Workshop report - Maryke Henderson April 2010
Workshop report - Rick Beviss October 2009
Workshop report - Kaye Pemberton July 2009
Workshop report - Susie
McMeekin September 2008
Workshop report - Jack Doherty
Workshop report - Peter Hayes
Workshop report -
Janet de Boos March 2007
Thrown Forms with
workshop report and photo by Josephine
Saturday 17th & Sunday
18th April 2010
A two-day workshop on altered thrown forms was
held at the Canberra Potters Centre on 17-18 April. About ten of
us (members and non-members) gathered around Maryke Henderson who
was our tutor for the weekend. Maryke is famous for her signature
long-spouted pouring vessels.
Maryke showed us different techniques for
altering forms and making quirky shapes and structures. She also
showed us how to make the long sculptural spouts for which she is
known. This turned out to be quite straight forward. All you need
is a knitting needle, some cooking oil and a well rounded coil of
clay! A large size knitting needle is coated in oil to make it
smooth and slippery. It is then slowly pushed through the middle
of the coil. The clay is pulled over the knitting needle until you
get the right length and thickness for your spout. The knitting
needle is then gently pulled out of the clay which is left to
become leather hard. The technique is quite easy. The hardest part
Maryke also spoke to us about her sources of
inspiration and showed us examples of her work as it has developed
over the years.
The workshop was incredibly interesting and
challenging. Maryke encouraged us to learn new techniques, to be
creative and to look at different ways of developing our own forms
It was a fun weekend and was over too quickly.
We all went home looking forward to getting our hands into the
clay to experiment with what we had learnt.
(This workshop was a repeat of the January
workshop run by Maryke.)
Workshop report -
Tool-making with Rick Beviss
workshop report and photos (on right)
by Bridget Anderson
Sunday October 18th 2009
When is the next tool making
workshop? If you
missed out on this popular workshop those of us who were enrolled
have asked that this workshop be repeated a.s.a.p.
We were greeted on the morning with an
array of amazing tools piled over 2 bench tops. There were paddles,
roulettes, ribs, turning tools… it was an incredible, inspiring
The hardest part was choosing where to
start our introduction to making tools!
The roulettes became our first task –
Rick was both generous with tools, materials and information. We all
jumped in headlong with intense enthusiasm, Rick worked his way
around all of us making sure we kept to task and our first roulettes
were successful. There were many joyful cries of success and showing
off of ‘perfect’ drill holes.
Other tools we tackled on the day were
paddles – these were decorated with skewers, carved with grinders –
the ideas were flowing, the only thing we didn’t have enough of was
time, and yet Rick stayed with us well into the afternoon, well past
the workshop time. We really didn’t want to leave.
Thank you, Rick, for a really fantastic
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Workshop report -
TERRIFIC TEAPOTS & CONSUMMATE CASSEROLES
with Kaye Pemberton
workshop report by Andrea Wise
18th & 19th July 2009
It was with some trepidation that I
began the two day teapot workshop with Kaye Pemberton.
Participants were greeted with a bustle of activity and an array
of teapots by both Kaye and other potters in the CPA studio. The
ice was broken with an invitation to choose a teapot and a mug and
put them to use. Kaye set the tone for the workshop with
encouragement to voice our views on the teapots – what did we
think about how they looked, how they felt; did they function
properly? How did they sit in relation to the cups we had chosen?
These shared thoughts and discussion actively continued throughout
the two days with the 12 participants who were drawn from a
variety of backgrounds.
Teapots, as anyone who has tried to
make one knows, challenge even an experienced potter, both
technically and aesthetically. As a beginner, or as a beginner,
beginning again after a 20 year break from clay, it is a daunting
task to consider all the components, make them sufficiently well
and then assemble them in a manner that is pleasing to the eye.
Within an hour of the workshop commencing, Kaye had us working on
the wheel, completely absorbed, throwing ‘off the hump’ - the
Japanese technique where only the top portion of a large ball of
clay is centred - a new experience for most.
Galleries, the top edge of the pot
where the lid sits, were the first to be considered. Each style
was discussed, drawn and expertly demonstrated by Kaye, with
practical sessions generously peppered with handy hints. Kaye used
this ‘explain and demonstrate’ format for each successive portion
of the workshop, briskly moving through lids (again thrown ‘off
the hump’), knobs and spouts. The first day passed quickly in a
hum of productive concentration as Kaye moved from student to
student, answering questions, offering advice and, more
The following morning started out grey
and cold, but fortuitously the clouds parted and the sun shone on
the components and teapot bodies we had begun making that day.
