Roy’s work is always that of usefulness, but still of good design and function at a price to suit all pockets.
He produces pots that have bold design and strong forms, with earthy colours. In contrast, he likes working in porcelain, producing fine delicate pieces with subtle colours and shades, but still with a functional purpose.
The range of his work is wide and varied from Cream jugs, to very large jugs, Ewers, Tea Pots, Dinner and Tea Services, Casseroles, Soup bowls, Mugs, virtually all forms of cooking and tableware, and many miscellaneous pieces.
With a large kiln capacity he also specializes in making Large Pots, Bread Crocks, and Platters up to 22. Inches in diameter. Also firing large sculptural pieces.
Roy’s type of pottery is termed, “reduced stoneware” that is of the oven to tableware variety, it also denotes the way in which the kiln is managed in the final stages of the glaze firing, producing a wide range of colours, and textures.
This entails adjusting the amount of air in the kiln at the final stages of the glaze firing usually at around 1200 to 1300 degrees C.
An advantage of reduction firing is the large range of colours obtained from one glaze recipe, the disadvantage is the resulting colours can be totally unpredictable, but adds more fascinating results for the potter himself, for which craft pottery is all about. Each piece being unique.
Roy obtains his clays from Potclays, SOT, an old established clay supplier in Staffordshire, with clay mines in Cannock, For his work he uses several clay bodies. These must be suitable for reduction firing as not all clay bodies are of use in reduction firing.
- Smooth grey clay, is chosen for general utilitarian work requiring a fine finish.
- A more course body for the larger pieces, and some sculptural items.
- A whiter based clay body for pieces requiring brighter colours.
- A porcelain body suitable for throwing fine thin delicate pieces.
His glazes are of his own recipes evolved over many years by trial and error, and experiment, also by swapping ideas and recipes with other potters. He usually uses around fifteen to twenty colour combinations, mixing and matching according to the shape, design, and purpose of the piece of pottery.
Every so many years he takes time off to develop new glazes, and will often change his colour combinations. As there are no limits to colours and textures in ceramics, this is his fascination with the action of heat on minerals.
Firing clays and glazes at very high temperatures (1200 to 1300 degrees centigrade) make them highly resistance to attack by harmful elements, so make them entirely safe for cooking ware. They are also completely waterproof. The porcelains also become translucent.
Roy has several kilns at his workshop, there is one main kiln designed and built by himself 50 years ago which is fired by four heavy duty industrial burners usin propane gas. It is a cubic yard in capacity, and fires to 1300 Centigrade. This enables large pieces to be fired safely, up to 24 Inches in width, and 36 Inches in height. In addition there are two electric kilns, of 15 Inches, cube and one 18 inches cube capacity, with a 1300 Centigrade top working temperature.
He works on an industrial electric rolling cone driven wheel that he has had for the last 56 years, and is still working as good as new today. Made in Stoke on Trent and is still being produced today.
Roy Evans was born in Pontesbury Shropshire, in 1937. He comes from a long line of coal mining families and quarry workers. A solitary boy, his childhood was spent roaming the hills around Shropshire where the love of open spaces and nature made a deep impression on him. As with all miners, music and singing was all part of life in those times, it also gave him a great love of music. In 1947 his family moved to Birmingham, for him not a happy event.
But by chance it was his good fortune to gain entry to attend Moseley Road School for Arts And Crafts where he studied furniture design as his main subject. H also took a great interest in music and had an ambition to become a concert pianist. In Birmingham he studied classical piano with Olive Perry, and later in London, with Joseph Weingarten. His music tastes and experience are wide, having played (reluctantly) in rock and dance bands, but prefers the world of classical music. He is an experienced accompanist, playing for soloists, of all genres. Also playing with friends in Wind and String ensembles. He also plays the flute which he enjoys playing immensely. Classical music is still his first love, with English music as his chosen favourite. Joining with friends in various music ensembles, he has over the years given Charity Concerts for many charitable causes.
On leaving Moseley Art School with the change in design styles, and the introduction of plastics in the 1950s. Jobs for traditional cabinet makers were few. With still an ambition to be concert pianist, in order to protect his hands, he took a job as an engineering draughtsman, whilst still studying hard at the piano. Unfortunately, compulsory National Service loomed, he spent his two years national service in REME, as a tank mechanic. His ambition as a concert pianist was over.
On his demob, returning to engineering, he worked as a design engineer in the in research and development sectors. Very soon, disillusioned with industry, and a need to return to his native Shropshire, looking to find ways to achieve his wish, whilst on holiday in Somerset he met the potter Wassel Cooper. Completely hooked by what he saw of Wassel’s life style, he enrolled in pottery classes run by local artist and potter Ann Warner. Fascinated by the reaction of heat on minerals, and clays, he found his new way forward. He threw up his job in engineering, became self- employed, and set himself up as a potter, working at first in his garage, and learning the skills of the craft potter. He supported himself and his family by playing piano in Pubs and Clubs, and with a Show Band called “The Bianco’s”, based in Newport, Shropshire.
With his engineering experience he built himself a wheel and kiln. With enough confidence to earn a living he opened Edgmond Pottery in 1967, selling to the retail sector, covering Wales the Midlands and Cumbria with mixed results, but somehow got by.
In 1970 he was invited by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, then in its infancy, to open a working pottery, demonstrating to visitors to the museum. It had a shop in the pottery selling his work to the museum visitors.
With high grade clay mines in the area Roy built a slip house processing prepared local clays for sale to other potters, and colleges, as well as his pots.
During this time he began teaching at Shrewsbury Art College and as a Lecturer in Ceramics at the Wolverhampton Polytechnic Arts Department. He also gave talks and demonstrations to various organisations and at exhibitions.
1977 found him looking for peace and quiet, he left the Museum, and found a disused property in the south Shropshire hills. Demolishing the old buildings he built what is now Tankerville Pottery. It opened at Easter in 1978.
Roy is now semi-retired, indulging himself in music, and art, playing with musician friends, and making pots, as and when the occasion demands it.