It’s been busy at the Cloud Pottery recently. I have three shows coming up over the summer so I’m trying to build up my stock. This means working mornings and evenings – whilst my littles aren’t around or awake. What this has reinforced is how much I love what I do. Sometimes I find myself thinking of it as a job, and panicking about how much I have to do… Then I get into the studio and settle quickly into a rythym: radio on, wedging and weighing out the day’s clay, throwing, turning yesterday’s pots and so on. Before I know it my ‘free’ time is up and I have to go back to motherhood. I find, particularly when I’m throwing, that I’m so absorbed that everything else just slips away. It’s not hard work, just a measured, thoughtful process that completely captivates me.
I’ve managed to sneak in some new work… some plates and beakers that I had been hoping to make since last autumn. I’ve been experimenting with shapes for a while, here and there, and they will be refined as time goes on but I’m pleased with the results so far. The first plates have just come out of their glaze firing and hopefully the test beakers will be fired next week.
Plates have been a new learning curve for me… I can throw wide based pieces fairly well, but I’ve been having persistent problems with cracking. After research it appeared that throwing on plaster might help, so I set about making some homemade batts and they have certainly slowed down the drying process. Originally I was concerned that pots would dry too fast as plaster draws out moisture from clay – in fact many potters use plaster tables to dry sloppy reclaimed clay to a workable consistency. On a wooden batt the rim of a piece can dry considerably faster that the base and starts to shrink putting pressure on the points where damp and dry clay meet. What I had overlooked was the way that plaster evens out the drying process by wicking away moisture from the base at the same speed as the rim allowing for even drying.
The other possible cause of the cracking could be that my wider pieces all have turned, but entirely flat bases. During firing pots expand and then contract quite considerably. Friction against the kiln shelves can stop wider pieces from moving freely thus causing extra pressure on any weak points. To hopefully combat this my latest plates have been turned with twin footrings so that only a tiny proportion of the base is in contact with the kiln shelf. So far so good.
So three weeks and two more sets of firings to squeeze in before Potfest Scotland in Perth. If you’re in the area please come along – it would be lovely to see you.