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John Wheeldon

I feel that above all, I am a potter who responds primarily to materials. I look a lot at other crafts, textiles, glass and metalwork in particular. I am also fascinated by ancient eroded artefacts and patinated surfaces, but their effect is often subliminal. More often than not a simple change in clay, glaze or the discovery of a new process can provide the stimulus for a new direction.

My lustre was initially applied using various rubber stamps in tight geometric patterns. However, my discovery of the methods used to decorate fabrics by the batik method, led me to use latex as a resist. This enabled me to develop a more flowing and less restrictive approach to decorating.

My involvement with raku developed because of a need to escape from the strictures placed upon me by the lustre technique and a desire to become involved in real fire and immediate surfaces. I now work equally with the two techniques – back and forth – one modifying and informing the other. The transition is made easier because I see raku as a form of matt, coloured lustre, not as a complete break with my earlier work but as a compliment to it.

The pots are thrown using a blend of ‘T’ material and white stoneware, biscuit fired and then decorated using latex as a resist medium. They are glazed in a copper oxide and frit mixture and fired to about 900 C, when they are removed and reduced on a thin layer of sawdust under a metal container.

I originally became interested in the use of lustres when I was given a recipe for a ‘black’ clay body. This had a rich textured quality, but I found that when glazed the resulting surface lacked life.

What to do with this dull glaze? The use of lustre seemed the ideal solution. Here was glitter and magic in abundance!