Smoke Pottery by Jo Myerscough
Born in a Bonfire
With a degree in Theatre Studies, Jo started working backstage in the wardrobe departments of Opera North, the Royal Ballet at Covent Graden and Sadler's Wells. Jo then had a change of direction, volunteering in a pre-school scheme in a village in North India and later travelled round other parts of South East Asia. She trained to be a teacher and taught in Kirklees schools in West Yorkshire for 30 years. A love of pottery inspired her to try Adult Education classes - and she was instantly hooked. For years she blocked her front door with her pottery wheel and often covered the kitchen table with her work. She has retired from teaching to live on the Devon coast and make smoke pots.
"On returning from Asia, I trained as a teacher. I took up pottery in evening classes and caught the bug. I love throwing and have spent years happily making functional wear. However, over the past few years, I have given up glazes and concentrated on smoked pottery. I still throw, but alter the thrown shape, cover it with a layer of slip and burnish it. After biscuit firing, the pots are put in a bonfire with a variety of combustible materials and the flames and smoke create patterns. Nothing is the same. Each piece is unique. I can control what happens to a certain extent, but I like the unpredictability of this process The effects can range from charcoal black to soft greys and smoky browns. Sometimes the surface reminds me of a starry night sky or early daguerrotypes. The pieces are waxed and polished to give a high sheen."
Thrown pot, altered, painted in slip, burnished, biscuit fired, placed in metal bin with sawdust, leaves and other combustibles, set fire to, washed, waxed.