24 April 2018


... to marshallcolman.blog. See you over there!

To all my kind followers - please click to follow on my new blog site, as you haven't been moved there automatically. Thanks!

12 April 2018


My old Harrow colleague Peter Willis asked about the gadget in the back of this photo (above), just behind my left hand. It's a carborundum attached to a drill and the drill is mounted in a vice. It's what I use for grinding spur marks off the bottom of pots. I have to sit the pots on little pointed spurs because I glaze the bottoms and otherwise they'd stick to the shelf when the glaze melts in the kiln. This method is a quick way of taking off the marks they leave.

But I've now decided to turn foot-rings on the bottom of pots instead, including tall shapes, so that the bottoms can be glazed, the foot wiped clean and the pot put directly on to the kiln shelf. Spurs are expensive because they can only be used twice and and spur marks are ugly. To be honest, I dislike turning because making a foot-ring takes longer than throwing a pot, but I'm applying the principle that you can never take too much trouble.

8 April 2018


Turning Earth, Leyton E10

I noticed the Turning Earth studio for potters when I was exhibiting at the Geffrye Museum in Hoxton last year, but yesterday I went to a talk in their larger studio in Leyton and saw their wonderful premises there. It's in a no-nonsense industrial estate and although the surroundings aren't pretty, it provides facilities on a grand scale in an old factory for beginners and aspiring professionals. It has been decorated to a high standard and is well equipped.

This is a wonderful resource and it's part of the current of ceramics education running against the current of closures in universities.  Once there were dozens of BA ceramics courses, now there is a only a handful. (I saw the closure of Harrow, the long-established course at the University of Westminster.) But the demand for training is growing, encouraged by BBC TV's Great Pottery Throwdown, and starter classes are booked for months, even years ahead. Clay College Stoke was set up by a few dedicated potters and now runs professional courses. Turning Earth is another important initiative.

The growth of interest is part of the desire for meaningful occupation, outlets for creativity and products that are personal and have human marks. It's all good new for potters.

5 April 2018


The difference between the amateur and professional maker is that the amateur spends more time in the studio, or rather, professionals spends a higher proportion of their hours in activities other than making. For me, that's planning, designing, glaze calculations, selling, packing and dispatching, looking for new exhibition opportunities, networking, visiting exhibitions, reading, bookkeeping and admin.

I've been developing new glazes and planning a range of standard tableware in stoneware, which doesn't produce many interesting pictures, but here's a successful glaze test getting just the right shade of turquoise and just the right surface texture. It's a line blend of stains and copper oxide. Since you ask, the best one is No. 4.

Line blend of stains and copper oxide

3 April 2018


I said that there were only a few traditional studio potters in Ceramic Art London last week and that there was more innovation than ever. Not surprisingly, some potters are unhappy about it. Eddie Curtis (above), a potter for forty years, and by no means conservative in his work, just missed selection and has written a long post on Facebook expressing his annoyance. He is leaving the Craft Potters Association (CPA) in protest.

Phil Rogers, a potter in the Leach tradition, who was for many years a leading figure in the CPA also writes about his disillusionment and explains why he left several years ago, feeling marginalized.

2 April 2018


We went with my nephew to the Natural History Museum, and while his parents took him to see the dinosaurs we looked at the Darwin Centre, the extension that houses the research labs and Cocoon, which explains the science behind the collections.

This case was next to an introduction to the great naturalists whose collections are in the museum - Darwin, Wallace, Sloane, Banks and Cheesman. When you have several million items, the next task is to classify them, and we were invited us to have a go on the things in this vitrine, which was like the Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge. It was attractive and amusing as well as instructive, so I took a few pictures.