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Kathy Sykes' Diary

Day 32: Melting Gold

Photo: KathyThis programme is a much looser one than the others… the five of us get to decide what to do and how to do it. Plenty of opportunity to argue!

So we just have to make something out of gold. First thing is, to get the gold into a state that we can use it in. We need to melt it, to get all the tiny flakes into a single blob. But gold melts at 1062oC - pretty damn hot!

Photo: Ellen and Kathy Mike and Mike are always keen to decide quickly and get on and do. Ellen and I are keen to discuss things before we do them: to get everyone on board; to brainstorm all the possible ideas - then decide on the best approach. M & M think this wastes time - once they have an idea - they want to get on and start. So I think we drove them crazy. Mike B seemed to have some idea how to make a furnace - so we assigned him “Foreman” - and we followed his directions. This gets us all doing the same thing. Partly 'cos Mike B is still a bit sick - and needs to take it easy.

So - we all built the furnace. Mike L built some gorgeous, huge bellows to keep the furnace going. Ellen and I prepared the clay. Mike B and Jonathan and Kate built the furnace from bricks.

Years of doing pottery have taught me that you need to get rid of air bubbles in clay before firing it - or else it explodes. The air expands on heating and can crack or shatter the whole pot. Also - you're MEANT to really dry off the clay carefully before you fire it, or it cracks. And here we are - putting wet clay around a fire - heating it to 1000oC - and expecting it to survive!

Photo: Kathy bashing clayEllen and I bashed out all the clay - trying to get rid of all the air bubbles. Then we used bottles as rolling pins to flatten it out to line the furnace - outside and in. I just love the feeling of clay - it's such a gorgeous, cool thing to handle. And once it was lining the whole furnace it was just irresistible. I just couldn't stop smoothing it down. Drew - the cameraman - had to have a go too. He used to do pottery too and loves the feel of clay. Really enjoyed working with Ellen today. We laughed and laughed all day, like small kids.

We made a fire for the furnace - a small one to leave overnight to dry out the clay - and left it all. Meant we got an early finish. It was good that we decided to work together on the furnace - it took all of us the day to get it done. Would have been really hard to complete with just 3 people.

Over dinner with Ricky, Pippa (Assistant Producer) asked us about what it's like working together in one big team. It was so interesting. The Mikes said they do feel like we're wasting time when we brainstorm at the start “we only have three days to get it done, so we need to start”, not spend lots of time discussing it all. And Ellen and I believe we will waste time doing the wrong thing if we don't talk it through. And talking it through gets everyone on board doing the same thing - thinking the same thing (hopefully!).
But, sure if the conversation got tricky too - just some tensions skimming through. Inevitable really, with such different people, all very opinionated, having to work together. Interesting though and teams need people who think differently and approach things differently.

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Photo: Kathy Sykes
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