Magpie {23}

Salt glazed stoneware cup with porcelain details, by Alistair Young

This is an exception to the rule in my Magpie series as I do not own this cup… but do I covet it (which after all is just as magpie-like). It belongs to a friend of ours and I see it every time we go and stay in her lovely cottage in Wester Ross. Essentially this beautiful glossy sheen is achieved by throwing salt into a kiln during the hottest part of the firing process. Salt glazing is a traditional technique that dates back to the 15th Century, first used to make domestic pottery durable and easy to clean.


Fettle down


Last week I threw twenty-two pots to a throwing gauge in an attempt to improve my repeat throwing. I’m fairly pleased with the results. There is still some variance in diameter and height, but they are much more similar than previous attempts. I’ve spent the rest of the week turning the bases and applying slip and sgraffito designs. They were biscuit fired on Saturday and today I’ve been glazing and fettling.

Fettling (for non potters) is when you tidy up your pots. This could be when you trim the base of a thrown pot; clean up rough edges from casting a pot; or in this case tidy up any drips, marks and pin holes following dipping the pots into glaze.

I’d welcome any tips on how best to glaze… I’ve tried both dipping pots by hand and with tongs. When I hand dip I’ve been doing it in two phases. First I pour glaze inside, let it dry and then dip the outside (upside down). The problem I have here is that, however careful I am, the rim area has double the amount of glaze that it should (from overlap) and therefore loses some of its fineness after firing. With tongs I find that although I get a generally even coat, I get nasty drips and holes that need much more dusty and time consuming fettling. Many thanks in advance.



Well I’ve done it now. I’ve just sent off my application form for a show next summer. So, provided I get a place, I now need to get a wiggle on. I needed something like this to spur me on. I’m hoping to do some smaller local fairs before then, and get selling online, but it gives me a deadline for a proper collection. Now I’ve no excuse…