That Scene from ‘Ghost’

When you think about pottery or ceramics do you imagine characters Sam & Molly throwing that pot from that scene on the potter’s wheel?


‘Throwing’ is the term used to describe the entire activity of shaping the clay on the potter's wheel. And if you are wondering who on earth Sam & Molly are, then read on, and I’ll include the link to the famous scene below…

Yes, that scene from the film 'Ghost' all those years ago with Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze has a lot to answer for......Just look at that picture. Who wouldn't want to take up pottery after seeing that..?

I have to admit, throwing on the wheel is fun. But it does take great skill and a lot of practice for that mug or bowl you want to make, not to become something a bit more abstract. Hand-building on the other hand, which is what I do, is a much more manageable skill to master and the possibilities of what you can create are enormous. Using slabs of clay, in my opinion, is a really exciting way to produce shapes that are not possible on the wheel. There are three basic methods of hand-building, pinch, coil and slab construction. Anyone that did pottery in school has probably made a few pinch pots or some coil building in their day.

Adding a coil of clay to reinforce the joining of the two slabs

Adding a coil of clay to reinforce the joining of the two slabs

I love building with leather hard slabs of clay, I always have.The following pictures are from my parents back garden. They are pieces from over twenty years ago when I was at Limerick School of Art & Design.The project was called ‘Mechanical Nature’ and my inspiration for this work was from looking at how nature broke down machinery that had been abandoned in the landscape. These once strong machines, now all seized up and brittle with rust. I focused on the colours and textures of the rusting fragile metal.

I would really encourage you to explore and experiment with what you can do with clay, to find the technique that works best for what you want to create. All these pieces are made from rolled out slabs of clay which are cut and then moulded into the shape I want to construct.

It is so nice to still have these pieces in the back garden of my family home. There are a few broken bits after 22+ years but if you were ever to wonder if they are weather and frost resistant I think I can safely say, YES. I still really like them and am very pleased with how they worked out.

The similarities to how I work today are amazing. The wall pieces and garden sculptures created back then are still the core of my work. My inspiration still comes from nature. My method of making has not changed much but my finished pieces today have evolved into something more accessible. Today I focus more on the beauty created by nature. My work maintains an element of being eroded and fragile but the flora and fauna bring life to the piece. I like to think that it is a reminder that life can survive or adapt to any storm that comes our way and it's always the imperfections that make it unique. I allow the natural qualities of the slab of clay to help me form the shape the piece will take on.

Ladybirds & Butterflies

Ladybirds & Butterflies

I am so grateful that I love my work. To be in my element rolling out slabs of clay and building and constructing it into something that others want is amazing, Firing and transforming it into items that will last a lifetime and beyond.

Now here's that scene from 'Ghost' I promised you...