The Mysterious East, 2.8 (November 1971): 16-22.
If you follow the "POTTERY STUDIO" signs along the road coming into Fredericton down the St. John River, you find yourself turning up a long driveway off the Woodstock Road and pulling in past an elderly farmhouse with a porch across the front, well screened from the road by trees and shrubs. White clapboards and green trim. Your first impression is that the house is aging with some grace; then, round back, you discover signs of renewal: a stained glass window installed in what used to be the shed, and a brand-new wide chimney sticking through the roof. But what's likely to get your attention in that back yard is the white, chicken-coop like structure to one side of the yard, with a rickety chimney sticking through the roof. And behind it is what looks like a pile of bricks with a stethx oscope on; and out of it sticks an identically rickety looking chimney. This is John Shaw's pottery studio; the pile of bricks is the outdoor kiln. The chimney is fire brick, as is the kiln itself: other materials wouldn't survive the 2500-degree temperatures which build up there from time to time.
When I pull up, Shaw's wife, Joan, appears in the back door. John hasn't had his lunch yet, she explains: having finally hired carpenters to finish off the dining room and kitchen that are going into what used to be the shed, he's spent most of the morning explaining what he wants done. She invites me to have some tea with them while they have lunch. We sit in what is presently their dining room, an airy room with a large old pine hutch on one wall and an immense butternut armoire in a corner. The room is furnished largely with hand-refinished pieces which give it the warm mellow glow of old pine. Through a doorway I can glimpse red carpet and wallpaper in a hall and beyond that strapping, fiberglass insulation and vapour barrier ready to have wallboard installed.
Tea arrives in a Shaw teapot. The cup is round, almost like the centre two-thirds of a sphere, and has a large, bulky handle which fits my hand perfectly, unlike the china tea cups I'm used to. We discuss the weather, the early fall, and carpentry. "One thing we've learned," Shaw says. "Don't do it yourself. These guys arrived yesterday and already they've done twice as much as I could have done all summer. "
At this point a car pulls into the yard, carrying visitors to the studio and showroom. We go out, carrying our tea. Shaw lets them into the workshop, explaining, "This is the work room where we make the pottery; beyond, there, is the kiln room where the firing is done. Look around if you like. " He seats himself behind the wheel and begins cleaning dried clay off its surface. I sit down opposite. "How'd you get into pottery? That's a dumb question, but... "
SHAW: A basic question really. Well, I just started. Decided to take an art course. I was always interested in art, pottery, that kind of thing, crafts, and I studied fine arts in Toronto for about three years. I just took courses, and, you know, started from there. I worked with a German designer for a while, doing displays and stuff, and I had a job teaching pottery on Prince Edward Island; But I don't like teaching much. So I just sort of started.
ME: Must be a sort of hard decision to say, OK, I'm going to make my living at pottery.
SHAW: You have to sacrifice a lot. A regular salary, a job ... it's a thing you have to talk over with yourself.
ME: It must be pretty hard to make a living at it.
SHAW: I don't think so. It depends on what you're doing. Some people will never make a living at it, because their attitude toward the thing they're making -- like so many things, you know --- won't allow them to. I get lots of people coming in here from different areas, saying, 'you really can make a living at this?' and it's sort of absurd, you know, because they can obviously see the big workshop I've got. I don't think that I'm suffering along, and I'm producing things and making a living. I don't think that's suffering. Sure you can make a living, if you're willing to work at it. But now I'm fairly established. I've been here five years, and I've had shows, you know, and it gets better because people know about you.
ME: I was thinking about the kind of decision you have to make that says, 'I'm good enough,' which is probably something you can only decide for yourself. I mean there are a lot of people who do pottery who would never even consider saying, 'Okay, I'm going to sell the stuff and make my living at it because I like doing it.'
SHAW: Well, I don't know, sometimes you get discouraged at your work when you first get started. But I had a lot of encouragement from people. When I was just getting started, sixty-six, sixty-seven, I had a couple of pieces selected for Expo, and they were in the Canadian Pavilion, fine crafts, you know. That was fairly encouraging for a person who was just getting started.
