Saturday, July 23, 2016

I'm enjoying decorating! Dealing with the ACC... An appeal for help...

Earthenware fruit bowl with majolica decoration. Diameter 310mm (12 1/4 inches)

If a child finds a muddy puddle, it will jump in it and splash around. At a certain age, some children will eat mud. I remember being with a group of children when I was 3 or 4 years old. We were gathered around the edge of a puddle of water that had formed in a muddy hole under some swings. One child was eating the mud, and daring others to do the same. I held back from it, but several of the other children scooped up finger fulls of black ooze, and put it in their mouths, accompanied by "Ooohhs" and nervous laugher! Mud I did not taste, but I remember chewing pencils when I was a year or two older than that, and savoring the aromatic bitter taste of the wood they were made of, and the tangy graphite "lead" in the middle.

Potting involves the senses. The act of kneading clay, throwing it down on the bench, pounding it with a fist, rolling it with a wooden roller, cutting and tearing it, or pouring it as a creamy slip, all these activities are accompanied by sound: slap, splat, slurp, thud, bump, glug, plap, plop! Sounds specific to clay and potting. There is of course the sense of touch. The feel of clay: smooth, rich, fatty, wet, or coarse, stony, dry and abrasive.

Clay has personality, and a potter has to get to know the clay he or she works with. I find stoneware clay somewhat cold and it takes me a little time to start to like it, and to feel in sympathy with it when I work. I feel more of a freedom and joy with natural red firing earthenware clay; with this I am always tempted to work larger and with more sense of fun. One thing that has held me back from doing more with earthenware has been the glazing and decorating of it. I have often found low fired glazes frustrating.

Detail of Earthenware fruit bowl.

Earthenware fruit bowl underside.

Recently, I have begun to enjoy glazing and decorating earthenware pots, something has changed in me, and now I feel happier and freer about attacking a pot with a fully charged brush! I have been doing on glaze majolica decoration, and restricting myself to red iron oxide, copper carbonate, and cobalt carbonate for the colours. I mix one part of each of these with one part bentonite, one part borax frit, and dilute them to a nicely brush-able consistency with water.

Earthenware jug. Height 125mm (5 inches)

The glaze I use is a commercial white glaze, Abbots White, and to that I add 1 percent red iron oxide and 3 percent bentonite. The bentonite makes the glaze easier to apply and helps it stick to the pot without dusting off. The red iron oxide makes it a warm, ivory white, something I think is more in keeping with a terracotta coloured pot.

Earthenware Pot. Height 325mm (12 3/4 inches)

When I decorate now, I improvise as I go along. I make a mark with the brush, and then respond to that. I try to find what sort of a mark the brush is happy making, and don't fight it. I work quite rapidly, and I like the marks the brush makes when it is used fearlessly!

Earthenware bowl. Diameter 185mm (7 1/4 inches)

Yes, the result may look a bit rough, but I hope it also looks fresh and lively. I have few preconceived ideas when I work, but, if the day has been sunny, or windy, or icy, or if I have seen trees, or ferns, or ripples on water, then those might find their way into the patterns I make.

Earthenware Bowl. Diameter 155mm (6 inches)

Dealing with the ACC... An Appeal for Help.
On 21 March I wrote a post on this blog that was entitled, "A Cautionary tale". In this I described how I had injured my left shoulder whilst spiral wedging clay. This injury appeared to be bursitis and not a tear of the rotator cuff area of the shoulder, however many weeks went past and things have not got better. A second opinion was eventually sought, an MRI scan done, and it transpires that I have a labral tear, a so called SLAP tear, of the part of the shoulder socket to which the tendon from the bicep muscle is attached. Unfortunately, the tear is not a small one and it is causing me great difficulty with my work, with everyday life, and sometimes with driving. I am quite limited in what I can do with my left arm (the larger work on this post were made on the wheel well prior to the accident). I am now waiting for a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon.

