Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Thinking Aloud

At a demonstration I did earlier this year, someone asked me what I thought about while I was coiling pots.
It took me aback somewhat. The usual questions are more straightforward. "What clay do you use?"
"How long have you been making pots?" and I have my ready answers.
I didn't know what to say. Was it the fact that coiling might be deadly boring and I planned the dinner menu whilst my hands worked on auto pilot?
Did stunning creative thoughts flash through my mind constantly?
Am I thinking where the heck did I put that kidney scraper, I will need it soon?
I think I said that I was totally immersed in what I was doing and left it like that.

We have a whole bunch of Christmas Fairs coming up soon. You apply for these things and say yes to others and suddenly the events stack up. There are certainly not enough smaller pots in stock to cater for the stocking filler market, which is what we usually end up selling in the run up to Christmas.
So it's been into the workshop making again after a bit of a lay off.
It takes an awful lot of small pots to fill my kiln.
An offer from Sue Mulroy to share her kiln came just at the right time. I suspect Sue has the same problem. She has an Olsen fast fire that has an appetite for pots that is insatiable. Sue is a thrower and makes domestic ware, even so, it's a lot of pots.

I have been making small bowls and I suddenly remembered the strange question posed earlier in the year and I found myself thinking about what I was thinking about.
I have the radio on mostly, but it's background noise and if you asked me what music had been on, I probably couldn't say exactly. Making pots slowly with coils is a bit like painting. Constantly thinking about the shape and wall thickness. Needs to be a bit fatter. No maybe a bit taller. Clays a bit soft need to rest this one to stiffen up. It's off centre I like that. Maybe push it over a bit more and leave the rim the way it is... and so on. Constantly asking questions. I think about how I might glaze it, where it might go in the kiln. Does it go right at the front to get the most fly ash or is it a quiet pot for further back.

Some times my mind would slip into revery and this was going to be THE pot. Alas it's short lived and the next one is going to be absolutely the best.

Pots drying in the Autumn Sun

So there you have it. Not a lot of Earth shattering thoughts really, but coiling pots is definitely not boring and you can't read a book whilst you do the simple bits.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Local Potter Wins Arts Prize

Every year I receive an email invitation from The Upper Broughton Art Show to submit work for the annual Art Exhibition. For various reasons, I have never got around to putting a couple of pots in a box, driving the few miles and having a go. This was the 29th year that this village Art Show has been staged and Artists from all around the area submit work, mainly painters, but a couple of sculptors and potters have on occasion displayed their wares.
The show is a weekend affair with a private view by ticket on the Friday evening, so work has to be delivered on Wednesday. By mid afternoon there were paintings stacked all around the walls and it was questionable how the hanging committee would fit them all in along with the wood carvings, sculpture and pottery. The village hall is quite small, there is an adjoining room, charmingly called Rose Cottage. It seemed a daunting task.

Intrigued we went along on Saturday afternoon to experience Upper Broughton Art Show. The standard of painting was extremely high and varied, all the work was displayed without looking crowded, flowers had been arranged and with the spotlighting now on it all looked very good.

There were even tables and chairs set out, with cloths on the tables, floral arrangements and an amazing array of cakes for sale. If there is one thing village ladies excel at, it is putting on a spread, cake and tea sales was very brisk. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon and we stayed longer than we had anticipated and to cap it all I discovered that I had been awarded first prize for the best 3-D work.

In contrast some of the other invitations that appear out of the ether are less interesting. My favourite has to be:-
 " Hello - I have just set up a Social Enterprise called Wiggle-Jiggle Arts-Making the Imaginary Real and bringing Education to Life we have a Christmas crafts, baking and singing workshop on Friday 23rd December. There will be a craft fair too and I was wondering if you would like to have a stall - it is free - please also pass the details onto your crafty/artistic friends".

I don't think my crafty friends would appreciate that.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Bountiful Harvest

A Lady commented recently that my pots were very fruit like. I don't consciously take inspiration from nature or make claims that my work is inspired by nature / the rolling Leicestershire Countryside or fruits from my allotment, so I was somewhat surprised by her insistence that nature had a guiding hand in what I make.
Recently the bottles that I enjoy making have got fatter, the bases smaller,  but this is more about playing with form and balance. Making the form float and appear less grounded. It makes firing more difficult as the shapes are harder to support and making is slower otherwise the shapes collapse and sink. I find these later pieces more satisfying and the opportunities for glazing and allowing the ash to settle on the broad shoulders is much greater than the skinny bottles I was making a few years back.
Work evolves, and is always moving on so I thought it would be appropriate to take advantage of this years pumpkin harvest on the allotment and take a photo opportunity with fruits and pots.

Maybe I should start to put ridges into the bottles and complete the imitation further. Maybe not, nature seems to get on fine without my intervention.