Ceramics at White House Arts

I've joined White House Arts to practice some ceramics and to interact with fellow humans one morning a week. The place is nicely hidden by the river in Chesterton, a good 40 min cycle away, but the route is beautiful, and it allows me to "commute".  I arrive to a warm informal atmosphere, where tea is available to drink from all student made mugs (in all wonky shapes and sizes) and biscuits, which we mustn't give to Zeus (a mainly cylindrical sweetheart of a dog). There everyone just gets on with their own ceramic pursuits.

Slab Day: Cilinder to be pot and shapes cut.
The group fills the room but with enough space to work. All students are women of a vast range of ages. I'm getting to know some of them little by little and it makes me happy to discover shared experiences and common hardships. I suppose writing and illustrating on my own leaves me hungry for contact and exchange and I feel lucky to be in a group that is creative, generous and amicable.  Lucy, our tutor is friendly, incredibly knowledgable and with vast amounts of patience. A great advantage of the slow pace of ceramics is that it frees the mind to chat.

Underglaze- bisque fired
In the under-glazing and detailing there is room for freehand, and tonal drawing and squiggly lines, and perhaps these moments do require concentration. When I get to the point of mark making, I find myself in comfortable territory. There is however, a great delight in "shape making", a sensuality in the handmade process and in the final object. And the possibilities are mind-boggling vast.

Unlike my usual instinctive and direct approach, ceramics requires a lot more patience than I'm used to. There is an exact order and climatic conditions, and handling procedures, and a degree of witchcraft at the end. Ultimately,

The potential for catastrophe is ever present, in a long committed process. Clay is a fascinating thing with a spectrum of personalities and behaviours, (not all of which exactly match mine), but for the time being I'm hooked and I've already decided to extend my time there.


I managed to break two within an hour of leaving the place.

I quite like this cracked look.
Detail of outside. I was expecting this oxide to DO something.

This slab crank pot did not turn up at all as I anticipated. I can now see that I rushed the process and I missed a chance at leather hard to tidy the geometry.  I will be practicing when I can with some clay I bought from Bath Potters Supplies.

Will I get any good at ceramics?  We shall see in about 2 decades.

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