Sunday, 20 December 2015

Niklas Preukschat - November

November started with a week which I would, without a flicker of a doubt, call the busiest and most wearing of the year. As a warm-up (literally), we lit the fire in Nic’s kiln on Saturday 1st. It was the first time since March that we’ve done so in the big kiln. 

To begin with we were pretty much behind schedule but with three big, green dishes surrounded by varietys of jugs and jars in the front, it wasn’t in anybody’s interest to mess it up... Although it eventually happened that we did. But once you’ve heard it banging inside, there’s not a lot you can do about it. So we carried on and due to an absolutely splendid firing crew we didn’t let us drag down of that event and soon were back on track with our schedule. 

By Tuesday then, our last day of firing, I was ready to get my kiln packed. I probably could have rushed a little bit more and worked a bit longer, but I rather wanted to be properly prepared with everything and have an early start with my firing than to kick it off somewhere at midday. 
Me in the Tube

So, at Wednesday afternoon I was ready, the next morning could come. And it welcomed me with rain. I did get the fire started with an oil burner and switched over to wood as soon as the pots were dyed red by the flame. I mainly did it of necessity due to a lack of our precious wood and time but it was also a quite exciting experiment. The oil-wood mix worked out pretty well but I worked against a high-pressure deadline with Sabine’s’ firing the next day. So eventually, after a nonstop 17-hour shift, I closed the kiln up in the evening, knowing, that there would be some underfired pots coming out of it the next week…
ready to take off

everything got blurry after 17 hours

Having then done Sabine’s’ night shift I was ready for a day off watching the latest James Bond in cinema! And after a few more days of patience we finally took down the brickwork to see what mighty treasure was hiding behind it. Ohohohno! There were some absolute beauties in all of our kilns. But, as always with wood firing, we had to sacrifice a lot for it. Me even more with the under fired back of the kiln…
training the next generation

The days after that great meltdown we spent cleaning pots and documenting every chosen one on photograph and video. With only 4 days to go until the start of our online exhibition it was just another rush…And suddenly it was all over, Sabine set up the website and everything was going on line. What a strange feeling that was. All those hassle over the last weeks only to spent a quiet evening by the fire with the TV going and a look there and then into the e-mail account, waiting for the sales coming in. Hmmmmh and they came! In the end I think we were all quite pleased with the outcome of that project.
bracken ash on porcelain

Bovey Silver

But once more, there was no time to rest, our annual Christmas sale was lying only three weeks ahead. So back we went into the workshop for a whole week of throwing mugs, beaker, lidded jars, jugs, candlestick holders and oil lamps to have a good stock of pots. The week after we glazed everything, packed the kiln and fired it for the last time of the year. Oh dear!

Monday, 30 November 2015

Niklas Preukschat - October

Puh… I have to apologize for such a delayed update about Octobers’ time at our pottery but I needed a while to get my head around this.

With the online exhibition lurking around in my head, a little person in there turned on an emergency switch labeled as “fast and furious working mode” and suddenly I couldn’t potter around with my ideas as I did before. So, to get that kiln filled, Nic and Sabine allowed me to have an extra throwing day and with working weekends and evenings, I slapped out pots as mad. At this point, I want to apologize to Nic and Sabine and everybody else who had to deal with that grumpy Me during this time. 
music against grumpiness? hmmm... no.
Once a week I also was making pots for our annual Christmas sale in December for which we will have an extra firing after the online exhibition. And because everybody else was making pots as well, the workshop soon spilled over of pots! Then, towards the end of the month, autumn became more and more visual with trees changing their dresses or even standing around completely naked (uah!). So we had to hurry with Nics’ leaf decoration as long as they were of any use for us. 

Our latest apprentice: Elsa

Then Nic taught me a lesson in how to throw tall with coils and although I didn’t get up to his sizes it was a damn great experience! In these weeks of making we all had to think a lot about how to promote our work on the internet, which was tricky because we wanted to get on with things and stopping the wheel here and then to take photos or videos was quite a disturbance sometimes. But of course not only! When we all motivated each other, it was good fun and a great chance to try out new ways of recording (a time lapse app on the tablet was a nice little toy!) 


The last week then passed by even more speedy, Nic got prepared to pack his kiln with me to help and glaze my pots possibly at the same time. And then all of a sudden, one of our kiln chimneys was looking for a posher place to move so we gave it a few helping hands by moving its bricks over to Nics kiln. 