The wheel is clean. The top plate has been lifted, scraped, and reset in wet clay to hold it in place on its pegs. Shaw sits back for a moment. He seems young to have made all the pottery you see in galleries and shops all over New Brunswick and eastern Canada, to have established himself simply by making pots. He seems young, too, to have attained the sort of peace that his manner suggests. He is soft-spoken, hesitant, almost shy. Emotion creeps into his voice only rarely; much of the time he seems preoccupied with what his hands are doing rather than what he's saying. Often he simply abandons a sentence and concentrates his full attention on what he's doing.
As we talk, he rises, goes out to the kiln room, cuts a piece of clay off a large chunk which is aging on a plaster batt, and begins kneading it on another batt. Kneading it is hard work; it's stiffer than bread dough but the process looks very similar. Occasionally he varies the procedure by forming the clay into a column perhaps ten inches high, cutting it in thirds with a wire strung between two wooden handles, and restacking the sections. He kneads the clay for perhaps ten minutes.
ME: Is there anything in particular that you do better than you did, say, five years ago?
SHAW: Well, pretty well everything, as far as the technical part of it -- shapes and everything. And now I do a wide variety of things with such ease -- just the physical part of pottery. The first time, you know, it's really something, you use practically all your body, you make a good sized jar and you really feel it. But now I just use pretty well from my elbows down, hardly even my shoulders, and the physical effort is cut way down. Because you learn that even a slight movement of your finger will change the shape completely.
And now I think about everything when I design a piece. I think about how it's going to take a glaze, that particular shape, and I design it -- or make it -- intending to do a certain kind of glaze. This surface here, that might take a nice brush design right there. And I know what colour it's going to be, too, when I make it. I'm thinking now that blue glaze will look good on it, or that yellow with a bit of white, and this is one thing that, as you work through the years, you gain. Because when you first start, you know, you can't think that far ahead. I'm two or three steps ahead now -- I'm thinking what it's going to be like when it's fired when I'm throwing the clay.
ME: Where do you get clay?
SHAW: From different areas. Some from Nova Scotia, some from out west, some from the States. Some local kinds I use for glazes; most of the local clays are low-temperature earth and wouldn't be suitable for firing at high temperatures like I do.
ME: Do you buy it commercially: I don't guess you probably could dig enough yourself . . .
SHAW: Oh, yeah, it's actually mined, you know.
ME: Is it processed when you get it?
SHAW: Well, all they do if it's a good vein of clay is mine it and then they dry it and pulverize it. So it isn't like going out and digging it yourself. That would be a lot of work. It's all right if you're a Sunday potter, you can go out on a weekend and dig a bank of clay and make your things, but when you're making your living at it . . . after all, the clay is an inanimate substance until you make something out of it; it doesn't matter where it comes from. It's a completely dead thing until you create something out of it.
ME: What has to be done after you get it?
SHAW: Well, if it's bagged, it should be mixed, it should be soaked, strained, put out on the plaster slabs to dry to a workable consistency; it should be kneaded up and the air taken out of it, and stored in plastic bags and aged. The longer it's aged the more workable it becomes.
ME: I suppose after a while you don't have to think about when the clay's ready, it just feels right.
SHAW: Yeah, I can just feel the texture of the stuff. And that determines the sort of shape you'll make too; if it's wet you can't make round bulbous things, it'll just collapse. It isn't strong enough.
He puts the clay on the wheel and operates a switch with his foot. The wheel revolves; cupping his hands around the clay, he centres it on the wheel. A depression forms -- miraculously, it seems -- in the centre of the lump and a cup shape appears; he begins forcing its sides up and out.
ME: Looks like fun.
SHAW: Well, it is. But it's a lot of work too. Some people, you know, come in here with an 'Ah, gee, this is really good, you're really lucky,' and all this crap, you know, but they don't know that this took five or six years to get, it didn't just happen. That sort of puts you off -- 'You're lucky,' you know, and I just say, well, luck had nothing to do with it, it was a hell of a lot of work. That's the thing, you know, I went through the teaching bit, and, sure, it's a nice soft job teaching old ladies and stuff -- you don't do much work -- but that's no . . . that's no way to survive. Jesus, that's terrible. I couldn't stand that.
ME: You take apprentices or something, though, don't you?
SHAW: Well, I tried that, and that's . . . I had no success with that at all. I couldn't work well with somebody around all the time -- you can't, and do individual things, I don't think. I don't like the apprentice system. Particularly in England and places like that. They just purely take advantage of young students to produce pots for their enterprise, and you know, I can't go along with that. I couldn't . . . I wouldn't feel right if I had somebody in here making mugs and putting a stamp on them, my stamp on them, I don't like that at all, that's exploitation.
