About Clayfoot Crockery and Potter Ann Semple
Clayfoot Crockery's handmade pottery is thrown on the wheel, slab built, extruded or sculptured by Ann, in her studio in Metchosin, British Columbia, Canada. Glazes are also made and developed at the studio, and the colours frequently reflect the environment in which the pots were made, ranging from temperate rainforest blues and greens, to browns, yellows and black, fired to cone 6 in oxidation.
Ann was introduced to pottery in the mid 1970's, while working on her Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario when she took a class at a local community college. Since no art classes had been available in her high school, Ann was a total art novice, and while definitely not the best student potter in the class, she was definitely the messiest. Her potting ability improved over the ensuing years, but her ability to make a spectacular mess in the studio never changed at all.
Creating pottery has now been a part of Ann's life for more than 40 years. She currently lives and works in Metchosin BC, where the beauty of her surroundings has influenced both her glaze palate and pottery form, and the quiet location has allowed her to experiment and develop as a potter, giving, as the Loreena McKennitt song says, "her clay feet wings to fly".
Making Pottery Click a thumbnail to view larger images as a slideshow
There are a lot of tools and gadgets that can be used for making pottery - some purchased, some found and some created - but if you can't find it, you can't use it, so over the years, I have divided my space into 'areas'. Overall it has helped me keep track of all the bits and pieces I have collected because I thought they would make interesting impressions in the clay.
Let's start with the wheel. Most of the tableware made in my studio is wheel thrown, and while some people are able to throw making minimal mess, I just have to figure in a little extra clean up time after throwing sessions. This bowl was thrown one day, allowed to dry to a leather hard state overnight, and trimmed the next day. Then I used clay that has been liquidized in a blender (water added to throwing clay), thickened with sodium silicate to get a nice thick clay slip that is less firm than throwing clay but thicker than normal slip. I can spread this onto the leather hard piece, smooth it on and then create texture using various techniques and tools. Sometimes they work well - sometimes they don't.
Progressing counter clockwise around the studio, the next area is the Glaze Chemistry section. This is where I combine clay bodies, oxides and other 'ingredients' referred to as glaze chemicals, and the required weighing equipment, recipes, mixing and sieving apparatus is kept. The glaze ingredients are weighed, combined, mixed with water, sieved, mixed again, and sieved again.
Slab work, extruding and use of forms and more is done in this area. It is probably self-explanatory but, I use a slab roller for my larger hand built pieces, and 'throw' slabs or use a rolling pin for smaller ones. This is where most of the masks and elves come to life as well as the castles, dragons and houses.
Glaze application - The last stage before firing. Hauling each of these containers of glaze around to thoroughly mix and sieve them can be exhausting - but (sometimes) the final result is worth it! I have 12 glazes that I formulated myself in large (5 to 10 gallons) containers and a multitude of small commercial glazes (2 oz to 16 oz) that I use to accent and highlight.
The kiln room - For most of the pottery I make, two firings are required. I bisque fire to cone 04/05, and later, after the bisque fire has cooled to room temperature, the pots are removed, washed (to eliminate dust, and then glazed and re-fired to cone 6.
Loading a bisque load.
After the bisque firing when the kiln has cooled to room temperature, each pot needs to be checked for rough edges and any areas that may require finessing.
The bisque ware then needs to be thoroughly sponged (and or washed) to remove any trace of clay dust that will prevent the glaze from adhering smoothly. When that is done it is time to glaze. After waxing the bottoms of the pots (so the don't stick to the kiln shelf) I frequently dip, apply wax resist or other techniques, dip again and apply other decorating or designs before a final dip. Then the pots are loaded into the kiln for the glaze firing. This time the kiln is fired to to cone 6 (2230 degrees F). The kiln is fired then cooled down to room temperature (about 3 days from starting the firing to opening the cooled kiln) but it’s not over yet. All the bottoms of the pieces need to be checked to make sure there are no sharp edges or glaze drips that would damage tables or floors. Each piece needs to be examined for pinholes, chips, and other glaze flaws. Then finally they make their way into the sales area!
Some go outside
And most go to the Studio Display area.