In the first months of my pottery classes with Susan Schumpert, I read Bernard Leach’s “Potter’s Book”. I was inspired by many of the ideas in the book plus one idea struck me as very true. This idea was that many potters make handmade functional work but do not use handmade pottery in their own homes. Making my own dinner set was a task I decided to start work on.
Susan was obviously amused when I came to class after just a few weeks into learning to center, open, bring up walls, form, trim and glaze my first dozen pots to have me announce I wanted to make a dinner set. My goal was a set for four which to me meant four plates, four bowls and four mugs.
Our weekly pottery class turned into my making bowls which was by far the easiest. In two weeks I had three bowls roughly the same size. Four weeks found me with six bowls. Week five was a rough week as I just couldn’t get the plate form to work for me. Five, six and seven weeks I pursued plates and finally came up with five plates that had a mighty hump in the middle! I loved them!
My next challenge was mugs. The cylinder shape was easy enough though finding the right time to pull and put on handles drove Susan and me to distraction.
Pulling handles was tough. I could get the things started but I pulled too hard and they pulled to a tiny end with a hump at the beginning. After thirty or so “handles” I had five that were going on mugs no matter what.
Six bowls, five plates and five mugs were bisque fired and lovingly glazed. When they came out of the kiln I had one cracked plate and one handle that barely hung on.
My dinner set was complete with six bowls, four plates and four mugs. They were awful but I loved each of them! Loved them, used them. My family proudly chased peas around the edges of those plates and it became a game to see how long it would take a mound of mashed potatoes and gravy, placed on the center mound, to slide down to one side of the plate!!
My life’s passion had begun.