What was the 100 Pots in 100 Days all about?
The 100 Pots challenge started with a bright idea from yours truly spoken about in a website development meeting in 2019.
The Somerset Archeological and Natural History Society (SANHS) didn’t have enough volunteers with the IT skills or cash to pay anyone to update their website so the Society had to think of a solution. As I was a volunteer and member of the website working group I came up with the idea of a sponsored pottery challenge. I thought it would also highlight what SANHS owns, does and stands for.
Did you know that:-
- Many of the artefacts looked after by the South West Heritage Trust are owned by SANHS and that SANHS funds the upkeep of these collections?
- Together with the South West Heritage Trust (SWHT), SANHS owns one of the largest collections of pottery in the UK outside the V&A?
- Much of the collection is stored in Taunton and that you can get it out if you request it?
- SANHS gives grants to people to promote the aims of the society?
Unless you know what is there and what SANHS and the SWHT do how can you ask for access to things that might interest you?
I felt that the website could be the solution if managed correctly. SANHS wanted to have the collections available to view, books and articles available to buy, grants available for people to access, activities so that courses, talks, walks and everything else was available for people to book on. So my challenge was to try and raise a bit of money for SANHS by doing what I love – pottery.
So how could I make it a challenge that people would sponsor?
Well I have always refused to throw. My father is a brilliant potter and he throws on the wheel. I sculpted figures using a highly grogged clay or paper clay. So the challenge to myself was to learn to throw and then to use the SANHS collections to inspire me. Also I have PTSD, am constantly poorly and have the concentration of gnat and, before I started this, was finding it hard to settle to anything even sculpture – so this really really really was a challenge.
If I had known what I know now about the process would I have done it?
The process I went through for each pot was as follows
- Research and increase my understand around the history of ceramics – techniques and context
- Prep the clay
- Throw a pot
- Dry the pot
- Turn the pot
- Decorate the pot – possibly add a handle etc
- Blog about the pot on twitter, two websites, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn etc
- Fire the pot
- Glaze the pot
- Fire the pot
- On top of all this I have to live and look after the house, gallery and my father.
and the answer is Yes even though it was much harder than I anticipated.
My journey went as follows
The first 50 days were really spent learning how to throw and looking for pots that reflected design or decoration within the collections. I read up about history and when people first started making pots and I understand much more about the Neolithic person through to the Romans. I am just touching on Saxon and later and my interest in the history of ceramics continues to build.
I was not skilled enough to make a pot that I had an idea about at the start of the process.
- Day 50 I started to be able to think more about what I was able to do
- Day 57 I started really looking at designs and finding the process of combining the archaeological with the making interesting.
- Day 64 I made something just for me as I was beginning to get confident that I would achieve the 100 pots and add some. I was up to 94 pots.
- Once the 100 pots and the 100 days had finished I then had to prepare for a talk at the Cotleigh Brewery which was a sell out.
- Finally the glazing. This was a whole new challenge and it was made more difficult as Dad had a major operation, was out of action and could not help me.
However the 100 Pots has finished and the website is working.
We raise over £1000 and by funding me you funded the support that enabled the development of the website.
Thank you for all your help, for being interested and for sponsoring me. I hope, when you visit the SANHS Website you will feel inspired and fall in love with the collections as I have done.