Demo and slide show
On March 6th this year Meri Wells, international potter, did a hands on workshop for North Wales Potters members at the memorial hall in Betws y coed. This was well attended with about 18 people .
In the morning Meri did a demonstration of her own working methods and in the afternoon we all had a go at making an animal or figure, using coarse raku clay provided by Potclays for the event. Meri also brought a disc of her work for people to see.
Meri has a wood kiln built by Ray Finch. The work is fired for eighteen hours and Meri uses fence sticks as wood.
Meri puts lump felspar, rust (another eco tip!), and soda ash on her work and also stencils, with various oxides and glaze materials like vanadium, dolomite, rutile .
Potters’ Tips from Meri Wells Demo
· Chair spindles make unusual rolling pins (i.e. to decorate/create textured slabs)
· Washing soda in wood firing when at temperature gives a soda glaze effect especially on textured pieces.
· 50/50 t- material and added sprinkled paper pulp lump feldspar (like granite gives pearlised lumps. Trade name = Fordsheemer) + molochite + rust from kiln chimney. Can also be pushed into wet clay- gives a granular effect
· Add Paper pulp to clay- good for large pieces as it lightens weight.
· Raw fire for ecological reasons and Meri thinks with raw firing- what goes on top of the clay sinks into the clay more.
· Meri gets wood from a fence maker. Although she pays for the off cuts they are waste wood and the carbon footprint of getting the fuel is very low!
· Inventive moulds- Meri made feet by using a fired clay mould. She made the mould by pressing clay into foxes feet which she found nailed over a doorway as a warning to other foxes.
· Piles of clay scrapings dropped/piled on top of each other are sometimes used to create a head shape.
· Coffee sticks or lolly sticks make good free tools. The textured corrugated paper wrapping on take away coffees makes a good texture too.
· Use a mirror behind a whirler to see the back of a piece when working on a a sculpture.
· To highlight after painting a piece with slips, add porcelain slip for ‘blueness and lovely hardness.’
· Newspaper torn stencils can be stuck on top of painted slip and then painted with a contrasting coloured slip to create pattern/detail.