How Digby makes his big pots and how he manages to make matched groups of pots as well as matching pairs.
Digby's studio and home are located on a five-acre property in Carlswald at the head of a quiet valley between Johannesburg and Pretoria in South Africa. Both the house and the studio are thatched and enjoy a tranquil view of the well-treed valley and Johannesburg in the distance.
View videos of Digby working:
Digby making one of his large pots
Digby loading a large pot onto his kiln using a hoist
Digby shutting down his kiln at the end of a firing
Digby throwing the rim on one of his large pots
Digby applying and combing through the slip
Digby makes his pots in five week cycles: four weeks throwing the pots and the final week glazing and firing. He starts by throwing the base sections of all the pots he plans to make that week - usually between 4 and 6 pots. If he is making a very large pot he will make only one pot that week so that he doesn't need to take it off his wheel.
MAKING A LARGE JAR
'I work in a five week cycle. I make the biggest pot in the first week so I don't have to take it on and off my wheel and to give it time to dry thoroughly. In the second week I'll make 2–3 large pots, in the third week around 4 medium large pots and in the final week the smallest pots. If pots are slipped and /or combed I do that in the week I make them. In the fifth week I raw glaze the pots and fire around 12 pots using burner fuel to around 1380 deg C (Cone 13). Watson Nyambeni, my studio assistant of 40 years, helps me get pots on and off the wheel and the kiln and assists me with glazing and slipping pots.'
GLAZING, DECORATING AND FIRING
DETAILED RECORDS OF EACH FIRING
The pots in each kiln are recorded with a sketch which also provides the dimensions for each stage. This enables Digby to recreate pots when they are re-ordered. When the kiln is opened it is photographed from each side to provide a detailed record of contents.
Each pot is numbered with its firing number and a unique code. For example, the largest pot in Firing 155 would be labelled DH15501 on the base of the pot after firing. The gallery below shows the record of each firing and each side of the trolley kiln before and after firing.