Posts Tagged ‘thrown stoneware’

Containers of something else

September 14, 2010

One of the pleasures of throwing pots on the wheel is to develop shapes that challenge one’s technique, while still keeping a beautiful line and sound balance in the form. Size is good – I certainly like throwing big things, but there are other challenges. One shape in my throwing repertoire I’ve developed most successfully I call a crater dish.

Here, a wide shallow bowl is cantilevered out from a central deep well, the outer line following the inner form with an even thickness of wall.

This shape is quite difficult to throw, as there are certain points where the wet clay would prefer to collapse. The trick is in the soundness of the lower supporting well and the tension of the rim. This is a good shape to decorate, a form that can express thought. The text around the outside of the lower well or crater gives the visual impression of an architectural support, a series of arches like a loggia holding up the wide bowl. This well is full of intense colour within, opening up to an enlargement of the text mapping the width and open spread of the upper bowl.

Crater dishes (and crater discs, flatter versions, with a shallower central pool) are not usually functional in the domestic sense – they have a slightly more abstract quality – more contemplative containers of something else – a colour, an idea, space – so they’re good for commemorative commissions, which often celebrate love (civil partnerships, weddings) or time (birthdays, anniversaries) or other abstract ideas that are a fundamental part of our lives. 

People sometimes ask me ‘what they’re for’ – and though I try not to prescribe too much the uses to which my pots might be put, I have described these pots as ‘like a painting that you can put on the table and turn in your hands to enjoy physically, as well as through sight’. 

The text is lettered freehand with a brush onto the raw dried clay, inside first, to express visually the form and line of the pot, as well as its purpose and significance – in fact to identify the form with the meaning. For me, the combination of the physical balance of the form with the setting of the text, as well as the relation between the inner and outer surfaces, and the play of light within the text and within the glaze, makes the crater dish an enjoyably expressive integrated whole – a real thing.

If you’d like to know more about crater dishes or any other work, please leave me a note in the comments box below, or click on contact details for other ways to get in touch.

Harvest home

August 27, 2010

Considering what happened last bank holiday weekend (see a rather reckless post) I won’t discuss the weather this time. Instead, some more seasonal pots.

At this time of year I like to make pots to celebrate the last of the summer, and ‘all the summer’s fruitful treasure’ (Nash) – especially big punch jugs of the old fashioned kind that used to come round at the harvest home full of sharp new cider or hoppy beer. This curvaceous jug takes more than a couple of litres, and helps the jollity on with a lovely inscription from Herrick:

Come Sons of Summer – by whose toil

We are the lords of Wine and Oil –

Crowned with the Ears of Corn now come

And to the pipe sing Harvest Home.

I also like to make big bread plates with wheat ears, poppies and cornflowers – the inscription on this one’s by John Clare.

I love the combination of the glowing golden ochre and a clear azure blue that we (sometimes) see so much in August. One of the first pots I made in these colours (in 1993) was this open flared bowl with a lovely inscription by John Clare:

All these pots are thrown on the wheel in white stoneware and decorated with freehand brushwork in underglaze oxides, under a clear glaze fired to 1255 degrees. They are fully useable, waterproof and sturdy, and each is a signed one-off. Prices from £70

If you’d like to know more about these pots or any of my work, please leave me a note in the comments box below, or click on contact details for other ways to get in touch.

Green be your woods

May 7, 2010

Green be your woods and fair your flow’rs

Your waters never drumlie

There summer first unfald her robes

And there the longest tarry

Burns’ beautiful lines always make me think of a sea of bluebells in the woods, so ravishing a sight at this time of year.  I’ve tried to catch the duskiness of that blue on this bowl, the glow in the shadows, by using a clay very slightly darker than my usual creamy white – this one’s like unbleached linen – with the bluebells painted in a similar tone. The text is lettered by brush in dark green round the flared rim of the bowl:

with the bluebells and their lovely strappy leaves spread out in a spray across the bowl’s expanse.  This pot was thrown on the wheel with 2kg of stoneware clay, the foot turned, and then I decorated the text and foliage with a brush in underglaze oxides. Then the bowl was fired twice, first to fire the colour into the clay body, then to fire the clear glaze into the clay’s surface. I made it with a group of other meadow pots, some with flowering rosemary and thyme, some with primroses and cowslips.

Signed one-off, 25cm across x 7cm high, for sale £70 now sold.

To buy or enquire about any work, please leave me a note in the comments box below or click on contact details.

Permission is needed for the use of any of these photos.

Jolly Spring doth enter

March 19, 2010

Earth now is green and heaven is blue Jolly Spring doth enter

Spencer’s encouraging observation is lettered in green and blue round the flared rim of Green Earth, an open shallow bowl of a good size for fruit or salad, as well as a cheering thing to look at and handle.  The flowers are flax, thyme, periwinkles, lavender and cornflowers, with some blue-eyed grass – a foretaste of the joys to come. I very much enjoy making seasonal pots, responding to the turning year. For some other Spring pots please see the Meadow page, and for some snowy works have a look at the Paperworks page. I’ll be featuring Summer, Autumn and Winter pots later in the year, including some special pots for Christmas. The Green Earth bowl is thrown on the wheel in white stoneware clay, lettered and decorated by hand with brushwork in underglaze colours, fired, glazed with a clear glaze and then fired again. It’s 27cm across the rim, and 9cm high. Signed one-off, for sale £120. To buy or enquire about this or any work, please leave me a note in the comments box below or click on contact details. All photos copyright Liz Mathews. Permission is needed for any use of these images.


March 2, 2010

A tall jar, thrown in white stoneware, a very deep blue within and unglazed on the outside except for a tall narrow ‘window’ of the same deep blue.  The texture of the unglazed surface contrasts pleasingly with the shining but dark glazed inside – the jar seems filled with dark blue.

The simple clean form of the jar, rising from the base to a broad rounded shoulder, refers to Bernard Leach’s idea of the ‘hidden sphere’ in every pot.

The text refers to the process, the cosmic magical transformation of the clay in the fire, and by extension to our own mysterious cosmic life processes.

Signed one-off; 23cm high and 17cm diameter (max)

To buy or enquire about this or any work, please leave me a note in the comments box below or click on contact details.