Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Conversation Among the Parts - Nick Joerling - MISSA Part II

Nick Joerling's teapot under construction
Nick's finished teapot - all the parts having a very lively conversation!
Nick Joerling's "Throwing Pots/Possibilities" was in the first week and was one of the best workshops that I have attended. His method of making and altering many of his pots is very unique and he has obviously put a lot of thought into his work. He mentioned that at one time his studio shared a building with a dance troupe that would practice there and he would spend time watching their rehearsals. I found that it seems to have had an effect on his pots - they are very elegant, with lots of movement achieved by, pinching, stretching, pushing - altering his thrown and slab pots. They are also quite time consuming to make - he obviously enjoys his work and finding new solutions to making the things that he wants.

But the most significant thing that I came away with was that he likes to think of his pots as having a conversation among their different parts. Is that conversation boring - i.e. is the design predictable? Or is there some surprise somewhere, something intriguing - making that conversation interesting? I guess you can over design - everything flows and fits nicely in terms of form and design and that can make it rather boring as your eye passes over the pot. So he likes to throw in a little of something just a bit different - a bit of a surprise to spice up the conversation! You can see that in his images on his website -

Now just to try and remember that when I put together my pots.

My attempt at blended handle
Another thing that we did was to practice making blended handles for our cups for half an hour everyday - it was amazing how much everybody improved after 5 days! Every workshop should include this - just imagine how many bad handles would be banished forever, including mine! Nick broke it down into several steps, checking every one's handles for each step before anyone went any further - now that is a dedicated teacher! The blended handle appeals to me as it really gives a seamless transition and it great to use when the pot has an indent around which the handles curve. It is also essential when making a back filled handle that I have come to really like. To see a back filled handle on Kyle Carpenter's you tube video -

I was making handles with a butt end where glaze can collect and I like that as the glaze can usually hide any small cracks. Now I have a repertoire of two handle types to practice.


  1. Nice post. I'm always happy to see a new post on your site as it has such great information. Thanks.

  2. Hi, well I have been rather behind in my postings mostly because of the new format that blogger switched to some time ago. I find it very difficult to add pictures as they do not go where I want them - anyway what was supposed to be an improvement does not seem to be so.