This week I have been mostly making tea pots. I seem to cope with them best if I make a batch of about 5 or 6 at a time.
On day one I make the body, the lid, and the spout, and on day two, I put them all together, and add the handle.
To make the sort of handle that goes over the top of the teapot, I first pull a strap of clay with a wet right hand from a thick sausage of clay held in my left hand. The action is a bit like milking a cow. My right hand slowly and repeatedly pulls and flattens a ribbon of clay, and I have to wet my hand in a bucket of water from time to time.
Once the strap of clay is about the right length and thickness for a handle, I lay it out on a board carefully on its edge in an approximation of the curved shape that the handle will have on the pot, and allow it to stiffen up slightly.
After an hour or two the handle material is stiff enough to put on the pot. I score the places on the pot where the handle will be attached and add a thin slurry of liquid clay to the places. I then lightly position the handle in place and make any adjustments to its shape, and height that might be needed. I put a temporary clay prop between the inverted lid of the teapot and the underside of the handle to add support to the handle that I have positioned on the pot. To ensure that the prop does not stick to the handle, I put a little piece of paper or plastic bag between the prop and the handle. Once I am happy with the position and size of the handle, I firmly finish each joint.
Most of the teapots that I made this time had handles that went over the top of them. I also made a couple of pots with the handle at the back. The teapots in the photographs have a thin coat of white slip over the stoneware clay. They now need to dry for a few days before I can glaze and fire them.
I am starting to give regular classes to a small group of teenagers that seem keen to learn pottery. We made these birds in my hour long Wednesday class. We will add some slip decoration to them next week. I am really enjoying my time with this little group.
Winter is really here now, some of the hills have started to sport a fine mantle of gray on their upper slopes, and the higher mountains are white with deeper snow.
To celebrate the first signs of snow, we went for a walk beside the sea. We live about a mile away from this beautiful stretch of the coastline.
I became very interested with the textures I saw around me,
from the muddy cliffs,
to rocks at my feet. Looking at small rocks in the sand, you can pretend that you are flying over the desert, and that the rocks are huge, and that the patterns in the sand which are left by the retreating seawater, are in fact dry river beds.
Small rock pools make interesting shapes and patterns.
A few bits of drift wood give movement and scale.
I like the tangle of seaweed.
Here is an abstract foam painting on the sand.
An elegant curve of seaweed and foam that might inspire shapes and lines on a pot.
Zigzag foam patterns in the water.
Lines on the sand, lines in the water, and more lines in the sky.
Smudgy gray block clouds.
A winter sky.
Lumps and bumps in the sky, and on the sand.
The sea makes dogs bark and run wildly full of joy. I feel space, an expansion of ideas, and more clarity of purpose. Heck, it's fun out there!