16.12.13

December 16, 2013 § 3 Comments

Last Tuesday, I spent the day with Stuart Broadhurst for my eagerly anticipated throwing lesson. He lives in a tiny village called Askham, in Cumbria, the village for the impressive Askham Hall.

The day has grown on me as each day since has passed and has had an immediate impact in the workshop. It has had a profound influence on my thinking as a potter and how I negotiate my workshop. This aspect is totally unexpected and is very welcome. I went to learn more about throwing and came away with a whole lot more.

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This is Stuart at his wedging table.

The first thing he taught me was how to wedge properly. He said that clay preparation is vital to the outcome of a good pot. I used to spiral wedge but I don’t anymore, as Stuart showed me another technique, and it really does make a difference.

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This is his wheel (the one that I used while I was there) and a view through to the lovely shop managed by his partner Mara.

It was clear immediately that my technique needed some tweeking. I knew that and it was one of the reasons that I went to see him. I understood the changes that I needed to make but found it difficult while I was with him on a fast wheel that was new to me. Towards the end of the day, as I started to throw a few bowls off the hump, my fingers began to respond.

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What I think has affected me most subsequently, though, has been the general pottery chat that we had throughout the day. We spoke about finishing off pots, about details, about form, about what shelving to have in the workshop, about turning chucks, about reclaiming clay – most of it was totally new to me, as up to that point it had just been me and my wheel. As we chatted we would pop into the shop and pick up some example or other, one of his pots or another potter’s that he stocks. You can’t pick these things up unless someone tells you. This is what an apprenticeship is for. Stuart has taken on an apprentice this year, Ben, and he is in the best place.

It is interesting – as I sit before my wheel now, having been to see Stuart, I approach the clay and the act of throwing differently. I have more purpose, intent, confidence. I haven’t thrown much but I am pleased with the results. The pots feel different and I like how they feel.

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Now I have to make for Craft 2014, which takes place in the middle of January, and I can’t wait to get started.

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§ 3 Responses to 16.12.13

  • Don’t you think it is amazing how meeting someone can sometimes have such a profound effect on the way you think or work. Sounds like you had a wonderful time David. Hope you and your family have a very Happy Christmas.

  • What wedging technique did he teach you?

    • Hi Oliver, he taught me wedging rather than kneading. Before I had been spiral kneading, Stuart recommended that I simply wedge instead and I find it works a treat. So I take a rectangular piece of clay, about 5kg in weight, and bang it onto the table shorter end down, so that the end nearer to me is raised slightly. I take my wire underneath the clay and cut upwards on a slight diagonal away from me slicing the rectangle in half. I pick up the half nearest to me and bang it down so that the top edge nearest to me on the piece still on the table hits the middle of the piece in my hands. I then pat down, reasonably forcefully, all around the clay trying to keep it in a rough rectangle and making sure that all the folds that appear in the clay are flattened. I repeat the process 10 times. At the end, I lift up the rectangle of clay and drop it more gently on each of its ends and on its back and front to square it up, making sure not to fold or crease the clay. It should then be ready for use.

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