Svend Bayer’s week end workshop at the Maze Hill Pottery

This past week end was another exciting week end at Maze Hill…! It was the second time that Svend Bayer came to the pottery to give a workshop.  Like he did last year, Svend demonstrated how to make jugs, bowls and teapots. Lisa Hammond, also a great teacher, brought valuable contribution to the course and between them Svend and Lisa made a great team which could only benefit the students.

Svend is of course well-known for his big pots and he is often invited to pottery events to teach or demonstrate. I have the great privilege, alongside the lovely Sally Raven, of being part of his regular firing crew, and of being able to watch him make his domestic ware at his pottery in Devon. Therefore I know that Svend has so much more to offer in terms of throwing techniques which is something rather precious at a time when the great pottery courses at Harrow and Camberwell, to name just a few, are being shutdown.  This is why for the last two years, we have asked Svend to come and teach functional ware on one of our workshops.

I don’t think we will need to add lengthy commentaries, the pictures speak for themselves.  It is obvious that Maze Hill was a hive of activity over the week end.  I tried to make a few videos but a film maker I am not, so I will refrain from putting them up. I still haven’t got the hang of my camera when it comes to video and most of them are blurred. Lisa produced better ones so I’ll let her post them.  But here it goes in pictures…

Svend Bayer pulling handles

The pictures show that everybody looks seriously involved with their work and all seem to be concentrating hard, -and it was like that at times, but the general atmosphere was very relaxed and easy going.  Svend, as well as being a great potter (and being really modest about his skills), is a wonderful raconteur; he has a good sense of humour and he is one of those people who can laugh at themselves. Just in passing, both Sally Raven and I can tell you that firing times at Svend’s are very serious and so it should be, but we always have a wonderful time and Svend always manages to have us in hysterics with his antics!  He made everyone in the class feel comfortable around him; he is very approachable.  He entertained us with countless anecdotes about his time at Branhams, the traditional Devon pottery where he made thousands of jugs and where he learnt to make big pots and about his time at Wenford Bridge when he was apprenticed to Michael Cardew.

Svend was very generous with his demonstrations; we saw him make jugs and bowls of several sizes, the biggest jug being 16lb if I am correct. He also pulled handles and even made some teapots. Everybody had a go and some of the students were thrilled that they managed to complete a teapot by the end of the week end.

Time went by too quickly, it always does when you are having a good time, and the week end was soon over. The pottery was full of pots,  clay had to be reclaimed and the pottery tidied up.  On the Sunday afternoon, at the end of the day, we were treated to a slideshow of Svend’s work and of some of the various kilns he has built over the years in this country and abroad. One picture sticks in my mind: that of him and his two sons, Bjoern and Olaf, having dinner in one his big kilns before it was taken down.  How cool is that!

I must not forget to talk about the fabulous lunch prepared by Lisa; we also had very tasty quiche and pizza made by the local French dely.  The pictures say it all!

All in all it was a very successful workshop and we hope that everyone on the course came out with new skills and feel that they improved on what they had learnt before. We certainly enjoyed it very much.

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