Monday, 16 April 2012

Throwing with Svend Bayer

When people ask you what you study, and you reply with "ceramic design", first you get this blank look of vague, ignorant terror. Then, if the person asking recognised the word "ceramic", you might be lucky enough to get the return question "so like pottery, on the wheel?"

Then you hang your head and mutter "I don't know how to throw" and wander off because trying to explain slip casting to strangers gets boring very fast. So, because I want to be ridiculously well rounded and able to do everything, I booked myself onto a throwing course at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, run by Svend Bayer- a potter who specialises wood firing. He also appears to be some kind of mud magician who can spin dirt into pots about the same size as me. Observe.
He starts out by spiral kneading about 18kg of clay, then bashing it into a cake shape with a paddle on the wheel before beginning to pat out the hollow. Then he gets things moving and goes up...

and up....
and up a bit more...

...before flaring it out.
At this point he tinkers with the shape using a potter's rib before leaving it overnight to harden up a little more. The next day, he begins by rolling out coils and attaching them with a pinching motion.
then attaches some more...
smoothing them out with a metal kidney as he goes. Then it's time to get the top wet and moving to help put more form in.
And then Svend smooths things off,
before cracking out the old flammenwerfer (fire! Exciting!)

And that's how he starts off a big, big pot. As usual, my attention span was not behaving, so I don't have any other photos of the pot in production, but you can see it in this photo as Svend begins to throw the lid. It's over 1m tall.

So what did I make? Well, uh, wonky stuff. But I made good progress. On the first day I couldn't even centre and by Friday I felt I'd really got somewhere. I could have gotten further if I'd actually pushed myself but at the moment I'm having tremendous trouble staying focused (literally I have been writing this post for about 15 hours on and off) and the beautiful weather meant I just wanted to go and chill out on the beach instead.

Here's what I churned out:
Bud vase/carafe wonky thing

really wonky I don't even know what the hell this is thing

mug so heavy you could kill someone with it

big bowl which got squished as I took it off the wheel...

... so ended up squared off.

vase, which collapsed at the shoulder

wonky bowl

wide wonky bowl which ended up with a tear in the rim

trio of jugs

And that's it. Very unimpressive, I know. But it's a step in the right direction, and I picked up some good tips and techniques that I just want to get into the studio and practice. Unfortunately, this stupid little thing called "university" stops me going and doing what I want because they want me to do what they want. Boo.

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