I hand-make my pots by “throwing” them on a potters wheel. The spinning clay is coaxed upwards to form the walls of the pot and then shaped. When the pot has been formed excess wet clay is trimmed away and the piece left to dry until it’s firm enough to add any handles or alter the form if required. Later, when it has become leather-hard, I trim feet on bowls and check the fitting of lids etc.
When the clay is completely dry I apply glazes using a combination of dipping, pouring and brushing. Because at this stage the dry clay hasn’t yet been fired it is very delicate and so the glazing has to be done sensitively. (See Single Firing).
Decoration is applied using wax resist designs from leaves and other objects, or perhaps abstract splatters, swirls and eroding the surface with sponges. Some clays contain iron which can change the look of the glaze so the choice of glaze depends on which clay was used.
The work then is left to dry again and fired to 1260°C, usually in an electric kiln for 12-14 hours, though sometimes I have fired work in a wood-fired kiln.
The clays I use include:
- Earthstone ES10 Smooth White which is great for tableware and gives a bright surface for glazes.
- Valentines Toasted Stoneware which has a lovely warm colour reminiscent of wood-fired clay. The colour comes from iron in the body that interacts with the glazes and needs a careful choice of glazes.
- Dobles DSS from Cornwall for rougher rustic ware. This has chunks of iron and other materials that interact with the glazes, and sometimes the particles can tear a rough scratch across the surface while I’m working on it. However such marks left from the making are all part of the appeal.
- Sometimes I mix DSS and Toasted stoneware, kneading them by hand to give a combination that’s more textured than toasted stoneware on its own and can be fired at a lower temperature than the DSS by itself.