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It’s not like in Ghost! Muddy tries pottery-making

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I tried pottery making a few weeks back for a radio feature I did for the lovely Ali Jones show on BBC Oxford and then in the maelstrom of the Muddy Awards promptly forgot to put it on the blog.

Anyway, by some freak luck, the lady Jane Hanson who so kindly taught me how to throw a pot – or fling it in small pieces in my case –  also happens to be displaying her talents at Bucks Open Studios which starts this weekend so it seems like the perfect time to write the post.

Hello Jane

Hello Jane and hello kiln

I should at this point state an enormous caveat and say that anyone hoping to don an ill-fitting pair of dungarees and expect Jane to magic up a guy with no top on to, er, ‘assist’ in some fallic fun is going to be disappointed. I mean, she wasn’t even playing The Righteous Brothers *humph*. However, this is the Home Counties and the best we can expect is some half-shaven brute of a riding instructor in very tight jodpurs and black shiny riding boots with his shirt tight against his sweaty body and… oh hang on, I’ve veered into Jilly Cooper.

Sorry, I really must concentrate on the pottery!

It was really interesting potting around Jane’s studio and I took all sorts of photos of things I didn’t understand but thought were beautiful.

IMG_6594 IMG_6589 IMG_6577

The clay. The wheel. A match made in hell.

The clay. The wheel. A match made in hell.

Anyway, rather than plod through a blow-by-blow account of how I transformed myself from a novice to a pro in an hour (which would be utter fiction) here’s what I can tell you about it without boring you into Riders fantasies.

1. It’s messy. Don’t wear your nice leather boots as I did unless you want them ruined. RUINED! Sorry Rupert.

2. Get out the emery board. I was doing quite well a couple of times and then my pesky nails made the whole thing wobble and Jane had to rescue my ailing bowls – though, like a shark bite, one of my two final bowls has the badly surfaced scars of a nick that I’m secretly rather proud of. Here’s my finished creation with its hare lip. I heart it.

A work of beauty, now used as my official sugar bowl

A work of beauty, now used as my official sugar bowl

3. A happy pot is  about the water. Keep flinging it on the clay or you’ll come a cropper.

4. The of the turny wheel thing is very important. Too slow and you’ve blown it, too fast and you can’t control your pot and it goes all Tower of Pisa. Either way you can guarantee one outcome: you’re hands will be slathered in goo and you’ll feel slightly hysterical.


5. Using the scalpel and cheese cutter was more fun than it should have been. It felt like being let loose in the biology lab but without having to look at the insides of a rat.

6. Don’t expect to be good. I was pretty hopeless truth be told, but then hadn’t expected anything else. I have not a single artistic bone in my body when it comes to practical stuff, but it really was good fun and very therapeutic. I can see why people get hooked on it.

So there you go.

Jane, by the way, is absolutely lovely, extremely good-humoured and well worth having a chat to. She’s been making pottery for over 40 years, having studied for an MA at the Royal College of Art. You can see her in Bucks Open Studios from 7 June as part of a collective ‘The Crafty Four‘, which includes Tiny van der Velde who makes silver jewellery; Alison Court who makes upcycled bags and Jacky Russell who creates knitted/felted bags. They’re exhibiting at Haddenham Baptist Church from 12pm.


Here’s an example of her work – beautiful isn’t it? Go see for yourself if you’re passing or check in on other artists in Bucks Open Studios here.Agness GMT2012 07 13 - 1844 25[14]
PS Jane also runs group or private classes for adults and for children from her studio in Waterstock (Bucks/Oxon borders). Well worth thinking about for birthdays or the summer hols.

[email protected]. Tel: 01844 339733


2 comments on “It’s not like in Ghost! Muddy tries pottery-making”

  • Lynne Cobine June 6, 2014

    Thanks for sharing your pottery experience – I did have lessons many years ago, and have wished to get back into, clay is so much fun to play with!

    • muddystiletto June 6, 2014

      I’m sure your bowls were better than mine! x


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