Once upon a time I made pots

It feels like a life time ago when I last sat down to make pots properly. I had, a small problem shall we politely call it, with my glaze. ie it had decided that with my latest batch of clay it would no longer fit. Did I say it? Well actually what I mean is all four that I have been using recently, one of which I have been using since time began. It has driven me up the wall, round the bend, and many other things that I can’t possible write in this company. I quite got to the point where by I thought what is the point in making anything, why put the time and energy and thought into it when it’s going to fail anyway. I tried lots of things that I could test fairly easily, bisque temperature, glaze temperature, slipping wetter, wiping slip off the rims, etc etc etc. All to no avail. Joy joy joy. It appears that the particle sizes in my new batch are different to the last, I know it’s a natural material so I know things over time will change with it but you just don’t imagine that that sort of thing will make such a difference. Anyhow I have learnt more about free silica (bad!) and chemically combined silica (absolutly fine) than I ever thought I would. It has hurt my head a lot.

So, along with a little help from some friends I have these four tests above which, after a million other tests, are I think, fingers crossed, touch wood etc etc are a large step in the right direction.

You may all breathe a collective sigh of relief on my part. Good bit more testing to do but I am feeling more positive about it now thankfully.

I’ve lost so much work as a result of this that all the plans I had formed for the work I was sending out since August through to Christmas have had to be radically rethunked. I hate that, I hate that after telling someone that I was going to send x,y,z to their gallery that I have to ring them and say erm, actually it won’t be like that. Makes me feel incompetent.

So I am now finally thinking that it’s ok to make pots as there is a light at the end of this long dark wet miserable dank tunnel.

The pressed dish above is the first I have made off a new mold that I have made recently. Well I say recently, I made the mold a couple of months ago but in my Eeyore / Pootle (remember?) moments I haven’t fired because it was bound to blow up / crack / be ugly shaped. As it happens it didn’t blow up / crack / or be ugly. That one though is niggling at me as the decoration looks like a pot I have seen recently but I just can’t place it.

This here plate decoration was aiming at being a fat bush but looks more like a pineapple than was intended. However I don’t dislike it for it’s pineapple-ness. It was lovely lovely having wet slip about in the place again. It’s been too long my friend.

Speaking of bushes, I have a lovely holly in a pot at work, I want to keep it in a pot but it’s getting kind of tall and the wind keeps blowing it over, when would one prune a holly tree? Should I contact Gardeners’ Question Time? Answers on a postcard / comment / email. Thank you.

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11 Responses to Once upon a time I made pots

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am so glad you are back to pots! I’ve been checking the blog and FB and I haven’t seen pots in a while and was about to ask. I hope the time “off” hasn’t been all bad. Your work is so lovely and inspiring. BTW…I don’t think it looks pineapply. It looks artichokey. I think it is awesome! And the picture below is AMAZING! I’d offer suggestions on the holly bush since we have one in our yard but given you live in a different climate and there is the possibility your “holly” is not the same as mine…well, I’m not sure it would be advice that is reliable.

  2. tracey says:

    I feel your pain, went through a similar thing with all of my slab pieces pulling themselves apart. It got to where I didn’t even want to get out of bed the morning after firing my kiln for fear of what I would see! It just took remembering that the slabs need to be rolled in different directions to settle the clay particles properly, duh!
    Pineapples are a symbol of welcome and hospitality and a good gift for new home owners or hostess gifts. People love buying pineapple stuff around here! It’s lovely 🙂

  3. Quite understand your pain. My favourite sketchbook is no longer made.This sounds trivial, but my sketchbook is my constant companion and my daily workplace. I’ve used the same type-which was, for me, the absolute perfect dream sketchbook, for years. Been trying out new ones this year. Hate them all. None of them have the right paper quality/size/feel. Found one with nice paper but it smells- yes, SMELLS really nasty- every time I get it out I find myself wondering where the smell is coming from, then I remember and I hate the sketchbook for it, but, I’ve started to use it, so I will finish it. Just glad I didn’t buy several!

  4. Holly like Hannahs is utterly unstopable they survive whatever you do to them. Chop it whenever you want but you might loose this year’s berries.

  5. Cat says:

    I am so sorry Hannah! I’m really glad your able to test and make the changes that will fix the glaze fit on your changed clay body. We deal with those issues thru the years of being a potter with changes in the materials that come out of the earth or are no longer mined. It’s not easy . Sending ((((hugs)))) sorry for your loss’s , hope the solution is found now and you can get back to doing your beautiful work!

  6. Ron Philbeck says:

    I love that last image. That’s some nice trailing Ms McAndrew. Sure hope those new glazes give you good results. I’m testing at the moment too and I’m afraid to commit too many pots to the new glazes. At least I have one that is reliable. (knock on wood etc, etc).
    That fat bush deco that turned out as a pineapple gave me a chuckle. 🙂

  7. I’ve had firing problems that made me never want to turn on the gas, so I know a little of what you mean, Hannah. You do eventually come out on the other side. Painful, though, and you do think you’re totally incompetent. You’re not. And it sounds like you’re getting back. Hang in there.
    And prune the holly any time.

  8. Nancy says:

    I feel your angst! Much luck with the new glazes – they look fab. Crossed fingers that all goes well with your beautiful pieces. x. (your pineapple plate reminds me of an artichoke. I like it!)

  9. What did you do to correct the glaze in the end? I would love images of the test tiles for the glaze recipe book. I would need the recipe too if you’re happy to share it.

  10. Hannah says:

    Artichoke! Of course it is, thanks folks.
    Thank you for your kind words too. It’s been a pretty rough time trying to sort this all out and still having all the deadlines and commissions that need dealing with.
    I am getting on in the right direction but not there yet. Soon I hope.
    I shall away and prune my holly too.
    Thanks again all.

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