Monday, January 9, 2012


A number of my friends are bladesmiths, knifemakers in the vernacular. Among knifemakers in general, there are two types, those that make blades by stock removal from premade "bars" of various metals, the other group takes metal and forges the blade to shape, including damascus and pattern welded steel. There are two schools of thought regarding these approaches, but I personally prefer the forged to shape method, though not being totally prejudiced against stock removal. The reason I bring this up is recently I saw several videos in which a potter throwing porcelain, makes a wide variety of pots and then proceeds to tool of what I can only estimate is between 30 and 40% of the weight/thickness of each pot.

Being a product of three Leach pupils, I was taught to throw a pot to the best approximation of the form, including all of my pots and lids. I try to trim/tool off as little as possible, keeping the form as intact from "off the wheel" as I can. I know this is a personal bias, but the concept of trimming away almost half of your pot or lid, just seems alien to me. I do understand porcelain is a bit tricky to throw and the more wall thickness the more support there is while throwing, but I just see it as the least economical of time and energy route. I know at the end of the day, the final product is really all that matters, but where possible, I will just continue to forge to shape.

Illustrated is a lugged vase form from the same firing as the jug from last week. It was thrown to  shape with a minimal of clay tooled off and from the foot. It is decorated in my temmoku and medieval green glazes and like the jug, either side of the belly has been dipped to create a simple spot design.