Lighting, Classes and Raku
The pottery studio is a workshop and showcase for the creative ceramic designs of our resident potters, Debbie Entwistle and Liz Crowley.
Debbie Entwistle has been making ceramics at Aragorn’s Studio since 2005. A large portion of her work involves designing and making wheel thrown and slab built tableware. In addition to domestic pottery, Debbie also makes larger decorative wall pieces and jewelry.
Born in the UK, Debbie graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a BA hons. in 3D Design. She then moved to the Republic of Ireland to continue her studies and training with The Crafts Council of Ireland’s Pottery Skills Course. She has worked as a production thrower in several Irish potteries, including Steven Pearce in Co. Cork, and Kylemoor Abbey in Connemara, Co. Galway, before she dropped everything to come and work in the Caribbean for Aragorn.
“My passion is for throwing. The process of throwing, and even the finished ware itself, encapsulates many opposing but complimentary concepts. Finished pieces are fired so hard they will last a thousand lifetimes, yet still bear the softly made marks of the hands that created them. The softness of the material is still there, to see and feel, even though it is not.
Throwing on a potter’s wheel is a dynamic process. It is an exhilarating balancing act, this spinning of soft collapsible clay, up and out into the shape of a pot. The potter must understand and control the centrifugal forces acting on the clay. They must understand with their fingers the strength of the material. They must understand the part that gravity plays and learn how to counteract that force with the structure they spin. Throwing can require weight and brutality, as when making a large pot. But when finishing a pot, drawing the final gesture of its shape, throwing is the most sensuous, subtle and delicate thing my fingers are capable of.
The decoration of my pots is quite abstract. I like to use bright vibrant glazes (many of which are my own recipes), often applied in a serendipitous manner, but complimenting the form of the piece. I want my work to speak of my environment and my experience of life on a Caribbean island. I strive for a feeling of exuberance in the colours and qualities of the glazes I use; The inspiration for these coming from the colours and qualities I see around me in the island seashore.”
Debbie enjoys wine, cheese, science fiction, fried plantain and DuranDuran.
Liz Crowley has been working at Aragorns’ Studio for the past two years. She gained the majority of her ceramic training in Ireland, where she’s from, and has been producing pottery for the last couple of years. She started her training at the National College of Art and Design where she graduated in ceramics and later completed the Pottery Skills Course run by the Craft Council of Ireland. This lead to a change from making sculptural ceramics to creating work produced on the potters’ wheel. Liz has worked for Castle Arch Pottery Co.Kilkenny and gained further experience in various potteries around Ireland.
“I have always had an interest in the natural world around me which probably lead to me making art from a material that comes from the earth. I love the versatility of clay and the fact it offers so many endless techniques and results that in a life time with clay you never stop learning. Since moving to Tortola I’ve become more interested in the decoration of pots and am enjoying the use of sgraffito( a coloured liquid clay applied to the surface of a pot and then scratched away to create a pattern). The vivid colours and landscape of the island has been a great influence to me and my work has become brighter and more illustrative”.
When not making pots Liz enjoys a cold beer or a cup of tea while listening to Queen.
Our potters design and throw a wonderful selection of kitchen and tableware pieces. This includes a wide assortment of mugs, bowls and plates. Sushi sets, made up of tray and ramekin (for soy sauce), add a beautiful accent to your table and make great gifts! In our studio you will also find large serving platters, salad bowls, even tea kettles enhanced by custom glazing or hand drawn designs.
The pottery studio also features beautiful and unique ceramic pieces to decorate your home. Our Ceramic Fireballs continue to be a favorite among local collectors and visitors alike. These are miniature, ceramic versions of Aragorn’s metal Full Moon Party Fireballs. The process of carving and Raku firing a fireball makes each one unique; a one of a kind piece found only at Aragorn’s Studio.
Creating a Fireball
Each fireball is hand thrown on the potters’ wheel to create a hollow sphere. The design is hand drawn onto the sphere and then carved. Once bisque fired the balls are fired again using a technique called ‘Raku’ that originated in Japan in the 17th century. This technique involves removing the pots from the kiln when the kiln has reached its top temperature of 1000°C or 1700°F. Once out of the kiln, the fireballs are placed into metal trash cans containing shredded paper. The heat of the ball ignites the paper causing flames to leap up. The lid is then closed eliminating the oxygen supply. The flames draw the oxygen out of the glazes on the fireball producing the amazing metallic effects and beautiful luster seen on the finished product.