Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Pitchers or Jugs

"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.

Kaolin  25
Ball Clay  25
Nepheline Syenite  15
Talc  5
Silica  20
Zircopax 5
Borax  5

Happy New Year!


cookingwithgas said...

We call that book the bible for potters. Those "pitchers" are absolutely fabulous. Call them what you want, George, Alice, even betty, but call them sold. Gorgeous.

Linda Starr said...

they're pitchers to me, ha, wonderful texture going there, every time I play solitaire I am wondering if you are doing the same. ha

Peter said...

Hi Meredith,
Bible it certainly is, it is an amazing resource of information, and an entertaining read too! I might adopt George, Alice, and Betty as names for my jugs, it suits them well! I hope they do get sold..., rather a lack of people around at the moment which is a bit scary for our "busy" season!

Hi Linda,
You are probably right about the solitaire, I am a bit of an addict at the moment, so may well be playing at the same time! It is nice to think that a game like solitaire can be companionable after all!!

Michèle Hastings said...

Beautiful pitchers!
There are folks here that say "picture" and it sounds like "pitcher"! We had a visitor one day point to a wall and say in her southern accent, "Tell me about that pitcher." I said that I wasn't sure what she was talking about... she pointed again and I realized she was talking about the "picture" on the wall!!!!
Maybe we should all switch to calling them jugs.

Peter said...

Hi Michèle,
Love the picture/pitcher confusion! The New Zealand accent has a few peculiarities with vowel sounds (much to the amusement of Australians!!). To me "Pen" and "Pin" sound alike here, and I did actually lend someone a pin once when they asked for a pen! ... much to their confusion, and mine!
I have now lived here so long that I am rarely tripped up by such things, but I still have to think hard sometimes.. I'm also starting to go a bit deaf..., which doesn't help!

Pat - Arkansas said...

Peter, et al... how lovely to hear from you. Thanks for not "writing me off" for my lack of posting over this last year. I've done a bit of catching up on your recent posts and greatly admire the work you've done on the rooster, cheese dishes and pitcher/jugs. I do like those jugs, and hope they just fly off your shelves.

I commiserate with you on your health problems and hope your energies are returning, if not fully restored.

I would love to be enjoying your New Zealand summer; it's still quite chilly here (read below the freezing point).

Take care. Stay well. Warmest wishes to you, Laura and Nigella Stop It.

Peter said...

Hello Pat,
Delighted to hear from you again, I have missed you of course, but quite understand that life with all its challenges can sometimes need to take priority over blogging, especially when health lets us down!

I'm really enjoying the jugs and have made more of a larger size since this post (new post about that is about to be put together!).

Kind thoughts to you from us all. P, L & NS x