Working at the limit

Scott Semple discovered early in his pottery career that making plates and teapots wouldn’t cut it for him. Instead, he discovered that making large pots was more his style and a way to find his path in clay. So, encouraged by instructors, he set off on a quest to figure out how to make large pots — really large pots.

In this instructive and inspiring video shot on location in Santa Barbara, California, Scott demonstrates his technique for making a 6-foot tall vase in a single day. Using advice, tips and techniques picked up from the many potters he visited over the years, he brings everything together with skill and a sense of self-assuredness focused on creating more than the usual piece from a box of clay.

Scott Semple: Throwing Large Pots is a unique production in that it reveals both a technique for realizing the potential of clay but also the inspired drive to discover what is necessary to make your dream in clay a reality.

 

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One step at a time

In his demonstration, Scott manages to describe several techniques at once. Because he is creating a 6-foot piece in one day, he does things a little differently than how he normally does them because he usually takes two or three days. Beginning with a base already thrown, he demonstrates making the second section, thrown upside down, and walks you through all the steps necessary to secure the second section to the first.

 

As tall as you like

After successfully forming and attaching the second section, you really could stop right there depending on the size of your kiln. But it’s the addition of more sections and the graceful form his large pot gains that you’ll find captivating. When you see Scott throw sections upside down and assemble them with a final form in mind, you’ll soon see the possibilities for your own work, even if you never care to reach the monumental proportions demonstrated here.

 

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Focus and intent

No matter whether you throw large or small, Scott emphasizes the need for planning. He talks about focusing on your goals before you get around to putting your materials together, planning your decoration and glazing, firing, or, for large pieces like the one he demonstrates, how you’re going to physically move your work around the studio and to its final destination. This is a video about having a focus and pursuing it with intent — it’s about having a plan for what you want to do, and be, in pottery.

 

 

Possibilities

While Scott demonstrates how to make an impressive 6-foot vase in a day, you’ll come away with all the skills you need to make multi-sectional pots that fit your needs, your schedule, and the limits of your studio. For anyone who loves to throw, you’ll certainly agree that this is a fun demonstration to watch.