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For my first project I set the challenge of 50 cups – all different.

It’s taken a little while but they are done – some much more succesful than others, but here’s the full run down.

Clay shrinks when it dries, and again when it is fired, and I like a good generous sized mug, so in the name of science I made a range from different weights of clay from 100g to 800 g in order to find out what size they end up. As you can see they are very roughly shaped!

The first two were very basic flowerpot shapes to get the hang of the new wheel. All of these were turned at hte leather hard stage which is why they have tidy bottoms. I also experimented with lines to decorate and define, as well as trying out the sand-ripple carving I admired in Keith Varney’s work. The fifth one I quite like, but they are all a bit vague and generic in shape.

Pots in general (and in the pic previous) want to flare about, because of the centrifugal force of the wheel. Making them go in again is therefore important. These 5 experiment with different types of curve and combining more than one direction. No 2 hasnt photographed very well but I quite like in the flesh. 4 is similar but has more even proportions with the widest part in the centre and similar angles above and below which make it less interesting.

1 and 2 continue the exploration of curves, maknig them less extreme. From 4 onwards I had got a battery for my scales and shifted from guess measuring of 1lb per ball to a measured amount – 500g for ease of measuring rather than the precise gram equivalent of a pound as that’s a horrible number I have instantly forgotton. None of these is very interesting, although 3 is quite cute in it’s smallness.

More of a variety of shapes here, aiming to get more controlled lines. 1 is my favourite of these, quite a satisfying shape and fits the hand well – though it’s quite a conventional cooling tower type shape.

By this point I had run out of ordinary shapes, and got bored of boring ones. 1 is inspired by one I saw in the Potteries museum which has carved bands, it needs turning really to tidy up and make the bands show more clearly. 3 and 5 were inspired by Jo Davies work playing with hte curves to see whether it was best to throw all the ins and outs as one would a vase, or whether to throw a cylinder and then push in hte narrower sections as on 5, which makes tighter wiggles possible.4 was an experiment in turning over the rim, a handy technique for a functional pot but not very comfortable to drink out of.

For 2, 4 & 5 I experimented with templates for different sized bands cut out of an old bank card. This shape is inspired by traditional tankard type shapes. 3 was intended as a spherical section with a straighter section on top but the curve got a big angular.

No 2 carries on the combination of spheres andcylinders but is even less succesful. 1 and 4 were also inspired by mugs from the Potteries, the first is an early English one, the latter is by Michael Cardew and with a rim that proved quite tricky to shape. The last was a test of proportion, aiming for wider instead if higher as is conventional. No 1 is my favourite of these.

No 1 is clearly a disasterand should have gone straight into the recycling but I was feeling tired and lazy. It was based on a ‘marmite’ type shape and made it off hte wheel safely but then sagged as it dried. 3 was another attempt at that Cardew lip. 2 is another take on the rimmed tankard bottoms done with my fingers rather than a card template, and 4 is similar to the articulated flare in hte previous pic but with a finger shaped spine instead of the templated line. The proportions of 4 need tighenting up but it’s the shape that has stuck in my mind.

I found that forcing myself to keep coming up with new shapes was a very helpful exercise, making me think about new elements to introduce, and new ways to combine. A stack of pictures from the museum was also a helpful starting point in my practice, focing me to try and replicate different forms and proportions.

From these 50 I selected 8 that I thought were strongest and the next challenge is to work on these, exploring their forms more carefully and clarifying the best proportions.

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3 thoughts on “50 cups are up!

  1. They look great! I did this once, then used the mugs in a ‘Theatre of Pots’ where people told stories with all the different shapes. I had different clays, different handles, different decorations, very big, very small… but I can never tell what’s good or bad until after the final firing so you might want to take more than 8 through to glaze? show us the ones you choose!!

    • Thanks Carys. I love the theatre idea, there are definately some very different characters turning up. I have kept all of them so far, maybe firing more would be a good idea, i was just wary of ending up with loads of junky pots…

      Yes, Realised today I didnt have a clear picture of the ones I thought made the grade, i tried inventing a sort of online magic marker so i could ring them on the blog page, but it doesnt seem to work in reality yet, so I’ll set to with the camera and post them shortly.

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