Tuesday, 18 August 2009

And More Pots....

I'm doing this return toward making pots in small steps, the amount of clay I would once throw in a morning will probably last me a couple of months.
I'm trying to get my throwing to be more instinctive and less conscious, I've mostly been a pretty controlled, symmetrical sort of thrower, but I'd look at the works of other potters who'd bash and swirl their pieces, so they'd sway alarmingly on the wheel, but those pots would now be imbued with a new energy.
Maybe I'll go there some day, but for now, I'm having a pretty interesting and fun time, being both teacher and pupil. It IS strange, because I keep getting to a point where the conscious me is not quite sure how to do something, but somewhere deep inside, in subliminal me, there is the knowledge. It's been forgotten so long, but if I can just keep the conscious, thinking, clamorous brain silent, empty it of noise, then my hands, eyes, foot (the speed control is under my right foot), all these just get on and do it.
If thinky-brain comes back and tries to interfere, then that lump of clay's doomed.
The intolerance I have to lumpen shapes means they get sliced in two with a cutting wire and autopsied, at the moment, I've got a fault of making things a bit too thin, yes, nice and light, but not easy to stick a handle on without distortion. This means more recycling. Rapid karma. Lump turns to mug, displeases, returns to lump, has chance of a better life as a jug (or pitcher, as my muse would say).
I need to work harder on my wedging, and build a decent wedging bench, but if I get too hung up in building stuff, I might get diverted too much to remember that messing with mud is what I really want to be doing.
(Though, at work today, whilst I was putting up a fence, I was thinking out a design for a home-made pugmill, using scavenged parts, and a car gearbox... Could use a back axle... I vaguely recall that most pugmills run at about sixteen r.p.m.
A hydraulic motor would be good. WooHooooooo!!!! Imagine a pottery rigged for hydraulics.... Silent running hydraulic drive to wheel, easy extruder, effortless pugmill, with power-feed ram...
oh, ohhhh, the slab-roller...
Lock up your backhoes! I know where there's a little Kubota tractor with all the rams I'd need, pumps etc... and a forklift with in-hub motors...)

I'm working on just a few shapes. Getting happier with the results, bit by bit.
-I said to my muse, all the way down the long phone-wire to Texas, what shall I make? "A pitcher", she said.

Mugs too.

I was clumsy, dented my fresh-thrown pitcher's belly, tapped it lightly from inside with a turning tool handle, but you could still see it.... "How to disguise the mark? Hmmmm...."

Turned, handled, textured:- chattered decoration, Japanese potters call this "tobiganna", if I remember rightly. It's not easy to control to get a particular effect, there are a lot of variables. I scavenged some steel strapping from a skip at work today, will make myself some new turning tools, and play with this further. I might just rub the textured areas with thinned iron oxide, no glaze.

I wanted to get more of a spiral effect, kinda failed. But overall I'm reasonably happy


  1. It seems it's like riding a bike. I've been busy as snot lately but I have been by a few times to see you rediscovering an activity you loved. Great stuff! I'm not sure about the hydraulic mill. For one thing, the pumps are really loud (at least the 30HP variable displacement pump on the 80-ton Hydrachief compaction press I run every day at work. You could probably use a smaller, quieter pump). Besides I want that rhythmic tick from a pillowblock or whatever. That will hypnotize my brain so it doesn't interject itself in the process. I want my brain to go away so it's just my hands and my intuition doing what they do. Of course, my hand shave no idea about making a pot so who knows what modern art shape I would create.

    Hiya, Soub! Sorry I haven't said hi sooner. Your pots are beautiful!

  2. SOUB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    How the f##k could you not pot for a decade or whatever, get up one day and make these?????????????????????? Massively skilled. I am in awe.
    Can I adopt you (and RDM) as imaginary cousins???????

  3. i agree with gary, it's unbelievable that you can get these results so quickly. i can see your mind wandering off to hydraulics and power-take-offs and tool making, it's difficult to resist that kind of thing i know. i realize you chattered to cover the bump but i've always been a sucker for the well-chattered pot. things are looking good.

  4. these are truly amazing !!! listen to your PEERS !!! I'm doing mule stands over here, cheering you on! Jolly good show, Soubriquet .... jolly good!


  5. Dave! good to see you, you know you qualify here as a ceramicist, with your 80 ton hydraulic press and all that hot sintering....

    In my musings, I wasn't thinking quite such a big pump, just something a minidigger might have, with an electric motor, about thre horsepower would be more than enough, and I'd set it outside of the workspace... But it was really just a fantasy, I won't be doing it... Except for the extruder, I think I could find a little double-acting ram, in a scrapyard, somewhere....

  6. Jim, my mind is always wandering. I was forever in trouble at school for daydreaming. Maybe that's why I'm not a chief exec.
    Chattering? Oh, I got into trouble for that too.
    I'll be experimenting with trying to get better control, I'm really interested in how those variables work. As I'm doing this mostly after a full day's work elsewhere, I'm working in two-hour or so bursts, and I'm cheating on the normal cycle of drying, I'm just using a blow-torch to roast the pots for accelerated drying, so turning can be tricky, as the outer layer can be firm, but softer underneath.
    Seriously, the mind wandering thing is good for me, I need to get the conscious mind busy on other stuff, so the subconscious is in charge of the hands. I can't explain it very well, I know, but that's how it seems to me.

  7. RDG, You know you deserve a big vote of thanks for encouraging me to go get some mud, and see if my hands still could do this.
    I know now, I should have never quit, I should have found a way to keep going. But maybe that long, long break has given me some perspective on what's important to me.
    And the supportive comments all help. I'm too close to these things I've been making to be really objective, and I get big doses of self-doubt. And you know, the internet is full of potters doing really great things, so I feel like a bluffer, an impostor, trying to clamber back up the ladder.
    I've got, as you know, pictures and pots from my past, which remind me of where I once was, but now I feel I'm heading out to some new course, and I'm not sure what my voice is, I'm chipping away trying to find the figure inside the stone.


  8. Gary!, Hey, cuz!
    I haven't been potting for two decades. A sad thought, that one. About ten years ago, I met a guy, a retired architect, who'd opened a pottery in a local town, and he very kindly let me go play on a wheel, so I made a few pieces, over the space of a couple of months, and he even fed me and paid me some money. Sadly, he had some bad health problems and had to quit the pottery, I wish I'd known at the time, but I was busy being a plumber, and didn't know until I saw the shop had changed hands, It was a pretty place, in a courtyard with a small apartment over, would be perfect for me. But, I had no money, I have very little now.
    RDM and I agree to the adoption, We'll be on your doorstep in a few days time, and you'll have to feed us, and give us beer. Well, in her case, ginger beer.

  9. Hello, just wanted to leave you a comment to say how much I've enjoyed reading some of your posts today. You have a great site, wonderful pictures and writing.

    Best wishes !

  10. Elise, Thank you for your words, I'm curious as to what brought you here, I see your passion is for ballet.
    Once upon a long long time ago, our next-door neighbour was the proprietor of several theatrical boarding houses, in Leeds.
    As a teenager, I'd do garden work and handyman work, get to meet all sorts of interesting people, and along with being paid for mowing lawns and trimming hedges, I also got a lot of guest tickets to the Grand Theatre in Leeds, I was doubtful about ballet at first, my peer group would consider it effete, but I have to say, I was spellbound.
    Haven't been in years, though.

  11. Nice work again Mr C I even liked the dent. More more


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