Thursday, 12 June 2014

Throwing



Clay is one of my first loves. The cool, smooth, squidgy feel of it and the bafflingly huge number of possibilities in each lump of clay used to leave me paralysed during school art classes. If I was given some clay it was like being faced with the penny sweet counter aged 6 - too much goodness, too many choices. What to make? I would freeze.

During my twenties I attended pottery evening classes as an antidote to the stress of the day job. For three or four years Bonnie Kemske disarmed the paralysed feeling and I made things with slabs of clay. The things were monstrously chunky and wonky but the making of them was joyous. She encouraged hand-building, the use of small everyday objects such as keys or seeds to make surface texture and the mixing of our own glazes. Eventually I bypassed the glaze room altogether and broke up old bottles and marbles, allowed the kiln to melt them on tiles I'd made and bingo - clay coated with a layer of glass:



Eventually hand-modelling clay, the silver sort, became the day job:


There were potters' wheels in Bonnie's class. I used to watch the wheel-throwers with awe. They were literally spinning plates out of clay. I longed to be able to do this. It seemed as mystical and wondrous as particle physics.

Ten years ago I signed up to a weekend course with Deborah Baynes. I read the website: two whole days of throwing, interspersed with large helpings of food and wine. I'd never been on a making holiday before. It sounded thrilling and almost too indulgent. After several Generation Game-style comedy clay disasters my fingers started to learn what to do thanks to Deborah's patience. I came away with a small bowl, a jug and a pencil pot. I also gained a bit of an apple crumble baby.


When I returned to Suffolk in mid-March for another of Deborah's weekends I worried that the fledgling skills I'd learned in 2004 would have disappeared. In the meantime I'd had children and I'm fairly certain my vocabulary has diminished or at least gone to fallow. Would the neurons responsible for the clay-wrangling remain?

A Vine of Deborah teaching us how to add a 'belly' to a pot.


Thrillingly my concerns were unfounded. My brain and fingers remembered. What's more I could build on them thanks to Deborah's ace tuition. I made the things in the top image. They're useable! 






Spoon by Hatchet and Bear. Cross stitched tablecloth from The Foodie Bugle

As I've said before, I like eating and drinking vessels, not just looking vessels. 



I've drunk tea from most of them. One of them is good for pasta or cereal. 


One of them looks good with flowers in it. 

Thankyou thankyou Deborah. You helped me to spin some pots into existence from several lumps of clay. I'm beyond thrilled.

19 comments:

Deborah said...

You've conveyed the joy of making so vividly! and making for using in particular.

Love, love the green glaze.....

another Deborah said...

Ooops! I'm not The Deborah - the clay one. Another one :)

saffa said...

I love your pottery emma :) it must be a wonderful feeling to make your own, I've never done it but would love to one day :) hope you have a lovely weekend, safxxx

Marigold Jam said...

I did pottery at college as one of my chosen subjects - I was not good at it and changed to weaving instead - your pots are so beautiful you have inspired me to try again! Am off to visit that weblink!

Debs Dust Bunny said...

I NEED to attend one of these classes! Well done!

Debs Dust Bunny said...

I NEED to attend one of these classes! Well done!

Madelief said...

You made some lovely things Emma! Such a pretty bouquet too!

Have a lovely evening!

madelief x

Magic Bean said...

Wow! That's all, Ax

Julie said...

You have a natural talent for pottery, Emma. Beautiful work.

andamento said...

They're gorgeous. I want them! Or even better, to be able to make ones like that too. Well done.

Suse said...

Clever girl. I'm outrageously impressed.

thesnailgarden said...

Beautiful post! Best wishes, Pj x

Rachel said...

It sounds like a wonderfully thrilling weekend. And such a successful and productive one - usable mugs, no less!

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

School day memories for me in both this post and your last ... lacrosse and the art room pottery wheel. I never mastered either, and probably never will now. But I can easily imagine just how excited you are by your newly honed skill. And your pots are absolutely gorgeous!

CJ said...

They're fantastic, is there no end to your talents?! You are such a talented artisan, you should be very proud of them. Hope you have a good weekend. CJ xx

Caroline South said...

Such wonderful pieces you made Emma, well done! I love the pretty glaze colours and that jug of flowers is just beautiful! Enjoy the rest of your weekend. xx

Jodie said...

I have a HUGE slab or air-dry clay just waiting to be played with. It has been waiting for at least a year-the possibilities paralyze me.
Your vessels are beautiful.

Cate said...

I love your work, I started a course last September and began slowly improving, we're on Summer break now, but I can't wait to get back again in the Autumn, I hope you make something as beautiful AND practical as you!

Iris said...

Your pottery looks beautiful. And this post is so inspiring and makes me so hopeful. I used to do a bit of pottery (not as good as this) and I did a few courses and really enjoyed it. At a local fleece supplier's I found an old pottery wheel and bought it. Then I had one, two, three children and my job got very busy and I never even used that wheel. I'm still hoping to one day reconnect with the pottery and like you I'm hoping that my fingers will remember even though it's been years.