Saturday, 24 September 2011

5. Sweet Potatoes and Cumbrian Stone

Hello potters and friends,
Warwickshire weather has gone mad. We're going back to summer next week with highs of 27C. Alan wants to build a shed at the bottom of the garden so bad weather will not be an excuse for opting out of that 'great wee job'. Alan is Irish so this expression is always popping out and applies to just about everything.  So next week I'll be re-locating my great wee compost heap to.....somewhere, after I've cleared a great wee space....somewhere else.
But it's not just the sun that's giving off a bright orange glow. All of the shops are lit up with Halloween paraphernalia. What great fun when my children, Leo and Rosie, were young. Pumpkins flickered on the doorstep. Cobwebs and spiders were draped around the kitchen (not all synthetic unfortunately). Faces were painted, friends were alerted to their Trick or Treat visit and food dye transformed their dinner into cauldron food.
A few years ago, at Halloween time, I was looking for something unusual to make into a plaster mould. I looked at the pumpkins, especially the big ones. How fantastic that would be, but then I chickened out of  such a big undertaking. So I picked up the much smaller sweet potato, held it upright and saw an unusual great wee vase.
After passing the pumpkins in the supermarket the other day I came home, dug out that old mould and made another sweet potato vase.

This is the original found wrapped up with old Christmas decorations!!

The two-piece mould this week with clay pressed in.

Two halves put together with clay slurry and smoothed to hide the join.

I attached a thrown cone-shape to finish the top.

This will be bisque fired when dried out. Making the two piece mould is not difficult and as there are lots of demonstrations of this on Youtube you might like to watch the process rather than having me list all points. But should anyone like me to, I will. Just put that, or any other requests, in the comment box. 

But here's a thought I've just had. What if you wrap the sweet potato in clay and press hard to get all the imprints. Leave it until leather hard then slit it open and remove the potato. These two halves could be bisque fired which means they are porous like plaster and therefore can be used like my plaster mould above. I'll go veg' shopping this week and try it out.

But while we're looking at funny shapes what do you think of this?

This is stage 1 of building my first Cumbrian stone that I enthused about in Blog 2 Cumbrian Inspiration.
After rejecting many sketches and deliberating about hand-building or throwing you can see I went for throwing and then altering the shape at leather hard stage with a damp sponge.
It looked stone-like but a bit boring so I tarted it up somewhat.

Never knowing when to stop I got slightly carried away!

Strangely, I'm really liking it. I'm working on it with sand paper now to make the base area more interesting. I fear I'm going to be working on this for some time. I just can't leave it alone. 
Clay and one's imagination is a most enjoyable great wee partnership!
Happy potting folks. 


  1. "Alan wants to build a shed at the bottom of the garden".... ah, a potting shed I presume?

    Really enjoyed reading the blog and seeing your latest work. How the garden has changed!

  2. Thanks Barrie. We've done such a lot to the garden this year due to one of the old walls falling over. Too much ivy and no foundations equals disaster.