Gerry Grant

Gerry Grant
On The Wheel

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Building and firing kilns with children!!

Right from the start we were keen to get children interested in clay work. They are our future ceramicists and potters!
We went into local schools and worked with the teachers on  projects with the children. In the 1970s we even built and fired kilns with them.
 This is a wood fired kiln that we built at Fangfoss. The children stoked it all day and we unpacked it the following day. We had made little pots with glass in the bottom. It had reached a high enough temperature to melt the glass.

This is a sawdust kiln we made at Leconfield. The children put their pots in and filled it with sawdust and let it burn down. It just reached the point where clay turns to pot.

We even made kilns out of biscuit tins. We got the children to punch holes in biscuit tins, put their pots in and fill it with sawdust and light it. The pots fired, but the children were really excited about the melting oils on top of their tins. The heat had made wonderful patterns from the original pictures....

Of cousre this would not be allowed today. Health and Safety is ruining the childhood experiences of children. When I put these pictures up on facebook, recently, several of the then children (adults now) said it was one of the most memorable things they had done at school.

Developing the slip casting processes

After a couple of years of making pottery boots, Gerry heard of a pottery called Scarborough pottery that was closing down and was selling off all its equipment including their moulds. We decided to go over - it was actually in Filey- and have a look. Everything was going up for tender - block and case moulds, working moulds, and other pottery equipment, so we put in a quote, not thinking we would be close and we got the whole lot. It seemed that we were the only ones who bid anything.
That was when we started slip casting in a big way.

Some of the moulds we bought were from Hornsea pottery originals. In the 1950s and onwards, Hornsea did little vases with rabbits and deers on the side of them. We got them all!

We also got the moulds to make mugs which proved to be very popular. One of the mugs was an elephant where the trunk formed the handle. Another was a crocodile with the tail being the handle.