Monday, May 28, 2012

New Members at the Stuart Street Potter's Co-operative, and some big new pots.

It is always delightful to have a good number of people visiting the Stuart Street Potter's Co-operative Gallery in Dunedin, and we had an exhibition opening there last Saturday to feature our two new members, Anne McLean and Suzanne Emslie.  The exhibition of their work will run until 9 June, so do have a look if you are in Dunedin.

The Co-op has 12 full members and one associate member.  The members all share the running expenses of the Co-op and we all take turns to look after the gallery.  Our work is all different, there is no "house style", some do mostly domestic ware, and others lean towards sculptural. The gallery is a fairly enormous old shop that is long and narrow, and is situated in Lower Stuart Street opposite the Law Courts.  We all have our own shelves to display our work, and also put some items on plinths.  There are hundreds of of items on show, and it does take time to go around the gallery and absorb what is there.  I still make "discoveries" when I look after the gallery.

I am really pleased that Anne and Suzanne have joined the Co-op, not only are they nice people, but the work they do is different from what the rest of us do.  Anne made some small barrel fired pots for her exhibition, and it gladdens my heart to see something that was produced in a smoky atmosphere!  

Anne McLean

Some of Anne's barrel fired pots.

Suzanne Emslie
Suzanne's Figures (the white ones are Oamaru Stone).

Suzanne has made some ceramic figures, and also some Oamaru stone carvings.  Oamaru stone is a very white limestone that is quarried near the town of Oamaru.  The stone is quite soft and easy to work, even with old saws and cheese graters!  

Since I last wrote, I have been improving the storage area where I put my work after I have made it on the wheel, and I have been starting some new large work. 

This bottle is 26 inches tall (660mm), but will shrink a bit as it dries.
My studio is very small, and I always have a battle to find room to store new work, and pots that are awaiting being glazed.  It all gets very inefficient and frustrating.  Glazing and finishing pots is done in the same small room that the pots are made in and my storage rack gets overwhelmed with new pots, bisqued pots, pots with fresh glaze on, and so on. 

Here is the bottle again, with a "friend".  The friend is awaiting another coil or two of clay to finish the top.
I want to build more shelves in the adjacent room to take some of the work in progress, this will be a good winter job!  I did manage to improve things a bit by reconstructing my storage rack, and modifying how it supports the ware boards that hold my work.  The modifications enable me to use the rack more efficiently and probably increase my storage by about 20 percent.

Here is a new pot taking shape on the wheel.  It has had one coil of clay added already, and this has taken it to just above the height of my plastic bucket of water.

The "coil and throw" method of making large pots works quite well for me.  It is fairly slow compared with the other method that people often use of making a pot in two or more sections and joining them, but I do like the control that "coil and throw" gives.  I start the pot with 5 or 6 kilogrammes of clay, and make what looks like a simple planter on the wheel.  This forms the base of the pot.  I let the base stiffen overnight, then add a coil of clay to it the next day. I probably make the coil of clay about 2 inches (50mm) in diameter, but I do vary this a bit, depending on how thick the wall of the pot is, and how dry it is, and how daring I am feeling at the time!  The coil of clay might add another 5 or 6 inches (127 - 152mm) to the height of the pot when it is thinned and "thrown" higher on the wheel.

It is winter here, so things are drying slowly, but If I am lucky, I might be able to add a second coil to the pot later in the day.  With this method I like to work on several pots at once.

There have been lovely sunsets recently.  It is worth braving the evening chill and having a look outside!  Talking of "evening chill", outside it is about 0 degrees Celsius (32 F) as I write this!  Goodnight!


cookingwithgas said...

you get cold just as we go muggy hot. Summer is on us and the weather will not be as pleasant as our wonderful spring we just had.
I like the bottle- but it is a favorite shape of mine- well done!

TropiClay Studio said...

I am trying to get larger vessels as well. The hard part for me (I think) is keeping the parts thick enough so they don't collapse when I add more onto the base part. Your nice big bottle is a great form!

Armelle said...

Hello Peter,
Sorry not to be very present on blog's friends at the moment. Your Co-operative looks nice and big enought to show many works. I can see your big planters at the top of the exhibition !!!
Nice bottle, I do like the bottles :-)

Melissa Rohrer said...

I have the same space issue. When I'm ready to glaze it's glaze or nothing- no room to stop and work on new stuff.
Really like the large bottle. Hope you'll have a picture after it's fired.

Peter said...

Hi Meredith,
If only someone could design a way to redistribute hot and cold air around the globe so that we all were comfortable and could grow tomatoes all year round! Thanks for the "well done", that is much appreciated.

Hi TropiClay,
Lovely to hear from you all the way from sunny Guam! I have battled with the clay thickness thing too. I am finding that keeping things an even thickness is even more important than the actual thickness, as alternating thick and thin areas make things much weaker than they should be. The coil and throw method has the advantage of only gradually increasing the load that the lower parts of the pot has to carry, and this does make a thinner wall thickness possible than the method of throwing top and bottom parts and joining them. I know that many potters make use of a gas torch to stiffen the lower part of the pot before adding more coils.

Hello Armelle,
Good to hear from you. No apologies needed..., in fact, I am long overdue for a visit and a comment on your site. Life sometimes gets busy or complicated! Ah yes, the big planter did manage to sneak into the photograph somehow! It is nice to have it at the Co-op gallery where it has a chance to be seen. Purrs to you from NS & G!

Hi Melissa,
You too! Aggggggh, glazing in a small space is frustrating, particularly because it makes it impossible to work on other things as well, and I tend to put it off until I have a great pile of work to do... and that makes me put it off even more. Perhaps we should be salt or soda glazing?!!

Thanks about the bottle, hopefully it will turn out OK. I'll post a picture when all done. It will be wood fired, and is in earthenware clay.

Angie said...

Wonderful sunset shots ....glad the co-operative is expanding those carvings of suzannes...and your new mega pots.

Peter said...

Hello Angie,
Good to hear from you. We were in the Co-op today looking after the place, and I do think it is looking nice there at the moment. It is Queen's Birthday weekend in this part of the world, so was a public holiday, but we did have a few people through the gallery for a look (I wonder when HM's birthday really is??? I should Google it and find out!) :)