My apprenticeship took place in Devon, a few miles from Okehampton at a studio and gallery complex called Kigbeare. When starting my position, I was introduced to a potter called Brian Dickinson and under his guidance I helped Brian build the large oil fired soda kiln Lisa Hammond used while potting in Devon to whom I was apprentice. This practice was hugely beneficial when it came to building my own kiln towards the end of my apprenticeship.
Brian would often come visit and also invite me over to his studio on the Cornish border. So many late late nights followed, drinking wine, talking pots and having tutorials in the studios during the early hours. Brian gave me so much of his time and really taught me how to achieve the shapes I make now when throwing jugs.
Simple tricks in the throwing and finishing has helped my jug forms transform from being bottom heavy or out of proportion with an odd looking high shoulder to a more well balanced pot. He taught me to start by throwing a tall evenly thick cylinder, then using the corner of you finger mark out what will become the neck of the jug with the finger nail. When doing this you need to consider that this will often be collared back in during the throwing making it thicker and then finally thrown up into shape to be the right thickness, so depending on the shape intended highlight maybe 1/8 at the top. Then below this line I mark out exactly ½, this becomes the line in which I change direction when throwing to help me throw the mid bellied forms. Starting at the base I throw out until I reach the line then back in after the line towards the mark highlighting the neck. Repeating this twice and then again using a piece of straight edged bamboo on the outside.
Before addressing the neck, I then use the curved edge of a potters Kidney, either metal or rubber, on the inside to give the form a more ballooned look. I will most likely run over the whole shape again until am happy with the form.
I enjoy working on refining my throwing skills and I feel making these rounded bellied forms really pushes me. Just a few millimeters out in one area and the whole form can look out of proportion they are a challenging form but hugely rewarding when you get It right, which isn’t all of the time.