Sunday 30 August 2009

A Course in Basics

It is no accident that there is a similarity in form between thrown cylindrical pots and the structure of bamboo. Though they are not "Copies" of bamboo, a cylinder is a cylinder, and man made forms will naturally have commonalities with natural forms.

When learning to throw on the potters wheel the most basic skill one must master is the making of cylinders. All other forms thrown off the wheel head are based on this form. So, step one; Make one hundred cylinders.

It is important that they be accurate in size. These pots are 300 grams each, so if the weight of the clay is the same, and the height and diameter are the same, the wall thickness will also be the same. By turning the foot in a curve from the hip to a foot ring slightly smaller in diameter than the inside of the lip, the pots can be stacked for easy storage in the home or restaurant. The external rim measurement for these cylinders needs to be 72mm when fired, so allowance is made for shrinkage, which in my clay is exactly 10%, so the wet measurement was 80mm.

And what are they for?
They are lidded containers for another course of the Toyoda "Euan" menu which starts on September 30th. The lids are lacquer ware, and the pots are made to fit the lids, thus the diameter of the rim is vital. After 30 years of throwing, I still take great joy in making these simple forms. It reminds me that the key to mastering advanced skills is essentially the mastery of basic skills, of course.

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