Project of the Month: September 2021

3. 3 in 1 and Wonky Bottoms

The title is because that’s mainly what I want to talk about for this update on progress. I’m still avoiding that new wheel but it is scheduled for tomorrow now my #MediaoftheWeek on ink is nearly done. Did I really set the challenge of a coil pot while blindfolded? Oh well, so be it. It doesn’t even have to fired as far as I’m concerned. The blindfolded sculpture is no problem you can do one in 5 minutes.

So that leaves the 3 in 1 pots. In some ways I wish I made it 7 in 1 and gone for a full set of Russian Dolls. I happen to like things that fit neatly inside each other but the downside is they seldom have little or no function when in that state. Not so with my favourite attempt though. Really enjoying this part of my project of this month. So much so that I was thrilled to find even my hasty first effort fit quite neatly despite being wonky.

They need more finishing but all those hasty attempts made for my slab pot blog don’t look too bad now after a bit of whittling, repairs due to cracks and bottom sorting so they stand up straight(er). I happen to like the character of wonky pots and I venture to guess that with some folk, many found it a necessary chore to make items for food rather than a pleasure to indulge in. Though I can’t fathom why anyone wouldn’t enjoy it I guess some don’t even today.    

The thumb marks left are a wonderful way to show it’s hand made just on their own, quite aside from the individual links and quirks either just ignored or deliberately left make them just that bit more personal somehow. Yes I admire many pieces but famous pottery factories too, and am lucky to possess a few, but studio potters have always been my main interest and focus.

For this reason I seldom aim for perfection for finishing. The three of the left, pictured above started out as demo pieces and can be fired just as they are as there are many faults with them. Handy for a future pottery blog. The whole collection so far on the right I’m doing little more too in fact but among them you might notice a tiny pinch pot I made from just about all the spare clay I’ve had so far. One way or another the rest has got used for these pots via, coils, slips and repairing cracks.    

If you notice what my pots are standing on you’ll see it’s a spare bathroom tile bought from a shop which 3 then salvaged from a skip. The back has no glue on it so it’s perfect for sorting out the bottoms and tops of any vessel to make them neat and level. You simply pour a bit of water on any even smooth surface, pop you pot on it and in gentle circular motions move the pot on the water. You keep going til your happy adding water when needed as it can start to stick to the surface.

If you have a thick enough base and it’s very uneven you can just carefully gently shave off some of it off first with a kitchen knife. With my demo pots I didn’t bother, others I did. As I am getting back into pottery again after a long gap I’m discovering I’m remembering more and more tricks of the trade. Sadly not always ahead of making blunders yet but it’s coming to that stage. Another example is turn any heavy pot upsidedown to begin drying out even when clay is still quite wet as it helps minimise sagging and unwanted bulges on the sides. The bottom might say but you can more easily push that gently back into shape. Much depends on the wetness, thickness and size on the pot though. Lids that fit I’m saving for Tuesday’s coil pot blog. I haven’t ever done many of either.

Finally a brief glimpse of my favourite 3 in 1 attempt. I am trying to be patient and take more time but I didn’t start well it seems. Cracks appeared as I did more work on them as I’d left them too long to dry out. But I hope I’ve retrieved all the pieces now. There’s not much to see as I want to keep their function a surprise and, for that matter the decoration my so I have taken more photos, just in case.