Monday, 28 April 2008

Here's a big 'un

We had a great weekend away by the seaside. One advantage of living in a holiday region is that during the closed season it's possible to take advantage of some very good offers and ten pounds per person for a three night stay in a big caravan with 'entertainment' is a bargain.

I'll spare you the holiday snaps however and share with you a picture of this huge pot, probably made in the late nineteenth century in one of the potteries at Buckley in Wales. It would have had a wooden tap or 'spiggot' fitted to the hole at the base and was probably used as a resevoir for water, replenished from the well when empty.

I've got quite a lot of country pots in my collection, I love them, partly because I'm a romantic nostalgic, but also because I find the coarse, earthy texture of the clay with all its lumps and bumps and the gloss of the old lead glazes, really exciting.

The skill these potters had was extraordinary, this jar is about 470mm tall. Bearing in mind that it would have shrunk about 10% by the time it was fired, that's quite a size. These pots were made quickly so the marks left by the potter's hands are fresh and lively. Andrew McGarva describes country pottery in his excellent book, appropriately named Country Pottery as follows,

These pots are artefacts from a way of life which no longer exists. Each cottager would keep some animals and poultry, as well as producing fruit and vegetables which needed preserving and storing to last the winter. Few people moved far from their village, and accents were local as was the style of cooking. Since transport was expensive, houses, baskets, carts and pots all had their own distinctly regional style. They were locally available, by people who learned their craft from older members of their own family.

So there you go, Monday's history lesson over with. Perhaps if mankind is to continue to exist, it'll have to revert to such a lifestyle at some time in the distant future - well that's another debate probably best not to start here.

Not much other news, stocked my woodshed today with softwood trimmings from the sawmill. It was good to get that done, although I still need another couple of trips to be sure I've got enough. Lots of pots to make tomorrow, I haven't made any since Thursday so I'm a bit stressed out. Flatware tomorrow I think, big platters etc.


Michael Kline said...

That's a real beauty. Did you buy it? I love everything about it and your comments are right on mark. More history lessons from Dr.Fitch.

Rob Hopcott said...

A wonderful story that connected me with the past in a special way.

The accommodation was a real bargain :-)

doug fitch said...

I thought it would appeal to you Michael, it's a beauty isn't it? Yes, I've had it for a few years, it wasn't expensive at the time but such things are more so these days if you can find them at all. I've got other old pots I'll put on here.

Hi Rob, looked out for you at the Cheriton Folk Festival, did you make it?

paul jessop said...

That is a Beautiful Pot, for a moment there I thought you were going to say that, that was your accomodation, it certainly looks big enough. The story is so true. I wish we could still live in pre war Britain, Some of the west country villages, and the life styles were , although harsh, just so beautiful. I think thats why We live were we do, because it's as close to that as you can get these days.