In June 2018 Janine and I were in the UK to teach kiln building at the new ‘Clay College’ in Stoke on Trent. We were lucky to get to work with a great team of students, and one in particular stood out as being very energetic and game to take on all the difficult jobs with enthusiasm, Marius Patriotis asked if he could come and work with us after he finished his course. We take on one trainee or intern each year in January/February. They are invited to work with us in whatever we are doing at the time. Making pots firing kilns, cutting wood, collecting and crushing rocks to make glazes, but also working in the garden, pruning the orchard or building a kiln. It’s all part of our inclusive, self-reliant attempt at living a complete life. We don’t pay anything for their help, but we don’t charge them for the education. We do invite them into our home and feed and house them. It seems to work.
This year we have the energetic Marius from the Clay College in Stoke-on-Trent. When he arrived in Australia, before Xmas, we still had a pottery. By the time he arrived here with us, we only had a smoking ruin. He has been invaluable in assisting us with the clean-up. However, instead of learning to make rock glazes and hand made pots, he has learnt to weld, drive a tractor, use a chain saw and work around a saw mill. Most recently we have been building a front fence.
We have built a fire proof ‘ceramic’ front fence. Something that will offer radiation protection from a ground fire from the west. I decided to make it something like a ‘gabion’ wall, but instead of using the expensive wire baskets. I invented my own ‘poor-mans’ version out of rio steel and chook wire. So far we have completed the northern end and I’m very happy with it. I used crushed building rubble, tenmoku glaze stone and quartz pebbles. I decided not to mix in any crushed limestone, as if the next fire gets as hot as this last one – the fence may melt! Because limestone is a powerful flux.
I made an undulating pattern with the various stones that reflect the ups and downs of my life, with the darker under-currents never far from the surface, but with optimism always on top. It also represents the hilly, undulating landscape of the Southern Highlands.
Over the two weeks it has taken for this job we have also had a lot of help from our son Geordie, also from our friends, Warren, Len and Andy, my brother Nick plus his son Jeremy, and or course Marius.
It turns out that Marius makes sourdough bread, so with that and the produce from our veggie garden we have been able to eat pretty well.
Nothing quite like a very gelatinous stock to make a great risotto