Category Archives: Pots

Potters Block…..?

After a pot free month, a few disasters in the kiln, some glimmers of hope, but mostly pots worthy of the bin, I have diagnosed myself with ‘Potters Block’.  I am also shocked to see that my last blog post was a month ago.  It’s not that there has been no activity, just that it has not been pottery related.  I will share my pickling and preserving delights with you later…..

One person has described it as a ‘Creative Slump’……a term I can relate to, but reassuringly goes on to say he came out the other side of it a better painter (maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel?)

Some research puts forward the following (non-exhaustive) suggestions as offerings of help:

  • Do something entirely different for a while (doesn’t say how long!….there is only so much jam one can make….)
  • Try to remember that it’s just a pot and nothing more. The world will not end if your pot comes out badly….am used to this…..
  • Whisky?  (again doesn’t say how long for…..)
  • Doodle….
  • Imagine the pot in your mind without touching a piece of clay.
  • Start with something small and simple
  • Work in a group (tried this, but ended up chatting and eating cake….made nothing! – (had nice time though)
  • Be reassured that it is normal and the drought will come to an end
  • Clean up your studio…..(not that desperate yet!)
  • Copy the work of someone you like….tried this….funnily enough…did not end up with a replica Picasso : (
  • Indulge yourself in other work that appeals to you

I particularly like this website which gives tips for helping with creative block.  Press F5 each time for a new tip.

Someone else suggest that his creative blocks usually occur when there is “nothing to feel down about or he feels happy with life”. Well maybe this is true, where does that leave you when the only thing that is getting you down….is the lack of pot production……



Filed under Inspiration, Pots

Errmm….Hi Al, have you got an angle grinder?

Luckily he did, since all but two pots in yesterdays firing had welded themselves to the kiln shelves.  For some reason (this is a glaze I have used before and it didn’t happen last time!) the glaze ran off the pots during the firing and when I opened the kiln this morning, they were certainly not for budging.  After a severe beating with a wooden stick, some came free willingly, others came free leaving large chunks of the foot-ring still stuck to the shelf and one poor soul is not going anywhere…he is now part of the shelf…no amount of beating or grinding is going to set him free.

By some twist of fate, the only pot in the kiln that mattered came out unstuck and unscathed. A lily bowl commission for a friend’s wedding gift, I don’t actually know the bride Janet…..but I feel like I do… I very much hope she likes it…when she finally get’s it.

Am pleased with the results of some of the slips, especially the Maryport slag.  This may need a second firing, but the iron in the slag has done magical things with the turquoise glaze.

The crater glaze is amazing… it….will be brilliant over black slip.  I have been carrying the bowl around with me all day….I can’t believe it, something that came out of the kiln like it was supposed to…in fact much better than I had thought….may even tuck it under my pillow tonight…or is that taking things a bit too far?

"Help....I'm Stuck!!"......" ain't going nowhere!"

ha ha...I'm free, but oh no...I have shelf stuck to my bottom....

That's it....get to work on my bottom with the angle grinder...gently now!

Lunar Bowl. Love this crater glaze (more on this later)

Maryport Slag pot

Lily Bowl commission for Janet's wedding pressie

Vase with Stoneycroft Ghyll Slip

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Filed under Glazes, Kiln Firings, Pots



I’m potting in the rain
Just potting in the rain
What a glorious feelin’……

Yes, it is August and it is raining…! But I have been in the potting shed today for a mammoth throwing session….and it is good to be back on the wheel.

Full of ‘mountain inspiration’, I now have a selection of bowls, pots and mugs that are crying out for some creative glazing.  Newly invigorated with a 1970’s glaze book, I am determined to mix up some delights…..well, that’s the plan!

Also threw an absolute whopper of a bowl….assisted by my new friend…the hot air gun (liberated from the bottom of a box in the garage).  This enables you to dry the clay sufficiently, as you are going, so you can add new sections there and then without it collapsing, rather that waiting for a day for it to go cheese hard.  It was going so well, but then maybe I got a little ambitious and it flew off the wheel like Gene Kelly round a lampost.  I re-wedged the clay pronto so not to dwell on the demise of ‘bowl deluxe’ and turned it into something else…still made in sections….but not quite as large.  Know your limits!!!

