Six o'clock Sunday morning saw me out of bed and propping open my electric kiln lid to let out the last of the heat. It was action stations, I was due at Gallery on Blueskin at 10am where I was doing a demonstration of pottery. I had to get the kiln unloaded and the contents sorted and anything good enough packed to take to the gallery, and I also had to get the car loaded with bags of wedged clay, that I had kneaded the day before, knives, needles, kidneys, cutting wires, buckets, bats, aprons, sponges and water bowls (all the sort of things that you would not be able to carry on an aeroplane these days!). On Saturday night, Nathan, who's wife Nicky works at the Gallery, had kindly transported my kick wheel to the gallery for me, so at least I did not have to manage that bit.
I made it to the gallery by 10.05am (which was quite a good effort, considering) and already found a great sea of activity, with a large tent structure being set up by a team of children who were following orders that were given by Nathan, who was showing that men can multi task too!
Putting up the tent frame was like some sort of dance.
After the occasional glitch, "The cover's upside down isn't it?", a very impressive open sided tent stood merrily above two potter's wheels and a variety of small tables.
Nicky Advertises Dunedin.
Much of the morning was spent getting set up, throwing some pots, and talking to a few children and adults. Nicky kindly agreed to helping with the children with hand building and pinch pots (she's a trained OT), whilst I concentrated on wheel work.
It is occasionally an advantage having a sieve for a brain that rarely remembers names, as I can comfortably chat with people and enjoy them as people without the burden of shyness that can come upon me when I know "who they are"! I had the great pleasure of talking to one such kindly and interesting man who "had been a potter", and showing him some of my pots at the gallery. It turned out that this was Ray Rodgers, a New Zealand potter who has lived and worked both in NZ and Australia, with time also spent in America and the UK. Ray won the Fletcher Brownbuilt International Award in 1983, and is especially noted for his use of the pit fired technique. It was in 1997 that he demonstrated his work at Aberystwyth, in the UK at the International Ceramics Festival. Anyway it was real treat for me to be able to meet him.
Laura brought me a sandwich just after midday, and I was just starting to think that things were going to be fairly easy going, when...., people turned up, and kept on turning up. I then worked right through to 4pm from 12.30 with no break other than attempting to swish down coffee or water that Louise, the Gallery owner, mercifully brought me to keep my vital functions functioning. I gave quick hands on lessons to adults and children.
Here I am helping a young fellow with his pot on the kick wheel. I am standing on one leg, kicking the wheel as well. It is all part of the service!
I am not sure how many in total sat at my wheel as I helped them form a lump of clay into something that resembled a bowl or a mug, but I imagine it was between 15 and 20, maybe more??. After 4pm and a lightning fast slice of Nicky's yummy chocolate cake and more liquid, there were more people.
Starting them young. A father shows his daughter the art of potting.
I think we got packed up by just after 6pm. 12 people had paid to have their work fired, so the next challenge was to get it home. I found that most of it could be persuaded to sit on a bat, sometimes with a little coil of clay to make things firmer. To my surprise and relief, all travelled home OK. Because it had been a warm day, the pots were drying fast, so I flipped the bowls over and foot ringed them on my electric wheel, as most were very thick in the bottom. Somewhere after 7.30pm, as I was just finishing the last little bowl, Nathan kindly delivered my kick wheel home again.
Naturally, I was very tired at the end of all that, but it was an interesting experiment, taking the wheel to the people, rather than waiting for them to come here. It was also a chance for me to introduce people to the magic of clay. A responsibility too!
A big thank you to Louise for cheerfully agreeing to this event taking place at her gallery, Gallery On Blueskin, (and for many cups of coffee), to Nicky (for helping with people and clay work and for baking the chocolate cake), Nathan (wheel transport, organisation of tent assembly, and supervising 6 children), Laura (helping me get everything into the car and making sure I was fed), to all the children that helped with the tent and other duties, and to the people who turned up and made the day possible.
Happily the firing had turned out well, so I was able to bring 9 chun bowls and 4 mugs with me to go on display and two bowls and a mug were sold whilst I was demonstrating.
I was particularly pleased with some of the glazes that came out of this firing. I took the kiln a nudge higher, to cone 11. and was a little more daring with some of the glaze application and combinations, and also dusted some wood ash directly over some of the freshly glazed bowls.