Crafts Happy Stuff Pottery

Horace Burlington, the Gentleman Fish

For the last few weeks I have been attending an evening class at Hayfield College, to try my hand at pottery.

The tutor is excellent and encouraging, and the group are really friendly and wonderfully creative. Most participants of the class have signed up for term after term, to continue to improve their craft in a welcoming, inventive atmosphere.

I’m a bit of a jack of all trades, but have never attempted anything like pottery. I’ve never sculpted, painted, drawn or carved. Some class participants likened it to sugarcraft, pastry making or icing a cake, all of which I haven’t done either!

Which means it’s hardly surprising that I’m really, really dreadful at it – my pottery so far has been tragically poor! However, I’m not too bothered about this, as the pottery class has definitely been my happiest 2 hours of the week all term – I’ve never known time fly by so fast. I’ve made some lovely friends there and will definitely be signing up again!

I do hope to improve over time with my clay skills, so I thought I would present to you my very first pottery masterpiece. Hopefully, over time, I will be able to blog about future makes and witness some small modicum of improvement.


Please welcome Horace Burlington (just Burlington to his friends), just a common, ordinary fish that happens to work in the City. I haven’t asked him, but presumably this would be Atlantis.

I started the class on the same night as another woman, Bren. Colin the tutor taught us how to make pinch pots, then how to mould two pinch pots together into a ball. We then were asked to make a creature – I opted for a fish and Bren opted for an owl.

Bren picked it up right away, but I wasn’t quite so quick on the uptake! I added more and more clay until I had the oddest-looking fish this side of the Marinaras trench! Colin showed me how to make a scaly pattern with a decorating tool, and how to add side fins using a porridgey mix of dried clay and water, called slip. I accessorised with a monocle, moustache and top hat, as Colin and I had instantly recognised that this was no ordinary fish. We then had to leave them to dry out for a few weeks before they could be fired.

Punky the owl and Mr Burlington got along ‘swimmingly’ from the start (please excuse the utterly dreadful pun).

After a fortnight, we were ready to paint. We used ready-mixed gloss glazes, and then the creatures needed firing again. However, unsurprisingly I did a bad job of painting mine, and had to give it a second coat and a second fire! The first week I used a variety of shades of blue and green. I couldn’t find the same colours on the following week, so I selected a greyish-blue to patch the paintwork up.

Finally, our created creatures were fully glazed and ready to take home. As you can see, Bren’s Punky the owl was a flapping success! (again, pun apologies)

Despite my ambitions massively outweighing my skills, I can only compare the pride of taking my fish home to the image of a first grader, excitedly hopping off the school bus and joyously thrusting a sticky collage of macaroni, glitter and sequins into the hands of his expectant parent. The second coat of glaze surprisingly has become shimmery and has created a good effect on the scales, so I obviously pretended that I had intended to create such an effect all along.


Burlington is now indolently swimming about in the shade of my aloe plant, in preparation for a busy week at the Bank of Atlantis.

By carlymau

Hello! Well, I’m sure someone once said that we are what we repeatedly do, so… I guess I like making stuff, cooking, swimming, sleuthing and watching old black and white movies. I live near a lake. I like feeding the ducks. I work for a trade union and generally like anything that involves rooting for the underdog. Currently I am living in Doncaster and learning one new craft at a time.

Please seek me out –

2 replies on “Horace Burlington, the Gentleman Fish”

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