Monday, 10 November 2008

Three days to go

Mark and I went over to the woods yesterday to get some more clay. I've not done this in a very scientific way so far, grabbing clay from all different areas of the woods. The farmer next door was telling me he has a field they call the Union Jack field, because it has red, white and blue clay in it.

The farmer who owns the woods offered to dig the clay out for me a while ago. Since then, his tractor has become stranded, deep in the mud, with a broken axle. I can't see how he's going to get it out of there. I wonder whether it'll make him more, or less inclined to go in there again. For the time being anyway, it's fine to go over with a shovel and sacks - just a bit tiring carrying it all back.

This time, we searched for what looks to be the best seam - clean and plastic. It's an incredible peachy colour. I've used some from here in the past and it fires beautifully.

In the stream at the bottom of the valley, there are clumps of grey/white clay, which forms the stream's banks.

We scooped a load of this too, which I'm going to try out as a decorating slip. Brad made some pots from this clay when he was here and they have fired a very pale buff colour. I'm so excited by all this, I don't want to go back to using clay from some anonymous hole in Stoke on Trent.

I feel blessed really. When I was a student, over twenty years ago, my work was greatly influenced by North Devon slipware. I'd only ever been to Devon once in my life as a teenager and a second time when I was a student, on the 'potters' trip'. The job at the University brought me here in 1990. Now here I am, with my own workshop, in a place that not only provides all the inspiration, but the materials too.

My old college buddy Simon came down yesterday. He brought with him one of my student pots from twenty one years ago. Here it is beside a bisc pot that's due for firing this week. That's a Devon shape if ever there was one.

Some amazing things are happening for me, I'm blessed with good fortune.

Happy Monday all


ang design said...

truly amazing to dig it up so pure and plastic looking, i can smell it from here...would you believe there used to be a pottery over the road from me quite a few years ago now and he used to dig clay up out of the creek, i really don't know what temp he fired to, it came out kinda mid brown looking, i should do the lick test...heheh

on another note i was watching simon leach in video this morning unloading a little kiln disaster some pots had melted all over the place quite interesting..ah yes my point- he also visited an old friend tim andrews, who has a gallery in woodbury that must be near your 'neck of the woods' and well worth a visit, your pots would look lovely in there, cheers ang,

Gary's third pottery blog said...

Happy Monday to you too.
We have clay deposits all over but perhaps I am not as adventurous as you, but this is inspiring, you know?

klineola said...

Looks like it's going to be a good week. The clay looks familiar. Is there mica in the clay there? Have a good one.

Brad Lail said...

I am one that is jealous of the blessings that you have. You have got some incredible clay in that field.

Sister Creek Potter said...

I love reading such a joyous post! All glory and no pain! You really are in a great place--physically and emotionally! Fondly, Gay

Hollis Engley said...

Hello, Doug. Can't tell you how I wish I could find a vein of native clay like that here on Cape Cod. A couple of years ago a friend from Martha's Vineyard brought me some very rough, rocky, weed-infested clay from her property. It turned out to be a natural stoneware and it took very well to shino. But it needed slaking and serious wedging. Yours looks like it could be thrown right from the ground. Very cool.

klineola said...

Hollis, I was just thinking as I read your comment about the clay on the Vineyard. Seems to my memory that there was a whole lot of it at the beach at some bluffs, can't remember the name...

Hollis Engley said...

Hi, Michael. The Gay Head Cliffs at the west end of Martha's Vineyard are a famous landmark. ("Gay" in the 18th century sense of colorful; "Head" as in headland.) They've been eroded considerably in the past 100 years, but they're still there. Reds, yellows, blues and grays. The land is under the control of the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe now and no one is supposed to take clay. But that end of the island has lots of other places where the glacier left clay deposits.

doug Fitch said...

Yes, thanks Ang, I know Tim. He's never offered me a show though!

I'll have a peep at the video.

You guys should get digging, it's magical, even if it's just for fun. No mica MK. I love that piece of clay you sent me, it lives on the shelf in my workshop.