Archive for the ‘Professional Potters’ Category

Coilware vase

So finally, here is my coilware vase, lately referred to as the termite mound vase, in all its matt blue-grey glazed glory. Coilware is hand built using sausages of clay layered up and ‘glued’ with slip and then smoothed together. It’s an easy construction method to learn but getting a finished object that doesn’t look like a primary school child made it is harder than you’d think! I’ve made plenty of coilpots before now but they are all relegated to being plant pots or pen holders, this is the first one that is decorative enough to not need a function. The key was using the clay drier than usual – I was scared it would have air bubbles in it and explode when it was fired but the firmer material meant it wasn’t prone to sagging during construction and kept its shape better. I’m really pleased with the subtle ribbing and the textured glaze, it feels lovely as well as looking it, and I always think the best pottery makes you want to touch it.

If my experience of visiting Pot Fest is anything to go by, coilware isn’t an awfully common construction method among professional potters, I guess because it is so much more time consuming than throwing and therefore tends to be very expensive, but I was inspired by David Wright.

Vase by David Wright

It was a year or two ago that he had a whole bunch of coilware bottles on his stand at Pot Fest Scotland and he seems to have moved on to more rounded or abstract shapes in his latest work, but here’s a picture of the most similar design I could find on his website. You can see how my glazing was influenced by his style if not the shape.


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I don’t have any more finished pieces or even works in progress to show off because I’ve been laid up with a badly infected wisdom tooth and missed the last 2 classes. But I thought I’d share a couple of interesting links with you:

Today’s Woman’s Hour featured a piece about the ceramic designs of Jessie Tait

Toadstools, Midwinter plate by Jessie Tait

You can listen or download it from the website (UK only I think) or just have to nosy at the pretty picture. I particularly like the ‘Spanish Garden’ pattern shown on the righthand coffee pot. Slightly fussy print designs on white crockery aren’t really my passion when it comes to ceramics, but having a quick nosy around, I did find this charming toadstool design that I rather like.

The other thing I’ve been meaning to mention is the BBC’s ‘A history of the world in 100 objects’, which has featured some really fascinating insights into how the history of ceramics is very much bound up with the history of human civilisation. For example, the ability of clay to survive for thousands of years gives us some of our earliest examples of writing, and the oldest pots in the world tell us a lot about the development of early hunter gathers into agricultural societies.

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I spend a happy few hours at Potfest Scotland on Saturday. This is the 3rd year I’ve been to the event and it was interesting to see what has changed and what hasn’t. There was a very noticeable increase in the number of people with jewellery on their stalls (I guess because of the economy), which certainly gave me some new ideas. I treated myself to a pack of modelling tools and a ‘podpot’ by John Rivers of Riddings Pottery in Derbyshire.

'Podpots' by John Rivers © 2000-2009 Riddings Pottery

'Podpots' by John Rivers © 2000-2009 Riddings Pottery

This year’s purchase is similar to the design shown bottom right, but pea green in colour. I bought it to match an orange-red glazed one I bought last year, which is like the pot shown bottom left. I love how the shape of these makes you want to cup them in your hands; good pottery should always make you want to touch it in my opinion! (Click on the picture to visit his website).

Another potter whose work I have bought at Potfest in the past is Steph Jamieson. I love her smoke fired sculptural pieces; they are so tactile and have an almost bone-like quality to them.

Top of the list of things I would have bought if I’d had the funds, is a Raku pot by Pat Armstrong. She had some really fabulous ‘copper fumed’ pots which looked like they were decorated with nebulas and fiery suns, like something from Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Leaf wall plaque by Joan Hardie, image © Jack Hardie 2006–2009.

Leaf wall plaque by Joan Hardie, image © Jack Hardie 2006–2009.

I also loved the leaf wall plaques by Joan Hardie of the Bitter Beck Pottery in Cumbria. There was a really lovely one, similar to this picture (click on the thumbnail to visit her gallery), all matt autumnal colours, that would have looked a treat in my living room if it wasn’t way out of my price range!

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