A pottery studio in St Civran, France

Welcome to this blog about the quiet rural life in the Berry Province of France where I have tried to open a pottery studio to hobby potters.
Your comments will be appreciated.

07 December 2009

45. Back to work

End of April 2009 : Half of the pottery studio is now in working order. I am breaking chunks of dry clay with a heavy hammer to soak them in a large bin in order to be able to use that clay again. Then I spread that mud on a plastic sheet on my work bench and wait for a few days until it has the right consistency. I knead this stuff into balls ready to use on the potter's wheel.

With 2.2 kg of red clay I threw the top part of a fruit bowl and with 0.9 kg I threw the foot of the fruit bowl. The next day I put the two parts together and spread a cover coat of white clay in the inside of the fruit bowl. A day later again, with the tip of a wooden tool, I carved a phrase taken from 'Alice In Wonderland'. Scratching the white cover coat, it made the red clay appear in the writing. That's it.

Now it is drying on a shelf until further notice, i.e. when it looks and feels very dry. It would then need to be 'bisque' fired but since I don't have a kiln any more... don't know what I'll do!!


April 2009 : Workshop revival... perhaps... I'm thinking about it. Slowly sorting out the mess in the barn that used to be my pottery studio. But yes, I am thinking about opening up again.

I could, for instance, offer a week package with 6 afternoons work on the potter's wheel, plus accomodation in a guest bedroom in the house attached to the studio. Or, let people choose how long they want to stay and break it up as:
€20,- for a half day work, morning or afternoon, in the pottery studio
€30,- for a night's accomodation in the house
€50,- per day all told, except for food expenses.

It means a comfortable and pleasant holiday in a quiet village at a minimum expense:
250 Euros for 5 days
300 Euros for 6 days
500 Euros for 10 days

This would cover 'work on the potter's wheel', i.e. access to the studio to work on the wheel, for half a day only, mornings or afternoons as best suited. I would be there to guide and give advice, but not to teach or coach as such. Potteries made in the workshop would not be fired. The hobby potter would be free to either destroy them before leaving, or take them away in their 'green' state, or leave them behind. This offer is for hobby potters who already have some basic knowledge of work on the potter's wheel and wish to spend time practising, as well as spend a quiet holiday in the countryside.

It would also cover 'accomodation', i.e. access to the house to sleep in a self contained double bedroom downstairs with access to the bathroom upstairs, as well as access to the kitchen to prepare meals if needed. Restaurants can be found within 10 km.

I could only take one hobby potter at a time since I now have one single potter's wheel. The fees would be payable on arrival. It would not cover food cost. Accomodation for a partner would be an extra 20 euros per day.

There's a new business registration system on offer by the government in France at the moment. It is called 'auto entreprise' and it is done direct on internet. I'll try that. Maybe.

43. A French garage sale

The 15th August in France is a long public holiday. A lot of people are holidaying at that time and the summer season is at a peak. Garage sales, called 'brocante' in French, pop up everywhere.

In August 2008, last year, I decided to have a stall with my last potteries at the 'brocante' in the nearby village of St Benoît-du-Sault. It was free of charge. All you had to do was to put your name on a list and say how many meters you needed for your stall. The lady at the tourist office had mentioned you had to be there at 7.30 am at the latest when someone would assign places for stalls.

When I got up, my clock said 7.30 but I soon found out from the radio that it was 10 to 9. Nearly gave up the idea of going at all. My motivation was rather low. I eventually drove to St Benoît and after some time looking for the man in-charge, I was told to squeeze in between two other stalls. It turned out to be a great opportunity!

On my right was a man, a former HRD from Paris, trying to sell old attick stuff for his in-laws. We had a long chat about psychology, sociology and anthropology. He did sell a number of items, from fancy lamp shades to large procelain platters, in between reading his book and talking to his neighbours.

On my left was a group of sisters, brothers and in-laws from Paris and the south of France, also trying to get rid of family stuff to enable them to buy brand new furniture for their family house in the area. They had a painting on hessian that I quite fancied. It was priced at €50,- I asked them to keep it for me, that I'll buy it off them as soon as I sell €50,- worth of my pots... ha ha!

In the morning there was quite a crowd looking and buying. English and Dutch as well as French could be heard. My neighbour attracted customers. For my part I sold one pot to a lady who seemed to really want the thing. She came twice for it, hesitating, and finally buying for the full amount of... €6,- I was happy to let it go, even at that price, because I saw she loved the pot.

There was a lull at lunch time and in the afternoon people walking past the stalls did not seem to be interested to buy. My left neighbours kept the painting for me and at the end of the day, around 5pm, they agreed to give it to me in exchange of some of my pots. I really enjoyed giving them my last pots and I was thrilled to leave with the large painting. They also gave me a number of cowboy shirts that their father used to wear when he was painting.

At one stage the man on my right kindly offered to take a photo of me in front of my stall with my own camera. I showed him where to press for the photo and he did. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the video button was still on (a hard one to press off on this particular camera) and therefore he took a clip rather than a still photo.

Back home at night I worked with my computer on all the little videos I had taken during the day to produce this two and a half minute clip:


06 December 2009

42. A Growing Delight: SAINT-BENOIT du Sault.....

In May this year 2009 my blogger friend, Alice, came to visit me. I was thrilled and so happy to have Australian visitors to show around. With her husband we toured some of the highlights of this Berry native province of mine. Back home Alice published her photos of the area. Here's the link to her post:

A Growing Delight: SAINT-BENOIT du Sault.....