ME: Has your style changed over the years? Do you make a lot of things now that you didn't then; are there things you used to make a lot of that you hardly ever do now?
SHAW: I've always made a variety of work. I remember the first one-man show I had in Toronto, the review was . . . well, it was a pretty good review; I was just starting and pretty young to have a one man show. The reviewer said, you know, I was going to make some sort of contribution to pottery in Canada, and all this kind of stuff. But he said one thing I couldn't agree with, which was 'as soon as he finds his own style,' and I couldn't go that. I don't think that made sense. I mean he commented on the variety of shapes, and then contradicted himself, saying 'as soon as he finds his style, he'll make his contribution.' And I've never changed, I'm always doing a variety of things, I don't like doing . . . I don't want to make a . . . a 'Shaw casserole,' and then make that for twenty years, make my mark in Canadian pottery with that casserole.
ME: Is it possible to make a mark like that?
SHAW: Oh, I think so. If I take that wax-resist design casserole over there. If I started doing those now and made hundreds of those things and sent them all over Canada and entered them in shows, then people would say, 'Oh, yeah, that's a Shaw.'
ME: You don't want people to be able to say that?
ME: That's interesting. I should think that I would.
SHAW: Oh, I think that they'll still know that it's a Shaw, just from the variety of shapes and glazes. You see, it's one thing to make pots, and another to design them, to keep changing your shapes. Some people aren't interested in doing that. Now I could design five or six different kinds of shapes and just make them, make thousands of them. But that would be . . . I don't know, it wouldn't be what I want to do. They'd be mass-produced.
ME: It's related to the notion that the pieces in a set, say, shouldn't be identical. I mean, you could set up a template, so they'd all be exactly identical.
SHAW: It's being done. All over the place. They do it with machines. And lots of potters are mass producing them by hand, too. And as far as I'm concerned, whether it's by machine or by hand, when it's mass produced, it's getting pretty close to the same, only it's just being done by a person rather than a machine. The idea's still there. You might as well be a machine. That 's not being an individual, that's not being interested.
ME: Do you object because it makes a worse pot? I mean, suppose I've got a pot in this hand and one in that hand and one is mass produced and one is not. I suppose you could tell?
SHAW: No, I don't think . . . you couldn't really tell. Because they're both hand made, you see? Unless you know the work and you've seen a lot of it; then you could tell. But if you had a mass produced pot and one of these pots, well, that's a hand made pot and this is a hand made pot. But if you saw a group of them and they're all the same shape and all the same glaze, you know damn well that that's being turned out, you know that shape's being made three or four hundred times. Boy. Every firing, you see, a potter like that's not doing varieties of shapes and sizes on one shelf; he's got fifty mugs on this shelf, he's got fifty ashtrays on that shelf, he's got fifty decanter tops, and so on and so on; everything's just stacked up in the kiln, it's like a really neat, slick . . . he doesn't even take the shelves out of the kiln. Because he knows just what he's going to put on that shelf every time, every firing. See what I mean? He's out to make a clean killing. And he probably will. But that's fine. Whatever you want. But he might not stay sane either, he might come up with a case of ulcers in a few years, worrying about it. It's a sickness. I mean these guys, they don't even take time off to do anything. They're out there slugging it, you know, and that's a crazy way to live. I mean, I'm not saying it's wrong or right, but . . .
ME: It would sure as hell be wrong for John Shaw.
SHAW: Yeah. Yeah. I've got a certain attitude towards work and I think that when you're mass producing stuff, that attitude can't be there. You can't be thinking about each individual thing, you're making hundreds of things; you're not too worried about it, you just want to get the things rolled out and get the hell out someplace. There's no sort of . . . integral relationship with the pottery. If I wanted to, I suppose I could just work in one field. I've been interested in glazes recently. You could have a bunch of guys, one working in glazes, one in design, one actually making pots. But I don't like that, I like doing all the different things, experimenting with the glazes, mixing clay. That's why I love it; I'm not sitting at the wheel all the time, making pot after pot. I'm doing other things. And that's what's fascinating. Even the physical part. I don't mind that, mixing up the clay, kneading it . . . some people say you could hire somebody to do that, or buy a machine for kneading it. But you lose part of your relationship with the pot that way. There's a certain closeness you get when you get right into the clay and you knead it up and you sweat over it, and then you get it on the wheel, and you do it, and then you fire it and you glaze it. And you become more a part of the work. That's what I do, anyway.
