Thursday, 16 January 2014

A Wet Arse and No Fish

Hard work and effort often go unrewarded. You spend time making what you believe is your best work, yet it remains on the shelf, no one has paid any attention and you move on.
Grandad summed it up well. After a day out fishing; one man in a small boat out on the vast ocean, to return at the end of the day with nothing to show. He would exclaim "A wet arse and no fish", yet he would be back out there again, waiting for the big one, the pay day, to land with a decent catch and a smile on the face.

Cleaning out the kiln and the surrounding detritus from the previous firing, I look into the empty chamber and all the empty shelves in the workshop, save for a couple of bisque pots that did not make it last time and realise that it's going to take the next two months to fill the beast again.
To put fire in the kiln, I need to put fire in the pants and get stuck in.

Faced with a blank canvas as it were, where to start and what to make first always poses an interesting dilemma. Getting started is like setting out on the vast ocean and wondering where to place the bait.
A phalanx of beakers

I usually start with simple things like beakers, to get into the groove. Box bases follow and these are the platform for experimentation with slips, pressing shapes into the wet clay, seeing how much I can distort the shape before it ceases to be a usable box and fitting a wooden lid is going to be a big ask.
They line up on the shelf to dry, the ones I am happy with on the left, those that I have doubts about on the right. These might hang about for a week or so whilst I decide their future and probably end up in the recycle bin to start life as a pot again.

A battery of bisque boxes

Having some bisque fired pots starting to arrive gives comfort and the angst about producing a hundred or so pots fades. I want to make wooden lids again, but without any fired box bases it will have to wait a while yet. With some pots on the shelf I can tackle the bigger pieces and start to have some real fun. It does not matter now if I go up a few blind alleys, cock it up and relegate a pot to the recycle bin.
Alternating making, drying, fettling and processing wood for the kiln, the army of pots, in neat rows, surely grows and the nagging question now is, will I have enough to fill the kiln yet? Inevitable the answer is no. Some won't fit the space left or be the wrong pot for that particular slot, so a few back up pots are required. These are the most difficult, I don't want to make pots just to fill a kiln, they have to be the right pot. So I kid myself they will be for a future firing. The problem is I cherry pick when I load the kiln and some will never make it ... ever.

A tasty dish

And after all this effort, I'm going to subject all this to flame and great heat in a little brick box, wait two days and find out if there is a reward of tasty pots. Carefully, the bricked up wicket will be removed and the still warm pots taken out for inspection.

Hot hands and great dishes?