Inspiration Part 2ii - The Design Drawings.

As I mentioned in a Previous Post I want quite a small range of pots, with a few different sizes to make kiln firings as economical as possible, to use up the space effectively.  I don't want to make too many forms as I would rather 6 well made forms than 10 or so badly made different sorts of pots.

When I first started looking at doing it I thought about doing some stacking bowl forms of varying sizes but I might work those out at a different time, working out a few designs is complicated enough while investing a lot of energy into surface pattern.  Making only five or six designs is a piece of advice that James Hake always strains to me every time I meet him, so this time I am going to listen.

So only the following things made it to the final list:
  • Mug
  • Bowl
  • Jug
  • Platter
  • Tyg
  • Pancheon 
I also want pots with a a large Surface are to decorate, whether that be inside or outside of the pot.  Though decoration for interior and exterior would have to be done differently.  I also have to take into account when designing the maximum dimensions of my kiln, with the workable areas being 36cm (14") diameter and 32cm (12.5") height. I had previously thought they were 30 by 30 but just a touch bigger, turns out a touch is quite a few centimetres.

I feel that maybe there sure be something smaller still to fill up any gaps but they will have to be made from slabs, and really be for practising the surface pattern.


When I first started with the ideas of bowls, I thought about using a very low wide bowl to decorate on the inside but half way through I started thinking about decorating the outside instead and what different forms that could come from that.  On a few of the designs I took half of the drawing and made it into a cut away section to imagine the thickness of the pot and the foot ring.

Rough Workings for designing a Bowl
The two main drawings I liked after talking to my wife where a very wide bowl with a small foot ring and one that is chunkier with a a foot ring that would have to be carved out of a mass of clay to work.  Though I like both of these, I realise that for standard ware of something that is going to be made a lot a carved foot ring probably isn't the best solution.

Roughing out proportions for Bowls
Not happy with these but erased them so many times, will have to work on them a bit more to get them like the sketches and working out the dimensions so then they have those nice lines they had.  The bottom one just needs a bit more flaring out  at the top, but the top one needs redrawing completely.  I might blow it up with the printer and try that way.

You have to consider the "wheat biscuit principle" which has two factors: 
  1. being able to fit four wheat biscuits comfortably in the bowl (dimensions of the well known brand being 4" by 2" by 1/2")
  2. the milk to cereal ratio in the bowl. It is a very complicated one I don't understand that was added by my mother.
I don't think a wide shallow bowl would fit either of these factors


I worked up a sheet for the cups, but cups are what I struggle to design the most and found most of my ideas were contrived.  I also want to design a cup that you couldn't just make in a one part slip casting mould, there are a number of ways to achieve it by undercutting and such but the easiest is to flip the form over and put the opening where the foot would be on a one part mould.

Roughing out proportions for Cups (handle designs need doing)
I am not sure of the proportions of these and will need to see them after being thrown on the wheel before I change what is happening, there is just something about them that doesn't sit right.  I am more inclined to choose the one on the let as I am more likely to be able to squeeze three layers into the kiln, with 12cm tall I simply wouldn't be able to.


When I think Pancheon, I do think of Paul Jessop, I wish I had paid better attention when I visited Barrington Pottery back in September to gain more of a sense of his wonderful Pancheons.  So researching these they are supposed to be wide and not very deep, my concern is that I can't fire them wide enough in my kiln to give them justice.

Roughing out proportions for Pancheon
I am not entirely sure which design would work best, I am inclined towards the top design as it would seem wider for not being as tall.  Though on the other hand because of some Northern attitude I feel inside you want the largest volume possible, not convinced this is the right attitude so will make both and see what comes out of it. While writing this I checked the measurements of my kiln and could take them up to 36cm (14") wide, which means I can add on that extra width, but I will have to check a


I borrowed Bernard Rackham's Mediaeval Potsfrom the library and read through it once and looked through all the pictures numerous times and all I could think when I looked at all the the Jugs was Doug Fitch, every jug in that book I seem to have seen made by Doug at some point.
Surrey Jug from Bernard Rackham's Mediaeval Pots
I do like this form and I feel that I could achieve this after a few attempts, I feel a bit rusty after having not thrown for a few weeks, but I am throwing this week no matter what as I am teaching  Thursday afternoon.  It is a very pleasing form, one that caught my eye instantly as I flicked through the pages.
York type Baluster Jug from Bernard Rackham's Medieval Pots
I would love to throw some Baluster jugs but would take me a bit more practise and would mean stretching myself a bit more, but I am interested in the challenge and will give a really big surface to decorate, I know how to slip them, I will just need to practise the decoration thoroughly with all the curves these jugs provide.

Trying to Learn the form of a Baluster.
I doodled through some roughs for the Baluster form, it is going to be an interesting process designing all the curves, where they fit together with should, belly and foot, but actually throwing what I design is going to be interesting with it being such a tall slender form.


I saw my first Tyg whilst at the Harris Museum in Preston during my repeat second year when we were looking at Pottery that had been designed for the Preston Guild.  They were highly decorated covered with inscriptions and poems that I didn't pay as much attention to as I should have.  I remember them talking about the traditions of communal drinking before Preston became Teetotalin the 19th century.

The other time I have really seen these are Paul Jessop's Wassail Cups, unlike Barrington Court I don't know of any nearby apple orchards where they celebrate and hold a festival to give back to the orchard. (My house is supposed to have been built on an apple orchard, which is why there isn't clay close to the surface like there are on neighbouring roads.)

I made some not very good versions in stoneware and never really glazed them, or did anything with them, they are still sat on my table with other small bits of biscuit pottery inside.  Tyg's aren't used day to day but still they are something I want to make from time to time even though I am not convinced they will be commercially viable but I want to be able to write verse on these.

Tyg from Bernard Rackham's Mediaeval Pots
I have yet to do a design for the Tyg, as I want to play around with the idea a little bit more.


For my platter form, as much as I can throw something round, I really want to do a squared off dish more like this one by Ron Philbeck.  Though for a rectangular dish like that I would need a mould.

I doodled some designs just nothing concrete as I if I go done the rectangular dish approach I either have to source or make a mould.

To Finish

I must note I usually work in Pen whilst designing but I haven't ever designed before knowing that it would go out to such a large audience and that made me feel a little uncertain, as I will be judged how this develops once it is in clay, I was at my degree too but I cared very little while I was learning, I had been at university for 7 years over my different courses and just wanted it to end. 

Recently I have considered an MA, but can't really justify the cost and I don't like the idea of going back to UCLAN, if I did it would have to be something where I could play around with kiln firings like at Loughborough with their nice new anagama kiln. But with another little one on the way it would be stupid.

When I first considered designing this my thoughts where very much on the new Leach Pottery Standard ware,  but as I started to but pencil to paper I wanted to avoid the forms being too similar to them, but they seem to have leaned very close to Ron Philbeck instead with various forms and then Doug and Paul with their amazing pots too.

Coming next time, I am going to be doing a more on the surface pattern, trying to work things out with inks and some of the other materials I have around here.


  1. I think its really important to work to the dimensions of your kiln particularly in the diameter. Not just that but to take into account the width and room for the stilts as they can take up more room than you think which makes platters and plates a challenge to fit in!

  2. I really love those jugs! That Surrey Jug is delicious :)

    I hope to make some medieval inspired forms once I've got my cylinders up over a foot.