One problem I am having currently is with the ACC who are a government run accident insurance provider who are supposed to fund treatment and income assistance for people who suffer accident related injuries in New Zealand.

Whilst ACC accept that I have got an injury - the MRI scan shows this conclusively - they do not accept my explanation that it was caused by "kneading clay". ACC say they will pay for my medical consultations, but have suspended any income related support. ACC ran my medical records past their "expert", but did not consult me at all as to what was meant by "kneading clay". When I eventually heard that they had difficulty with this, I sent them a letter with photos explaining the process. Note, they did not seek this from me, but simply made their decision without knowing or understanding the facts.

It would be a great support to me if you know of anyone who has suffered a shoulder injury whilst preparing clay, especially whilst spiral wedging clay. If you, or a potter friend, has had a similar injury, and don't mind sharing your experience, please email me at
opogallery AT gmail DOT com.
A letter of support from you may help me win my case.

ACC now wish to have the surgeon's opinion as to the cause of injury. This I find a little silly, as he almost certainly will not be a potter and I will have to explain the process to him in his consulting room without being able to demonstrate it! Unfortunately my consultation with the surgeon has been put back from later this month to mid August, so there is still quite some time to wait.

Any help with this situation would be greatly appreciated.

Earthenware mug. Height 100mm (4 inches)

Time for a cup of tea!


Rhonda said...

Excellent new work, am glad your feeling More free with the brush design's. Exciting.

Arkansas Patti said...

I so hope you can find someone to collaborate the cause of your condition. Surely with all the potters that visit you, you will find the conformation you need. Here's hoping.
Take care and be well soon Peter.

Peter said...

Hi Rhonda,
Lovely to hear from you on the blog, thanks for the encouragement!

Hi Patti,
Thank you for writing in, it certainly would be great if I can get a potter or two to put pen to paper. ACC's position on my injury is just the same as a person who sees a bumble bee flying, but says that the bee can't fly, because science says that it can't! It is very hard to reason with a person, or organization, who will not believe the evidence of their eyes!

cookingwithgas said...

Lovely designs on your earthenware.
On the ACC, I have no advice.
Best of luck.

Michèle Hastings said...

I really like your new earthenware work. I agree that is looks fresh and free flowing, not rough at all!.
I wish I could be of help with your ACC battle. I do hope it works out for the best. Be persistent!

Anonymous said...

Lovely to see you combining your painting and potting skills with such great results. However not nice to hear of your battle with ACC. We sincerely trust common-sense (you!) will prevail over non-sense (them). If you get into a battle there maybe some lawyers who would take your case on a "no win, no fee" basis. Citizen's Advice Bureau might also be worth an early call. Our best wishes - Graham & Amanda

Peter said...

Hi Meredith,
Good to hear from you, thank you for your encouragement.

Hi Michèle,
Thank you too for encouragement, glad that the decoration looks fresh and free flowing, it is nice to be working this way.

Hello Graham & Amanda,
Thanks for the suggestion regarding Citizen's Advice, I will give them a call, someone there might be able to advocate or support if I go for mediation. I've occasionally noticed the lawyers advertising regarding ACC claims, hope it doesn't have to go that far and some common sense does prevail. It really is just a simple case of cause and effect!

Tracey Broome said...

Peter, this new direction is just beautiful. I love the colors, I love earthenware.

I had a very similar experience with my shoulder. I am almost certain I must have torn something while making pottery. I too thought at first it was just bursitis, everyone said so from my description of the pain. Finally the pain got debilitating. I could not brush my hair, could not take a shirt off without great pain, could not lift my arm at all. For a year it got so bad, I finally went to a doctor. The diagnosis was shoulder impingement. I had scar tissue building up between my shoulder joint, and tendons getting pinched. Google shoulder impingement. My doc suggested physical therapy and for a couple of months I went to the therapist once a week, thanks to very good insurance my husband has. That was for motivation and progress checks, but there are the same exercises and motivational videos on youtube and so I stopped going to the doc and just worked on it myself. For 8 months I did my exercises twice a day every day. And today I have no pain, stronger arms and did not have to have drugs or surgery.
I would encourage you to find out if you could do physical therapy to help, but under a doctor's advisement. I know that without the physical therapy I would not be using my arm at all at this point.

