Slab Pottery

My dad is a potter and for years he has shown me how to make pottery on a wheel using traditional techniques as well as interesting methods such as Raku pottery where the process and glazes applied before firing can make or break a pot (quite literally!) I really enjoy Raku as it can produce incredible colours. The pots are heated under a very intense heat and then submerged in sawdust which smokes and then you scrub of the tacky, black substance it creates with a scourer to reveal the colours.

Over the Easter holidays I decided to try something new. As my Dad has been busy making pots to exhibit this summer access to the wheel wasn’t the easiest! He therefore suggested I make a pot out of “slabs” as you would when creating a tile. I was excited by this as we recently went to the COCA (Centre of Ceramic Arts) in York to have a look at their collection and I was really inspired. In particular, Alison Britton’s ceramics caught my eye. The ones on display were large and angular, very artsy rather than a traditional pot made for practicality alone. The one I was drawn to looked like a face, a pointy nose of a snooty woman or something. And so I decided to create my own style of pottery.

I rolled out clay to a desired thickness using the tools my Dad uses to create tiles to ensure the thickness throughout. Unlike a tile I rolled it out bigger so that the slabs were varying sizes and shapes (rectangle, oblong etc.) I then allowed these to dry out a little, coming back to them the next day to start decorating and assembling my pot design.

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Rolling out the clay

I used all sorts of things to create patterns such as shells, flowers, an old rail card cut up into a zigzag shape etc. Once I was ready I began putting the slabs together using “slip” which is basically a watered down clay that is slippery. I had to crosshatch the sections I was joining with a knife and then add slip and push the two joins together. I started to envisage a maze shape thinking of people walking through it, the theatre designer in me talking!

This is the pot at the moment, it is soon to be glazed and fired.

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