Here we look at how French slipware potter Jean-Nicolas Gérard throws his small vases in his Valensole studio.
Jean-Nicolas initially forms his small vases on his potter’s wheel before letting them dry til leather hard. He then returns them to the wheel to work on the vase surface and for more detailed finishing around the neck and base.
(above) Jean-Nicolas Gérard carrying finished vases in his Valensole studio; (below) Jean-Nicolas throwing clay on his wheel in front of two small vases (left); large vase (right)
Jean-Nicolas has been based in Provence in the south of France for more than thirty years now, making pots in the French terre vernissée tradition but with a freer modern touch. His work is alluringly tactile, celebrating the thick, loose malleability of clay and the natural earth from which it was sourced.
small (above) and medium (below) vases echoing the golden sun and viticultural fields of Jean-Nicolas Gérard’s Provence home
Jean-Nicolas’ palette of golden yellows, blacks, and bright greens and blues combined with his carved sgraffito lines echo the scarified lavender fields and rows of vineyards in the surrounding Provençal landscape, imbuing his work with a definite sense of place and a generous helping of character.
(left) lidded jar; (right) small vase with sgraffito and finger spots
Though his work is especially enjoyable to eat from, Jean-Nicolas also produces pots such as these vases that can be beautiful to display, with generous wide openings for large bunches of flowers or as stand-out standalone pieces. His small vases also provide the same form as his whimsical, lopsided jars with bobble-hat lids and his wider soup tureens.
(left) very large jar; (right) Jean-Nicolas Gérard applying slip by hand to the rim of a large vase in his studio
Jean-Nicolas also produces much larger versions of these vases that look stunning installed in a garden or sprucing up a messy allotment plot. Their large, curved surfaces invite Jean-Nicolas’ spontaneous sgraffito and finger-paint decoration, lending his work its characteristically lively and dynamic touch.