On pottery

About two years ago, I signed up for my first ceramics class.  I had stifled a yearning to play with clay for years, and finally embraced it.  So I have taken continuous classes at the local museum, taking the summers off, but otherwise making lots of useful things.

I still suck at it, frankly.  It’s a good feeling, this lack of control.  I suppose I am getting “better,” but just barely.  Frankly, I like my wobbly cups and bowls.

However, the pièce de résistance has been my new pickle crock.  It does not suck.

so deep!

At 12.5″ high, 11″ wide at the top, it holds a bit more than three gallons.  It’s coiled, not thrown.  Cone 6.  And:  it’s currently making its first batch of wonderful fermented magic (a mixed veg greenhouse clean-out:  cabbage, chard stems, escarole, carrots, kohlrabi, green onions and herbs…and from basement storage, onions and garlic).

I also made a couple of sets of weights to fit inside and weigh down the stuff.  This set fits my other crock…but they work fine in this one, too.

Anyway, it’s fun!  Learn from my experience:  Even if you’re afraid of producing things not up to your own personal high standards of craft and capital-A Art, you should go out and try, whatever it is.  You might just surprise yourself, producing usable things beyond any price.  And that, my friends, is beauty.

18 responses to “On pottery

  1. It sure is! Thanks.

  2. I’ve always wanted to learn to work a pottery wheel! I would make Ollas for sure. They may take up a little space in the soil, but what a great way to water. I’ve been looking for them locally and can’t seem to find any.

  3. I really liked it before I knew it was a pickle crock, and then thought it was the coolest pickle crock I’ve ever seen!

  4. My wife and I have been following you for a while but have never posted. We love your blog!

    I was wondering if you can use any glaze on the pottery or if there is a specific food grade glaze available.


    • Hi Eric, welcome. That’s a great question. To keep it safe, the museum only uses food-safe (lead-free) glazes, so…that’s what we’ve got here. It’s not glazed on the outside (other than the decoration) because it needs to “breathe” a bit. But yeah, even though sauerkraut and pickles, etc., aren’t terribly high in acid, it’s best to use a nonreactive, shiny glaze on these kinds of things.

  5. I think your crock looks great.:)

  6. The crock looks great and I love the weights! Very nice!

  7. I truly love making useful things. If they’re attractive also, that’s a bonus. I sometimes hear back when gifting quilts (esp. small ones for kidlets) “oh, we’re going to hang it up, it’s too pretty to USE”. I’m so flattered, but a little part of me winces….

    Enjoy your crock!

  8. If it comes up missing, it wasn’t me! 😉

    It’s beautiful.

  9. That is a beautiful crock. Something personal and thoughtfully made is always so much better than a mass produced consumer item.

  10. You should make bonsai pots, a lot of people are looking for good pots.

  11. Those are wise words; it feels so great to step beyond the comfortable path. That was genius that you made matching weights.
    I agree with S…I barely resist shrieking when people say that to me.

  12. Hi Sharon! Glad you like it…it’s fun.

    Tesa, ollas (any pot really) can be so pretty, you’re right…but I really don’t have any problem with watering here. Plenty of it, yuck. Anyway, I hope you give in and try sometime: it’s fun, even if it is hard.

    Thank you, Paula. I love it, is that wrong for me to say?

    Hope that helped, Eric. Like I mentioned, most places only use the food-safe stuff anyway, unless you’re doing raku or something not meant to hold water. It’s just safer all around.

    Thank you, Mike. I just think about all you have that could go in it…fermented beets and carrots yum!

    Oh those weights are key, JCC. It’s always bugged me that I had to find “something else” to weigh things down. I knocked off the Harsch crock’s weights, and if I were talented enough, I would knock off its lid and seal, but…maybe after a few more years of practice.

    Sara, I have zero problem with using beautiful things. One life to live and all that. But I hear you. I suppose they’re respectful, but…!

    Diana, thanks for the tip! hahah

    I agree, et. Plus, I like the look and feeling of hand-made things, don’t you?

    Pamela, hah! Can we take things back from people if they don’t use them? The weights though like I said to JCC are really key to the operation. Not terribly exciting but they’re glazed and they work pretty well…I don’t need to put anything on top of them.

  13. Huh, so I see you copycatted my crock post. But your wobbly drippy crock is a thing of rustic beauty, well deserving of the spotlight. Three gallons! Will you keep a perpetual fermunda going in there, or eat to the bottom and start again? You might just create new life forms in that thing…!

    Cheers~ Brett

  14. What a crock.

    That is all.

  15. Hi Brett: actually, the crock is pretty newly out of the kiln, so it’s been longer in the works than yours was, but as you know I always think good ideas travel well. I think 3 gallons is huge for what I do (I tend to do batches that are only 3 quarts or so) so I am of course making a couple more smaller ones. But yeah, I wonder about all the lifeforms flying about in this kitchen, what with the kombucha, sourdough, crock contents, and vinegars out and about doing their things. Oh and cheese I forgot cheese.

    Peter, and heavy too. Damn. Nearly herniated lifting it up this a.m. to disgorge its first batch of yum.

  16. That is beautiful.

  17. Hola! Alguien de mi grupo de Facebook nos compartio esta pagina para que la vieramos y me ha gustado mucho.
    Un blog fantastico y un diseño fabuloso. Un saludo =)

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