Clay and throwing

The working days begin with Isak Isaksson taking care of yesterday’s production. The goods that have dried under plastic during the night must be loaded and signed on the underside before the first firing, the so-called bisque firing. The firing, at 960 degrees Celsius, is preceded by drying the goods at 65 degrees in the kiln for six hours.

This is followed by the throwing, the most physical part of the working day. Isaksson describes it as if he always throws the same shape with variations: “It is still the same pot that I threw in Piteå. Sometimes it becomes tall and graceful, sometimes more compact. Sometimes wide, sometimes narrow. The classic vessels and bowls, which are found in ancient cultures – and the bowls that belong to the traditions of China and Japan, are my shapes. The Gustavsberg ceramics worked in the same tradition, so my inspiration comes both from the originals and how they were translated by Friberg, Wejsfelt and the others.”

Isaksson does not sketch his shapes but works more intuitively. Usually there is a plan for the throwing, but in the end it is the clay that decides. Isaksson knows what shape the lump of clay agrees to become. “The clay has its own will. It’s not that strange really. Different pieces of clay have different amounts of water and respond to my movements in different ways. And different types of clay are differently demanding to work with. Stoneware is compliant and forgiving, here I can experiment and redo until I am satisfied. With porcelain, it’s different. Porcelain is temperamental and I only get one chance. It’s like a relationship – if you hold on too tight, it breaks – if you hold on too loose, nothing happens. If I have not managed to create the shape before the porcelain clay contains 20 percent water, it’s gone. At that water saturation, the clay becomes a tough gel,” describes Isaksson.

Isak Isaksson is an unusually experienced thrower. In the application for the Master’s certificate (which he acquired in 2019) the requirement was at least 10,000 hours at the turntable. Isaksson calculated that at the time of application, he had around 75,000 throwing hours behind him. All the years of utility goods throwing have made Isaksson fast and precise. Now struggles to let the throwing take time. He only allows himself to throw five to eight objects per day to channel the energy to create with meticulous precision. During slow work, he experiences that he gets sharpened senses, which makes him especially sensitive to imbalance and minimal defects in the goods he creates.

The sound of throwing: