A pottery studio in St Civran, France


Welcome to this blog about the quiet rural life in the Berry Province of France where I have tried to open a pottery studio to hobby potters.
Your comments will be appreciated.

02 November 2006

11. A radio interview (2)

YOU DON'T LIVE OF POTTERY

No, not of my production. I'd like to live of having hobby potters come here to practice. I'd like to have this going all year round. That's my big idea.

YOU HAVE YOUR OWN TECHNIQUE, YOUR OWN PERSONAL WAY. WE CAN SAY THAT.

Yes, I have, but I don't want to pass it on at all cost. My approach to people who come, who will come here, is to leave them free - guiding them of course. Someone who doesn't know how to 'center', I'll advise, for instance as for Stephanie, to have her wrists at right angle with her arms. To have maximum strength onto a heap of clay, you must have your wrists at right angle with your forearms and your forearms leaning on your legs. That way you have a lot of strength because you can push with your back actually. I told her just that and now, have a look, she's got two shelves full of pots.

WHERE DOES YOUR CLAY COME FROM?

I buy it at Ceradel in Limoges. My good luck is to live so close. It is an internationally known wholesaler and manufacturer. They make all sorts of things right down to the tiny specialised paint brush. It's one hour's drive from here. I just take my car and load.

In the Berry province, I don't have to create the image. It is a traditional area for pottery. Clay tiles... Many places are called 'Tuilerie' of this or that... the tile makers have gone but not so long ago it was a natural place for clay.

Moreover Limoges is world known for ceramics. Pottery and ceramics are first cousins.

YOUR POTS HERE IN THE STUDIO HAVE THE COLOUR OF CLAY. THEY ARE RAW. DO YOU PREFER TO KEEP THEM THAT WAY?

That's right. People throw a lot with stoneware coming from St Amand-en-Puisaye. That clay is black when raw and white when first fired. I find it colourless and odourless. I like the clay for itself. I like throwing with coloured clay, therefore I have yellow and red clay. Here in the studio at the moment I only have red one. It is earthenware, not stoneware, i.e. it is fired at a lower temperature. I fire earthenware at 1020°C for a bisque, whereas stoneware is fired at a much higher temperature.

YOU DON'T WORK WITH STONEWARE

No, because of its colour. It is for my own satisfaction. I love putting my hands into coloured clay. I insist. It is for my own satisfaction, for my own fun. I don't mean to produce quantities.

I look for traditional things but without meaning to reproduce tradition precisely. I don't make reproductions of old things. In Berry it was common to use clay pots. I still remember my grand-mother putting her green beans into stoneware jars stored in the cellar.

Handles, for instance in Berry, are stuck alongside the pot. They're not sticking out like ears. So I reproduce that. I put handles stuck on the edge of the pot. I have found a piece of decoration. Thinking to myself: what could I add as a typical decoration, so that it would be obviously from Berry. We have the owl, but I couldn't really stick owls on my pots. So, I've found an oak leaf and that's my prototype. I make clay oak leaves that I stick on the edge of my pots.

And here I have made the button of the lid completely as an oak leaf. It is a very small detail. It can be recognised as coming from Berry.

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