Rye Pottery

By Pam Goddard

An Error of Judgement

One day at work we were expecting a photographer from the magazine “Sussex Life” to take some photos of June and I doing our respective jobs. I was going to throw small mugs, once I had finished off things I had made the day before, so didn’t start throwing things until very late in the morning.

Pam Goddard on the Jigger
Pam Goddard on the Jigger

I would get thirty or more to a board and filled one soon after lunch. Instead of taking it down and putting it on the other side of the room, I decided to put it up higher, so that it could be seen in the photo, to show more for my trouble. I should have known better, as it was rather a job to stack boards up that wall because I had to squash myself between the high seat of the wheel and my bin of waste. So rather than get off the wheel, I reached up with the board of mugs to put on higher pegs. Unknown to me, both pegs must have touched the mugs at each end of the board, and, as I lifted the confounded thing up, the pegs must have come out.

As I let go of the board, thinking it was going to sit on the pegs, it dropped onto the pegs it was on in the first place. Some of my precious pots came off each end of the board; others slid together like a pack of cards, and there were about half a dozen still left in shape!

Hell!!! What a prang that was. I was so mad, I got off the wheel, yanked the board down from the wall, put it down on the bench, and what I said was unprintable, as I scooped the lot off the board and threw them in the bin. I then had to weigh up and knock up thirty more balls of clay and start again, and by the time the photographer came I had made just over a dozen.

There was something to laugh about in the end, because when we saw the photographs in the magazine a few weeks later, they had got our names wrong! I was named as doing the decorating, and June was down as doing the throwing; quite a laugh that.

A Surprise “Appearance”….And “Play School”

Another time, a film crew came to film June and I yet again, doing our respective jobs and this time it was for the “Look at Life” series that was shown at the cinema. The one we were in was called “High & Dry”, but June and I never did see it, although we were both cinema goers. Several months after we were filmed, my friend Janet was on honeymoon in Weymouth, and one evening they went to the cinema, and to their surprise, and, I think, shock, there were June and I on the screen. I gather my friend took one look and shouted to her husband, “Look, that’s Pam!”, and in the next breath, there was June painting. We had many a laugh over that, and there was more to come because June and I were on “Play School” entertaining the under-fives, and as the programme was repeated several times, we got used to people telling us they had seen us on television yet again. The B.B.C Television film crew took nearly all day to do the filming, as the idea was to film a child’s mug in the making, from start to finish. I made a few the day before they came, so that I had some to put handles on, as being the second stage. Although the throwing room was a fair size, it got packed out with lights and cables all over the place, and enough people to eat me, let alone film me at work. Why on earth it took so many people to do the job I just don’t know, but with all due respect to the B.B.C. most of them stood about doing nothing. The filming started with me throwing, and the heat from their lights was enough to fry me alive, and I made three or four before they were satisfied. It was then a change over to direct things to my work bench, and I put a handle on two or three that I had made the day before, and that was me done. Then it was June’s turn to be fried, and she started off by dipping a few mugs in the glaze, and then started painting. She lettered the mug with the name Mark, and she did, in fact, paint one a few days before they came, so that it could be fired as a finished product. The one she was filmed painting, was filmed going into the kiln, and the one she had previously done, was filmed in the showroom as the finished named mug. On the morning when we were to be on “Play School”, the whole lot of us went upstairs to Mr. Cole’s flat to watch it, and what a laugh that was. What the film crew took nearly all day to do, was over in next to no time. If I could have thrown those mugs as fast as it was shown. I reckon I could have made about five hundred in a day. Although I threw three or four, it was in stops and starts at their instruction, and at times I would get one half way up to the marker, and someone would say, “Stop”. It was a right old lark. It did surprise me to see that they had got the continuity right, with all the chopping about, but it looked as if I made the mug in about five seconds. They were very easy things to throw, but in no way could I make them that quickly!

A Biking Fright!

After a day’s work, my bike ride home was at times drudgery, at others a pleasure, with the odd fright at times in the dark, but at the end of it was food, one of my great pleasures in life. One night just before Christmas, the headwind kept my speed down rather, so my headlight was none to good, as my bike had a hub dynamo. I had got right up the hill and at the start of the flat in the gloom I saw something dark across the road, that looked like a body. I kind of froze, but went round the thing; my legs went like a lot of jelly, and it was a job to keep going. A bit further along, I could hear something walking, and I knew who it was, even in the gloom, because it was a friend. As I caught her up, I asked her what the hell it was in the road; the answer I got was, “I don’t know Pam, because I ran like hell past it!” Going to work the next morning, there was the reason for my fright by the side of the road. It was a four to five foot Christmas Tree in a sack, that must have fallen off a lorry, or the roof of a car. Talk about laugh, but if I only known what it was in the first place, I’m sure I would have got it home somehow on my bike, even if I’d had to walk. I’m sure my bike ride to and from work at times put years on me, but it was fun beating the elements and all part of work; ten minutes to get there, but twenty to get home.

A Sad Discovery

One task at work that I could only describe as not the best of jobs, was cleaning the drain, but I did get wise to the thing and found the more often it was done, the less time consuming it was. The water from the sink in the casting room, came along a shallow gully at the foot of the wall in the throwing room, to the corner. My sink was in the corner, and outside was a deep sump and the drain continued to the other corner, then straight to the river. There was only clay in the water, so there was no nasty smell so long as it didn’t have a swish down every so often, it would fill up with clay and then it could be a hell of a job to clean out. At least every fortnight, I filled the casting room sink with water, and, as I released it, the torrent of water and the end of an old broom got the thing clean. It had a good dose of disinfectant as well, and it didn’t take long to do. The sump outside was a different matter; that used to fill up with clay and was a hands-and-knees job to empty out. If it was left too long, clay could filter along to the other corner and could form a blockage and was no fun to unblock, in fine or foul weather. One day there was rather a nasty smell coming from the drain into my room; the next day it was a bit stronger, and the water in the gully didn’t move, so there was a blockage, but the smell was a mystery. The blockage was from corner to corner, and the only way to clean that out was with the hosepipe and water at full blast. There were three of us on this filthy job, and Robin managed to push what was blocking the confounded drain along to the corner and got it out with his hand. At first we thought it was a mop head, and yet it couldn’t be and the smell was just terrible. Jo had a better look and it was, in fact, a hedgehog, and the poor thing must have had a terrible death. The small drain cover must have come off, it got into the drain and got stuck before it reached the sump. The sump had a large concrete cover that I couldn’t even lift, only push to one side, so the poor creature got trapped as well as stuck, and suffered an untimely death.

From “Rye’s Own” March 2002 Issue