Sunday, September 6, 2009

8 More Teapots, Bake a Cake, Quiet Open Studio, Throwing Lesson

OK, it is not a great photo, but I was pleased to be able to capture a little impression of the charming, darting, and friendly New Zealand fantail that was hunting for little insects around our trees and shrubs. I was probably no more than four feet from the bird when I took this photo. One year we had as many as eight or nine fantails at a time, including a black fantail. One was particularly curious and alighted briefly on my head and my proffered arm.

In my previous post I included a photograph of this teapot. Over the last few days I have made eight more teapots that started as variations on the form of the one above. These started out as "insurance" in case something went horribly wrong with the first teapot, it being a commissioned piece, but I carried on exploring the form with each teapot that I did, and ended up with some that were quite different from the first.

This one is a nice, cuddly looking pot, good for a convivial cuppa with friends on a rainy day.

For some strange reason, this one makes me think of steam engines and Westerns!

I like the comfortable roundness of this one, and the hint of throwing rings.

I have also been working on some special dishes for baking cakes in, the sort that have that funny hollow bit in the middle. Someone requested one of a particular size. I have made four so far that step up from small to large in the hope that one of them will be the perfect size when it is fired! It is rather hard to estimate the shrinkage with the level of precision that I think is required, so I am using the "Left a bit, no, right a bit, steady... steady, aim, ....Bombs away" approach!

We had a rather too quiet open studio weekend, with very few people through our doors, which was a great shame as it was lovely and sunny and there were lots of people out for a drive. In my weaker, or more rational moments, am wondering quite a lot these days if establishing a pottery here is simply too hard. I know such things are never easy, but for something to have a chance, there has to be a public. I am really very, very thankful for those who do support us and encourage us, but....... I think there is a warning to be found in the fact that there are very few outlets for pottery in this part of the country, and few galleries with any sort of enthusiasm to take it on. I keep hearing of galleries closing or struggling.

The good part of being a quiet day was that I was pleased to be able to give one of my pupils her first proper lesson on the wheel. She did really, really well.

The photo shows her first attempt of the day. She quickly learned to center the clay and made two cylinders and a little planter. She got good height and nice even wall thickness. It was lovely to be able to see someone making such progress, and a real pleasure to be able to pass on some skills.

Ginger enjoys chasing string and old cabbage tree leaves.

Ginger also enjoys sleeping on shoulders!


Angie said...

My favourite pots are fourth amd 2nd from the bottom. I was pondering about what you throw ... if the crunch has hit your part of the world then practical rather than collectable may be the way. I love your cake pan but will cutomers choose it over a conventional NON stick one? Everyone uses mugs ...and needs to replace them and an earthan ware pie dish/plate or casserole dish cannot be beaten. A few cheaper ...small ..practical items may intice them in ... then they will fall in love with the larger pieces. Sorry if you do this already ... hope you didn't mind me adding my two pennies worth. Maybe teaching is where the money is, inorder to keep the other part going.

Ok I'm going now ..... dont give up.

Hannah said...

I like the top teapot.
Cabbage tree! Reminds me I think I must bring in my oen here that I grew from a seed before it gets frosty as I'm sure it will do shortly. Can they handle the frost when they are still wee do you know?

Peter said...

Hi Angie,
Thanks for the comment, and I certainly don't mind you "adding your two pennies worth", who knows, the "pennies" may prove valuable!

I'm also "pondering what I throw" at the moment! I do make mugs, and quite enjoy making them. I sell a slow trickle of them throughout the year and I also sell a few tea pots too. I am currently trying to think of some lines of new work that will appeal to a wider range of people than my more "traditional" looking stoneware work, and will do my best to produce these. It has been useful for me to be a member of a Potters Co-op gallery in Dunedin and see what sort of work sells best there.

There is a problem here with lack of people, and also lack of people taking the time to come in and look at things. This is true of our studio, and also true of the galleries where I sell (or attempt to sell) my work. Better signage may help us a little, but that is not necessarily the case with some of the galleries that have my work. I think we had only 4 people through on Saturday here, and maybe half a dozen on the Sunday, so, when you are dealing with so few, the chances of actually selling anything are quite small no matter what the price or colour.

The cake baking dish is a commission, so I don't expect it to be a regular thing. With commissions I basically try just about anything. Often I make very little from them, as they usually swallow up a huge amount of time, but they do generate a little cash flow, which is a whole lot better than none at all! I also look upon them as being educational. I definitely learn new skills working on commissions!

I am wondering about trying to do the occasional casserole, as good hand made ones are hard to find, and I have had a few people nostalgically tell me about the wonderful one they bought in the 1970s and wish they could get one these days, so you never know, there might even be a few sales there.

Teaching has to be kept in balance, there only being so many hours in the week and only a very limited amount of space in my studio and kilns.

I'm interested to see the way "paul the potter" is flourishing with a studio at a National trust property. He works jolly hard, is well organized, has good standard lines of ware, and I think that there is also a lesson to be had from his success about the importance of location, and of being a destination.

Hi Hannah,
Cabbage trees. The good news is that they are fairly hardy, especially if you get them past their first year or two. When we first came to Waikouaiti we had several years of really cold winters in the early 1990s, and frost after frost nearly every night for weeks. I actually recorded a grass level frost of minus 15 degrees Centigrade one night, and lots of consecutive frosts below minus 10. The cabbage trees almost all survived but it did kill many other of our "hardy" native species. Winters are much warmer now.... Thank Goodness for Global Warming! I must go and find some coal to burn!!

Doespins said...

Most studios seem to be quiet down here at this time of the year including our shop. Sales were really down last month, our lowest month yet. Same number of people through the door though as last year(we keep a daily tally). I guess it's why many small studios close for a month or so.
Save a teapot for me I love their shape and the hill reference.

Peter said...

Hello Doe,
Lovely to hear from you. Thanks for your input into this. Interesting that you had the same number through last month than the year before, but lower sales. Things are strange at the moment with the economy. There will be lots of teapots to choose from. Should be firing them before the end of the month all going well. Best Wishes, P.

Pat - Arkansas said...

I do love the teapots... all of them! Having one (or more -- can anyone have too many teapots?) like these could put me back on the road to drinking tea, instead of so much coffee.

I'm looking forward to seeing photos of the finished products.

It's a rainy day here, as Autumn truly approaches. The leaves are beginning to show a little color, although it's not been really chilly. I think it must have to do with the angle of the sun.

It's nice to see Ginger looking well -- and very contented!

Peter said...

Dear Pat,
So nice to hear from you. Thank you for your support and kind words, it means a lot.

Anonymous said...

Peter, those cake bakers can double for a CHICKEN BAKER if the middle is left with a bottom. You pour a liquid in the middle, like teriakyi sauce, place a whole chicken sitting on top of the middle and let her BAKE. Yummy, the sauce boils up into the chicken.

Peter said...

Hi Mary,

Thanks for a really good idea! Delicious! It sounds to me like some of you are wonderful cooks as well as great potters.