Our Roman pottery specialist Jane Timby joined us this month for two sessions on how to draw pottery for publication. Jane introduced us to the mysterious tools of the trade, which included callipers, profile gauges, set squares and rizla papers – slightly reminiscent of a Masonic ritual! She then showed us two main techniques of measuring. The first was using a profile gauge (as used by carpenters and carpet-fitters) where the moveable teeth of the gauge are pushed into the shape of the pot profile to act as a guide. The volunteers did quite well with this technique, though it soon became clear that having three hands instead of two would make this fiddly job much easier! The second technique was to use a board and a set square, marking off changes of line at intervals and then joining up the dots. It did feel a little bit like going
back to geometry class, but all of the volunteers managed to produce some very recognisable drawings of pots and with a bit more practise could definitely produce accurate drawings of publication standard. We plan to start the volunteers who enjoy drawing pot profiles on a programme of pencil drawing of the larger rim sections over the next few months. We will concentrate particularly on the hand-made Iron Age pottery in the assemblage, as the shapes and the decoration are often very individual and not mass-produced like much of the Roman pottery. This will be another useful archaeological skill for our volunteers to take away from the Trendles Project.