An Evening of Pottery Porn

What seems like months ago (given the events of the last few weeks) I was sat in a darkened shed in deepest Devon with Doug and Alex and Marky Mark drinking tea or beer depending on your preference, eating a good chilli and watching a wonderful session of pottery porn. What a night, we had a ball and it got me to thinking that I might like to do that up here. So you know, just in case I hadn’t already found myself with enough other things to be getting on with I thought it would be a good idea for National Ceramics Week (this week if you didn’t know) to organise a showing of pottery films at my workshop and invite Alex McErlain up to introduce them. Alex made Doug’s film Holyford Harvest and has made a number of films about other craftspeople over the years. So I did. Last night I filled my workshop with chairs and blacked out the windows and borrowed a screen and a projector and Alex came up and about 20 people filled the workshop to watch films.

We watched the classic Isaac Button, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Rupert Spira – River of Words, Holyford Harvest of course and then the epic but incredible Pottery of the Ethnic Minorities in South West China. For the none potters gathered this one may have given them more information that they ever wished to know or dreamed existed about the traditional potters in South West China. I’m not sure how well my mum and dad fared through that hour and a half worth of film, they came along so that they could meet Alex and meet the man that made their daughter chose this particularly obscure career path.

I think it went ok, people brought drinks and nibbly things and it was fab to have my workshop full of people, I’ve been a bit lonely at work this week after the high of the trip has started to wear off so this was a great distraction for me. I popped in this morning to clear up the debris and sort it back into a working space again and intended not to stay down there. After I’d packed the van full of the 20 chairs I’d borrowed from my Scout Hall and washed the cups and had some tea and eaten some left over cake the rain started and continued in a torrential fashion for the rest of the day. I was planning to go for a ride but ended up staying and after nattering to Doug again in the morning actually got to making some pots finally.
Picture above is me earlier in the week sanding my new bench for my pugmill which still needs moving into the workshop out of the barn. WANTED: strong muscles and a strong back or two to help a damsel in distress.
Thursday was raining too and I was feeling fed up with myself when the post man appeared and brought me a parcel which contained, much to my joy and excitement, the wee sgraffito jug on the left there. It’s made I believe by Mark Titchiner and decorated by Jon Cullum, it’s a real sweetie, has birdies and oak leaves and acorns and my initials and three hares on the front there. Thank you so much Jon, I do love it and meant to tell you earlier that it had arrived but got completely waylaid. My apologies.
The beautiful jug on the right came yesterday when Alex came. It’s one of his pots. I’d only been saying to Doug, while we were away I think, that I had yet to buy one of Alex’s pots and that I would love to have one. And now I do! I was very pleased and served water from it last night (though it might only have been me that was drinking water but I enjoyed using it anyway).

My mum found me this cardboard cut out and put together set at the Cub jumble sale last weekend. That’s not a jumble sale to go to to buy Cub Scouts by the way just in case you were wondering. I haven’t cut it out and glued it up yet, I’ll save that for another rainy day of which I am sure there will be plenty.

So after Doug trying to cheer me up this morning I had a cup of tea and sat looking through some books he’d lent me and this one from the York collection is just oooooooh so lovely. I decided to ignore the huge making list that is haunting me at the moment and just send the afternoon making things just for the hell of it and to just enjoy it. So I made some dishes inspired by the ones in the book.
How they will stand up to the ravages of being covered in thick heavy slip I am yet to find out. Don’t know why I’m even worrying about that as I was told last night that of course slipware is so straight forward and easy. Hmmm, sweeping statement? That frustrated me but being what I am I couldn’t think fast enough and concise enough to be able to reply with my thoughts on that statement at the time.

So there’s six 3lb dishes on my shelves now and three 3lb jugs and one 6lb jug.

Good to have started, nice to be making something just to see what it’s like too, I often don’t have the time for that, no idea what decoration will go on these but I’ve a day or so to contemplate before they’re dry enough to slip. Unlike in Virginia and North Carolina where even without the aid of the gas burner the pots I threw in the mornings were ready to handle and then to slip by the end of the day. It’s odd sitting there quietly on my own, just working not having to think about every move I’m making and wonder where the next question is going to come from and how I’m going describe what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I found myself still talking but mainly to the daft baby chaffinch that found it’s way in and the couldn’t find it’s way out again. He sat there on the new high up shelf shouting at me for ages. (Damn Ron and Dan and Hollis, I just thought of another song that I didn’t manage to treat you too, “I saw a bird, with a yellow bill, it sat upon, my window sill, I coaxed it in, etc etc – next time maybe).
Anyway next up will be Volume II of the US files, stay tuned for that update if you can handle the suspense and aren’t yet among the many who are sick of any statement that starts “In America…” or of any confirmation of something coming as “You bet your sweet ass”.

