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Soda fired, stoneware bowl by John West from the Lansdown Pottery

I really enjoyed meeting John and Penny West at Potfest Scotland at the beginning of June. I’m a sucker for soda and salt glazed pottery and their stand was full of the most sumptuous array of pieces. When you take the time to look, the subtleties of their work reveal themselves… first the tell tale orange peel glazing to the exterior highlighting the tan slip; then the ash glazed interior which has pooled and crackled beautifully in the bottom. But the thing that really completes this bowl for me is the the addition of cobalt slip to the rim, which has bleached slightly in places where it has been hit by the soda during firing. Inspired.

 

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Blue Owl Bowl: hand-built, gas fired stoneware, by Chiu-i Wu

I’ve seen Chiu-i’s work on a number of occasions and have always been captivated by the whimsical imagination of her pieces. At Potfest Scotland last year I fell in love with a particular piece, but hesitated in buying it until I had reached my own sales target. Big mistake… unsurprisingly by the Sunday it had already been bought.

This year I was determined not to make the same error, so I visited her stand early last Friday to take a look. I wasn’t disappointed, and this gorgeous little bowl has come home with me.

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Small gas-fired stoneware bowl with feldspathic green crackle glaze, by Florian Gadsby

This is a tiny thing but it’s very special to me. It is made by Florian Gadsby who has been working with Lisa Hammond at Maze Hill Pottery for the last two years. I have two pots made by him, the first being a piece of the standard ware produced by the apprentices, and this bowl in his own style which marks the completion of his apprenticeship. He has decided to remain at Maze Hill but working part-time for Lisa, which will allow him to devote more time to making his own beautiful work. 

As a self-taught potter reading Florian’s Instagram feed has been enlightening. He writes detailed and absorbing posts filled with information which have made me look more closely at every element of the potting process.

This bowl is hand thrown with a high iron stoneware body. Some of the iron flecks can be drawn out through the clay and into the crackle glaze when the piece is reduction fired, particularly around the rim. One large speck has blossomed on the inside of the bowl, rather like a beauty spot. Stunning.