I want my stoneware forms to be pleasing to look at, feel comfortable in the hands, are balanced, strong and serve their function.
I use a variety of clays but often come back to the same ones. At present I use a white smooth porcelain for one range and a combination of clays (hand mixed) for the other range. The mixed clay contains 40% recycled clay, 40% white stoneware or porcelain and 20% BRT which is a dark clay containing trachyte which creates the lovely warm spotting effect with my glazes.
I make a range of cups, bowls, plates, vases and other random pieces. I have never tired of throwing the clay on the wheel. With experience, a potter can “think” a form and then create it - or versions of it. This creativity combined with skill is what pushes me to keep striving for that freshness and immediacy that comes from experience.
My work is partly dried, then trimmed on the potters’ wheel which refines the form and neatens the base. The piece is then left to dry fully and loaded into my large gas kiln. When the kiln is completely full, I fire the works to 980c, or bisque temperature, so called because the pieces are absorbent, like biscuits. They are then removed from the kiln ready for glazing.
I have developed a range of glazes over time. I make my glazes from a
variety of naturally occurring materials like feldspar, silica, kaolin, ball clay and use colourants like iron oxide, copper carbonate, cobalt carbonate and many others. I approach glazing as an alchemist does, trying, testing and modifying from a basic recipe until I achieve the results I desire.
My pieces are dipped into the glaze or the glaze is poured into and over the piece sometimes combining layers of pours to vary results with fusion of the glazes and colourants.
The pieces are then loaded back in the kiln and fired for around 14 hours. I have two burners that are gradually and carefully turned up until there is a large flame circulating around the kiln. The goal is to achieve even temperature in the kiln so that the glazes melt in all areas of the kiln from bottom to top. When the kiln reaches 1280 – 1300 it is turned off.
I then wait until late the following day before unloading the kiln to see what has transpired within.