I hope you find some answers, I know exactly what you are going through!

Melissa Rohrer said...

I have a real appreciation of the loose brush strokes. Bold and fearless!

Good luck with your claim. I wonder if it was the word "kneading" that put them off. I do not believe that the average person understands the physical effort involved.

gz said...

Best of luck with the healing..and officialdom.

Peter Gregory said...

Hi Tracey,
Good to hear from you, thank you for the encouragement regarding the earthenware, and for sharing your experiences regarding your shoulder injury. It is so good that you managed to heal without needing the drugs or surgery and have ended up stronger. Following the first scan I had (ultrasound) I was given a cortisone shot and assured that the discomfort in the shoulder was caused by bursitis. I had physio for a couple of months, but my progress was not as it should have been. Eventually a second opinion and an MRI scan showed that I have a labral tear from 11 to 1 o'clock in the labrum that surrounds the shoulder socket. The bicep tendon is attached to that part, so anything that flexes the bicep causes discomfort as it tries to pull cartilage material away from the bone! Sadly, this is unlikely to heal by itself. Physio has stopped for now, and I'm having to wait until I can talk to the surgeon to know what treatment may be available here.

Hi Melissa,
I think you are right in that "kneading" was misleading. Sadly, I wasn't contacted for clarification before ACC made their decision.

Hi Gwynneth,
I think that a stand up comedian would find officaldom a great place for comic inspiration!

Linda Starr said...

If Gary finds a mud puddle he can't resist driving his jeep through it. Ha. I absolutely love the feet on your bowl, that is such a super design, As far as the glazing I haven no idea, but I think Suzi of Smartcat blog could probably give you some advice since she does majolica and is always talking about how she achieves certain colors. also if you are on fb, there is a group called clay buddies and they are wonderful about giving advice. Gary has a rotator cuff shoulder injury; the doctor said he could get surgery or not, he chose not, but it took more than a year for his shoulder to get better. I hope your problem resolves itself quickly. I never wedge my clay but use it fresh from the bag, never had any air pockets so far, knock on wood.

Peter said...

Hi Linda,
Good to hear from you. I do visit Smartcat's blog and find it really helpful to see what she does. I found some good information on line from Linda Arbuckle too.
It is quite a decision about getting a shoulder operation as the recovery time is a long one and the outcome isn't assured. Gary probably did the right thing if his shoulder finally settled. I'll be interested to see what the surgeon has to say when I finally get to see him, and will have to think very carefully about what to do when the time comes.

Peter's Dad said...

Arthroscopy is a procedure used to examine the inside of a joint by inserting a thin tube (arthroscope) containing a camera and light through small cuts (incisions) near the joint. The camera sends a close-up video image of the joint to a TV monitor, where the doctor can look at the inside of the joint.
Arthroscopy can be used to diagnose joint diseases and injuries and to treat some joint problems. The doctor can insert surgical instruments through the arthroscope to take tissue samples or to repair injuries or damage to the joint. The doctor may make other small incisions in the joint to insert other instruments.
Generally, recovery after arthroscopic surgery is quicker and easier than after traditional surgery that uses larger incisions. Most people can go home from the hospital the same day.
ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKenneth J. Koval, MD - Orthopedic Surgery, Orthopedic Trauma. [ I've seen 3-4 months quoted as recovery time from this type of surgery.] xJ

Peter said...

Hi Dad,
Yes, well... hopefully that will be offered. Recovery time of course depends on what is done, and how, the skills of the surgeon and the after care offered. I should know more after the 15th of this month!