‘In Conversation’ with Michael O Brien

‘In Conversation’ with Michael OBrien flowed easily from rigorous technical understanding to his years in Nigeria with Michael Cardew, locating rather than importing, materials for high firing and training Nigerian Potters.

All questions were answered thoughtfully and generously, his overlaying of rich black Tenmokus with iron painting and luscious cream/white Nuka glazes patiently explained.

The strong sense of design and pattern in Michaels work resonated with the collection of beautiful African cloth from Mali, Zaire and Nigeria that he had amassed over the years. He brought a small selection of his glaze test library, numbered in the hundreds, which left us all awestruck.

The morning was a glimpse into a Ceramic world that has changed so dramatically as to be almost incomprehensible to young Makers who can buy all materials/view how to use them on YouTube and expect to sell pots made from them.

It’s hoped to make the film ‘Tatiko, the Story of an African Pot’ more widely available as an astonishing tour de force of skilled making. After a Tatiko woman, a Potter since the age of 12, had completed a large, perfect storage jar in less than an hour, Michael said “follow that!”  Rather a good comment to make about his visit to WSP as well.

Julia Quigley

Licence to pot?

Thanks Pat for sharing your orginal membership certificate of West Street Potters. Issue No.007 (a ‘licence to pot’?)

It is fantastic that you remain an active part of our potting community and are able to provide these memories of the early days at Wrecclesham.

We currently have 161 members attending classes, but over 700 potters have come and gone since this certificate was issued.

Ode to lighting the kiln

The archive material continues…

Lighting the kiln at West Street was a complicated affair which Shirley turned into a delightful poem.

It was their duty to brick up the door of this old kiln and light it before the start of the Thursday evening class. It soon became a kind of anthem of the class. Everyone could sing it too!!

Up the ladder, check the damper

When it’s open, down you scamper.

Next the gas, make sure it’s flowing,

Turn on main switch, red light glowing.

Now we’d better light the taper, forgot the matches? what a caper!

Then press the pilot on the right

Kneel down and wait for click, then light.

Repeat for left, then turn up gas to a high position,

Switch on and Boom, we have ignition!

Kneel down again, if still alive

And turn gas down to 0.5.

The very last important factor

Before you leave-turn on extractor!

Later on, but not too late

Turn gas up to two point eight!

Happy memories of all the Clamming up too! Hope it reminds folk of the ‘olden days’.


Source Material..

While loading my car to teach my Tuesday evening class the other week, I spotted this small stone – amazing what it led to once Jane Henderson got hold of it!!


Christine Bull (Tuesday evening tutor)