Three main types of pottery are made at Hookshouse, all raw glazed and fired to full stoneware temperature:
Domestic ware - from breadcrocks to individual bowls and mugs, including teapots, casseroles and vegetable dishes, cheese bells, olive dishes, cutlery drainers and garlic pots. Much of this work is woodfired, and all of it is suitable for use in oven, microwave, dishwasher and freezer.
Garden pots - including wall pots and strawberry pots, in a range of sizes, fired to full stoneware temperature and therefore totally frostproof.
One-off pieces - mainly decorated dishes, jugs and bowls, many of them influenced by the strong geometrical patterns of early pottery traditions. Freeflowing multiple layers of glaze are then often allowed to interact with and disturb the precision of the patterns.
Work generally available from:
Mainly from the pottery.
Other Information: One week summer courses: These are offered for various dates in July and August. They are aimed at those who are looking for lots of intensive supervised practice of the basic skills - throwing, handling, turning, and also glazing and decorating. A lot of experience in the diagnosis of throwing problems has accumulated here over the years, and a wide-ranging set of remedies has developed! Students usually discover that there is a way to move on to another level of throwing skill after all - and have a lot of fun in the process! There will be no more than four students in a group, with an electric wheel for each person.
There are two live-flame kilns at Hookshouse, and a small electric kiln in the workshop.
The 60 cu ft oil kiln was built in 1980 to the old COSIRA design with Swirlamiser burners, and after about 130 firings is still going strong.
The 18 cu ft wood kiln was built in 1999 to the Paul Stubbs/Micki Schloessingk design, first launched at the International Potters' Camp at Aberystwyth. It has a very large firebox, with a layer of hemi-tubes which make it possible to control the level of ash and embers by opening a mousehole at floor level. It also has a Paul Stubbs engineered door, which saves the potter from heat exhaustion whilst stoking in the 1200's! It is a very potter friendly kiln, with bags of power, easy to fire on one's own. It even reduces well!
My firing schedule in the wood kiln involves a slow and steady rise (50 degrees per hour) during the burning out phase (700-900) rather than a soak as such, with reduction starting early in the 800's. After 900 I speed up a little, stopping reduction when Cone 8 is down in all parts, and soaking for an hour once Cone 10 is down.
I have found that raw glazing gives a rhythm to the making that I enjoy. It enables me to see through the process of creating a batch of pots from raw clay to kiln-ready without interruption, and gives more variety to the workshop routine. I don't think I have had more seconds than I had before and some things are easier - overglaze decoration, for example, and touching up whilst the glaze is still wet.
During the second year of a language degree at Downing College Cambridge, I was invited to visit a friend in Cornwall
who was a keen sailor. His father was the manager of Barclay's Bank in Camelford as well as a keen amateur potter,
and in the bathroom of Barclay's Bank House there was a potter's wheel. I only sailed once. The rest of my time was
spent in the bathroom.
I read Bernard Leach's 'A Potter's Book', and he seemed to be putting my own thoughts into words. I wanted more than anything else to produce things that were both useful and beautiful, and to deploy whatever creativity I had in the interpretation of an ancient tradition - that of making pots.
Many evening classes later, when I was beginning to think seriously about trying to make a living as a potter, I visited Coxwold Pottery, and Peter Dick offered me the chance to fill in there for a few months. So, with a real sense of 'burning my boats', I left my job and went to make eggcups on a Leach kickwheel and absorb the atmosphere of a 'real' pottery through my pores. It was a brief but highly formative experience.
I started at Hookshouse in 1975 with a 10 cu ft gas kiln, which was replaced in 1980 by a 60 cu ft oil kiln, built with the help of David Wicks who worked here for a couple of years, and the bigger kiln soon nudged me towards big pots and once-firing. Decoration began to be important, and by the mid-eighties the geometrical patterns were starting to develop.
In the last three or four years I have become interested in how the formality of the geometrical patterns can be disturbed and partially masked by allowing several layers of glaze to flow freely across them. The effects are less predictable, but often rich and dramatic.
The nineties saw the start of a series of mixed exhibitions in our own space, which largely replaced participation in outside exhibitions. In 1999 I finally allowed myself the luxury of a wood kiln - and discovered it was far less scary and capricious than I had always feared! However I continue to fire the oil kiln, as the glazes used over the geometrical patterns are happier in an ash-free atmosphere.
The next development will be a range of new glazes designed specially for the wood kiln!
Brewery Arts, Cirencester
3D Gallery, Bristol (with South Wales Potters)
Barbican Craftspace - 'Breath of the Dragon' (with SWP)
Bettles Gallery, Ringwood
Workshop Gallery, Chepstow
Oriel Myrddhin, Carmarthen (with SWP)
and more recently:
Maison du Tourisme, Gien, France
Oak Hall, The National Arboretum - 'Natural Selection'