Saturday, January 9, 2010

Last Pot Of the Day, a video. Season's Greetings, joyeuses fêtes!

Summer in our part of New Zealand doesn't seem to have arrived, or if it has it passes over at about 70 miles per hour! Yesterday there were cold blasts of wind from a sky that was full of bruise gray clouds and creamy slabs of sunlit cumulus that threatened thunder, and did, in Dunedin, unleash stinging showers of hail that burst on rooftops and gathered on the streets in an approximation of a skiff of snow. It is at times like this that Antarctica feels closer, a nearer neighbour than Australia that basks and chars under the sun. This summer we are cousins to a land of ice!

The season of goodwill gives way at times to the silly season, or maybe they are both the same thing. To be good and to be silly, that is the role of the jester or clown, and we need clowns. On National Radio in New Zealand (or Radio New Zealand National as they call it now), this is a brief time when the gloom of climate change, world trade, wars, famine, and human tragedy, take an apparent holiday. Politicians go for walks in the mountains, and tan on the beach under palm trees, or under a rug (if they stay closer to home!). On the radio we have radio hosts playing their favorite songs, and the skeleton crew of news readers cracking the odd joke or reminiscing about their adventures outside the confines of the newsroom. We discover that the news readers have legs and arms, stomachs to feed, and families. It is fun. It is refreshing, and it is probably what we all need before settling in for another year of work, paying bills, and coping or thriving. Of course, need, tragedy, war, and serious things haven't gone away, it is just that, those who can are taking a few needed days off!

I seem to recall that Henry Thoreau wrote something in Walden about the need to know about the news. I think that he proposed to get the newspaper once a year, and forgo it for the rest of the time. In this manner he would avoid the constant emotional upheaval of all the day to day ups and downs that often sorted themselves out anyway, and would learn of only the significant changes, the big things that had taken place and had made a change to society in some way. In this way he would save himself ulcers and be more balanced and productive.

I have enjoyed getting back into some semblance of work this week. Whilst I haven't avoided work as such over the Christmas/New Year period, we have had visitors all welcome, both expected, and unexpected, and we have had our studio open 4 afternoons a week, so it is sometimes difficult to have a good run at producing things. I have been throwing pots for the last four days, mostly simple forms that will be suitable for crystal glazes.

As an experiment, I have put together a video of me throwing a pot on my wheel. I apologise to those of you with dial up connections as I know video must be frustrating, but I thought that some of you would like a glimpse into my studio.

In the video I have tried to explain what I am up to as I work on the wheel, so I hope there will be something useful there for those of you who haven't seen pots made before. I also show how I center clay on the wheel by a very simple method, that works without much effort at all for me.

I use a kick wheel that only has a modest sized flywheel. When I graduated to this wheel from an electric one several years back, I initially found that my technique, such as it was, had relied too much on brute force. Brute force on my kick wheel simply causes it to stop, so I had to work out how to center clay and throw pots in a much kinder way. I think that the result is much better for my aging body, and probably makes nicer pots too.

Happy New Year (bonne année!) to all of you. Hope the video works OK!

18 comments: said...

I thought about you this morning and then here you are with a new post and a comment on my blog! I got an email from Andy in Poland with a link to his blog and I thought you would like it:
it is full of Raku pots that you might like to see, can't read a thing but the photos are nice!
So funny that you thought my kiln exploded, that might happen yet, so hold your breath :)

Judy Shreve said...

Happy New Year Peter to you and Laura. Enjoyed the video -- nice to hear your speaking voice after all this time reading your words . . .

I quit watching the news about a year ago -- I still know what's going on - through the internet - it's hard to miss the big events -- but I find my life much more peaceful without a daily dose of dismal!
Bring on the clowns!

ang said...

hey pete happy new year i was wondering what you were up the south island the cooler one? i thought it was more moderate but prob depends your location can have some of this heat if ya like in the 40C mark again this wkd...will be good to see you venture into crystal glazes too..cheers ang

rwhendrix said...

Hey Peter, Thanks for putting the video up for us to watch. I enjoyed it. Its cold and snowing now up here in Indiana. So im done with pottery and bricks until spring comes. Take care, I will watch for your new posts.

Peter said...

Hi Tracey,
It's funny how often it is that when you think about someone they visit or get in touch. We live in a strange and wonderful world! Glad the kiln hadn't exploded and you have been able to sort out the mess OK by the looks of things. I have just had an enjoyable visit to Andy in Poland's site, and he certainly has some interesting work on it, and very nice photos too.

Hi Judy,
Thanks for your comment regarding the video. I must say that I would love to hear the voices of all the people that I visit via their blogs, it would be so nice to do. It was fun putting the video together, and it does seem like another way of sharing with people too.
Good for you for quitting watching the news! I almost never watch television at all now, just get out DVDs of things that we would like to see. I get some of my news from the radio, and a feeling for what is going on from the blogs, but it is easy to reach a stage where saturation news is just too much... and they do just say the same thing over and over! How good to be free!

Hi Ang,
I'm glad that we are not toasting in 40 degrees! I see that you are planning a pool to sit in, and I would add ice cubes if I were you! Anyway, the South Island is the cooler Island on average, but it does also get the hottest temperatures! The North of the North Island is warmish most of the time, and frost free (I think), but frosts down our way can be humungus... particularly in land from us, and can strike at strange times of the year. We just don't have much between us and Antarctica it would seem!

Hi Richard,
Nice to hear from you, and glad you enjoyed the video. I visited your site a couple of hours ago, and so nearly left a message... we were probably on line at the same time! I was trying to think about the flow of heat through your kiln, and hadn't quite sorted something out in my head yet, so left leaving a comment until I had looked something up. How long is it until spring in Indiana. I was looking at Indiana on Google Earth, to brush up on my geography, and I imagine that you would probably get some big extremes of temperature there, from really cold in the winter, so some hot, hot days in summer?? Anyway, nice to hear from you, do keep warm!