I was quite glad that our firing crew arrived a couple of days before kicking off Nics firing to help with all that, otherwise I would have ended up tearing myself apart to get everything done. Yeah! Generally, I would say it was an incredible time of making but also extremely stressful and demanding. But that wasn’t the end of the trip, oh no! The first week of November was still to come, with three firings and two kilns to pack. Haha! It becomes funny, looking back at it. But I save that story for the next post.

Hmmm! A treat to keep us going

Monday, 12 October 2015

Niklas Preukschat - September

After having spent Augusts’ splendid bank holiday hiking through Devon, September showed up at the pottery saying ‘Hello’ and decided to stay with us for a while. The first few days with it were very nice and quiet. There was a little bit of clay mixing here, some chutney making there and then the people from our firing course came back for saying ‘Hello’ and – of course – the opening of the kiln! The expectations were flying high after all those pretty things that came out of Sabines’ firing and they said, “Let there be light in the kiln”; and the kiln opened up and there was light. Then they said, “Let there be only most beautiful pots and no single photo be taken by the apprentice”; and most beautiful pots came out, none of them captured on the apprentices camera and they saw it was good. Then it was time for everybody to cut their own path and to say ‘Good bye’ - not so for September, which decided to stay longer. But here, at the pottery, everybody has to bring in their share wherefore we elaborated a working plan for September and for October and November as well which already announced to call in later that year.
The schedule is as follows:

  • An online exhibition of Nic, Sabine and me in mid-November with three firings needed before. One for Nic, one for Sabine and one for – tada - ME! Yes! My own firing! All those will happen around the end of October/ first week of November
  • Until then: Wood! Where is wood!? We have to get more, split more, stack more, can’t get enough. 
  • Pots. Loads of them for myself and slab work for Nic
  • Kiln improvements and decorating and glazing and all these bits’n’bobs around

At first we got some wood split. Then a local farmer offered us his stack of hedge wood, which we still pick up in bits in-between. At that time I was thinking of my upcoming firing. Because we’re a bit low on wood I want to use oil for getting it kicked off and I want to throw ash in later. But what sort of ash? Bracken! Of course! It’s growing everywhere on the moor in vast amounts and encourages, according to Nic, Chun blue… Burning it was a pain in the ar… the lungs but in view of the amount definitely worth it! 

wod, our holyness

For a while now Nic has had this crazy idea of firing a few big dishes upright in his head. The idea in his head, dishes in the kiln. Why not doing it in the next firing? Yes! The three forms of timber and sand and bricks were built in no-time and not long after, three pretty triplets where born into them. And with bringing some 100 pounds each on the scale I can’t say it was a very gentle delivery. My wrists are still feeling pretty f***** after all that kneading and beating.
May I introduce? Tick, Trick (back left and right) and Track
Right, Septembers stay is coming towards the end... I wonder whether that’s why it cheered up over the last days?

Anyway, I’ll see you next year!

bye, bye

Hello, October!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Niklas Preukschat - August

As promised, Augusts’ schedule had been a bit tighter packed than it was in July. With Nics’ firing from the 14. until the 17. to supply a galeries demand for his work and our annual firing course only a few days later, we were desperate to get enough wood ready for three firings. Fortunately we got some extra german fairy power delivered by Jana, a student who was here in April with the course.

Cooking Time

Recalling the days until the first firing I remember a great mish mash of many different jobs to be done. For the first few days Nic was still on making some big bottles and jars (clay mixing for me) than there was still wood to split, glazes to mix, bowls, plates and guinomis had be to decorated with leaves which was fairly time-consuming + a lot of glazing during which Nic and Jana packed the kiln. The firing went allright until the last day at which the kiln suffered of some congestion and let us getting worried about our wood consumption. But eventually we got it all up to temperature and we finished it with some mixed feelings. Tuesday, the day after the firing was for me the start for some holidays in Germany whilst Nic, Sabine and Jana were getting last things done before the arrival of the course participants on Friday.
test, test

When I arrived back in Moreton on the Saturday proper rain and temperatures in its mid teens hit me hard (after 30°C+ in Germany!) Though, the week with the course was a great time! The group in itself worked really well and all the questions about kiln packing and firing, from people who partially did that for their first time, challenged my knowledge about it quite a bit. The firings then went incredibly smoothly, giving us a good cause for some partying! 
Question Time

uhhh! ohhh! ahhh!

Then on Saturday, before everybody left, we opened Sabines’ kiln with astonishing results. The pots were very dark coloured as well as the kiln interior (!). Something must have vaporized in there, affecting everything around. Maybe black stain or iron in combination with the soda? Hmmm…
Nics kiln we left unopend until Thursday the week after. So most of the people came back for the opening. But that’s September. That’s another story.