Tuesday, 26 October 2010

A Passion for Pottery

I thought I would do a little blog post about my love of pottery and in particular the beautiful glazes used by Irish potter Louis Mulcahy.

The first time I ever went to Dingle in Co Kerry in 1995 I was following a deep desire to reach the west. It wasn't really a conscious  decision. I just had an urge to see the open sea. To be by the ocean. To be as far out on the edge of the land as possible and be able to go no further. I didn't even know at that time that the very end of the Dingle peninsula is as far west as you can go in the whole of Europe but when I rounded the corner of Slea Head in a beat up old camper van I knew I had found where I was subconsciously looking for.

The landscape, coastline and Islands took my breath away. Around every turn in the road another vista opened up and no matter how many times I've been back and followed the same route, I can still remember that first trip.

About half way round the Slea Head drive we spotted the Louis Mulcahy pottery workshop. It was open for visitors and I begged Tom who was driving to stop and let me go and have a look.


I had been doing ceramics at college and had a thing for BIG pots and this place was full of them! Massive pots in the most beautiful sea coloured glazes. I can remember wanting to hug them all....but noticing the prices of £300 and upwards I resisted.
The above is a post card that I've had for years of lots of Louis's pots on the beach at Clocher.

Every year that I've been back to Dingle I have gone round to Louis's pottery and yearned to buy something. On most occasions all I could afford were a couple of tiny hand thrown pots but imagine my delight one year when we went in the winter and there was a January sale on! Shelves were stacked high with seconds as cheap as €2 each! We had a field day and bought lots of presents for family and a few pieces for ourselves.

I love the shape of this vase below and all the different sea colours in the glaze. There is a beautiful touch of pale purple on the neck and a hint of turquoise on the shoulder.

The cups below are like tea cups with no handles but are lovely for drinking wine or mead.

Although they all match, each has a slightly different glaze pattern with the insides like glorious whirlpools of my favourite colours.

This turquoise glaze really appeals to me as well. It's like the colour of shallow sea water with sand beneath it.


So when we went to visit Louis's pottery this year imagine my delight to find that they were doing mini workshops for kids! Okay, okay, so I would have loved a shot myself but I was so excited for my daughter who got to throw her very own pot.

The potter was exceptionally kind and good with children.

It's amazing what the creative hands of a five year old can produce.

Don't ask me how we managed to get that home in one piece but we did! It's still awaiting decoration. 
I never fulfilled my dreams of becoming a potter or ceramist but I'm more than happy working with felt, fibres and textiles. 

This is the biggest piece I ever made. It is hand built, not thrown and stands about 18 inches tall. I would love to go back to making pots some day. Clay is a very expressive medium to work in and it's something I'd like my children to enjoy more of.

On a more immediate note, I have a Craft Fair this Saturday at Pitcairngreen Village Hall. I'm busy making new felt pictures for that this week and some more of my new necklaces. 
Don't forget we have another Open Studio Day on Saturday November 13th 10-4pm.
Hope to see some of you there.
All contributed content © Aileen Clarke