Sunday, August 28, 2016

Earthenware jugs and bowls.

Fresh from the kiln, new earthenware jugs and bowls.
I have had to reduce my hours in the studio and try to adapt to throwing mostly with my right hand, and using my left in a light supporting role, rather than using both hands equally as I would normally do. I find that I am comfortable throwing 700 grams of clay (about 1.5 pounds), and can make objects of this weight for a couple of hours or so at a time without worries of further aggravating the shoulder. If I think about it and remain vigilant not to add any power from the left arm and shoulder, I can throw larger amounts, but going above 1 kg feels like I am starting to take a risk. This limitation is frustrating in some respects, but interesting in others. There are rewarding moments to be had when a rethink of some technical problem allows progress, and it is stimulating from a creative point of view to try to find forms that are rewarding to throw that are around 700 grams.


I have always had a fondness for jugs, or pitchers, and 700 grams (1.5 pounds) of earthenware clay will make a nice jug that has a fired height of 140 - 150 mm (5.5 - 6 inches). 700 grams will also make a generous sized breakfast bowl, just right for porridge to help a potter get through winter!

Detail from the jug above.
My attempts with majolica decoration are making progress, and I get enjoyment out of improvising patterns with the brush and a restricted colour range. I know that there are stains that can be used to give a very full palette of colour, but I am very happy with cobalt carbonate for blue, copper carbonate for green, red iron oxide for brown, and the odd excursion into manganese dioxide for a slightly purple brown. I may branch out in future and include an occasional blob of red or yellow, but I like how a restricted colour palette seems to sit well with an object made of red clay. I also like the "watercolour" quality of these oxides, which is something that stains don't usually seem to have.


This little jug was intended to be taller, but got all "curvaceous" when I had a momentary lapse of concentration and nearly had the thing collapse. I salvaged things and was pleased that I did.


Most of my jugs have the "twisted handle" look. The twisted handles are made from a rolled, slightly tapered, slug of clay that has been rolled diagonally over corrugated cardboard, then slapped down hard onto a flat surface. I am finding this form of handle much easier to make than a pulled handle that would require me to hold a round sausage of clay up in my left hand whilst pulling down on it with a wet right hand (rather like milking a cow!). I still do a few of those, as in the jug below, but most handles are now of the "twisted" kind!



When my jugs were still at a soft leather hard stage, I added texture to some of them with little clay stamps that I made some time ago. I wasn't too sure if the majolica decoration and the stamps would work all that well together, but I quite like the way the stamps add a bit of textural interest that is waiting to be discovered.








I have shown mostly jugs on this blog post, there were some bowls in this firing as well that were also made from 700 grams of clay (1.5 pounds), but I don't want to overload you with photos, so this will have to do!


 I have some shallow bowls and a few more jugs that will be going in the kiln this afternoon to start their bisque firing. I hope to glaze them midweek, and might even feature them on the blog a few days from now!

12 comments:

PotterMiller said...

Peter! I have not been here for a while. Spectacular brush work! I love that you will never be pigeonholed to one part of ceramics! You playful spirit in the brushwork on this sweet pots is masterful! Loved seeing these! Happy Spring to you!

Anna said...

sorry your shoulder is still restricting you but at least you can do 700gms! and with great results.

ShellHawk said...

I had a shoulder injury a bit over a year ago which forced me to have surgery. In addition to the tear of ligaments and the tendonitis, my doctor found severe arthritis (I'm only 48! What do you mean, "Severe arthritis?!"). I've had to stay on top of my exercises to strengthen the muscles around that shoulder, and it seems to be working out well for my throwing. I'm hoping that your shoulder comes back to its best strength, too!

Michèle Hastings said...

Your throwing may be restricted, but your creativity certainly is not! Your majolica decorating looks great on these small jugs and bowls. I like the simple color palette.

Melissa Rohrer said...

Very nice! My favorite is the 5th jug up from the bottom. I love that bold brush stroke with the background of stamped pattern.

Peter said...

Hi Sandy,
Always good to hear from you, thank you for your kind and wonderful words, you made my day!

Hi Anna,
Sometimes art needs restrictions in order to flourish! I'd much rather have a fully working shoulder, but it is interesting to spend some time getting better at working with small amounts of clay. I am liking 700 gms!

Hi ShellHawk,
Thank you so much for taking the time to write in, it is encouraging for me to hear from someone who has been through a shoulder injury and surgery and is back working on the wheel again. Severe arthritis at 48, I am sorry to hear that, it is a difficult thing to deal with. I am fortunate in being relatively free of that in the shoulder area.

Hi Michèle,
I am feeling really fortunate that the majolica thing is starting to be fun, with lots of discoveries for me still to be made! I didn't enjoy decorating on an unfired glaze a few years ago, but it is exciting now!

Hi Melissa,
Good to hear from you. Yes, I know the one you mean! It was a big brave stroke of the brush and a slight feeling of "oops, I wonder if I got a bit carried away there!" but I liked it once it was fired.

Linda Starr said...

wow, quite a lot of work, majolica seems a bit of bravery and trust and then delight when opening the kiln, my favorites are the first pitcher and the second, I love the bottom extension on the handle on the second one.

Peter said...

Hi Linda,
I love the "bravery, trust, and delight!" You have summed up the process perfectly.. I do think that majolica seems to work best when it is fun!

Anonymous said...

Lovely to see you combining your potting and painting talents to such good effect! The little curvy jug is very comely! And shot 10 is another favourite with the bolder brushwork. Keep resting that shoulder....Graham & Amanda

Peter said...

Hi Graham & Amanda,
Lovely to hear from you, thank you for all the encouragement and good cheer, it is a real blessing to us all at the Old Post Office!

Armelle Léon said...

Hi Peter,
Sorry to have been away from my friend's blog since a long time, your work is really delightful, very fresh, I hope your shoulder will improve as soon as possible. I had a surgery too, it was to to dissolve a calcification of shoulder tendon, well not exactly a surgery, now I am better, not so much time to throw, though.

Best wishes to all at home

Peter said...

Bonjour Armelle,
It is lovely to hear from you. Thank you for the encouragement. I remember that you had shoulder problems, and I am glad to hear that you are better. I have recently heard that I will be having surgery for my shoulder in October, and I am pleased that something will be done about it soon.