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ceramics at hatfield

updated sat 31 aug 96


JENNY LEWIS on tue 13 aug 96

I also went to the ceramics festival, mentioned by John Lockett.
It was great fun - my one regret was that I had gone on the last
day. If I had gone on Friday, then I'd have been back there on
Saturday AND Sunday as well.

There was plenty of lovely work to look at, of course. Several raku
demos going on, lots of people throwing at small wheels set up next
to their stands and I noticed several children looking on completely
absorbed by the whole thing. The potters of the future, no doubt!
There was an area for children to have a go, and they were obviously
enjoying it all enormously. I love seeing what kids produce, they
just don't care about what can or can't be done, do they, and are so
imaginative, and come up with some great ideas.

One potter, Steve Harrison, full of energy and enthusiasm, was doing
an experimental type of salt-firing, in a small raku-ish looking
kiln. Just over 3 hours firing to 1300 Centigrade, a few hours to
cool, and then out came small but beautiful "test" pieces - he was
delighted when people actually wanted to buy them! It's great
buying something that is still almost too hot to hold.

I had gone with the intention of buying a little treat - up to a
price limit which I HAD to set myself! Two of my favourites were
there, Phil Rogers and Mike Dodd, but unfortunately, the
self-imposed limit couldn't cope. Oh well, maybe next year if I
start saving right now.

Wally Keeler did demos on throwing, starting on Friday, so I saw him
at the stage of turning and finishing off, adding handles and so on.
Fascinating to see how he slices the bottom part off a cylinder, then
trims part of the top half, and sticks them back together again
resulting in that slight lean that his pots have. It looked easy,
but then of course, he knew what he was doing.

Peter Hayes was raku-ing his beautiful textured forms in a tall kiln
with a great Heath Robinson looking contraption full of hooks,
pulleys, weights, all sorts of bits and pieces. When the firing was
complete, the kiln is lifted off, moved to one side, then a metal
drum lowered over the work, and the sawdust hoisted up in the air and
lowered in from the top - it's in a large plastic sack which melts
from the kiln's heat, and there goes the sawdust, sending up vast
clouds of billowing smoke and flames. People are funny sometimes -
one on-looker standing next to me was obviously not in the least
impressed by the machinery and spectacle and said rather sniffily
"Humph, you can do this sort of thing just as easily in your own
garden with a large dustbin". Well, that's telling him!

Nearby Tim Andrews was producing BEAUTIFUL pots, using refractory(?)
slip for what I now discover is naked raku. I had read about it on
Clayart but didn't realise what the results were like. Gorgeous,
I'll have to try that one day as well. He says he doesn't call it
naked raku himself, but unfortunately I can't remember what he did
call it, sorry, meant to take copious notes all day, but it was too
easy to get sidetracked.

The clay godesses obviously had a word with the weather department, and
even though it poured each night, the days were gorgeous and sunny,
English summer weather at its best. All in all, a great day out.