Mark Hewitt: Ginger Jar Production. Spring, 2017.

I was invited by the Boston-based Pucker Gallery to do a take-over of their Instagram account a couple of weeks ago. The Pucker Gallery represents my mentor and boss Mark Hewitt, and they are currently having an exhibition of his work. 

Generally I don't get the opportunity to take a lot of snaps at work, since I'm busy with other tasks and my own pots. I thought it would be nice to share some of the pictures that I posted for Pucker with some of the nearly-made-its. They follow Mark's ginger jars throughout the week. There are a few pictures to provide context, and some videos, too. I appreciated having the chance to record Mark's process a bit more, too.
Good morning from the Hewitt Pottery! Mark is in full flow churning out ginger jars this morning. He started with 18 little 1 1/2lb bodies and is on to 2 1/4lb ones now. This one is about to come off the wheel. Larger ginger jars to follow after lunch. This is the first post of this weeks insta take over by me @hamramics by the way.

Last board of the day-board number 6-slides into the drying rack. Now Mr Hewitt is going to get on with making lids and I'm heading home. More pics to follow tomorrow! 

The potters hands! Mark finishing up his batch of lids this morning. He'll get them out in the sun to dry and add the knobs this afternoon.

Mark trimming up the lids for his ginger jars and adding knobs. Only 40 more to go! 

How do you know it's a Mark Hewitt? The stamp on the right is Mark's monogram. W.M.H all rolled into one. The 'elle' refers to the firing... we go numerically in the salt kiln and alphabetically in the newer wood kiln. Elle = L so this will be the twelfth firing of the kiln.

Mark trimming up the lids for his ginger jars and adding knobs. Only 40 more to go! 

Trimmed up lid with its freshly thrown knob. Two expectant ginger jars in the background. Happy women's day!

Some of Mark ginger jars about to be put under plastic to await decoration on Friday. He's flying along making larger 5lb and 8lb jars today, whilst @stillyv (my fellow apprentice) and I clean and wash kiln furniture.

Stillman weighing out some balls of clay for himself.

Mark throwing larger ginger jars later in the week-8lb ones.

The look much larger in real life.

The master at work, from above.

8lb jar from the side.

Here's a view from across the pond. Mark's house in the front, the barn which we use as a gallery at the kiln openings in the back and the solar panels that power the property on the right. The workshop and kiln are obscured from this angle but I'll get there later. This is @hamramics reporting from the Hewitt Pottery.

View from the roof of the kiln shed.

We ran out of space for pots in the workshop so have had to store some in the back chamber of Mark's newer wood kiln. His mugs up front and some of my teapots etc behind.

This is the salt kiln that Mark built in his first year in Pittsboro (1983). It has seen 96 firings so far and shows no signs of falling apart yet. Touch wood. The design was based on Thai climbing kilns and came together with the help of Svend Bayer. The kiln fits so many pots it takes us a full week to load. We light the fire (generally) on a Wednesday afternoon and finish firing on Saturday afternoon. It's an epic and crucial endeavor-4 months worth of work all inside one kiln. Once fired we wait a week for it to cool and then get to crack it open and see how they came out.

I think this is the heart of the Hewitt Pottery: the dirt floor of the workshop. It is gnobbled and gnarled from years of potters' feet walking to and fro. The bumps are hardened like polished river stones and can easily put you off balance if you take a wrong step. Carrying boards of pots felt dangerous when I begun my apprenticeship, just as I'm sure actors quiver as they "tread the boards" for the first time on the main stage. 

When people arrive, they always react to it; once a group of kids from a school for the blind visited and were excited to find such a bumpy landscape in the studio. Mark calls it his air conditioning unit as it helps keep the workshop cool in the summer (perhaps cool is an overstatement). My favorite feature is its ability to absorb all sorts of spills; splashes of water or glaze or clay disappear underfoot. We have to sweep very infrequently, and when we do it is with the romantic sense and dusty scent of being a potter sweeping a dirt floor. I could go on, but will spare you. I say tear up your concrete floors and go back to bare earth! 

End of the day. Mark working on lids, Stillman watching, barefoot as usual!

Mark decorating one of his fat 5lb ginger jars this afternoon. Red slip banding with white slip swirls. Mark is working on the treadle wheel that he built when he first started the pottery. 

Closer angle - different pot but same idea!

Freshly trailed jars.

Mark switching between the treadle wheel and one of our electric wheels.

I asked Mark to give me his best Ai Weiwei pose. Here it is. You'll be glad to know he didn't actually drop the jar.

This is the final post of my Pucker Gallery takeover. It's been a fun week sharing pictures from the pottery. I thought it fitting to end on a pic of the current team... Mark (@wmhewitt) on the right, me in the middle (@hamramics) and my fellow (barefoot) apprentice Stillman Browning-Howe (@stillyv) on the left. Thank you @puckergallery for inviting me to do this!

Now I really need to pack as we leave for NCECA in Portland tomorrow and it's late and I am horribly unprepared. First task: find my waterproofs.