Pottery production at last

For a while I had a potter’s wheel and some clay, kindly given to me and my aunt by a retiring potter. I documented my early efforts to begin pottery production in a previous post (have a read here), which was admittedly a while ago. Only now am I sitting down to provide the next instalment in the tale.

Part of the slowness is simply down to geography, I spend most of my time in London while the wheel spends all of its time in Perthshire. Also, ceramics is not a pursuit for those in a hurry (partly why I like it as it counteracts my tendency towards impatience). There is the turning of clay into a form, then there is waiting for it to dry, then a first firing and a second firing. Amongst this there is the need to trim and decorate the pot. It takes some time!

Enough with the preamble. I can’t just have a wheel, I thought, that can only take me so far. It allows me to make some shapes but once dry they’re brittle and useless; I need to close the circle and turn this piece of clay into a usable bit of ceramics. I need a kiln. Locating one took a while, plenty of scouring Gumtree, then finally one was within my grasp – except that it was in Brora on the north east coast of Scotland. Many thanks here to Steven (if you ever read this!) for driving the whole way up there and somehow lifting what is a very heavy bit of kit into the back of a pickup truck, and repeating the same trick at the other end.

As I write I realise how many more words than I initially anticipated are being dedicated to the ‘setup admin’ of my soon to be flourishing pottery workshop. Part of the fun has been in how ad hoc the process has been. I have muddled through and in doing so learnt a whole lot more about what goes into the craft of a ceramicist – as well as realising just how much more there is left to learn.

I have found that the kiln needs to be plugged into a single phase electrical supply – which then had to be installed before the kiln could work (many, many thanks to my Aunt for sorting this!). Then came the assumption that I could operate the kiln computer without instruction (I now have had the basic induction). There has been deciding which type of clay to use, which glazes, how to apply the glazes etc etc.

The result, nevertheless, is that I have actually managed to turn a lump of clay into a finished product of sorts. Have a look below:

Snapshot of glamorous setup
A view of some of the bases which I tidy on the wheel once the clay is leather hard
An old photo of the kiln (the room is a bit neater now)
Loaded inside the kiln before the bisque firing
Post 1st firing (or bisque firing). I’m about to paint on the glazes
Close up of green glaze. This was less thick than the blue one and didn’t come out so strongly

Most of my output (featuring the kitchen table)

Hopefully future blogs will show some improvement…

*Point of info – The kiln and wheel are mine and my Aunt’s! Seems easier to clarify now than repeat throughout the blog

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