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rumminations on flat bottoms

updated fri 24 feb 06


Janet Kaiser @ The Chapel of Art on fri 24 feb 06

There is obviously a presumption amongst many potters, that the homes and=
lifestyles of their clients will be similar to their own. This is=
naturally a huge influences on what they make and style in which it is=
executed. So if the potter has highly polished, veneered, antique=
furniture or grew up in a home with that to accommodate, s/he will be far=
more aware of the effects pots can have on "delicate" surfaces. The=
bleached or dark rings left by hot, wet pots are nothing compared to large=
areas of hot, wet scalding which can potentially be made by poorly=
designed flat-bottomed pots. Same with vases that either leak over time or=
build up condensation... You only need a thorough bollocking for producing=
a single such pot by one of your nearest and dearest for you take your=
production style very seriously indeed for the rest of your life. Believe=

Youngsters will be amazed to learn that table tops and wood treatments=
which are not affected by heat or moisture are a new phenomena (outside=
the kitchen) in most westernised countries. Not only do feet raise pots=
off the surface, thus reducing the amount of heat being conducted between=
pot and table-top, but both outside and inside needed to be glazed before=
the advent of stoneware...

Yes, we forget just how relatively new *impervious* stoneware and related=
bodies actually are... Earthenware with lead glazes were the norm until=
30-40 years ago, which meant that they were porous and tending to "leak"=
if left with liquid inside for any length of time. The "luxury" of using=
stoneware and porcelain is something that most of our (production potter)=
predecessors could only dream about. Both were a really serious investment=
which they could not expect to re-coup, so could rarely afford. It was one=
reason I never had much experience of porcelain at college... It was=
simply too expensive.

Fuel was also relatively more expensive -- something that many more will=
have to take into account again sooner rather than later. British Gas have=
just announced another 20% price hike -- the second or third in a year, so=
I imagine this will put some UK potters onto the bread line if they were=
not already there. 2005 was apparently regarded as a poor year all round,=
with only a couple I have heard from claiming otherwise...

The tradition of feet on pots (especially drinking vessels such as mugs and=
containers such as tea/coffee pots) comes from both east and west. Just=
because someone has "never seen a foot" on mugs does not mean that it is a=
rare phenomenon! Although the fat men in stilettoes is a very colourful=
description, it ain't necessarily so. If I had time, I would scan and=
upload some very fat pots indeed... All footed and hard to imagine them=
working without that fine detail... A foot lifts a pot, with no need to be=
spindly or dainty. A lift is something most fat objects seriously require,=
including people!! The number of fat women currently tottering around on=
high heels would possibly prove the absolute opposite, but there has to be=
an exception to prove every rule!

Whether high or shallow, raised feet are not restricted to ceramic pots=
either... As metals such as tine, silver and pewter conduct heat, an even=
higher foot (or feet) was a prerequisite from the time veneers and French=
polish were introduced to European households. This was probably only a=
secondary consideration after the techniques used to make the vessels...=
Function followed form.

Right. I am going no-mail for a month! Nothing personal, but spring has=
sprung here in Wales and I really must not stay up to all hours thinking=

Bit good, y=E0wl!

Janet Kaiser

8 Marine Crescent : Criccieth : GB-Wales LL52 0EA

Plan visiting The International Potters Path?
Contact: Janet Kaiser
Tel: ++44 (01766) 523122

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