Well, those of you who tweet, may have caught on to the fact that yesterday I began my first attempt at making replica Bronze Age beakers.
I once had an email conversation with Graham Taylor of ‘potted history’ fame (http://www.pottedhistory.co.uk/Prehistoric_Pottery.html) about how Bronze Age potters created their beakers. He thought that they may have made two thumb pots – one with a hole in the bottom and one without – and then attached the two together, one on top of the other, rather than making a coil pot, which is what I thought originally. It goes without saying that you need to make sure that you attach them the right way round!
So, this is what I did, and on the whole it worked really well and made a lot of sense. I think, however, that I need a lot more practice to create a pot that is consistently round and thick. I am yet a long way off from being the master potter that Graham Taylor is!
As for the decoration, I did it in two parts: the first when the clay was still quite wet straight after making the pot; and the second the day after. As well as parental duties dictating this pattern of working, I also thought it would allow me to judge when the best time to decorate would be. To be honest though, I can’t say I’ve made up my mind about this.
The decoration is based on an example from a barrow at Fimber (in the Yorkshire Wolds, I believe). I perhaps should have started off with a less ambitious prospect – Llewellynn Jewitt in his Grave-mounds and their Contents says of the decoration that it is “most elaborate and delicate, and it is, perhaps, one of the finest and best preserved examples in existence” (1870, p101, fig.107). I think I have failed to do it justice!
Still, I have to remember this was a first attempt and I have plenty of clay to try again…