Sake Bottles with Annabelle Smith, Leach Apprentice

Annabelle tells us about her her latest achievements at the pottery.

I did it! I really reached a milestone this month with my throwing.

One day in January, we managed to finish some orders a little early so we had some extra time on our hands. Luckily, the weekend before I had asked for some help with ‘throwing big’ and so when a large Seasalt order came in, I was asked to make the large Sake bottles. These weigh six kilos!

The winter weather had been slowly picking out members of the team for a few weeks and thankfully, it had not got to me yet. I was in fighting spirits and oh, am I glad that I was.

As you can see, the Sake bottles are as tall as my torso. This meant that for a lot of the throwing I was having to stand up and use my legs on the edge of the frame.

Challenges I faced

This challenge was undeniably draining. I am certain I have gone up a dress size because of the muscle I have gained.

Starting to skid across the floor while sat on my stool was a sure sign something was wrong! I could not do this before was because the clay consistency was too soft and the weight of the pot wasn’t supported enough, but I over-compensated and made my clay far too hard.

Kat Wheeler, our Deputy Studio Manager, used to make all the extra large pots before the trainees got to this stage in throwing. She showed me her preferred consistency and after Roelof  (Lead Potter) taught me the basics for a day, the Leach studio team thought I would progress best if someone of a similar stature to mine gave me the finishing tips to my technique.

I had no idea how much my abs would hurt and by the end of two weeks, I had made about 35 pots and was begging to change jobs for a day.

I slept heavily after I’d finished, but then I was able to go on to decorate them in the style of my favourite new Seasalt mug pattern, “Rippling Water”.

Personally, I find that this free flowing, thick to thin style of line is lovely, simple and effective, so I would like to incorporate it into my work sometime soon.

What’s next in the pottery

Next, I am looking forward to learning about glaze materials and firing the different sized kilns, so I’ll keep you posted on that. For now though, I am resting my body and taking myself on my first real holiday since starting this job; I am going surfing in the Canary Islands!