Pots in the biscuit kiln too….interested to see what happens as I have made slips from the Maryport Slag and from clay collected from Stonycroft Ghyll.

Throwing the 'bowl deluxe'...just before it swung off the wheel and into my lap! It doesn't look that big in the picture....but you will have to believe was massive.....

The reincarnation.....

The drying shelves were looking bare...not anymore....

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Filed under Pots, Potting Shed, Throwing, Work in progress

Sloppy Seconds

Have tried throwing with the reclaimed clay from the pugmill and have decided it is far to soft.  I just got to the point of making a nice large bowl and then the whole thing collapsed….more than a few times.  On the plus side, I now have some nice large plates!

I am going to leave it on the plaster bat overnight and see if I can wedge it into something more useable tomorrow.

I did manage to throw my largest (and tallest ever) 2 component vase today though…with the reclaimed clay left on the plaster bat all day yesterday, so I am hoping for even better productivity tomorrow when I have more clay to play with.

I am trying my hand at classic shapes, I want to master the technique of throwing properly….then I can go back to bizarre creations……

Sloppy clay on plaster bat to dry out

Vase...something is wrong...this looks like it might be useful!!

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Filed under Clay, Pots

Blimey….and the lid fits….

I thought I would try and reproduce the principles of a storage jar by Michael Cardew featured on the front cover of Ceramic Review in 1982.

It is thrown in three parts: 1. the main body (allow to dry for a while….or use blow torch!), 2. throw the neck as a separate component. Put the main body back on the wheel and attach the neck. 3. the lid.

I surprised myself by how relatively simple it was to do….and more amazingly the lid fits.  I just need to attach some handles now.  Admitedly the shape isn’t quite the same, his has a more rounded body, but the elements are there.

This is a definite throwing breakthrough.  Some of these pots might even be useful!

Michael Cardew Pot

Rachel Dance Pot!

Lid.....fits like a glove!

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Filed under Pots, Throwing

Tagine (1st attempt)

One of the butchers at the farm shop asked me if I would make him a tagine.  Then there was Jamie Oliver’s TV programme from Marrakesh that focused heavily on cooking with Tagines (although not the ones with fluted lids)….so have been meaning to have a go at making one for a while.  Now I seem to be getting somewhere with the throwing, there is no time like the present.

On the design front, the cone shaped cover is supposed to act like an oven and the entire lid is totally sealed to retain heat and moisture.  The aim is not only to prevent it from drying out during the long cooking process, but also allows the slow infusion of flavours throughout the dish. The lid has an extended knob at the top which is designed to remain cooler and thereby act as a handle.

Originally it would have been made from earthenware, but I used grogged stoneware….because that is what I had to hand.

I think the rim of the cooking pot could have been thicker and maybe the whole think could have been wider or maybe the lid should be shallower with a smaller knob.  Not bad for first attempt though, at least the lid fits on.  Am getting some mileage out of my new galleried rim technique….how did I manage without it?!

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Filed under Pots, Throwing

Glazed over…..

Probably the most pleasing firing to date, but still some dodgy looking glazes.  Not sure if  they are failing to flourish because of the firing, which seemed to be spot on this time, or because of the preparation.  I followed the recipe to the letter, so can only assume it is the firing, or the application.  It’s all so unpredicatable.  That’s why when you do get a lovely piece like the large celedon bowl it is so rewarding.

Have another shed full of large bowls, so we keep practicing… day we will get a glaze that we love…….

'The Pack'

Heavy reduction going on

Cones - perfectly fired. Learnt good the cones diagonally.....then you can see them all through spy hole....doh!

The Opening. It takes a while for what you are presented with to sink it any good????

Large bowl. Black slip and David Leach Celedon

Buckets. The glaze on the one on the left was called 'white brain crawl'....I like it, but totally the opposite of what expected. Didn't check it was suitable for reduction firing.

Copper Red Glaze

Supposed to be pale Celedon glaze on porcelain beakers. It has worked on the front left one which was close to the burner in the kiln, which makes me think the others are under fired. Will take them to Farnham and refire.

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Filed under Glazes, Kiln Club, Pots