We’ve been catching up with Annabelle, our third Leach Pottery apprentice after a busy few weeks settling into life at the pottery.

“I’ve really enjoyed my first few weeks at the Leach Pottery and I’ve been working really hard on different tasks to increase my skills.

One of the first things on my list was to make 2000 tiles for Seasalt (and there are still more to go!). These will be glazed in various ways including using a Japanese rice straw Hakeme brush to create shapes, dipping in glaze and painting simple drawings with iron slip (a mixture of clay and other materials suspended in water).

I’ve discovered that it’s very important to have a good understanding of how to use a paint brush as you have to create different thicknesses in one stroke on such a small surface. I’ve been painting fish, engine houses and anchors, and while you might not think so, it is actually the anchor that is the most difficult to perfect.

I usually draw in charcoal on paper, so translating these designs using slip on ceramic has been really enjoyable. I will soon be practising brushwork on my own wares, and I’m really looking forward to that.

After learning how to create the tiles, my next task was to make about 300 egg cups. This really tests your patience because pots as small as these show all the dimension differences once they have been fired. Working on egg cups helps you both with your precision and familiarisation of the Leach Standard Ware shape. Matt (second Leach apprentice) has demonstrated the egg cup to me whenever I’ve needed help and he has been a real encouragement to me.

On the 3rd November the Leach Pottery hosted an event called Feast and Flames. There were workshops with the Leach crew helping members of the public to glaze a tea bowl for Raku firings which were taking place throughout the night. I worked throughout the evening and really enjoyed myself. It was a fantastic event with wine, dancing, pizza and stew cooked in a kiln on-site. We had beautiful stretch tents that provided stylish shelter for us when the Cornish mizzle came in later that night. We have have started running these events every November, and the atmosphere is great because it encourages the St Ives community to come together, and it gives them a taste of what we do at the Leach Pottery.”