Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Temperature Rising, Mystery "items", and Covert Surveillance!

I am writing this as I monitor the first glaze firing in the electric kiln I have done since the beginning of May. The firing is mostly glaze tests, but I hope to have a few things to sell as well.

I fired a couple of bisque firings last week, all new work that I have done in porcelain. There are a few photos dotted through this of some of the dry porcelain pots taking a few minutes to enjoy the sunshine before going into the kiln for their first firing.

I have restricted the weight of clay for the new pots to a 1.5kg maximum, and was pleased to be able to pull some of the bottle forms up to 11 - 13 inches with that amount of clay.

Those of you in the Northern Hemisphere will be into autumn or fall about now, so I thought you would like to see some spring flowers! These are photos that Laura took in the garden recently.

Maybe because it is Spring here and there are tulips and daffodils in flower, the flowers make me think of bowl and vase forms. The petals have amazing strength and balance, and an energetic line to them, as well as fragility.

My slower pace of work has made me want to make each piece that I make a little more "special", to invest a bit more thought, or playfulness.  I felt the need to modify some of the vases that I made, by cutting straight down from the top and rejoining the rim to make "petals". Mostly I did not aim for these to look particularly flower like, but the cutting of the rims was inspired by what I saw around me.

There are good things about working this way, and traps too! So much bad potting on the wheel is done by people who get too "precious" about one piece. Really good pots on the wheel often need to be done quite quickly, and as part of a series. It may take many attempts at a form to get a lovely fluidity going, and the "good" pot may quite likely be number 29 out of a series of similar pots that the potter has made that day. Number 29 has probably been done with little conscious thought, but it could not have been made without the 28 pots that preceded it. However, I digress...., making of a large series of pots is not open to me at the moment, so I have to work differently, and more deliberately, and know when to stop! It does interest me how much it is possible to remember and benefit from the day before at the wheel, even if one has only made 2 or 3 pots. The experience of making 2 or 3 pots on day one, really does make the 2 or 3 pots on day two go better!

We have been very fortunate to have another potter in the studio over the last few days. Just to confuse things this potter is also called Peter..., so we have two Peters potting under one roof! Peter is staying in our area, and needed a place to work to make some new "items" to sell. It has been lovely to hear a wheel rumbling away on a regular basis, and to be able to talk about potting and wood firing.

Currently there is a bit of mystery as to what Peter is making. I am assured that the "items" do have a peaceful purpose, but I suspect that the Department of Homeland Security could show an interest. And, maybe they have already. Yesterday we were repeatedly buzzed by a low flying aircraft that was pretending to be spreading agricultural fertilizer on the farm next door..., covert surveillance??

Anyway, I hope to update in a couple of days on how today's firing turns out, and to reveal more of what the Other Peter Potter is making in my studio.


Michèle Hastings said...

good luck with the firing!

Peter said...

Hi Michèle,
Good to hear from you. Kiln now at 270 Celcius, so hope to open it this evening! Just a small load really, but exciting to have got it done. Yay!

Linda Starr said...

Beautiful flowers and I like the last pot you showed, now I am curious about those pod looking pots?

Armelle Léon said...

Bonsoir Peter,
I like the first pot, nice shape, maybe I am so classic. What mysteries, can't wait to know more about the items, the other Peter is doing.

Best wishes from all

Peter said...

Hi Linda and Armelle,
Lovely to hear from you both. The mystery of the "pod looking pots" is soon to be revealed... I took some photos yesterday afternoon which should solve the puzzle... and, maybe I might get a chance later today to put another blog post together! P :)

cookingwithgas said...

Oh, two Peters in a pot.
It us like two peas in a pod, but better.

I love to work in multiples when throwing. I really do need more than one and more than 3 to get not only the feel of the pot, but 1 pot leaves only 1 choice for glaze.
If I have only one it would take me days to decide. With at least 8 I have 1 to mess up and 7 more chances at something good.
Mark makes the lamps in 2 pieces and then caps them off.

Amy said...

oh, just wonderful! It's so good to read posts about you back at the wheel.... thanks for the blog post! looking forward to seeing the results.

Peter said...

Hi Meredith,
Lovely to hear from you. I agree completely about the benefit of working in multiples when throwing, it definitely is the best way to go about things. I had to smile when I read what you said about glazing, as I only too well know that feeling of being "stuck" by an impossible decision about what glaze to use on a pot!

Hi Amy,
Some photos of the new pots coming up very soon. The glaze firing was a bit mixed in results, but I had some interesting and useful glaze tests in there, and a couple of really nice pots.

gz said...

Good to see you working well.

I remember seeing the crop dusting on the steep slopes near Te Aroha..they were flying all day for two days. I suppose that's the only way to deal with it!

Peter said...

Good to hear from you Gwynneth. Application of fertilizer by air certainly transformed farming in NZ. A lot of country was hard to get into by other means, and some places were lacking certain elements that were essential for raising livestock. In the early days, it was "top dressing" by modified D H Tiger Moths, that really made the difference. In these times, with intensification of farming, there are interesting questions emerging about what is sustainable and environmentally sound.