Placed amongst the garden beds to dry, everything was sufficiently
firm to allow turning and finishing in the early afternoon. Kaye’s
technical approach to the teapot making process is meticulous. Her
attention to detail and the careful handling and finishing result
in pots that appear relaxed, gentle, almost soft to the touch in
their asymmetry, but that are in reality cleanly made, tight and
understated. Kaye emphasised the need for minimal handling during
the assembly process to avoid making a pot that looked tired or
over-worked. Knowing when to stop seems to be a key factor.
The workshop concluded with a
discussion session where, with characteristic generosity, Kaye
shared tips on materials and techniques to assist with drying,
decorating and glazing the assembled pots successfully. While it
might take many more years of practice to produce an elegant,
fully functional teapot, after two days with Kaye’s enthusiasm, I
will be approaching the task with renewed confidence.
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Workshop report - Suzie McMeekin
On Saturday, 27th September 2008, a group
of impressionable potters enjoyed a full day with Suzie McMeekin.
She not only shared humorous tales but also stories of her father Ivan
McMeekin, founder of the Sturt pottery workshop in Mittagong and a
founding member of the Potters Society of Australia.
A very generous potter, Susie also shared with us some of her glaze
recipes, which we eagerly jotted down into our notebooks.
There was a wonderful display of some of her bowls and jugs for us to
handle and admire, and the slide show into the past (see photo
below) was also very enjoyable.
If you haven’t met Susie, she is a real treat. Full of fun – and we all
thoroughly enjoyed the demonstrations she did for us in the
Workshop report - Jack Doherty
Thirteen people were joined by students
from the ceramics workshop at the ANU School of Art for the workshop
with British potter Jack Doherty on the weekend of 27th/28th October.
Sue Hewat shares her experience.
This was a fantastic two-day observation
workshop filled with lots of tips and inspiration. Day one started with
a slide show that gave an overview of Jack’s work. He works mainly in
porcelain and his work is once-fired in a soda kiln. For colour he uses
copper stains or slips. He explained how he constructed his kiln and
gave a brief rundown of the firing process.
For the demonstration throwing Jack used
Imperial porcelain, Southern Ice and Walkers 5A stoneware. He threw a
series of different sized tea bowls and showed us how he leaves fresh
lines on the surface as part of the decorating process. When the clay is
drier he uses found objects to indent and highlight his work. This gives
lively interest and movement to his pots.
Jack likes the idea that his pots are used
everyday in everyday life. He makes large vessels that are made by
joining several throw pieces together. The different pieces are joined
at different degrees of dryness and re-thrown where appropriate. The
joining lines are left prominent or enhanced - this emphasises the
containment concept as if the lines are rope, hugging the contents of
Jack uses a unique method to produce pots
that are veneer inlaid with different clays or coloured clays. For this
example he threw a tea bowl and a large bowl. The form is started and
after the first pull, strips of different clays are placed and pinched
onto the immature form. The throwing is then continued, the result being
lovely subtle patterns on the outside or inside of the throw form.
All the pots that Jack threw were turned and
finished ready for firing once dry. Some of the pots were subjected to
more decoration markings. He wipes all his work with water after they
are finished. This reinforces the fresh feel that he is trying to
The workshop was most informative and Jack
was very generous with sharing his knowledge.
(all photos from this workshop by Sue Hewat)
Sara Hogwood was
another participant at the Jack Doherty workshop:
Day one started with a slide show of
Jack’s work and studio in Herefordshire. Originally from Northern
Ireland, Jack has lived in Herefordshire for the last twenty-four years.
The recent announcement of his appointment as lead potter at the
refurbished Leach Pottery in St. Ives, Cornwall – due to be opened in
March 2008 – will no doubt necessitate a move to the West Country.
Starting with slides of his early work, Jack
referred to potters who’d inspired him, including Dame Lucie Rie who he
met on a trip to London while a student at art school in Belfast. For
this early work, Jack mixed his own colours from commercial stains. Now
he uses just copper carbonate as a colourant in three different ways: a
thin wash of copper carbonate mixed with water is applied to incised
surfaces and wiped away, a 2% addition to porcelain slip is brushed onto
vessels and lastly 2% is mixed into a clay body and applied to vessels
in the early stages of throwing. With this technique the colour is drawn
through to the outside surface during soda-firing. All Jack’s work is
soda-fired, sometimes to cone 6 rather than the traditional cone 10, and
Jack’s kiln has two burners at diagonally
opposite corners and twelve spraying ports for the soda solution: eight
at the front and 4 at the rear. Jack admitted that he needs a larger
kiln but he’s fired this one for so many years and knows it so well that
it’s become something of a security blanket for him.
‘Function is a creative part of the
process’, Jack said when the talk turned to the making process. Drinking
vessels, for example, are very important (because we all need to drink)
and intimate (because they touch our lips and are cradled in our hands).
