Chris Greening — Ceramicist
Although I have been a potter for about 25 years I actually come from a marine geology (hydrographic surveying in the dredging industry) background and it has been that history which has influenced my decorative styles over the years. At school I was fascinated by earth sciences, the patterns in nature and particularly that of the sea and coastal geomorphology. Being brought up in Dorset obviously gave me an extensive canvas on which to develop my creativity.
For the past ten years my pottery has been firmly rooted in the slipware tradition. This is when liquid clay (slip) is coloured with oxides (mainly copper and cobalt) in varying strengths to provide a wide-ranging colour palette to apply to the piece whilst it is still in its raw, unfired state. By also varying the fluidity of the slip one can gain a very wide range of effects, from almost sea-like when the consistency of single cream to that similar to icing for writing (slip trailing) inscriptions on pots. Applying the liquid slip to raw clay (mainly terracotta) has its risks, the pots wish to revert back to their amorphous state, so it’s important to work relatively quickly and dry the pots before they collapse.
Although I work mainly on the potters wheel making domestic ware (bowls, jugs, mugs etc), I do enjoy hand building and will make both domestic (e.g. tapas platters) and alternative ceramics, particularly bird baths which works very well with the slips giving them a very coastal feel. It is lovely seeing the local blackbirds, Dunnets, robins, wrens and even the pigeons(!) have a good splash around. I also make very geologically themes vessels from black sculptural clay – these are very elemental and the complete opposite end of ceramic spectrum from my domestic ware.
I fire the pots twice in an electric kiln. Once the kiln has cooled (about two days) after the first (biscuit) firing, the pots are given a covering of transparent glaze that seals in and enhances the colours as well as making the pots food-safe and easy to clean (in the dishwasher). They are then fired (glaze) to a higher temperature 1120 degrees Celsius. After about three days the kiln is cool enough for the pots to be removed and then ready for their new life with someone else.
For the past five years I have been running classes in my Worcester workshop. These have mainly been 1-1 classes although I can cater for groups of up to four, each with their own wheel. Most of those who come to one of my classes have never thrown a pot before and I find it very satisfying to see the enjoyment people get from the achievement of creating their first pots. The great advantage of being a slipware potter is that in a single taster session we can both create and decorate the pots. My wife, fused glass designer Sarah, and I also offer combined pottery and glass courses for those who want to try both crafts. While we are socially distancing, classes will be limited to those from the same household, starting in July, and people are booking already which is great.
Sarah and I will be having a socially-distanced open studio and outdoor shop in North Worcester over the August bank holiday weekend – our wares will be browseable all around the garden and each studio open for visitors (1 household at a time inside). We would love to see you – details will follow on social media and my website: www.chrisgreeningpottery.co.uk.www.chrisgreeningpottery.co.uk