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childrens hands in wet squidgy clay at cheltenham science festival 2019

childrens hands in wet squidgy clay at cheltenham science festival 2019Under normal circumstances (remember them!?) we’d have been up to our eyeballs in clay at the brilliant Maker Shack as part of Cheltenham Science Festival.

We’ve been involved in the Makershack since its inauguration in 2017. Last year we encouraged visitors to make a press molded brick, using real brick clay from Coleford Brick and Tile Company based in the Forest of Dean.

The bricks were assembled into a giant castle and we worked with nearly 10,000 people over the x6 days of the festival! – that’s a shed load of bricks! The sheer volume of visitors meant we had to build a fresh structure each day, deconstructing the building at the close and re-claiming the material for the next morning.

Athough the Makershack was primarily aimed at Primary school aged students – (and man, there must have been very few Gloucestershire schools who didn’t visit the show), on Friday night grown-ups got to play with the technology in a special after-hours session between 8pm and 10pm.

Although it’s full-on, we love the #makershack and look forward to sharing the scientific benefits of engaging with clay, with festival visitors in 2021.

Potters Wheel Introduction

Over the years we’ve produced a collection of ‘how to do’ videos.

In an attempt to help educate and ‘entertain’ the nations children, we’ve dusted off a few of the ‘better’ (?) ones to post here on our website.

So far Jon the Potter has showed you how to make a clay fish and a coil pot owl. In this, the third in the series he talks you through the process of throwing a pot on the potter’s wheel… You might need a potter’s wheel for this one! Even if you don’t, you cant beat the magic of watching a lump of clay magically transform into a pot on the potter’s wheel.

Enjoy! and if you are lucky enough to own a potter’s wheel, we’d love to see your results. Ping us a pic on TwitterFace Book or Instagram – make sure you tag us in too! We’re @eastnorpottery on most platforms.

artist and co director at eastnor pottery and the flying potter jon williams

artist and co director at eastnor pottery and the flying potter jon williamsJob Title: Co-Director

Job description: Facilitating experiences (Eastnor Studio and the wider community) and maker of weird interactive pottery stuff.

Q1 What do you like doing when you are not working at the Pottery?

Surfing! but as you need the ocean for this I’ll settle for spin class, writing and mowing the lawn.

Q2 What is your favourite song of all time and why?

A Forest by The Cure. An incredible sonic journey with endless live versions…also, nothing was ever quite the same after hearing it for the first time.

Q3 What is your favourite drink?

A bottle of Tribute

Q4 What is your favourite cheese?

Stilton

Q5 How many pairs of shoes do you own?

6, but rarely stray from my Air Force 1’s handed up from my son!

Q6 If you were an animal what would it be?

A barn owl

 

natural resources for pattern making in clay session with jon the potter from eastnor pottery and the flying potter

textured terracotta tiles made by young children at washwood heath nursery school and jon the potter from eastnor pottery and the flying potterThese amazing terracotta tiles have been made by the talented children at Washwood Heath Nursery School in Birmingham. Although they look rather stunning arranged here on the ground, the tiles form part of a much more ambitious project at the nursery.

Jon the potter worked with artist in residence Claire Witcombe, Nursery staff and of course the children to plan an exciting and inspiring project to introduce aspects of pattern making, surface design and construction. The aim, to create something that would pool the skills and experience of all the collaborators and result in an outcome everybody could enjoy and share – as well as provide the children with an exceptional learning journey along the way.

After much consultation and planning, a shelter proved to be a popular choice with all stakeholders – a structure the children could pass through, play in and around. It was decided the interior space would be protected by hand made roof tiles, co-created by the children in a series of practical workshop sessions.

natural resources for pattern making in clay session with jon the potter from eastnor pottery and the flying potterautumn oak trees in eastnor herefordshire

Natural resources, hand tools and other mark making objects were introduced to the clay table for the children to press and work into the clay. Once they had flattened large lumps of terracotta clay into flat slabs, the children got to work, pressing and rolling the tools and resources into the soft material. They were also encouraged to cut their textured slabs into uniformed shapes by slicing around a template especially prepared for the task. The range of patterns produced, and the degree of exploration was a delight to behold….And as for the sheer number of tiles made – WOW! Proper tile making factory.

pressing oak leaves into clay slab with jon the potter at washwood heath nursery school in birminghamcutting clay tiles at washwood heath nursery school with jon williams from eastnor pottery

table full of mark making materials and clay at a creative session led by Jon Williams the flying potter at washwood heath nursery school in birminghamThe 100 tiles have all been fired and ready for dispatch! The baton now passes to Claire who will enable the children to build the main structure from recycled pallets and boards. The roof tiles will be added later by the children using hammers and nails to hang them on the timber – a traditional and contemporary technique used by roofers in the construction industry all around the world.

The project is a fine example of partnership working and creative collaboration and we all cant wait to see the final piece installed in one of the Nursery’s exterior spaces.

Aimee from eastnor pottery herefordshire displaying terracotta totem pole created by all the children at meadows first school in bromsgrove

Aimee from eastnor pottery herefordshire displaying terracotta totem pole created by all the children at meadows first school in bromsgroveIn Autumn term 2019, Jon the Potter visited Meadows First School in Bromsgrove to work with the whole school creating this amazing collaborative totem pole.

The residency took place over two days and Jon set up his mobile pottery studio in the adjoining Parkside Middle School art room. Individual classes took turns to visit the art room to make their modelled contribution to the sculpture before the piece was transported away to be fired in sections at Eastnor Pottery.

Jon has now delivered the separate pieces of the totem and the whole artwork will be erected in the children’s Well Being Garden. As soon as it’s up, well get some photos of the totem in-situ and publish them here on the blog.