The Collaborative Clay Dry Season Art immersion short course gave 10 budding potters/ceramic artists the chance to realize the creative possibilities of hand built pottery. Under the expert tutelage of Gerald Clapham, we explored techniques including pinch pots, coiling and slabs. Day one started with hard labour grinding and sieving clay for a Terra Sigillata mixture, a surface slip used to seal and decorate pots by ancient Greeks and Romans. The mix was left to settle for a couple of days before we had to siphon off the usable liquid (yum).
Several days of building followed and individual projects included functional pieces, vases, bottles and plates. More organic forms included seed pods, and tropical flowers. The week of construction culminated in two alternative firings at Studio Elevenlee, Raku firing and smoke firing. Raku firing involved removing pots from the kiln and placing in containers filled with flammable materials such as saw dust and shredded paper. Smoke firing was in a converted steel rubbish bin and involved wrapping pots in a foil sagger filled with flammable materials and Gerald’s concoction of ‘swamp juice’. The danger and uncontrollable nature of these processes just made the results even more special and a real highlight to finish the course.