The British Invasion

Long time, no blog! It seems that it was one thing after another. First, the kiln needed new thermocouples and elements. A big obstacle for this very non-mechanical potter, however, I am happy to report that I changed them all – by myself, even if I did need to resort to some very non-traditional tools such as the dog’s nail clippers. It worked and the kiln is now firing great! If anyone needs to do this to their own kiln and hasn’t done it before, I found that by taking photos of the wiring with my iPhone before disassembling everything, proved invaluable in that it was then easy to rewire and know which wire went to which terminal! If I got mixed up, I just looked at my phone.

It was then time for Tampa’s NCECA – mecca for ceramic artists of all kinds. Final report….meh. Some good, some bad. Met a lot of great people and was inspired by some tremendous pieces but in turn, had to dodge tornadoes, travel to galleries that were really far apart from each other, hotel was too far from convention center, less vendors and smaller exhibits made it less than stellar. Will probably skip Seattle next year due to airfare costs from here, but hope to make a closer NCECA in the future. Here are just a few of some of my favorite pieces from the exhibit. The large lidded pot is by Bede Clarke.

Finally, come April – the British Invasion! This was a workshop that I have been looking forward to for quite some time. I have always been fascinated with the tradition of English Pottery. For some time, I had been following the blog of a talented potter from Scotland named Alan Gaff. Alan is unfortunately no longer with us, but his inspiration has seeped into my small pottery in Pennsylvania and I am grateful to having found him. Through this blog, I met Hannah McAndrew, another potter living in Galloway, Scotland. Hannah is an absolute wizard with slip decoration on earthenware and has a blog of her own which in turn I have followed with much enthusiasm.

As blogs beget blogs, I soon found Doug Fitch’s blog, A Devonshire Pottery. Doug produces traditional English Country pottery authentic to the Devon countryside using earthenware, slip decoration, and beautiful translucent glazes highlighting and melding into the decoration.  I have mulled over the idea of moving to earthenware over the past year on and off. I love it’s richness and feel but I struggle with the notion as it just doesn’t seem as popular in the American market. For now, still mulling.

In email communications with Hannah, I found she would be coming to the US, along with Doug, to do a series of demo workshops. Lucky for me, one of those workshops was only about 150 miles from here at Dan Finnegan’s (another blogger!) Libertytown Arts center in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I signed up as quickly as I could make the phone call.

The workshop was great – friendly, informative and overall a lot of fun.  ‘British Slipware’ might be a misnomer to a lot of American potters. When we think of ‘slipware’, we think of slip casting using molds, which is not the same at all. Doug’s pottery is very much in tune to the hand’s of it’s creator. The slip decoration is created by the use of finger swipes, combing and sgrafitto – instilling the marks of the potter every step of the way.

 

 

 

Hannah’s pots themselves are more tightly thrown, but she uses very traditional slip trailing methods while at the same time, changing it up slightly to utilize her own whimsical designs in the process.

I truly enjoyed watching both of them work and really do plan on incorporating some of their techniques. I’m very muchlooking forward to visiting Doug Fitch’s pottery in Devon in August along with other area potters and see how his process happens in ‘real time’. Planning on bringing an empty carry-on bag with me – I’m sure it will go home quite full!

I’ll close with some demo shots of both Doug and Hannah ‘in action’. It was truly a pleasure meeting them both along with the folks from Libertytown Arts.

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1 Comment

  1. Audrey Kaake

    Beautiful pieces. Thanks for sharing.

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