Back in 2012 at the book launch for our ceramics publication Phil Rogers: A Portfolio, potter Phil Rogers presented an in-depth lecture on his life and work and gave a fascinating throwing demonstration in our gallery front room.
With a throwing wheel set up in the centre of the gallery, a large bowl of water, and several lumps of clay, Phil showed a packed audience how he throws his yunomis, chawans, and small bottle forms whilst discussing the peculiarities of British clay, the importance of sourcing one’s own materials where possible, and the personal aesthetic behind some of the decorative choices on his pots.
(above) Phil Rogers begins throwing a small teabowl or ‘chawan’; (below) in our filmed demonstration Phil showed some of the chawan forms in his repertoire
As well as demonstrating some of the more basic elements of throwing, such as centering clay on the wheel and the first pulls when opening up the unformed lump, Phil showed how he prefers to decorate his pots as much as possible while still wet on the wheel before leaving them to dry to leather-hard, later returning to complete areas such as the foot and base.
(above) Phil finishes the rim of a paddled yunomi (left); (right) paddled wood-fired yunomi; (below) another wood-fired paddled yunomi
Also featured in the film were some of the many wooden paddles Phil uses on his yunomis and chawans. Striking the sides of the wet pot, Phil then opens up the walls further to stretch the outer surface, the lines left by the engraved paddle taking on the curve of the pot as it gently expands outwards.
Phil Rogers adding a central band to a chawan form – the ridge adds definition and contrast to the pot, as well as picking up on glaze in the kiln
A recurring decorative feature on many of Phil’s smaller pots are thin bands or ridges that run round the whole form. As Phil explains, the glazes he frequently uses, such as his local ash glaze, are very fluid and will often run quite dramatically on the side of a pot. The addition of these lines allows the glaze to pool around the pot, creating dark visual contrasts in the glassy surface.
Tenmoku chawan with central ridge
When throwing such pots, Phil rarely leaves these central ridges to run evenly at the same level around the pot surface. Instead, a small rib or a finger is introduced to the line as the pot rotates on the wheel and is pushed up and down, creating a wavelike movement in the ridge that gives the pot a sense of rhythm and character.
a trio of yunomis
A largely self-taught potter, Rogers has been given many lectures and throwing workshops over the years, both in the UK and abroad. His years of ceramics experience have offered great help to students and apprentices and a valuable insight into the life of a studio potter for prospective buyers and collectors.
New work by Phil has just been delivered to the gallery this week and can be viewed on our website by clicking below.