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16 Responses to An Evening of Pottery Porn

  1. Christine says:

    Film night was a treat, thanks so much for your unbelievable efforts!

  2. ang says:

    brilliant idea.. might just do the same here for a club night!! and great to play just for the hell of it Hannah :))

  3. Susan says:

    Oh Hannah this quotation sounds very familiar:"meet Alex and meet the man that made their daughter chose this particularly obscure career path"only in my case it was husband who met Alex and Jack Doherty who inspired me to pot.Saw Alex and his wife on thursday in Manchester, it's great to see Alexs' work that is not a test for a 2nd year ceramics class. Of course such meetings are like a meeting of the Man Met ceramics alumni.

  4. Peter says:

    Lovely post Hannah, and the fact that I read it at this time of day when I should be getting our gallery ready to open for the afternoon, has something to do with the fact that it is cold and raining here too! The film night was a marvellous idea, and one that I would like to borrow here if I may. Not sure if I would break any copyright stuff that they have on the films by screening them in public, but a year or two of imprisonment would at least have the benefit of 3 meals a day, central heating, and a time of not having to worry about sales (or the lack of them!!). I can quite understand the large "low" that is centred over your workshop after the huge activity of your trip, and hope you are able to come out from under it soon. I guess that such adventures are a bit like the investment we make when we love someone, or have a favourite cat…, it is hell when we lose them, but we have really experienced life in all its fullness in the precious time that we have had. Kind Thoughts, P.

  5. Hahahaha! I love the title of the post! Every evening before bedtime, whilst my wife watches reruns of NCIS, I spend an hour going through the blogs I follow. Every night my wife tells me, "Put away your porn and come watch with me!" I've seen them all about ten times already, as we own the DVD sets. My wife just laughed when I told her what your title was!

  6. Anna says:

    Wow, no way you could have done this in your old tiny studio! Glad you have time to throw some things just for YOU!

  7. Hannah , it might surprise you to know that Mum and Dad actually enjoyed seeing the films! Dad enjoyed the Chinese film best wheras I loved the silent film at the start.Bet you thought we wouldnt come as we're rarely seen out after dark!Good to meet Alex and discover the reason why our washing machine was always clogged with clay and my car laden with publicity materials.

  8. ajsimmons says:

    Brilliant couple of posts Hannah…so glad film night a success, you'll have to repeat a private view for me! Totally normal to come down from all that excitement and you've given yourself the perfect anti-dote….love those new/old shapes..A x

  9. OH Hannah- life is so fun and reading yours makes it even better.You bet your sweet ass it does!

  10. Ron says:

    Sounds like film night was a big hit! I've never heard of that Chinese film, I'll have to look it up. Nice to have a space where you can host something like that and good folks who come out!Love those lobed dishes!! Good to see you back making.

  11. LindaB says:

    Do yo think Alex would come and show the films to London Potters?What is that strange thing like a set of teeth in the bottom of that lobed dish?

  12. Paul Jessop says:

    As I said to Ron, " You've gotta get up to get down.".

  13. Hannah says:

    Thanks all, yes Paul you are right I know, just takes a bit of dealing with that's all but wise words!Linda I'll ask him for you.Peter never thought about copyright but I didn't charge anything do you think that counts?hx

  14. Dan Finnegan says:

    Thanks for the CD of photos, Hannah…made me go all weepy again!

  15. Hannah! Great post. I now can hear it in your very own voice, having spent time in your gracious company. Thank you and Doug so much for my "Elizabeth" mug. It was a lovely surprise!

  16. Hannah says:

    Hi Dan, glad they got there safely. I know what you mean, I get a welling up everytime I flick through some more and the amount of time I sit remembering things from the trip is just crazy! Fntastic memories though, keep them for a life time. hx

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