing and have retired hurt.

To salvage something from the weekend, we decided to try and get the jar home. Laura sat with the pot wrapped in a towel on her lap and I drove sedately home. Amazing how many roundabouts there are and how much you lurch left, right and left again on the forty minute drive back.

The jar survived and some minor attention next day has rescued the piece. Next problem. It's too big for my little electric kiln to bisque fire.  

Hey Oh, it's all in a days work.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Fresh Pots

Over a week of waiting, finally the kiln has been opened and we all tentatively took our first peer inside. It looked good, lots of shiny pots and runny glazes.
Pete's pipes were all intact, no obvious disasters, time to get in and start handing out the pots.
Carefully lifting off their wads.

Even after a week the kiln and pots are surprisingly warm. It's not too comfortable in there.

But someone has to do it!!!!

I think everyone agreed it was a good firing, plenty of oohhs and arrrhhhs, bit like bonfire night watching fireworks burst in the sky.
The pots passed out along a human chain, occasionally the chain stopped as someone realised that they had their pot in their hands and a closer look was needed. There were some very tasty pots, only a few had welded themselves to the shelves and floor.

Here is a selection of some of my pots, cleaned up, the shell soaked off and the bits of wad removed.



Thursday, 1 September 2011

Playing away

The inactivity recently on the blog is because I've been away playing with big boy's kilns. Last week I went to Devon, helped pack and fire Nic Collins Anagama kiln and Sabine's soda and wood Olsen kiln.

Mark packs the anagama
The finished job
Full on and tiring, we also built an experimental kiln with mixed results. So the last couple of weeks or so has been making, bisque firing and trying different clays. My usual stuff would come out dark and uninteresting over a four day firing. There was a mild panic when we realised there was probably not enough pots to fill the two kilns, so it was set to and make stuff. It's ok for these guys that throw, just knock off a few tea bowls, but us coilers take things a little more slowly. I made a large dish using an original Cardew hump mould and a few small bowls. In the event there was enough work and the hurriedly made pieces still sit in the workshop.
The experimental kiln in full flight

We opened the Olsen last Saturday, the results were good and I am advised it was a good firing. I am not a convert to Soda firing, some of the pots were a bit bling and shiny for my tastes. It was fun and spraying in the Bicarbonate of Soda at high temperature is something else.
The Olsen ready to close up and fire

The wait of over a week for the Anagama to cool is painful, the thought of my pots lying in the remains of the embers, slowly cooling and as yet unseen 250 miles away is strange. Can't even grab a sneaky look through the side stoke hole and I can't wait to see what comes out. We plan to drive down on Saturday at some ridiculous hour in the morning to get there for the 10.30 grand opening.

Fingers crossed.