Thursday, 1 August 2013

Thinking inside the box.

You know I make little boxes with wooden lids... well some are not so little and they have elaborate lids with combinations of different woods. I've been making these for about three years now and it seems that they have kind of... well for want of a better expression, taken off.
Initially I made one here and one there and no one took much notice. I was given more and more wood and the pile of reclaim, off cuts and bits that no one wanted grew. The boxes and lids became a bit more adventurous and accomplished and I enjoyed the making experience even if they hung around a bit.

It must have been last summer when suddenly people started to take interest. Almost as if radar had been invented and the boxes had suddenly become visible. Folks would see them on the website and come looking at the next show. The few at Wistow Gallery were snapped up. It seemed as if I was always making lids between shows,  just to have enough for a decent display.

It was earlier this year, too cold to pot and with the arrival of the sanding machine that I decided to make tops for some of the bigger bases that were gathering dust on the shelf in the workshop. These were a bit more adventurous, more challenging and as box No. BO70 came off the production line and was sold straight away, it was apparent that ceramic boxes with quirky wooden lids were the must have accessory.

You know this of course because they suddenly start to arrive in pairs. Clutching ceramic artists postcards and pottery suppliers brochures to their bosoms, smart phone at the ready, they stand full square to your stall, hogging the space and blocking further potential viewers. Nothing is said, but there is a secret code of looks and nods, the flicker of an eyebrow passes between them. The ladies of a certain age that 'pot a bit' have you clocked.

"Do you make the wooden lids yourself ?"
" Where do you get the wood?"
"Do you make the lids first?"
"How do you make them fit so well?"
They don't ask if it is possible to take photographs. That has been done already, sneakily on the ever ready smart phone with the flash turned off.
They probe a little further.
"Where are you based?" is a familiar question, whilst they try to fathom out how their next venture into ceramics might take shape that may incorporate wood in some way.
Finally they go, never buy anything of course and without a thank you, wander off in animated discussion.
"Steve's got a wood turning machine" you hear them say and then they are gone.

I've been making pots a long time, but I've been working with wood for even longer. I've learnt some of it's ways. Learnt how to read the pattern and grain beneath the rough sawn surface, to observe the grain direction and which way to attack it. To chose the right piece of wood to complement the colour of the glaze or the naked clay. I've built up a collection of tools and keep my chisels very sharp.

Steve won't need his wood turning machine for sure, but the ladies will need time to hone their skills - time, perseverance and a more enquiring mind than looking for quick ideas for their next Christmas Fair venture.

I'll move on of course and ideas for new ceramic boxes and wooden lids are already forming. There's nothing new in what I do, it's been done before somewhere, but for the moment it's the hottest thing to come out of sleepy Thrussington

So girls, keep both hands firmly behind the chisel edge and good luck.