See that? Clay's still quite soft, can't do anything too drastic with it.
The vase he's been forming is now about eight inches high, a graceful double curve with a curved mouth. It has the spiral lines of work in its surface, just noticeable; the lip of the piece moves up, then down under his finders as he adjusts the curve. He leans back to look at his work, then forward to adjust the curve again.
ME: Seems to respond awfully quickly, as soon as you touch it.
SHAW: Well, this material is so fluid. When I've got command of it, I can bring out whatever I want. As long as I don't defy the laws of gravity . . . but it's pretty limiting in the sense that it's soft, I can't make any bulbous shapes, and I know that and I'm just working around it. I think I'm going to put a little bit of red clay underglaze on this now . . . scratch out a bit of a design on it.. I'm just cutting away a little of the excess clay on the bottom of it.
He takes out a paint brush, dips it in the red glaze, holds it against the turning vase. A red circle appears, drips down. He catches the dripping as the vase turns; after a moment it has a wide band of rust colour around its middle. Turning the brush around, he uses the pointed end of its handle to scribe a line in the red: the line moves up and down, becoming first waves, and finally an undistinguished texture.
ME: There are all kinds of things you can do with the surface of it.
SHAW: Oh, yeah. It's a wide open world. You can texture the surface, you can carve it out, you can scratch it, carve interesting designs, any type of thing.
ME: The surface design -- do you think of new things to do all the time?
SHAW: Yeah. I'm doing a lot of wax and brush decoration right now. And wax resist with liquid paraffin. You do that after first firing, brush the liquid wax on it and dip it in the glaze. It resists that wherever there's wax, and the wax burns off . . . it's a good contrast when you use a light glaze and a dark clay. Fascinating. That's what I'm working on now. For a while, till I get tired of it.
ME: Is that something you work out your s elf, or is that one of those things that 's been done for thousands of years ?
SHAW: Oh, no, I've worked that out. I've never seen too much . . . a little tiny bit of wax, because you wax the bottom of pots so they won't stick to the shelf, but it's a whole new world I'm doing, since I started doing that a while ago, a year or so ago.
He picks up the clay cutter and, holding it against the board, cuts the vase loose from the board. Raising the vase carefully, he transfers it to the table next to him. It's now ready for first firing, for bisking; then it will be glazed and refired and -- if it survives the firings -- sold. There are a number of pots there, drying; in a day or so it will be time to load the kiln and fire them.
ME: There are a lot of things there that I wouldn't have thought of making. You think of pottery, and you think of teapots and cups and wine sets and things like that, but you don't -- I don't anyway -- think of things like those candleholders with the holes in them.
SHAW: I just did those last week. I got the idea from Joan. I'd made some wine goblets, and we had a dinner party and she set the table, and she put a couple of these goblets out with candles in them. And I thought, that's kind of an interesting idea, but if I cut holes in them, that would make it much nicer. So I went out the next day and made those four. That's where you get ideas, you see, just from observing people and things. There was a fellow I used to work for, the designer, he said, 'Always keep your eyes open. Never miss anything.' That's true too; if you can just look and observe, it's amazing how much you can learn.
ME: How much do you learn from other potters?
SHAW: Oh, I don't think you learn that much, really. You do from workshops, when you're younger. You know, when you're first starting, if a real professional gives a demonstration, you get to talk to him about technical things. You pick up a lot of information and ideas. But otherwise, just meeting another potter, you don't. You don't seem to get into the technical part of it. At least that's what it's like here. I don't know about other areas.
ME: I was thinking about the fact that you get, you know, colonies or communities of painters, and they'll all be into similar things, solving similar problems -- and that doesn't seem to happen with potters.
SHAW: Well, it could. I've seen it happen in places like central Europe, southern France; there used to be a lot of good people working together, you know, and then all the commercial interests came in, and all the good people left. This happens, you know. It's unfortunate. It's like wood carving, in Quebec; there used to be a lot of good wood carvers there, at St.-Jean Port Joli, But they're all doing the same thing now. It's really tragic; a lot of the good people left for that reason. Couldn't stand to be around there any longer.
ME: Then you don't get many of your ideas looking at someone else's stuff and saying, 'Hey, he's using this kind of glaze on that kind of shape .'
