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Harriet Coleridge

I became a potter thanks to a fortuitous visit to Aldermaston Pottery. I was apprenticed to Alan Caiger Smith for four years and have run my own studios since 1987 - in Hampshire, America, France and, currently, Oxfordshire.

After years of working in majolica and firing in an electric kiln I found it liberating to throw with porcelain and to fire with wood or gas. The reduction firing process involves the maker at every stage; one is called upon to comprehend all the variables of the firing and, up to a point, to surrender to them. As long as the success of a firing depends partly on the atmosphere in the kiln one can never predict with certainty what will come out of it. I love the making and the decorating but it is really the firing that intrigues me these days.

I am currently working in Limoges porcelain with a variety of carbon trap shino glazes.These need to be reduced early and ferociously to produce a dramatic amber/charcoal surface, decorated with wax, rose ash and drops of sang de boeuf. The pots are fired to 1280 centigrade and further enhanced by liquid gold lustre brushwork, sparingly applied, and fired on at 740 degrees.

Most of the pots are designed to be used. The bell pebbles that I make are not, perhaps, functional in the strictest sense but many people use them as meditation stones; who will say where the border lies between the functional and the decorative?

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