Thursday, 24 May 2012

Going to Market

Forty Potters descended onto Loughborough Market Square. Stalls normally piled high with every type of vegetable and fruit, gave way to a vast range of ceramics. Organised by David and Louise Salsbury to celebrate Craft and Design Month, this is one of the only town centre Ceramics Markets in the United Kingdom. This is the second year Loughborough Market has played host and even more people came to visit, browse and buy, chat and enjoy the day out. We even had visitors all the way from Worksop who came to buy a swirly whirly pot they had seen in the NPA news letter. The Lady Mayoress duly came and chatted to the potters and last years Mayoress came back for another look, despite the grey skies and bitter wind.
A true do it yourself event, no Craft Council funding, no Lottery money, just forty potters, prepared to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in for the day.

Drowning under a sea of bunting
Laura has been making bunting since Christmas, and we lost count of how many posters we printed and despatched to shop windows, or the number of post cards we gave out. It all seemed worthwhile and the hardcore have already agreed to do it all again next year.
By doing this sort of event, we reach a new audience, many of the visitors would never go to a Ceramics Fair, but judging by the way the various flyers we had were eagerly snapped up, Earth and Fire and Open Studios could experience some new converts this year.
Now it's back to earth and start to get my head around Potfest Scotland, set in the grounds of the Palace of Scone near Perth, the ancient seat of the kings of Scotland. This will be a seven hour journey, instead of just down the road to Loughborough and under canvas, so here's hoping the recent good weather holds and we don't have to wear our down jackets like last weekend.

Steve checks out his lottery numbers

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Having a Ball

The first show of the year, and organised by potters for potters. Not a lottery funded logo in sight. Twenty potters under the chandeliers in a former ballroom, celebrating National Ceramics Week and raising a few quid for charity as well.

The Stamford Assembly Rooms were built in 1727 and they have witnessed many uses until recently when they became the Stamford Arts Centre.  Containing one of the last complete Georgian Ballrooms, it was used for the ballroom scenes in Pride and Prejudice when the film crew hit the Historic town to shoot scenes for the movie.
Keira Knightly graced the same boards that now supported displays of pots and ceramic works by local makers. The potters taking full advantage of the moulded dado and architecture to display their work, under glittering chandeliers reflected in ornate gilded mirrors.

We are privileged to be able to exhibit our work in some amazing places. This must be the most Grand.

Leach Kick wheel in a Ballroom?
 It was the perfect opportunity for visitors to talk to and purchase directly from the makers and there was a steady flow both days of pottery enthusiasts and passers by, interested to see and learn something about ceramics. For those who wanted to have a rest there were films to watch and I suspect most of the participants grabbed crafty glances from time to time. I know I did, the Isaac Button black and white film never tires, not as glamorous as Emma and Mr Darcy, but a true star all the same.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

An Evening in Polehampton

Being asked to give a talk and demonstrate how I make my pots is always a pleasure but comes somewhat as a surprise. Making pots with coils can't be described as a spectator sport.
Ask a thrower and you get a performance. Bit of spiral wedging to warm up the audience. Centre the clay and then a cylinder magically rises, push out the inside and gather in the top and a vase is born.
Coiling isn't like that, it's more methodical and much slower, so how do you engage an audience for two hours and have something complete at the end?
Making pots with coils has been my preferred method since the 1970's. Apart from some classes in the early days, the way I work has been learnt and developed along the way. A case of ' Men in sheds', disappearing for hours on end, emerging periodically to feed.
Watching other potters making pots makes one realise that there are many ways to approach making a coiled pot, so what I show is what I have discovered and is my way.
Some time ago I was given a DVD showing Matsuzaki Ken making coiled pots. With his little tin cans  burning charcoal suspended inside the pot to dry it out as he builds upwards. Imagine the health and safety issues if you did that in a village hall? He also uses bands of newspaper to reinforce the growing pot, that does not work for me either, so you soon realise that making pots is a very individual pastime, even the shape and method of making the coils is a personal choice.

Images courtesy of Penny Kay

At West Forest Potters recently we made a square bottle form by coiling and beating. I chose this shape because it uses all the basic elements and techniques and shows little tricks that have been acquired by trial and error over many years. Even so working very quickly time was very short and part built pots have to be employed in order to get to the end result. Making squared bottles with coils and beating to shape ensures each one is unique, the alternatives of press moulding and slab building produce more uniform work.
The pot was finished as time was being called. No one appeared to have fallen asleep so I assume coiling is not as boring to watch as feared.