Tuesday, 14 September 2010


I took the afternoon off today to go to a farm sale, of old machinery and farmhouse items, near the barn where we Love Daddies rehearse.

Love Daddies rehearsal room/Cookie's workshop

And hornets that cut short last week's rehearsal - it started with a few, then suddenly loads - so we legged it of course.

Anyway, back to today. It felt rather sad, picking over the affairs of a deceased old farmer in a decaying house, but that's life and death, as the old addage goes, you can't take it with you. The house was fascinating and still had its original 19th century wallpaper. It was packed full of the evidence of a lifestyle from a bygone age, the old guy had been a hoarder. There were old horsedrawn carts in the field, rotted and full of woodworm, rusty ploughs, tractors and in the house, books, iron beds, boxes of cutlery, etc. etc. etc.

There were a few old 19th Century country pots, a salter, which is a huge oval shaped earthenware trough, glazed only internally, with galena. It would have been used for preserving hams in days of old. Also a great scalding pan for making clotted cream, a local speciality. I already own examples of such pots, but nevertheless, I was almost tempted to have a bid. But I have little room to store any more of them, so I left them for somebody else to buy, even though they each sold for just £20, cheap for a bit of history.

So I waited for this lot, in the hope that I may be able to afford it. I couldn't believe it, nobody else even bothered to bid, so I was able to buy this huge crock for just a fiver, hurrah!. Ok, it's broken and tied together with baler twine, but that doesn't worry me, abit of glue would sort it out, but I'll probably just leave the twine on instead. This is just the sort of old country pot that gets saddos like me me excited. In fact, simple country pottery is my favourite type of pottery and this one will live with the other inspirational pieces that I keep in the workshop.

The skills of the guys who made these things, was phenomenal, I guess they did it all day, every day, executed with absolute economy in terms of the use of both time and materials, thrown skillfully with minimal moves and to the optimum thickness, without excess or waste. These wares are the focus of the show, Honest Pots, that I spoke of in yesterday's post, I'll rattle on a lot more about that show as time goes on.

In the picture by the way, is my friend and fellow Love Daddy, Cookie. This picture was taken in his workshop just before we came home this evening. It's his birthday today, although he doesn't know that I know(I haven't been able to mention it all day) and his wife has invited a few of us around for a surprise tea this evening, ha ha! He has a wonderful blog, right here, which he thinks nobody visits, so please take a look at his amazing wood, art and words and leave him a birthday greeting, he'll love it.

Back to the country pots. For those of you who haven't seen this film before, here's the first installment of Isaac Button, Country Potter for you to enjoy - the rest of it is also on Youtube. There's no soundtrack, so don't start to mess with your volume controls. I've heard it said that sadly Isaac passed away before the film makers had a chance to return and record the soundtrack. It is an invaluable historical documentation of a master craftsman at work.

Right, got to scrub up and head for Cookie's, bye for now.


Maki said...

Fiver?? Got to be joking! I would love to have that too, so envy. The film was fascinating to watch. Thank you fro sharing. My mentor lives and works in that area where I used to visit now and again, I wonder if he knows Isaac Button (or even just name)? Mixing and making clay from scratch reminded me what I used to do at the back of mentor’s studio garden. Hard physical work (and I used to dislike it) but good experience and memory it was... xm

Armelle said...

Et on dit que le béret est français !!!
Quelle économie de moyens, pour un tel travail, c'est un autre monde !!!

And they say that the beret is French!
What economy of gestures, for such work, it's another world!

Thank you to share, waiting for the kiln opening............ :-)

Peter said...

Really pleased to see you back on the blog. I was a bit concerned that you might have had a disaster with your firing as there was a great silence for a few days from your part of the world!!

Glad that the chimney is doing well and that the old girl is breathing more comfortably, I suppose it is the kiln's equivalent of a "nose job"!

Some lovely pots there. Strange, the bubbling... Did any of the other pots use the same dark slip?? I'm wondering if the slip was high in manganese. The manganese would have out gassed oxygen at 1080 C, and could well have produced the bubbles in the glaze which would not have healed if the temperature did not climb much above that. (Just a thought...).

I note that hornets do not appreciate good music!

Congresburypotter said...

Doug you must have had such a great time this afternoon!! That pot is just something else.

Have just checked out your mate Cookie's blog as you suggested - wow and double wow. I'd seen some of his stunning chairs before, now I know who makes them, so thank you.

Bet you're right in the middle of some liquid celebrations now, so hope you don't have a headache tomorrow!!
Cheers, Karen

Tracey Broome said...

You didn't call me!?!? Didn't you know that I would LOVE to be at that farmers house :) oh, what I wouldn't give to visit a place like that. I'm with you, love the simple honest pots, quite a treasure you got there.

Mesnic said...

Thanks for posting the movie, it was amazing and led to wasting the night watching him work, instead of working myself. Also enjoyed your friends blog.

James H said...

£5!!!!!! AND baler twine!!!! (it always comes in useful)!!!!

littlewrenpottery.co.uk said...

I'm always in awe of anything old and original it has a humbleness and feeling to it that you just dont get these days.

Maybe thats just part of things that are handmade, the character of the person who made it!

doug Fitch said...

Hi all, thank you for your comments.
Maki, yes, it is hard work, but it's magical being able to dig out clay and turn it into pots. Isaac Button was an extraordinary craftsman, I wish I had his skills - or the skills of the guy who made that huge crock.

I've a feeling that damp door bricks might have had something to do with the bubbling Peter. There were other pots with the same slip and they were fine. Alex has refired the duff ones in an electric kiln and the bubbles have settled down again thankfully.

Armelle, I'll send you some photos of the mugs that came out