May 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
Thanks to Karen Griffiths I have just been reading a beautifully written and inspiring book, called The Road through Miyama by Leila Philip. It is a book about Philip’s two year sojourn as a potter’s apprentice in Miyama, a small pottery village on the southernmost tip of Japan, in the 1980s. It is so much more, though, than a book about her apprenticeship, which is what the book hangs on. It is a finely studied travelogue, a coming together of two very different cultures, the experiences of a young American ‘gaijin’ (foreigner) in traditional Japanese society.
As it says on the front of the book, it is a ‘gentle and generous portrait of the village’ written with poetic turns on every page. “Outside, tatters of afternoon sun filter through the clouds, warming my spot for the remaining two hours of daylight.” Philip delights in the life of the village and writes memorably about her apprenticeship, her teacher and his wife, traditional customs and the planting and harvesting of the rice paddies.
One line hidden amongst the pages helped me enormously last week. Philip needs to finish turning the rice bowl she is making and writes that she was needing the bowls to ring when tapped rather than have a dull thud. So, I tried this when I was turning my bowls. As the bowls sat on my wheel I tapped them and there was a definite change of pitch between a hollow echo when the right thickness and a thud when too thick. I had to listen carefully but it was there. I used the hollow echo as my guide and sure enough, if I trusted the sound (a difficult thing to do, as I was putting my faith, and the welfare of the bowl, in the hands of the sound), when I had finished the turning was smooth and even. It was a little revelation, another step on my learning curve.
May 17, 2012 § Leave a comment
Just a little postscript to the post about weighing out glazes for consistency between batches – I should have said weigh out 500ml of glaze in grams not ounces. Thank you, Dianne, for the correction.
May 16, 2012 § 1 Comment
The Bradford Open for Art will take place during the first weekend in June, 2nd – 5th. It is the first year the event has been put on and I think it is very exciting for Bradford to get a Bradford-wide event that will showcase the city in a positive light. Bradford doesn’t always get the best press but there is a lot going on and the creative community is vibrant and interesting. I am really pleased to be opening my workshop as part of the event.
There’s going to be exhibitions, fairs and open studios taking place all over Bradford and from what I can see there will also be plenty of demonstrations going on in the open studios. There’ll be lots to see and do…
Lis Holt will be showing some of her work in my workshop, too.
Image courtesy of the Mill Bridge Gallery
Lis’s sculptural ceramics are inspired by the dynamics of the natural environment, particularly the seaside. She coils builds her pots, then fires them up to stoneware temperatures. It will be interesting to have the sculptural and the functional together in the workshop for the event.
If you are in the area, come and see us; you’ll be sure of a warm welcome. The address of the workshop is: 2 Westgate, Shipley, West Yorkshire, BD18 3QT.
May 9, 2012 § 5 Comments
I have added a similar post onto the Dove Street Pottery facebook page, but I thought I’d add a quick post here, too, as I had believed the subject to be incredibly complicated and so have given it a wide berth. In fact, after a conversation at the Saltaire Arts Trail, it turns out that it is incredibly simple, far simpler than is widely imagined, so I thought I’d share it. The subject is the density of the glaze, the thickness or thinness of it, and I am grateful to the wonderful Dianne Cross for her time and experience over the weekend.
The way to achieve consistency over batches of the same glaze is to first achieve a batch with a consistency that you are happy with. Then, measure the weight of 500ml of the glaze and find out how much it weighs in ounces. To measure the weight, all you do is put a jug on the scales, recalibrate the scales back to zero, fill the jug with glaze up to 500ml, put it back on the scales and take the reading. You don’t have to use 500ml, you could use any amount as long as you keep it consistent across your batches. If, when you make up another batch, the glaze weighs more than the original batch just add water until it reaches the desired weight. If it weighs less, then wait for the glaze to settle and take away enough water from the top of the glaze until you have reached the desired weight. You may need to do this a couple of times, as you will need to mix the glaze up again to check the weight and, if it still weighs less, you will have to wait again for the glaze to settle before you can take any more water out.
May 7, 2012 § Leave a comment
What a fantastic event the Saltaire Arts Trail, which finished today, was! I was taking part for the first time as a maker, as part of the Makers’ Fair, and it was a well-run, well-attended event – approximately 6,500 people visited the Makers’ Fair over the three days. That’s a pretty healthy footfall…
I love doing craft fairs. I love the chat with the customers, and the camaraderie and networking with the other makers; and it is a little sad when the fair is over. It’s a cup of tea and a long bath tonight, then starting on an order of 48 bowls tomorrow. That’s the best thing of all, sitting at my wheel with a pile of carefully weighed out clay on my left hand side.