"Let's call the whole thing off", says the song by George and Ira Gershwin from the 1937 film, "Shall We Dance". It is the song that has the immortal line, "I say to-mAy-toes, and you say to-mAh-toes"... I am reminded of this song when ever I make jugs, because I know that Americans call what I call "jugs", "pitchers". Language can be confusing, because "pitcher" sounds just like "picture" to me... which is really something that you would hang on a wall and would definitely avoid tipping water into. An elderly Dutch friend of mine, who sadly passed away a few years ago, would never use the word "picture" to refer to a painting, but would call a painting a "painting", and reserve "picture" for photos or prints, and then only if the prints were reproductions of other works... not artist's prints, such as etchings!
Confused? Oh well...., I concede that the American use of pitcher is the most correct for what I have here anyway, as, according to The Potter's Dictionary of Materials and Techniques" by Frank Hamer a pitcher is "a large jug often with a relatively small top. It is intended for carrying and storing liquid rather than for pouring and serving." This large potter's dictionary is one of the Holy Books of potting, and I read its verses devoutly at bed time, and when ever I am looking for guidance in the studio! If you have a problem with Black core, Breakdown, or Bloating, or need to brush up on your understanding of Flocculation, this is the book for you!
In my previous post, I mentioned that I had been making earthenware cheese dishes. I enjoyed the process of making them very much, and there is something about earthenware clay that is playful and fun, so I have stuck with it for a while and felt the urge to make some jugs... pitchers!
I started by preparing some earthenware clay and weighing it out into 2 kg lumps (2 kg is just shy of 4.5 pounds). On the potter's wheel I found that the clay would lift easily for me into 12 inch high cylinders that I could then shape into something more curvaceous and jug-like. The morning of the following day the clay would be firm enough for me to make and attach handles to the jugs. In the evening of the second day I could pour slip into the jug (liquid clay), and then slip and decorate the outside on the morning of the third day.
It has been good doing slip decoration and I am becoming more confident with working with leather hard pots and slip. Having mostly decorated my work with glazes after it has been bisque fired, there is a little mental hurdle to overcome about decorating raw clay, a morbid fear that the pot will give a sad little sigh and collapse or split after becoming wet with all the liquid slip! Fortunately, the earthenware clay seems very strong and forgiving.
I will put some photos of work in progress with this. All the photos with this post will be of jugs that have been slipped. These have still to dry and to be fired and glazed so they will change a lot, but it is interesting to record what they look like at this stage of life!
I have added texture to some of the pots by combing through wet slip and adding little pellets of clay that I have pressed stamps into.
I have done 10 jugs so far, and hope to do four slightly bigger ones tomorrow, and also to make a start on 2 really big ones that will be made by throwing and coiling.
"I like to-Mah-toes, and you like to-May-toes".... ta daa dee dum ta taaa!
By-the-way.... , the white "slip" that am using is really an "engobe"! Daniel Rhodes has a recipe that I find works well for me over my red earthenware clay in "Clay and Glazes for the Potter". It is as follows....
Daniel Rhodes Engobe for damp clay. Cone 1 - 6.
Ball Clay 25
Nepheline Syenite 15
Happy New Year!