Arkansas Patti said...

I just loved the video and for some reason, it showed perfectly. I usually have to wait forever for one to play and I have DSL.
Loved hearing your accent and can see why you are a good teacher. It was facinating for a non-potter but appreciater like myself to see a pot thrown from start to finish. Thank you so much.
Gosh, if your summer is cold, what will winter bring? Weird world weather this year.
I have friends who no longer have a TV for they are unable to do anything about the constant crises. I am pretty much a spotty news watcher myself. Just want to know how I need to vote and if there is a cause that can use my help.
Happiest of New Years to Peter, Laura and Ginger.

Peter said...

Hi Patti,
Really good to hear from you. I am so glad that the video played alright for you, I was a bit worried about the file size, which grew somewhat after I uploaded it, and hoped that those of you on "dial up" would be able to get it OK without too much frustration.

Funny things accents, I guess mine is a rather strange blend of Southern and Northern English, modified by New Zealand English. It takes me by surprise when I hear it on the video.... Do I need subtitles??

Regarding the weather, do you think we're heading for an ice age after all? Maybe nature does have its own ways of combating global warming!

I think we need a spotty news service, dedicated to playing... only once... stuff that matters!

Happy New Year to you too, Ginger sends special purrs!

Armelle said...

Hiii...............Peter it was really nice to see your video and hear you, and hear the sound of your voice (more bass than I imagined), really I am so sorry...............I dont understand . It's really to difficult for me !!! I am glad to be able to understand the writing, thank you to my teachers !!!

Anyway it was very nice to see you throwing a large pot in about ten minutes. I tried to throw little bowls with a teacher, just a few hours and I enjoy.

I prefer to listen to the radio than to look at TV and when I dont balance in the right way, no radio and no TV, walking at the coast is better and listenning the wind and the waves.

France is under snow, but we didnt see the white coat yet in Belle-ile-en-mer, perhaps tommorow ? It's really cold I think through many places in the world. Hope the wearther will be warmer for you, Laura and Ginger.

Kind regards

Jewels said...

What a treat Peter!! It is wonderful to see how you throw (and to hear your voice)! I learned how to throw from a book so I always learn so much and enjoy watching other potters. You did a great job! I think you should post it on Thank you! Having no TV, of course I agree with Henry David Thoreau –life is sweeter without the weight of the outside world on ones shoulders. Thankfully I do have Patti to inform me when there is a food recall or a tornado heading this way. : )

Peter said...

Bonjour Armelle,
It is so nice to hear from you. I am glad that you were able to see the video. I think that, if we ever meet, we will have to bring paper and pen (or better still, a computer), so that we can understand each other! Laura and I do enjoy French films, but I rarely understand what is being said so I have to use the English subtitles.

You are quite right about walking on the coast and listening to the wind and waves. It does help to feel balanced and at peace.

We have rain here. I think your Island would look beautiful with a dusting of snow, I hope you will take photos if it happens!

Best Wishes to you.

Hello Jewels,
Good to hear from you. I'm glad you enjoyed the video. I have learned quite a bit over the last 12 months by looking at videos of potters at work that I have found on the net. It certainly is a big help when potting in isolation. There have been times earlier on when I have had a book beside the wheel with photos of potters centering clay, and opening it out, and I have struggled away with my messy hands, trying to keep the book clean, and trying to understand what the photos showed me. Not all that easy as so many are taken from in front of the wheel, in stead of giving the view that the potter has.
I hadn't thought about youtube, but I'll have a look at how to go about it. I'll give it a go!

Ahh, St Patti. Good to have her close by!

Best Wishes to you, must dash now as we have our gallery open and someone has just come in.

cindy shake said...

Lovely! Great to hear your voice -it is just as I imagined :o) I was never able to throw using a kick-wheel, probably a coordination or rhythm (which I have non!) issue you know like having difficulty walking and chewing gum at the same time -hahaha!
Lucky you have it mastered :o))

Peter said...

Hi Cindy,
Lovely to hear from you. The coordination thing with the kick wheel is a challenge to start with. When I made the transition from electric wheel to the kick wheel, I felt quite unstable with one leg working away and nothing to hang onto, but all quite natural now (people just have to allow for the fact that I walk in circles instead of following a straight line due to the over-development of one leg!).

doug Fitch said...

Great to see and hear you Peter. Happy new year good sir

Peter said...

Hello Doug,
Lovely to hear from you. Happy New Year to you too! Looks like a white Christmas still at your place!

Yana Out East said...

Thanks very much for this video. I always find it so instructional to see what others do. I notice you lubricate up past your wrists, never though of that. I'm amazed you can talk about other things like trucks going by and centigrade temperature while doing this. I have to concentrate too much to have any conversation.

Peter said...

Hi Yana,
Glad that you enjoyed the video, and I hope it was of help. It's funny that you should write today, as I was thinking of you earlier and wondering how you were. I had been meaning to hop over to your blog to see what you have been up to. Good to hear from you!

Dad said...

C to F:

C*9/5 + 32 [or Think of a number and double it!]

F to C:

(F-32)*5/9 [C is roughly half of F]

Peter said...

Thanks Dad for the C to F, I knew that someone out there would know what to do. Thanks for clarifying it. (Actually, the process still looks like adding 64 and dividing by the curvature of the earth!) I like centigrade best. It works on the system as follows... if water goes crunch, it must be below 0 degrees. If water huffs and puffs and boils, then it is getting above 100 degrees. (at sea level anyway) Isn't that sensible!