Skip to content

Pottering about

I was back at Eastnor Pottery on Sunday. The clocks had gone forward, and it was a real struggle to get out of bed – I was still fast asleep when my alarm went off. The weather outside was pretty unpleasant – very strong winds and heavy rain, which wasn’t conducive to leaving my nice warm bed! But I forced myself to get up, as I knew I’d enjoy myself at the pottery once I got there.

I was pleased to note on my way out of the house, that despite the driving rain there was no puddle on my newly-laid path. That’s its first serious test and it’s passed with flying colours.

I last threw some pots two months ago, and since then Jon the Potter had let them dry out to the “leather-hard” state, then wrapped them in plastic to preserve the remaining moisture. They can stay like that for several months, which means I can go to the pottery as often as it suits me, and pick up my work-in-progress where I left it off. Last time I was throwing the bodies of a number of gravy boats, so my first job on arriving at the pottery was to make some handles for them, then leave them on top of the kiln to dry out to the same leather-hard consistency as the bodies of the jugs. If you try to attach wet clay to leather-hard clay then it will dry differentially and crack or pull itself apart.

You can just roll out clay to make handles, but I much prefer the more organic look and feel of a pulled handle. The trouble is, pulling the lump of clay is really not an activity to be done in mixed company! It’s frankly obscene, and I have to be careful not to catch anyone’s eye while I do it, or I’ll collapse in a fit of the giggles! I sat in the corner, trying to be inconspicuous, and made half a dozen or so handles to have some spare. While the handles were drying out to the correct consistency, I turned the underneath of the jugs to neaten up the bottoms. Then it was a case of attaching the handles and finally decorating the three best resulting jugs. I won’t know how well they pour until they’ve been fired – unfortunately there’s no way of telling before then. If I filled an unfired jug with water to try it out, it would just disintegrate. So the safest thing to do is to make some matching saucers to catch any drips!