2013 has certainly been a very memorable and important year in many ways. Looking out of the window this morning with just a brief flurry of snow – perhaps a momentary glimpse of a hard winter ahead. The autumn has indeed offered a plentiful bounty of nuts and berries and the colours still clearly visible are resplendent. The summer too was memorable this year as unusually for South West Wales it really was dry for much of the time.
It is on reflection of the summer months that my mind is cast back to my first year of hosting pottery courses here at Waun Hir. It has been a long held ambition to run courses and three were held one in May, June and July.
As hosting courses was new to me, I was a little unsure as to what they would bring. I am used to demonstrating and have some experience of teaching degree students. I was sure of one thing though; I knew for certain that positive results breed confidence and throwing on the potters wheel is an acquired skill, not a talent gifted only to a select few. Anybody with decent well prepared clay and a professional wheel can with a little guidance and some commitment on their part, indeed garner the necessary skills to throw simple bowls, unaided within a couple of days.
With this in mind the three groups of students were welcomed to the pottery. The courses were intended for improving existing and acquiring new skills. Without exception the standard of achievement was extremely high. Total novices did indeed leave being able to centre clay and throw it into bowls, which were subsequently turned and finished on proceeding days. Potters with more experience, after a short period of initial assessment were able to expand and develop their making and gather professional ‘trade secrets’ by observing the frequent demonstrations, coupled with one-to-one tuition.
While each of the three groups noticeably had a different set of dynamics, all were friendly and relaxed. One significant difference however was the weather – the wood burner was lit daily on May’s course, while June’s was sweltering and pots had to be covered soon after they were thrown.
Now anybody who knows me or my pots will know that their purpose is almost entirely for the preparation, serving or eating of food; pots for food is what I am passionate about. So with this in mind it has been my intention for almost as long as running the courses themselves, to make a big deal about the lifestyle that I lead. Hopefully in doing so I may persuade some of my students, that if they aren’t already concerned with such matters, they might at least start to think about them. As I have said many times ‘good food and company eaten from beautiful handmade pottery enriches lives.’ I am not interested in mass produced, where food or pottery is concerned. I am lucky I make the pots, but I am also fortunate that locally there is an abundance of superb ingredients to grace my dining table. At least two hours daily on the courses were spent sitting at the table eating and chatting – in my view that is exactly how it should be! Happy reminiscing – even now my mouth is watering. Sue baked delicious cakes, while local artisan food producing friends Lucie Scott of Liliwen Herbs provided gourmet salad and Cecelia Pruden of Popty Patagonia Bakehouse delivered her Lithuanian rye bread. The verdict was unanimous, and every student and their teacher concur; ‘good food and company eaten from beautiful handmade pottery enriches lives!’
If making lots of pots and learning new skills in a relaxed and friendly environment, coupled with breath taking scenery and fantastic food, sounds tempting, then you might be interested in booking a place on one of the courses which will be run in 2014.
See the courses page for more information, the dates are:
- 22nd to 25th May 2014
- 26th to 29th June 2014
- 24th to 27th July 2014