I was very lucky to have gone to school in Oban, on the West Coast of Scotland. Oban High School was very well equipped in the early 1980s and had an excellent art department and some wonderful art teachers.
They were all so very encouraging and I really enjoyed the subject, despite not being particularly good at it. In our ceramics class we learned how to make coil pots and also spent some time on the wheel. I remember two terrible coil pots in the shape of a brown glazed spider money box and what I think was a glazed blue octopus ashtray. Well it was the 1980s, ashtrays were everywhere.
Years passed and when we were living in London, my wife gave me the present of a weekend’s pottery taster in East London at Jess Jos’s studio. I loved this weekend, learning how to centre and pull the clay on the first day. The second day we trimmed the pots we had made and I lost myself completely in this process.
Fast forward to 2019, the summer before the world changed and we were all locked down by COVID-19. I became interested in learning to throw again and started looking at old manual wheels on eBay after watching a YouTube video of a lady throwing on a squeaky treadle wheel : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p10rdwDlT0s.
I found one for sale very cheaply in Cambridge in autumn and we picked it up in my van and had a day out in our old haunts from the 90s in and near Huntingdon. However working the treadle wheel was very difficult and I made nothing resembling a decent pot at all.
Some proper tuition was needed and my wife found me a place on an intensive one week pottery course in East London at Turning Earth
I was really looking forwards to this as it fell nicely after the end of a contract and I would have the free time to walk to the classes from our home.
Then the world changed and our lives were disrupted by COVID-19. The course was delayed and the rest of the world ground to a halt. At time of writing we are still in lockdown and we all have a lot of free time on our hands.
We watched the Great Pottery Thrown Down together and I started looking into the different makes of electric pottery wheels. They all seemed prohibitively expensive.
Doing a lot of digging around, I eventually found a wheel called the Airgoo AG-60 table top pottery wheel and decided to commit to buying it. I’ve written a short review of it here.
So far I’m getting on well with this wheel and the pots, though still wonky, have improved a bit.
I’m going to keep at it as I find it really relaxing. Eventually I’m sure I’ll have more of a say in the final shape and make something that doesn’t have a hole in the bottom.