Month three at the Leach Pottery with Annabelle Smith

After the busy festive period, we caught up with Annabelle, who’s three months into her apprenticeship with the Leach Pottery, funded by the Seasalt Bursary.

“Since my last blog, there has been a lot going on in the studio. With the build up to Christmas the shop was busy, but afterwards the studio slowed down. A few members of staff took time off, which gave the rest of us the chance to re-organise the studio and get ready for the year ahead.

I have moved on from the egg cups I mentioned in my November blog, to trying my hand at making mugs. We begin this process by doing a three pull cylinder challenge with 400g balls, which is the same weight as the large mug. This is to encourage throwing the clay up as high as possible in as little as three pulls. It makes you cut out movements you don’t need, which in turn makes production more efficient. I spent a few days doing this test and it really helped me improve my throwing accuracy and especially my speed. Once I’d made enough tall cylinders around the same size, I started to make the smaller espresso mug. After the first few weeks of this, I started to get the right shape, which meant I could move onto the next stage.

Handles are a completely different process to throwing. We start by making ‘lugs’ which we attach to the top of the mug before moulding into shape. Then we re-attach to the bottom. It takes as long, if not longer to make the handle, compared with throwing the mug. Now I can throw for the Standard Ware range, I can really get my head down and help the studio along as part of the team. Hopefully in a month or two I will have progressed enough to start throwing the large mug and bowls. I’m really looking forward to that.”

Leach Pottery & Seasalt