Wednesday 2 September 2009

Questions, Questions, Questions!!!

Working at Museums, English Heritage Sites and the like, with a mixed audience of children and adults, I am constantly presented with new questions. Sometimes I have to confess that I simply don't know and I add the question to my ever growing list of things to find out!

Here I am demonstrating Roman Pottery as drawn by Katie

These are some of the more common questions and requests that I have had over the past few weeks while working as Gaivs the Potter (Yes I do dress up when needed!!):

Why do amphorae have pointed bases?
Where did amphorae come from and what did they carry?
How did the Romans make Samian Ware?
Can you show me how a Nene Valley hunt cup was decorated?
How did the Romans fire their pots?
Why do some Roman pots have faces on them?
How did the Romans use moulds to make their lamps?
What did a Roman potter’s wheel look like and how did they use it?
Can I have a go at making a moulded goddess figure?

Where did the clay come from?

These questions I can answer through a combined use of my handling collection, demonstration, hands-on activities. Other questions are not so easy to answer, some will require considerable research, some require experimental reconstruction of kilns and equipment and some will never be answered.

Some of these questions include:

Why didn't the Romans glaze many of their pots?
How long did a cooking pot last?
Why does the surface texture of Samian ware vary so much?
How hot did the Romans fire their pots?
How did the Romans package and transport their pots?

One thing I can be certain of is that; as long as I continue to engage with the public, and especially children, I will never be short of topics to research.

Someone kindly!? took a video of me working with moulds and entertaining a crowd at Corbridge the other day and has put it on Youtube: (Don't laugh, you have to entertain to teach.)

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