I am always looking forward to trying something new, and a potential hobby that I had been dreaming about is pottery. I’ve watched TV shows about pottery-making including pottery competitions and the art of forming something from clay always intrigued me. I remember as a child when we had art lessons and we were given a lump of clay and told to make it into anything we want. Those were the first lessons in hand building, but as a kid I related it more to ‘Play-Doh’ than pottery.
Skip forward many many years (Yep! I am actually quite old), I was given pottery lessons as my birthday present. Filled with ideas and anticipation, I went on the course and I was immediately hooked. I imagined all the possibilities in pottery making and also as a source to improve my metal clay jewellery skills. We started out by making a pinch pot by hand to understand the malleability of the clay as well as gauging the thickness of the finished product. The second lesson was hand building and within a space of 1-2 hours, I had made a huge pot but undecided as to the direction I was going.
While talking with the tutor, I decided that I was going to make a biscuit pot with a lid and engravings of tigers. Mind you, the lessons were only for two days so anything that I wanted to complete (including any engraving) had to be done before I leave. Pressure’s on then!
While waiting for the pot to go leather dry, I started to do some sketches of the tiger relief that I had in my mind. I was looking at old Korean paintings of tigers and the cartoonish nature of these drawings enticed me. As much as I love paintings and drawings of tigers, I will always choose the naive style rather than the realistic versions and the caricature tells a story. Once this was ready, I etched it onto the pot my designs. However as I didn’t have time to draw all those heads, I used a mould I created of the foo dogs and created a 3D head of the tiger to stick onto the pot. Improvising to create this pot while keeping an eye on the time.
Eventually, everything was done and it was left with the tutor to fire in the kiln. It wouldn’t be another few months until we went back to the pottery studio, so it gave me time to decide how I wanted to finish the pot.
Initially I thought about painting it but had my reservations as it may come out all drippy, smudgy and horrible, so I decided to just dip it in a glaze. When I went back to the studio, I did exactly what I wanted to do and left the glaze to be fired before picking it up the next day. Out of the kiln, the pot was singing to me. It was pinging and ringing due to the temperature fluctuations from the cooled kiln and the studio. My first experience of a completed pot was amazing! Obviously there were some issues with the glazing as the etching disappeared but still I can’t believe that I built this pot from scratch.
To make it special, I decided to give this pot a story and wrote a poem that went like this.
‘See three tigers over there.
Grab a biscuit if you dare.
But number four?
She’s hidden well.
Where she lurks,
I shall not tell!
So do you know where the four tiger is hidden?
But of course!
You do need one guarding favourite snacks from nimble hands.