Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Time for Tea!

If you live in the Dunedin area and your lights are dim, your heater a dull glow, and your toast takes forever to cook, blame it on the local potters firing their kilns! Members of the Stuart Street Potter's Co-operative are working day and night to get new work made in time for our group exhibition that opens this coming weekend.  Do come to the opening at 11 on Saturday morning, there will lots to see and to enjoy, and we are extremely thankful to the Bell Tea Company for supporting us in this exhibition... with tea of course!

The two top shelves of the kiln.
I have done 6 firings of the electric kilns since the beginning of September, and Laura and I fired the wood fired kiln last Sunday.  It was a "desperation firing" with deadlines for the exhibition looming, too many pots to fit in the kiln, bad weather forecast, and another commission also being completed.  As always, the day before the firing turned into a 14 hour marathon followed by a wakeful night.  This time the night was enlivened by strong winds whooshing, and sighing outside, and I was wondering just how much of a gale I could sensibly fire in.  Around 4 in the morning, the wind abated, and I got up and started the fire at 5am, with a spectacularly starry night sky above, and the occasional eddy of chilly breeze around my ankles.  I stoked until 8am, then Laura was able to do quite a lot of the morning session, and this was a big help and allowed me to actually catch up on a few minutes of sleep.  I did the afternoon shift from midday and had the firing finished by about 3.30.  I took the kiln to cone 3 in the hotter parts to give a good colour to unglazed work. For the last hour we were joined by Gio Angelo, who has been doing some filming of me at work as part of a documentary he is making, and it has been a real pleasure to have his company in the studio.  He was a potter many years ago, and it was nice for him to be around kilns and clay again. Gio enjoys film making in his retirement.

Gio Angelo
One moment of hilarity... sort of, when I had the kiln up to about 850 degrees Centigrade (1562 F) and was doing some tidying up in between stoking, I started to coil up the extension lead that I use to bring power to a light.  When I gave the lead a little tug there was a sudden fountain of water from beside the shed.  Unbeknown to me, the cord had snagged around the garden tap and the copper pipe to it fractured a few inches above ground.  Our water pressure is over 100psi here, so the fountain was a generous one!  I had to run in at least 3 directions simultaneously, 1) turn off the water out on the street, 2) stoke the kiln, 3) race into our gallery to let Laura know the situation with the water, then rush outside again to stoke the kiln...., then inside again to talk to a friend on the phone about the problem with the broken pipe... then outside again to stoke....
Mark giving the broken pipe a very close inspection!

Armed with gas torch and soldering iron our friend Mark kindly came to the rescue, and was able to do a temporary repair to stop the leak. Hooray for the Cavalry!

Anyway, it turned out to be quite a good firing, and the teapots that I need for the exhibition at the Stuart Street Potters Co-op have turned out well.  I have glazed the inside of them only, and put them in a place in the kiln where the flames would have maximum effect so they have lovely toasty exteriors.  Two very large pots were also fired in this firing, I put them at the back of the kiln where they would get to a good bisque temperature, but were protected from the main heat of the fire. I still need to glaze fire them, but they are looking good so far, which is cause for great rejoicing.

The Teapots

Tea for Two!
Earthenware teapot 9.5 inches high (24cm)
I had fun with the details.
Earthenware teapot 10 inches high (25.5cm)
Earthenware teapot 7.5 inches high (19cm)
Earthenware teapot 9 inches high (23cm)
Harold the rooster, somewhat larger than a teapot, and quite handsome when the sun shines on him.
Almost entirely without a brain, he does, however, look interested when I say, "Grubs, Harold.  Grubs!"


cookingwithgas said...

and pie- you need to fly me over so I can bring a pie!

smartcat said...

And particular my buttercrunch, white or choc chip cookies.
I am a sucker for teapots, but these are spectacular. I love the toastiness of the clay. They's are begging to be held.

Armelle said...

and pancakes... from this part of the world !!! Your teapots have very nice fire colors, I love the little one, best wishes for the tea-party.

Angie said...

..and I'll bring scones and a banana cake and a coconut cake (no wonder I built for comfort not speed aka fat)
Love the details on the spout handles ...very clever making them look as they are skrewed on. Love the poster and blurb ...hope it goes well.
Thanks for droping by my placexx

Peter said...

I am about to visit our local hardware store to see if I can buy up enough nuts, bolts, lengths of string, and assorted timber, metal, and screws to build us an aeroplane! Then we can establish world wide progressive dinners and spend the rest of our lives eating all manner of pies, cookies, cakes, scones,and pancakes, and washing them down with tea from enormous teapots... what fun it will be! You are tantalizing me with all this baking. I must add that, unlike most modern aircraft, my one will have extra wide seats to enable us to actually enjoy all this eating!
Thanks so much for your comments, it has been great fun reading them. Px

Julia said...

Those teapots are just amazing! And, I wish I lived close to you so I could come to the co-op show!

There is nothing worse than a broken pipe. Except a broken pipe in the middle of winter. :)

Michèle Hastings said...

the teapots look nice and toasty! i could visualize the chaos as you told your broken water pipe story. It did sound humorous in the retelling. although I am sure it was quite stressful in the moment.

raindrop said...

Oh Peter! Your teapots are wonderful. Was it coincidence
that their
shape looks remarkably
similar to Harold's? How delightful!

Hannah said...

Brilliant, at the point where the pipe fractured I would have done my very best flapping.
Lovely toasty teapots.
I'll do us a Victoria Sponge for the tea party.

PS, weirdly the verification word is 'henspoo'

Peter said...

Thank you all of you for your comments and for the level of hilarity. I do wish that you all lived closer. It would seem that bloggers are gastronomically gifted, especially when it comes to yummy cakes, and other sweet things! Come to the tea party, please do!

Raindrop, welcome to the blog, it is lovely to hear from you, and.. you are perceptive indeed! Yes, Harold has started to influence my potting. A number of years ago we had two friendly Magpies here, one I named Pew... never did sort out a name for the other, I loved to watch them sitting on the fence outside my studio, and they managed to make their way into the paintings that I was doing at the time.

Hannah, "henspoo",that's funny! Isn't great that the google supercomputer is developing a sense of humour. It is not so bad to think of world domination by a machine that makes one laugh! Victoria Sponge.... yummmmmmmm!

Amy said...

Just laughed when I read your words about Harold. And, those teapots are lovely! They are so time intensive; I think it's amazing when anyone makes one. Hope you'll share more pictures from that firing.

Peter said...

Hi Amy,
Harold certainly keeps me entertained. He is named in honour of the English king who lost the Battle of Hastings to the French in 1066. I enjoy making teapots, they do happen more slowly than many of the other things that I make, but it is nice to linger over some things! I'll try to remember to put a few more photos on my next post! Oops, must dash now, I am needed in the kitchen to dry some dishes! P