I started ceramics in 2016 when I took a course at the CSMA in Mountain View, CA. What I really wanted to do was take a sculpture course, but all the ones I could find listed experience with ceramics as a prerequisite. Around that time, I picked up a book on throwing by Richard Phethean, so I signed up for a beginner’s class. As soon as I sat at a wheel, I was hooked.

I mostly make wheel-thrown functional ware. Until I temporarily lost access to my wheel and kiln, I was developing a series of vases. When I get back to it, I will continue that, and start working on my own glazes.

Here are a few of my pieces:

A stoneware vase, fired to Cone 8 oxidation. This is the culmination (so far) of my experiments with layering tenmoku with Mayco brush on Blue Surf. It’s about 22cm tall.

Another vase from the same firing, slightly different means of applying the two glazes.

From the previous firing. Same glaze, again applied differently.

A large jug, from the course I did at La Meridiana in September 2022. Diameter (excluding handle) 11cm, height 15.5cm. It holds about a litre of liquid.

Another, much smaller, vase from La Meridiana.

A stoneware fruit bowl, 29cm diameter, 5cm height. I like the way the pale blue glaze interacts with the clear glaze around the rim. The pattern is a continuous non-intersecting curve.

I bought a wonderful book called ‘From Mud to Music’, and let it sit on my shelf for a couple of years before digging into it last year. It’s a wonderful book, which presents many kinds of musical instrument you can make with clay, and includes instructions for making some of them, including the ocarina, an instrument which people quite often make from clay. I sometimes like to throw things on the wheel which are maybe more easily made by other techniques. I hand built a couple of ocarinas (you hollow out a ball of clay and then cut finger holes and the sound hole), then made one on the wheel by throwing a cylinder, adding clay to the top to close the form, then cutting the holes. A particularly grueling part of the process is tuning it! Here is a really bad photo:

Bowl, glaze: blue surf

A small bottle. The glaze is Tiger’s Eye. I love how the light reflects off this, and I managed to trim the cork from a winner bottle so that it fits!

Lidded jar. The glaze is Blue Surf.

Large mug. At first sight I was disappointed with this one: there is a bit of a bulge in one side, and in places, especially inside, the glaze came out light brown where I brushed it quite thinly. But I have grown to love this mug. It’s thin and light, with room for lots of tea, and I now find the variations in the glaze very interesting.

Older pieces:

The mental wanderings of Julian Richardson