Beginning of the week and the first work conversation with Geraldine was that the Studio desperately needed coils by the end of the week. This is a messy part of life for a Pottery Slave!
Firstly let me explain. When the coiled pots are first made they are trimmed and the excess clay is put into a large bucket filled with water. This, over the weeks breaks down the trimmings. The water is then poured off, the heavy, sloppy mess of sodden clay is then put out on a plaster bench to remove the excess wet. When, at a carefully chosen stage, this clay is then blocked up and stored in polythene. It’s then called ‘reconstituted crank clay.
At making new coil time, this is then mixed with fresh crank clay in the ratio of one part new to one part reconstituted. It is then wedged, ie worked together until the mix is complete.
This mix of clay is then put into the coil extruder which turns it into long, sausage like coils. As the coils are made they are put onto polythene sheets over boards. The coils and each board is then sealed in the polythene sheet and strictly sealed so the coils do not dry out. The boards are labelled carefully. Each batch of coils are given a letter from ‘A’ to ‘G’. This is so a batch of coils is related to their mixture so work being created from them will not have different coloured coils which will effect glazing colours.
Sounds simply doesn’t it! But some students like their coils on the wet side, others don’t. Geraldine likes the coils for her large pots to be quite firm. For some work the coils have to be thick and other work needs quite thin.
Every batch of coils has to have a block of the same mix, sealed up in polythene and carefully labelled. This clay is used to make the base for each pot being made. Of course when some students are making sculptures, they want the coils for the body fairly firm but when then adding parts to the sculpture, like hair they need the coils thin and moist.
After is batch of coils has been made the plaster bench and the wedging benches have to be meticulously cleaned and dried so no crank clay (which is heavily grogged) will contaminate the throwing clay when it is wedged, or Pottery Slave is not a favourite person to the thrower! The bucket is then scrubbed clean, water put in ready for the next additions of trimmed clay from new work. And then in a few days time it all begins again and I try to hide!