SHAW: Well, I don't think it's so much that as it is the raw shape. If he's doing some new things, you're impressed by it . . . but you can go to an art school or a museum, take a museum class, look at Greek bronzes and stuff . . . you know, you see these things, and they register. Perhaps you don't think about them at the tim e, or as pot shapes, but probably they're there, being absorbed. But everything's been around, been done. Anything you might do on a potter's wheel has probably been done . . . if it hasn't been done in the last two hundred years it's probably been done in the last fifteen hundred. When it's round and it's made of clay, shape's fairly universal.
ME: That's interesting. Painters -- painters I've known of, anyway -- are always saying things like, well you know, 'I'm in an area where nobody's ever been before.'
SHAW: They fancy that. That's untrue. A person that can vouch for that is an art historian, somebody with a knowledge of all that's been done by anybody important for the last how many thousand years now . . . I get kind of a pain when they say that, because it's really a dishonest statement, you know. And that's even a more diversified field than pottery.
ME: Painting seems to me to be an interesting comparison with pottery, because paintings aren't really for anything. A painting is only ever going to involve one sense, and all you're going to do with it is hang it on your wall. And you're going to sort of make an effort to look at it from time to time. Now it seems to me pottery's quite different from that.
SHAW: W ell, it's physical. You know, pottery, you can pick it up, feel the texture, it's round, it's got volume. While a painting generally is a flat surface, the only depth you have is perspective. But with pottery you get surface quality; you can pick it up and hold it, drink out of it, stick flowers in it. But paintings you can't do any of those things with. It's designed for galleries, you know, there are things that are designed for people, and there are things that are designed for masses of people to look at.
ME: Do you do something different -- or are you likely to be doing something different, even without being entirely aware of it -- when you're doing something that's clearly for a show, as opposed to when you're making something to use?
SHAW: Most of the things I'd do for a show you can use too. Because they're still . . . pottery is functional in a sense no matter what you make. Unless it's some wayout piece or something that's all banged up and chewed and you can't do anything with it except sit it in a corner.
ME: How about that thing back there, that sculptural sort of piece?
SHAW: Oh, that's just a thing I put together, purely to see if it would stay together. It's just some small pots. I had something larger in mind; and I wanted to do something initially to see how it would work out. And I think that it's going to be okay. I've got a pole on the bottom of one of them, a rod, and I can mount it on a block of wood or a steel rod and use it for a garden sculpture.
ME: But it's not functional.
SHAW: Well, you could stick flowers in it. Or put it in the garden; birds might go into it. Got lots of possibilities. You can use these things for whatever idea you might be likely to get. Some people say, 'What can I do with it?' and I say, 'Whatever you like.' For instance, I have a big covered jar in there and someone asks me, 'What would you use this for?' And, you know, I just say, 'Well, anything you like, you can store things in there, bread, donuts, anything you want in there, you could fill it full of tobacco, granite . . .' It's kind of funny, you know, that a person would ask that.
ME: But of course it is something you ask. You never ask a painter that, and that's an important difference. With most pottery, that's a reasonable question . . . at least not an absurd one.
SHAW: Well, I make wall plates. That's pretty well just for people to look at.
ME: When you do one of those, would it often be because you'd discovered something like a new glaze or a new texture or something like that?
SHAW: No, I just do them because I enjoy making them. I get away from the routine of doing something else. I like wall things; I think they're pleasant. I think they're a nice thing on the wall, the texture of them, the way they pick up the light. The surface is nice on the wall, and you can get -- as far as design goes, you can get as involved as you want in the design on the surface of one of those plates.
He's back to kneading the clay. Having formed a block of clay about eight inches long, with a smooth, flat surface, he picks up a tool that looks like a loop-style bottle opener: it's just a wooden handle with a loop of wire bent in the shape of a very flat rosette. He draws this swiftly through the clay, puts it down, and draws out of the clay a strip about eight inches long whose cross section would be a very flat rosette. A handle, he explains. A technique used in Japan for thousands of years, though for differently shaped handles. He carries them back into the workshop and places them on the flat surface of the wheel. Bringing a handleless teapot from the drying table, he begins brushing a spot on its side with a wet toothbrush.
SHAW: It scratches the surface, you see, so the handle will have a good bond.
ME: I suppose you have problems with handles not having been bonded?