Jack likes to throw the same basic shape but alter it slightly each time
so that the pieces, while not identical, are clearly part of a family
with the same characteristics. I found this concept somewhat liberating.
After the slide show Jack got down to
demonstrating on the wheel. He uses just a few favourite tools: a rib
small enough to create the shaping he desires, a broken-off hacksaw
blade for trimming a foot before removal from the wheel, a looped tool
and metal palette for turning and, most unusually, a cookie/scone
cutter, also for turning and flexible enough to be squeezed slightly to
fit the contours of a pot. (Not the fluted type of cutter but one with a
During the workshop Jack used three
different clays: Clayworks Southern Ice porcelain, Walker’s Imperial
porcelain and Walker’s 5A white stoneware. One method of decoration
referred to earlier involves applying small, thinly-rolled slabs of
coloured clay to centred and opened out clay, pinching the surfaces
together and continuing to throw. The result is a piece with integral
colour decoration and a top edge that undulates due to the extra clay
being brought to the top. This edge is not trimmed flat. Jack
demonstrated the technique by applying slabs of 5A white and one of the
porcelains to the other porcelain. The three colours were very apparent
in the thrown pieces.
Day two and Jack took us through the joining
and continued throwing of large pieces. An open bowl, when leather-hard,
has a freshly thrown ‘doughnut’ of clay added to it, up-ended onto the
bowl while still on its batt. The seam is joined well, smoothed right
over on the inside but on the outside the luting marks are only
partially smoothed, leaving texture that becomes part of the decoration.
The clay doughnut is thrown and shaped. Further additions can be made
when the previous addition is leather-hard. When complete, a serrated
metal rib incises marks into the upper parts of the vessels.
Turning of the large vessels starts with
them the right way up, still on the batt. Working this way up, it’s
easier to see the evolving shape in its correct orientation. Final foot
ring turning and tidying up is done last with the vessel upside down.
Jack has found it best, when working with
porcelain, to work in stages, leaving a piece for, say, ½ an hour before
coming back to do final shaping, for example, the gallery for a
canister’s lid. (It helps to have several wheels in your studio!) Lids
are thrown off the hump; often two or three different shapes are thrown
and the most suitable picked later, at which point the gallery is
finished off to suit the selected lid.
Lids are turned upside down using their pot
as a chuck. Cling film between the pot and lid makes it easy to remove
the lid. Knobs and handles (if the lid doesn’t need turning on the top)
are put on before turning underneath and covered with cling film to slow
drying. Final turning of lids can also be done the right way up in their
pot, again with cling film to ease removal.
Because vessels with undulating rims can’t
easily be turned with the rim on the wheelhead (they’re too wobbly),
Jack uses chucks made from a suitably sized bucket, cup, etc. with a
collar of clay on top. The edge of the collar is trimmed flat with the
edge of the bucket and the top cut off evenly. Covered in plastic, the
chucks can be saved and re-used.
Cups and small bowls can be placed upside
down for turning on a pad of clay thrown on the wheelhead, reducing the
likelihood of damage to thin rims. After turning, Jack uses water and
his fingers to smooth away turning marks; he doesn’t use a sponge
because it leaves too much texture on the clay surface.
Detail of a thrown bowl with applied
slabs of clay
For more information about Jack Doherty,
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Workshop report -
Ian Hodgson was one of the twenty-eight
participants at the September workshop with British master potter Peter
I didn’t take too many notes during the
recent Peter Hayes workshop. I was so rapt up in watching him work.
However, a couple of his quotes remain in my mind: ‘Never have secrets’
—freely giving away all information frees up your mind marvellously. And
‘Never give away your work to anyone’—mind you, here he was really
referring to seconds or even failures. They may come back to haunt you;
for example, when you are a guest for dinner at friends and your host,
to your horror, proudly shows off one of your throwaways from years ago.
Personally, I only give away pieces I would be happy to keep, the rest
go in the garden, to be hidden in the shrubs, homes for lizards and
As Peter said, he doesn’t aim to teach, but
to inspire—and inspire he did. An artist virtually from birth—at least
from about 12, when he went to art ‘school’ and ‘college’ at 16. At 23,
married with a 2-year old and a 2-month old, Peter and family took off
for Africa, where he set up a pottery in the Lesotho mountains to train
young men (18–23) to make pots. He planned to stay eighteen months, but
was there for ten years, only returning to the UK when his children
needed to go to proper school. He began by training young men, but as
soon as they were ‘qualified’ they took off to South Africa where the
money was. So Peter switched to training the women, and ended up with
twenty-six women and just two men.
