Sunday 16 March 2014

Three Tall Jugs - Throwing, Making Handles and Taking Photos

Last week I made three tall jugs and decided I'd try to remember to take photos along each of the stages of making - from throwing to attaching handles. This is actually harder than it sounds! Sometimes when you get into the 'creative zone' you forget all about taking photos. And pottery is a messy business: there's water and wet clay everywhere and consequently a huge potential for accidentally dropping a digital camera into a bucket of sludge... (Thankfully, I didn't do that by the way!)

Tall Jug - On the Wheel on a Wooden Batt
Tall Jug - On the Wheel, Lip Formed
The other reason why it's sometimes difficult to remember to take photos is that pottery doesn't happen in just one day. The initial stages of making a pot - especially a hand-thrown one - can take several days: by which time the plan to take photos can slip the mind. Above you can see two photos I remembered to take (!) after finishing throwing the first of these jugs. They show the jug still on the wheel, freshly thrown and still on its wooden batt. As you can see, I've finished forming the jug and even put in the lip. I've also cleaned off the batt with a sponge - because when throwing it gets covered in slip clay.

First Jug - Off the Wheel (and Mugs Drying!)

Three Tall Jugs on Batts
The next stage is to take the jugs off the wheel and put them aside to start drying out. This is what the wooden batts are for: they allow a larger thrown pot to come off the wheel supported on their own surface so they don't lose their shape when being moved. Then I simply put the next batt on the wheel and throw the next jug. The above photos show the freshly thrown jugs drying out still on their batts (also some mugs drying upside-down in the background!) No photos of the actual throwing process itself though...

Attaching Handles
Cut to the following day and the jugs were still very wet. It was late afternoon before they could be persuaded to come off the batts at all (using a wire). Then I could begin to 'turn' the bases. This involved putting them back on the wheel upside down and trimming the bottoms to tidy them up. And just to prove my earlier point about forgetting to take photos I forgot to take any of this particular stage! In fact overall it was a frustrating day. The weather was dampish so everything was taking ages to dry and I had to use a hair drier on the pots (which I don't like to do) to try to hurry things along. It was late in the evening before either the jugs or their intended handles (which I made for them that day) were ready for me to attach and put together. Hence the only photo I remembered to take was this one above - a bit late in the evening when it was dark and I had the very last handle to add!

Three Tall Jugs - Drying

Three Tall Jugs - And Oxide Decoration
And then it's two days later before I remember to take any more photos! In the meantime the jugs were positioned upside-down on their rims to allow the handles time to dry onto the body of the pots. In this position gravity helps keep the handles 'stuck on' and discourages them from cracking away at the join. Of course then the weather changed that day and became sunny and warmer - so I worried the jugs might dry out too quickly! To avoid this I draped plastic over them to keep them damp.

Above are two photos showing the three jugs safely attached to their handles. At this stage I was confident enough to put them right-way-up again and take off the plastic to let them air dry. The pot on the left though you may notice has some decoration added to it. I've brushed on an oxide mix around the top rim and down the handle. Proof yet again that I forgot to take photos and completely missed out another stage of making! Oh well, another time.