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Coil is worth the toil for potters

THOUGH I've thrown many a pot on electric and kick wheels, I still think that coiling is the most satisfying medium for the amateur ceramicist.

Purists will tell you the wheel is the ultimate test of the potter, but I prefer the slower, but infinitely more satisfying, coiling process for creating unusual shapes.

Like most amateurs, I feel there is always a gulf between what I want to achieve on a wheel and what I'm able to achieve in reality because of my technical limitations. Coiling enables you to get closer to your objectives, and especially if you favour taller unconventional forms.

The above coiled vase, made from St Agnes clay, lacks the absolute symmetry one can achieve on the wheel, but benefits from the elusive 'soul' that master potter Bernard Leach lauded in his various writings on ceramic art.

In fact, Leach himself was wary of the wheel, especially for any pot standing a foot or more, but no-one denies his capacity for producing truly memorable pots with unique appeal. His bigger pieces were often produced by a combination of throwing and coiling, using the wheel up to about a foot, then adding coils to gain the extra height.

I'm using the above pot for several experiments, including pit-firing, waxing and lacquering to see exactly what can be achieved while getting away from more conventional glazing and firing processes.

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