Monday, 22 December 2008

Pottery books

Our local library is very small and has very restricted opening hours. It doesn't have even one pottery book on it's shelves. However, it offers a brilliant service in that for £3 it will get any book you may want. They are quite used to getting pottery books for me. This latest book was specially bought for me to borrow by Hampshire. When it came the local librarian seemed very dissappointed and was quick to inform me that she could send it back as it didn't have any colour pictures.
When she flicked through the pages I could hardly get it off her quick enough when I saw these illustrations.
These illustrations are facinating as you get to see exactly what the pot is 'doing'. How thick the walls are, where the walls change direction, how the foot is constructed. Wonderful!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Decorating in more ways than one

These are a few pots in the studio today. The jug is one I made when demonstrating to my students and so I have used it to test my green glaze. It is now almost as I want it. It looks deeper if I use the green slip underneath. Will try that next before I go ahead with a batch of pots.
Today I have been back to decorating pots. Michele over at NOLA Potter asked me what tools I used so here they are. I used to use an ordinary pencil and still do for some lines but it gets tedious sharpening it all the time. So now I use a propelling pencil as I get through the leads quite quickly. I also use a nail set in a piece of dowelling and a hair grip for wider lines. The hair dryer is vital as it's important not to touch the surface of the pot when there are loose bits of clay on the surface so I just blow them off with the hair dryer. ( If you saw my hair you would see a hair dryer couldn't possibly help it!)
I have been doing some decorating in our lounge. Not my favourite occupation but when I took the old fireplace out it became apparent that I would need to decorate the whole room!! The wood burning stove is now installed and fully functioning.

Friday, 12 December 2008

I usually try to get a good opaque layer of slip onto my pots to provide a 'canvas' on which to decorate. It can also get the best colour response with the oxides. However, I had an order for a butter dish so I made two. Normally the things we keep at home are the pots that perhaps aren't perfect. But I liked this butter dish so much I've kept it. The slip is quite thin in places so the colours are very soft and faded looking. I've made a batch of seven or eight as a result but they are all under plactic and newspaper for the week-end.

When I went outside this morning I thought that the boys had been playing with my plant stakes. But no this was not the handiwork of boys but the spiders aided and abetted by the frost.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Cluttered studio

My studio is getting a bit cluttered at the moment. I usually like to keep it fairly organised. There is work at different stages all over the place. The bowl with the oak leaf came out of the kiln today. I am just working on this shape and design as it's a lot less labour intensive then other work I produce. I set my students the task of making four matching soup bowls so it made me think about making some myself. We are going to get together for a meal using them as soon as everyone has completed the task.

This fish bowl also came out of the kiln today. I have been really enjoying working on these as I am able to use a whole range of decorating techniques on each one. Apart from the sgraffito I have used wax and latex resist and some sponging. Each bowl takes a whole day to decorate so I may be getting too carried away with the process-it certainly is very absorbing.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Farnham Art in Clay

I enjoyed a day out at Art in Clay today.It's good to see other people's work but also it was good to meet up with old and new friends. I was able to meet Andrew which was good as we follow each others blog.
This is for Hannah just to show that we met Niek and Pim and passed on her regards. That's an excellent jug there just in front of Pim. It's always motivational to see other potter's work.

Thursday, 13 November 2008


This week has seen me trying to get some 'good ' photographs taken. I know almost nothing about photography but I didn't let that deter me! I set up a backdrop in the studio and gathered all the lamps I could lay my hands on. If a good photograph could be taken by sheer determination I was going to get one. But I have to say for all my determination the photographs weren't very inspiring. (I've seen those ones they use in food photography where an egg and a cracked bowl look good.You know the sort).
Anyway, after spending some time on the enterprise I packed up. Then a glimmer of sun came out and in my welly boots I rushed into the garden armed with camera and pots. I was sliding about in the mud but still determined took a few pictures.
Today I have been throwing and slipping. I've had to finish for the day as I've run out of space. My studio is quite small. It's fairly damp out there today so I am hoping the big bowls will hold up now that I've slipped them. I don't think I'll get them into the kitchen like Paul as given damp in the studio versus three boys in the kitchen I know where they are safest! There will be plenty of turning and slipping to do tomorrow.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Where do all the feathers go?