SHAW: Well, the thing is that it's important to catch it at just the right time, as the pot is just starting to get leather-hard, and then you can have good success with the handles. And that might be at twelve o'clock at night. So you have to go on, you know. Tomorrow morning I'll be putting the handles on those other ones. You have a pretty good idea what you'll be doing; that's one of the things I like about pottery.
ME: How much stuff do you lose?
SHAW: Well, you lose a certain percentage. Anything that's fired at 2500 degrees -- that's how I do it -- you lose some through cracking, or the glaze runs down and hardens and you have to break the pot off the shelf. In an open-fired kiln, fired at those temperatures, things move around, and a lot of things react, so you can figure on losing things every time. Unless you've got it down to an absolute science and you're only making a certain kind of thing. But I'm always doing different shapes and sizes . . .
ME: I suppose that's another thing you have to learn by trial and error: this is a nice shape but I can't fire it because it breaks.
SHAW: Exactly. Like plates. Wall plates, they crack all the time.
ME: You know why?
SHAW: It's the large diameter, and the contraction, which is pretty severe -- like fifteen percent sometimes -- and there's a great deal of pressure on that large centre diameter when it's shrinking. And even if it's ten percent, that's still quite a lot. And then the flame hits it -- it's an open-fired kiln, and that might warp it. All these little intricacies are hard to predict. But you get some beautiful effects from the flame hitting things, sometimes . . .
ME: That's sort of accidental, though, isn't it?
SHAW: Yeah, well, the firing is the thing that makes the piece or breaks it, you know. You can do all the preparation; glazing and decoration, all the work -- and then it's up to the kiln, it's up to the fire. And that's the fascinating process, when those things go in, and you can't see -- it's just pure white in there and it's pretty impressive, especially for people who don't see it much, that intense white heat. And it seems pretty remarkable that anything comes out . . . for a person who doesn't realize the properties of clay. The unique thing about it is the permanence it has. It's never able to retain its natural quality; its whole internal chemistry has been changed by the fire. And it's a whole new thing, it can never be the way it was.
The handles are on. They're large, broad, useful-looking handles. I remember the feel of the teacup: unlike any I had handled before, solid, comfortable, secure. Like clay pots.
ME: It's funny. Pots are . . . you said a while ago that one was pleasant or placid or something. They are. There doesn't seem to be a way -- or is there -- to make a pot that's exciting? Except exciting in terms of the problems you've solved making it, maybe.
SHAW: Depends on what you get excited about. About the shape of the thing, or the texture, or the planes. Some people would be all excited about the shape of the thing.
ME: I guess what I'm looking for is that they're . . . all built in such a way that they would stand even if they were wet, which tends to make the shapes . . . stable. They're never -- like the handle of a china teacup bent into all sorts of curves, trying to be daring and thin, and looking like they're supported with a lot of difficulty.
SHAW: But they're not functional, which doesn't make sense because it's a functional item. You can't drink a beverage out of them. Your fingers won't fit through the little hole. This one, now, this is a really functional design. I've tried a lot of those small ones, you know, and came down to this. It's really pleasant to hold, you're really quite secure when you grab it. The first two fingers fit right in there. And that's important; you have to think about how a thing's going to be used. Particularly things like casseroles; someone will be cooking with it, and you have to think about things like a knob big enough that you can hold it with a kitchen mitt on. And there are other things, you know, like a small casserole -- I really can't see the advantage of putting handles, big lug handles, on a little casserole. I think about what's going to be done with it, and there you're going to be, going into the oven with these great big kitchen mitts on and grabbing this little casserole, and you're not going to be grabbing those lug handles, you're getting the whole thing. And that takes away from the design, those big handles. Look at that little one up there; handles wouldn't look very good on that. But a big knob -- that knob is functional, you can grab that, take it out.
ME: I can see what you mean, the handles on that would be . . . wrong. Do you think they're wrong because of proportion, or because they wouldn't be . . . you could feel that they wouldn't be functional.
SHAW: What's important is that they wouldn't be functional.
We're discussing the difference between aesthetic and functionalist criteria when one of the carpenters appears in the door. The roofing has arrived for the shed, and it's the wrong kind. Yeah, it looks okay, the carpenter explains, but it won't work. John Shaw goes outside to discuss the situation with the truck driver and I walk round to the showroom to see if anything new and interesting has appeared there recently.