Learning Centre

Peter's Journey into Pottery

Peter's Journey into Pottery

Hello! Andrew here, from Filteroo, and I am here with Peter, one of our potters at Filteroo. 

Peter's hand makes our pottery, and today we will dive in and talk to  Peter about his journey in pottery, and how he started in pottery. 

Peter's Journey

I started when I was about 12 years old. My parents sent me to boarding school, where you literally get fed on how well you played rugby union.

I was a kid that made puppets, and put on puppet shows for the local kids and charged them sixpence to come and see the show. That gives you some idea of how old I am.

At this boarding school, everyone expected me to play rugby union, and I grew up playing Aussie rules. But, it was at the time that the government said to the private schools:

"If you want government money, you have to follow our curriculum."

So, suddenly this school, which was based totally around sport, had to do things like art and music. And, the artist they employed happened to be a potter. 

So in the study hours after school in the art room, I would disappear into pottery, and I'd be sitting there in the dark (so the prefects didn't see the lights on) making pots on the wheel. 

pots on the wheelBut, when I was over in the science lab weighing out glaze materials, and finding out about glazes, that seemed to be okay. That was considered study.

By the time I left the fourth form, I could throw a pretty decent pot. I look back at some of those pots now, which they've still got at the school and I go: 

"Yeah, I'd employ that potter."

I left the boarding school, and I went back to my hometown of Broken Hill and I built a kiln. All the local potters came around to see the gas kiln that this young fellow had built. And, when the gas guy installed it, he said, don't turn that pressure above 5, so I didn't, and the kiln never got to temperature.

Pro Hart was a great help to me. He gave me the confidence to know that you could make a living as an artist. He was a lovely bloke and gave me kiln shelves and helped me out a lot. 

potterI just travelled around for a while, and I eventually got back to where I went to boarding school. There was a community centre setting up a pottery studio. So, I said yeah I know a bit about pottery.

I jumped in there, and I spent about five years playing around with the community centre, and the community centre pottery studio, and teaching kids and so forth. That was fun, and I came up to Brisbane, and I met an American potter named Carl McConnell.

"I just loved his pots, and he was one of the fathers of pottery in Australia." 

filteroo pots

Carl settled here after World War II, and I just said to him, "can I come and work here?". By that stage, he was pretty much retired, so I came up to Brisbane. I got a job as a labourer doing concreting, and I would go around his place on weekends, and I think that's the only time he worked is when I went around there. 

I worked with him for a little while, and when it was time to move on, and I went down to the Gold Coast, where one of his former apprentices had a job. 

He said to me, "go see the Americans up at Beechmont." So, I went up to Beech Mountain and started to work with some American Potters for a while. 

Carl had helped me organize a job for me in Japan. Japan was the zen of pottery at the time, and if you work in Japan, you were a real potter. I intended to do that, so I worked with the Americans in a production style of pottery to earn enough money to go to Japan. 

pottery production

The production style of pottery really honed my skills. It's all I did was sit on the wheel, make pots all day. I would move up to three-quarters of a ton of clay in one day, every day. 

During this time at Beechmont, a young girl came down to the pottery from her grandma's place to make some pots. One day she said to me: 

"Have you met my mum?" 

The next day I got a phone call from her grandmother inviting me to dinner, and well, thirty-something years later, we're married, mortgaged, and multiplied. I found my wife through pottery. 

Needless to say, I never went to Japan. I left Beech Mountain Pottery, and I set up my own studio. I built a team of potters and quite a large production of domestic homewares. 

I wound that back because I became more of a supervisor, and I had less time on the wheel, and that is my passion. 

potteryWe moved to a property right at the top of Beechmont, and I set up a smaller art studio, and I got really involved in crystalline glazes and special effects glazes, which is my main thing.

I've been doing the crystalline glazes for 30 odd years. I was introduced to crystalline glazes through Ted Seckum and David Oswelt, and David approached me to do a major project because I had a 100 cubic foot kiln.

David and I did this project together, making big pots for a high rises on the Gold Coast. He had the technology for the crystal glazes, which I learned from him. He's not potting anymore, but I continued with it, and it took me in a new direction. 

I started making art pots, and I dealt with about 30 galleries around Australia for 25 years. Then the 2010 financial crisis hit, which sort of put a stop to that. 
I went off and did driving jobs for a little while, and then I came back to pottery through another friend who was making these water purifiers. I asked him if he would market my crystalline glaze water purifiers, which he did.

They went okay. The crystalline glaze was a different area of business than water purifiers. The crystalline ones are beautiful. They're probably a little bit too up-market to be a production line. 

FilterooOne day I got a phone call from Rod, from My Water Filter, and he asked me If I'd supply them, and I said, well I'd be interested in supplying you with your own product.

And the Filteroo was born. 

We think Filteroo could be a household name here in Australia, so we're very excited together.

Thank you, Peter.

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