To throw or not to throw....how hard is it really?
Dave.."For someone who has being doing it a longgggg time...not hard at all!
Me..."Hard!" But sooo cool!
Over the (many many) years that Dave has been throwing for he has developed techniques to move the clay in specific directions with the minimum of effort. This is so important for a number of reasons...
Firstly because you want to put as little stress on the clay as possible. Stress in the clay can make your pot go out of shape or even crack...(oh how true is that for life in general!)
When you learning this amazing skill, you go through the process of developing techniques by trial and error. Many techniques can be taught, but most you will develop your own way. We are not machines, everyone is different. There are very physical throwers, gentle throwers, fast throwers, slow throwers.
Dave is a gentle thrower. A guide. Never forced.
Secondly, as a commercial thrower, you cannot throw physically because you would ware yourself out so you develop ways of doing things where the clay almost throws itself. Small hand positions, pressure and speed of the wheel help.
If and when required Dave needs to be able to sit at the wheel for whatever time is needed to make whatever size or quantity is needed. If he were too physical, it would be too tiring and he would be worn out. Muscles would break down, tendons would damage, joints would ware out....not good! So we work smart! For those of you who know Dave personally you will have often heard him refer to 'economy of movement' (and then watched me roll my eyes!) He is, of course absolutely right (no one tell him I said that), and it's how we work in the studio as best we can.
The term means "The efficient, energy sparing motion or activity of the system or body".
So basically, we aspire to work in a way that means we don't duplicate our work load, don't move for the sake of moving, do things the right way so its only done once...get my drift!?
I use the word 'aspire' as obviously life is life, and running after a 3 year old, or repeatedly asking a teenager to do something is never just done once is it...not really...but we try!
As far as he studio goes though, we have it pretty nailed, it makes very logical sense...
Good quality clay (we use Valentines, Stoke on Trent), good clay preparation, a warm and comfortable working environment, love and support and a great deal of tea and biscuits help too...! All these things contribute to throwing being easy.
The other major factor of course, is loving what you do. It certainly makes it easier to do what you need to do. To put all the hours into learning (and trust me it takes hours and hours...years and years), along with an enquiring mind, admiration for your craft and resilience, always striving for a good pot and never accepting a bad one...makes throwing easy!
Being highly skilled at anything take many hours doesn't it?
Unfortunately this takes a long time, in a world that is so fast paced and so immediate, with so much choice...this is a skill that could well die out, mainly because there is just no getting away from those hours you have to put in to become competent , let alone to get to the standard of a commercial thrower.
So, for Dave to become the thrower he is today it took 5 years at Polytechnic (for those of you a little younger than us that's like a college/uni!), but it wasn't really until he he had been employed for 8 years that he feels he became competent! He is still is very critical and ever striving for a good pot!
Dave also believes that he can throw as he does due to the mentality of Jersey Pottery. They were never told that they couldn't make something. Being on an island, without outside influence for so many years (a fair few of those without the internet, certainly not as we know it now) meant they set their own bar! The only thing that limited or restricted them...was the kiln!
So, a combination of attitude, working environment, experience, support and time = Dave!
As for me, well, I have that all apart from the experience and the time...but I'll keep practicing more for myself than anyone else...and in the meantime I'll keep glazing and making sure Dave is supported!
If your'e learning like me, keep going....keep being amazed at it, research, ask questions and try try and try again!