CERAMICS (ONE-HANDED)  

It isn't a joke - when I refer to 'throwing' a pot, it is not breaking it against a wall out of sheer frustration. I can make  pots on a wheel!

 


When I first came out of hospital I had carers coming in twice a day, plus 3 visits to the physiotherapy department each week.  As I got physically stronger these links with 'the outside world' and 'normality' were 'pruned' and I found myself getting more depressed staying in my flat for longer periods of time. 
From being an active person (taking camping holidays and walking the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, trying out paragliding and swimming a mile, just for fun) my mobility had reduced to a few wonky steps before muscle spasms made my leg(s) rigid and my balance went. I had been attending some art classes, but I found it hard not to compare my 'wrong' hand paintings with what I had been able to do before. 
However, I had not done any clay work at all (unless you count my mud pies when I was a small child!)  Whatever the result  maybe,  I would not be reminded of how things used to be.  That would, hopefully, make the classes enjoyable, & be  a chance of a trip out to meet new people.

My first lesson was to construct a simple box/dish using rolled out clay - slabs.  I found that the hardest part was keeping the pieces together at the right angles, but wanted to do it all myself - not have someone else joining the clay for me.  I collected various plastic containers - anything to prop up the strips of clay whilst I worked on the joins. The first week was constructing it, and painting it with 'slips' - runny clay made up in various colours.  It had to dry out before going into the kiln for the first time - 'bisque' firing.  The following week I painted a transparent glaze on it, before it went for the second firing - at a higher temperature that melted the glaze and made the vessel shiny and waterproof.  This triangular dish, about 6 inches long is was my first attempt.

                            

My second project was a 'coil' pot. Coils are sausages of clay that one can roll out by hand (or can be made by extruding the clay through holes in a machine). Once  I had joined the coils together I could 'shave' the walls of the pot down, and make it smooth. My first coil pot, even having scraped the walls down a bit weighed a lot!!! I was so concerned that I might go straight through it, that I had left too much on.  The vase,  40 cm high, definitely won't  blow over!

Over these last few years I have made sculptures (the 'models' have to be hollow inside, so that the thickness of the clay is uniform. Also there has to be a hole so the the air inside the statue is at the same pressure as outside, so that it doesn't blow up in the kiln.)

I hope you enjoy looking at the Ceramics Gallery.