Friday, August 30, 2013

Rules of the Craft

Accumulated wisdom of 38 years in the craft:

1]  If you want to sell- make it blue
2]  If you want one, make two
3] Soft clay, slow wheel [Japanese]
4] The customer is usually right, at least until he/she leaves the studio; then count to ten...
5] People have a tendency to buy pottery in the colors of the clothes they're wearing on any particular day
6] A group will always be late
7] Never sell on consignment
8] When you think a clay or glaze is properly mixed, it isn't quite
9] No cone- no firing
10] Find a place where there are tourists and open your studio there
11] If it's useful- it's craft: if it's useless- it's Art  [Michael Cardew z"l]

That'll do for starters. If I think of any others, I'll add them later...
The pumice in the picture is heading for the up-coming gas firing as a glaze test.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Chateau Flateau

If you had trouble watching the video on the original post,this might work. If you didn't have trouble don't bother- same same.

Check out my blog- www.haaripottery.blogspot.com

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Chateau Flateau

Our wine,made from our 150 year old Muscat vine, using its own yeast (no sulfites) trodden the old-fashioned way. This years' batch, which we picked today,looks like enough for 60-70 bottles.

Monday, August 26, 2013

...and Here's a Picture of it...

Fettling a Bowl


Sunday, August 25, 2013

In Search of Time Re-Purposed

""...and they shall beat their travelling-alarm-clock watch-springs into trimming tools"...Do you still have an old fold-up alarm clock of the wind-up variety? You're probably never going to use it again,right? If you can get at the spring inside [it's not at all difficult- unscrew a few screws and you're in] and send it to me, I'll make you a trimming tool from part of it [and keep the rest to make tools for myself and with students from Tel Hai]- do we have a deal?

Hands Up!

I sold my last two hamsas on Friday, so, having currently no apprentice ( whose task this traditionally is) I made a batch to be glazed in my bright turquoise barium matt glaze. Now I have to work out how to fill the rest of the (electric) kiln...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

This is a Stick-Up!

One of my first jobs as an apprentice at Robin's pottery 38 years ago- he was very particular about his handles, as was his teacher, Bernard Leach, and one of my main influences, Mick Casson.

Click on the link here for 4 minutes of handle-sticking.
I think there's another youtube video on my channel on pulling handles.


Monday, August 19, 2013


Just before going over to porcelain I'm going to finish off the stoneware with some tea-bowls mainly for the Tel Hai anagama,but also to put a couple in the next salt firing. I'm wedging in some dust from outside Hamada"s studio in Mashiko and some feldspar/quartz grog from Shigaraki [I don't think Minerco stock that] as well as a variety of grades of shamot, molochite and ground-up soft-brick and a teaspoon of my Tsfat stoneware, for seasoning...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Obscure object

Well did you guess? I grew up with one of these Dartmouth Pottery gurgling fish jugs, a source of endless merriment around the Flatauer dining table, and for years [and years] have wondered how one might duplicate the effect without resorting to plaster molds; the prototype needs more work, but we're on the right track...


I changed 4 tires recently and filled the new ones with nitrogen, which I didn't know you could do; I don't think it's going to change my outlook on life, but it's interesting [most of our air is nitrogen anyway, and most of our problems seem to come from oxygen] and you get these cute valve-caps...

Porcelain Prices Slashed!

I just learned that Ceramicon have dropped the price of my favorite Coleman porcelain from 9+ to 5+ sh. a kilo so I'm off tomorrow to get some before they change their mind...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Over the Top

If you want to get the best out of a kiln firing- especially a wood- or salt-firing- I think you occasionally need to go over the top and lose a couple of pots to over-firing; this piece from the last salt kiln is a classic example- beautiful effects and coloring,but really blasted by salt and heat,and as a result welded to its shelf. The rest of the kiln came out very nicely...

Monday, August 12, 2013

We are Stardust

We are all also ( & more recently) Recycled Clay: results of a few strenuous hours' work at Tel Hai today turning piles of dried clay thrown out by generations of students into bins of cool inviting multicolored slip. If I were a potter, I'd sieve a couple of those, dry the slip out and have enough of my unique blend of well-aged clay for a year or so...

Friday, August 09, 2013

Throwing Shots Off the Hump- Video!

Robin Welch told me that he was taught to throw with one hand off the hump before he learned to throw with two: it took me a while before I got the hang of it, but it's worth practicing and learning. I use the technique to throw these shot glasses/cups, small dishes, lids and some bowls. These shots don't need trimming- stamp them, slip them and they're ready to bisc. I use 2 hands, as you can see from the short [and rather un-edited] Youtube video- click...here

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Nice Fit in the Bisc

One of those pleasing serendipitous moments that crop up in the studio from time to time.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Obscure Object

I suspect you'll never guess it's purpose ( though you might devise its function, in this case a slightly different affair). It's an early prototype- I'll let you know if it does what it's supposed to...
It even looks a bit like a question mark,no?

Tuesday, August 06, 2013


They close off the roads by 17:00 [unlike Hotel California, you can get out but not in]- come by and say hello!

Monday, August 05, 2013

My first pop-up store! It's on Kibbutz Hazorea, near Yokneam, and the museum is well worth a visit.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Spice Boxes

Small and intricate, but I got all the lids to fit: my trusty tripod has disappeared (maybe it ran away),otherwise I would have filmed their making.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Sevres Wood-fired Kiln

Here's one of them [they have 10]- very similar to the kilns we saw in La Bisbal, Spain, during the crystalline glaze get-together earlier this year.

Early Crystals

On our way back from California we stopped for a few days in Paris and visited the porcelain museum at Sevres, where crystalline glazes were first developed in the early 1900's. The museum is not at all stuffy as I had feared, and well worth a visit- we sneaked into the factory round the back [built in 1650] and got an unofficial guided tour of the original round wood-kilns, still standing and fired every couple of years, it was explained to us, to keep the tradition alive.


This year's crop, approaching ripeness [another few weeks]; for the first time, i've managed to train the vine so that at least some of the bunches are hanging down [easily picked] as opposed to growing on the vertical part of the vine, where they hang close to the trunk among the leaves, and are harder to get too. Last year's crop was huge, giving us 80 bottles of wine [from our single vine], most of it very drinkable. This year looks to be close to that...

Pesach's Gone and Succot's Coming

The blog has been resting for a while, partly because we spent some time with Benjamin in California, but mainly because I can't work out how to juggle this blog/my Facebook page/our tel Hai students'
Facebook page without spending too much time posting. A few brave souls encouraged me to continue blogging, so off we go again...