Sunday, September 6, 2009

Throwing to the nines!

The trek down to the pottery everyday requires a sure foot. Stairs, rocks, slopes, and plants are ready and waiting to makes sure you are awake. It has been part of my 'slave labor' to take care of some of that. While waiting for pots to set up or clay to stiffen or soften, etc. I would head out to the path, gloved and stubborn, pulling out all sorts of weeds. Today I completed that task and stepped back with a satisfied sigh to see a wide, clear path leading to the studio.

As Michael Cardew says in his book, Pioneer Potter, much of a potter's life is comprised of hard physical labor which seems boring at first. But he quickly follows that with saying that those tasks gradually become less boring as you yourself become less boring. Interesting concept. Pioneer Potter is required reading given to me by Seth. It is his dad's autobiography and incredibly interesting for potters, artists, and really anyone. He and his teacher, Bernard Leach, were philosophers of sorts. They thoroughly thought through their aesthetics and were devoted to learning.

Seth has carried on much of his father's philosophizing. In that, though, there is a definite realistic edge. He had me throw bowls, the Cardew way. He sat down and threw one, talking through it pretty quickly as he threw. I stood and watched, mentally taking note of his nine
1. open (after you've centered, you thrust your hand confidently into the clay and make a shallow opening, keeping the bottom thick for a nice hardy foot ring)

2. pull (thin out the walls of the pot)
3. flute (while keeping the bottom tight, he opens the top way out so that the shape of the pot at this point is like a trumpet)
4. flatten inside bottom
5. undercut with thumb (to tighten the base of the pot and "give it a good spring" as Seth says)
6. shape (you can only do this once, to retain the grace and flow of the curve ... sometimes I tweak it!))
7. sponge (clean out the inside)
8. stick (clean clay from around the base of the outside)
9. wire (and cut it off!)

The "not boring" 9 menial steps of making a "satisfying to use" bowl. (all quotes mean as Seth says, if you haven't picked up on that already!)


  1. The link to your mom's site is broken SJ...and I'm loving your posts from Spain! When will they start being in Spanish? Muy bueno!

  2. i love the cardew approach to labor. i believe it. the light pouring through your blue shutters and the rustic warmth of your new environment seem amazing ... i can only imagine what wonderful dimensions your creativity and aesthetic will take on in this new place!

    love to read your posts. my mom does too. (she just cannot figure out how to "post a comment" yet!)