Great Pottery Throw Down application questions
I applied to go on this programme but didn't get on. I thought I'd share my responses as it took me ages to write. If you are thinking of applying, maybe write the exact opposite to this :)
How long have you been a potter for? How & why did you first start? Who taught you and where did you learn?
Since 2012. I bought my wife a wheel for her 30th birthday as she was taking pottery evening classes at the time. I had a go and instantly loved it although I was terrible at first. I learnt through watching YouTube and many hours at the wheel failing until I began to get the hang of it.
It turned out Helen didn't like sitting with the spiders in the garage very much, so gradually I became the one who used it the most.
How often do you practise? Where do you practise (describe your studio/space/work area)?
I do pottery one day a week, and also quite a few evenings or any other time working around my job and family life. My studio is in the garage and I have a open sided kiln shed in the garden where I fire a gas reduction kiln. I converted this from a small electric kiln I bought off ebay shortly after I started pottery.
How would you describe your style? Please be imaginative…
I think the shape of the pot should have more to say than the decoration. There is hopefully a simple but beautiful style to my work. I often use stamps I make or carving to show off the glazes.
For the last year or so I've been working with a converted gas kiln. The reduction firing process gives a very unique character to the clay and glazes. Most of my pottery uses an iron speckled clay with slightly transparent glazes, the finish varies between pieces even from the same kiln load. This variation is something I love and keeps the process very rewarding.
What inspires your ceramic creations (e.g. nature, Instagram, magazine, popular-culture, history)
I do use Instagram and like many of the people I follow on there but I'm not a bit fan of some modern ceramics. My pet hate are forms that look really quirky but would be totally impractical to use. I have read books by Bernard Leach and love the pottery from the Leach and Winchcombe potteries. I'm a big fan of Simon Leach and Steve Booton. I tend to prefer classic designs which work well during use.
What do you love about ceramics?
I find ceramics very calming. When at the wheel I only have to concentrate on one thing - the stress of life fades into the background. I love being able to take a lump of mud and create something beautiful of value out of it.
What is your preferred working method i.e. how do you prefer to design/construct a pot/ item?
I often start with a sketch book to work out ideas although I'm not great at drawing. From there I work on the wheel, often making a few I don't like until I find the 'right' size and form. Once I have one I like I record the clay weight, and dimensions. I often use a stick gauge on the side of the wheel to repeat the form multiple times.
What ceramic creation are you most proud of and why?
Probably my heart mugs. The shape is one that I don't see other potters doing, although I'm sure somebody has before. It's very comforting to hold and nice to drink from. The heart decoration is done with a couple of strokes from the end of a hacksaw blade. It's a design I developed myself, but again possibly someone else has done it before. The simple designs like these really appeal to me.
Do you have any hobbies other than pottery? Please give details…
I like to run a couple of times a week. I used to be really into playing music and played in bands through my younger years. I pretty much gave up when the kids came along and needed to be quite when babies were asleep. That's when I started pottery, I still have strum on guitar occasionally.