Saturday, February 19, 2011

Work in progress

Yesterday I posted on Twitter and Facebook that I was excited about a pot and that it hasn't happened much lately. I'm aware that makes it sound as if I don't enjoy my work, which is not the case at all, so I need to explain a little. 

I love making pots. I've discovered over the years that I need the contact with the earthiness of the clay for my wellbeing and apart from when I'm firing the kiln, my pottery is always a place of calm. Most of the time I am making tableware, lost in the rhythm of making mugs or plates a dozen at a time.  There are jobs I don't like much, like making up glazes, and putting handles on colanders and casseroles but even these are just work without any great pleasure rather than unpleasant tasks.  But excitement is not usually a feature of the landscape in the pottery.

I guess it takes something completely new to get me itching to get on with it, impatient to see the next stage.  At the beginning of the week I included some more beastly pots in my schedule.  I also sold my last big butterfly vase at the end of last week.  It seems the big vases are much more popular than small ones.  So I added making a couple of vases to the list.  Suddenly the two ideas went together.   A lizard crawling up a vase.  And that's the pot I'm excited about.

Most of the time in my work I have a clear idea of what the finished item will look like.  With pottery, though, the best I can say is that I have a clear idea of what I want it to look like and with Beastly Pots and now Beastly Vases, the chances of that turning out to be what happens are reduced.  Make the beast in question a lizard  and it's anybody's guess what will happen.

With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to chart the progress of such a piece here.  At this stage I don't know whether I'll be showing you a success or a failure and if a failure, at what stage that will happen.

What the first picture shows is the basic shape of the creature attached and moulded to the form of the pot.  I then cut away, add, or just re-shape to put in the details that hopefully make it come to life.  In the case of lizards, doing the toes is undoubtedly the most time-consuming part of the whole thing.  I've tried various ways but the best one is to start with a sort of flattish pad and then cut away the spaces between the toes.

So here it is. The pot I'm excited about. So much can go wrong from now on! Drying, glazing, firing, painting with lustre and re-firing are five opportunities. Of these, the drying process is the least hazardous as I can keep an eye on it and stop it drying out too fast. I'll keep you posted.

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