Returning to England, Peter set up his
workshop/studio in Bath, where his son now works with him, along with
Peter Hayes’ work is truly monumental, but
it gets there by a strange route. After making a piece, Peter breaks it
when it is bone dry, raku fires the individual bits and then reassembles
the work using coloured Araldite and clear setting resin. The work is
then ground and repaired, and ground and repaired until he is satisfied.
His most precious tool is a wet grinder (like an angle grinder, but with
water lubrication of the surface being ground).
See Peter’s web site (http://www.peterhayes-ceramics.uk.com/)
to see the results—and be amazed!
Peter removing a piece from the Raku
kiln watched by workshop participants
No – this magnificent Raku-fired piece
wasn’t made at the workshop but is just one of many beautiful
images presented in a slide show of Peter’s work.
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Workshop report -
The Wheel as a Tool
with Janet deBoos
by Sara Hogwood
A lovely autumn morning (later giving way to
welcome rain) saw twenty people gather on Saturday 24th March
for this demonstration workshop with Janet deBoos, head of the ceramics
workshop at the ANU School of Art.
As she prepared clay for throwing, Janet
spoke about the necessity of integrating the whole process of making:
wedging and kneading, forming, glazing, firing, cleaning up, etc. There
are bound to be parts of the process that we don’t enjoy as much as
others – perhaps it’s kneading, or cleaning up – but seeing the process
as a whole and giving each part attention causes everything to flow more
And so Janet started with wedging and
kneading, where time and attention can save time and effort in
centring. She advised having your wedging table at hand height when you
stand with your arms by your side. At this height you can use your body
weight effectively in the kneading process, an important activity as
kneading aligns the clay particles and gives the clay more plasticity.
The same principle applies to the height of your stool, which she
recommends should be about the same height as your wheel. Again, this
allows effective use of your body weight when throwing, particularly
important when working on large pieces.
The first piece of clay was put on the wheel
and patted well into the centre by hand. For the first pull up, Janet
uses a ‘pinch’ grip formed with her thumb and fingers, keeping the top
of the clay in towards the centre. Using her thumb, she then creates a
substantial undercut at the base and pulls up again. The top is folded
in after each pull to keep the opening narrowed towards the centre.
The two tools that Janet used most during
the day were an old credit card as a rib and a vegetable paring knife
for cutting away excess clay at the base of pots before removing from
the wheel. The credit card rib was used extensively for smoothing outer
surfaces and removing throwing rings – throw out onto the rib,
don’t push in with it.
As Janet worked there was some interesting
discussion about the weight and balance of pots. Janet likes to leave a
bit of weight in the base of functional items as it gives more
stability. Obviously the weight of an item needs to be balanced with its
size – a large, very light item can be as off-putting as an overly heavy
Janet has a method of working that was most
interesting to the gathered audience: when making a series of items
she’ll prepare ‘spare parts’ first, that is, a number of handles, knobs,
lids, spouts, necks, shoulders, whatever is needed for the finished
item. When she then throws each body she can pick from the ‘spare parts’
the pieces with the best fit and feel, assembling them, even the
teapots, before removing the body from the wheel. Parts not used during
a throwing session can be kept (suitably wrapped) for later use.
After morning tea (with delicious biscuits
courtesy of workshop co-ordinator Maryke Henderson), we moved on to
surface decoration and texture. Wedging a handful of grog into your clay
will give texture – as the pot is bellied out wide against a rib, the
grog pushes through to the clay surface. Another technique is to make
marks with a rib around a pot at the cylinder stage, then belly out
without touching the outer surface. The marks stretch and soften as the
pot gets wider. A third technique saw Janet brush a black stain solution
onto a cylinder, followed, when the stain was dry, by sodium silicate.
While the sodium silicate dried we enjoyed a slide show of Janet’s works
as Brindabella Pottery from 1983 to 1999, followed by slides of her
current work and discussion of her collaboration with Chinese factories
producing her work. Did you know that in China, bone china is seen as
‘western’ and therefore highly sought after and expensive? Returning to
the pot with the sodium silicate, as it was bellied out the surface
cracked in a remarkably regular pattern (see the image on the front
The day finished with Janet throwing the
parts for and then assembling a teapot. Thrown spouts she shapes and
positions with a slight downward curve - as water can’t run uphill the
spout doesn’t drip! Paper-clay slurry is used for attaching items – a
cup of water and a couple of sheets of toilet paper are whizzed together
then mixed with the clay body or dried trimmings to make a slip/slurry.
There was such a lot to take in from this
very worthwhile workshop that I can’t wait to get into my workshop – I
particularly want to try the technique of throwing lids before bodies,
the reverse of what I do now.