Although we live on a council estate I still see plenty of birds. Just in the last day I've seen wrens,robins, magpies, blackbirds, bluetits, crows, pigeons and the lesser spotted woodpecker. But I still see very few feathers. I decided that I would record all the feathers that I found but as yet the sheet of paper is hardly half full. I am then drawing the feathers onto my pots.
Well I'm doing this in my lunch break got to get back to my last casserole now!

Saturday, 25 October 2008


I had hoped to post some better pictures of the pots that came out of the last firing but the natives(three boys) in doors got restless and I had to pack up for the day and go and feed them!!
I am often very critical of my own work and think it is not good enough but I was quite pleased with the casseroles. Also I liked the tiny bowls with feathers! If I can I'll do a better photo of them and some of the others. The boys are home for a week now for half term. I have rather a lot of pots in the damp cupboard under polythene-3 more larger casseroles and 8 plates plus some new shapes I am working on for orders. I am not sure how to plan the week out yet and share the time out between some work and activities with the boys.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Glaze firing

The kiln is working hard at the moment. No sooner is it cooling than I am packing it up to refire. Being a top loader it couldn't be easier!! Here are few pots that came out of the kiln in the last few days. There is another glaze firing on at the moment and I'm looking forward to seeing how the green glaze performs on a pot. One of the tests looked good on the test tiles but it can be different on a pot. I'm working on a batch of plates tomorrow that may go with the colanders. They will need slipping in the morning.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008


I thought I would quickly take a photograph of one of the drying shelves as I was dashing out of the studio this afternoon. Mr. Sainsbury was in his van with my weekly shop and I was heading out to a parent's evening for one of my boys.
These are made from 2kilos of clay so they aren't massive. Biscuit ware is mounting up in the studio -there is now enough for at least 3 glaze firings so I need to get a move on.
As I have 3 boys in school I still work with the rhythm of term times. I hope to get as much glaze firing done by half term so that I can. I will then try to assess what I have done and where I am with my work and plan for the next half term leading up to Christmas.

Monday, 6 October 2008

slips or oxides

Here are some bowls I've been working on today that may illustrate the different decorating materials I use. I first map out the design roughly with food colouring. Next I have painted in some slips. If I use slips I put them on before I sgraffito because they are opaque.
Once the slips are on I can do the sgraffito. In the first picture I think you may just see a corner of a natural history book I am working from. (Fairly freely I must admit so that the fish don't look too rigid).

After I've finished the sgraffito I add another lawyer by applying oxides. (I usually grind these to get them very smooth). Finally I insert little details with the slips!! All in all quite a time consuming process. Here is a finished bowl that came out of the firing on Saturday morning.

This is an old bowl I did some time ago but I was looking around for something I had painted with oxides. The oxides are enjoyable to use and I wash them on in a similar way to using watercolours. I also supplement them with a few underglaze colours. I wash these on after I have done the sgraffito because they are transparent colours. I do this at the leather hard stage which means that mistakes cannot be corrected but on the plus side they get fired on so they do not move when the pot is immersed in the glaze.
One of my students did some of her work using this technique but unlike me she deliberately went out side the lines and it had the effect of making her work look very fresh and spontaneous.
Andrew Gladwell was asking if I have any fairs booked in before Christmas. Unfortunately NO!! I knew that I was going to be spending time with the three boys this summer and thought that I may not have much stock. Of course now I am working away again the shelves are filling up with things to be fired. Even allowing for the slow nature of the work soon I will have more stock. People are very welcome to come and visit if they are near Redhill in Surrey!

Friday, 3 October 2008

Harvest jugs.

One of my favourite forms to make is the jug. For me it provides a wonderful canvas to decorate. So I was very pleased to find a whole gallery of images of traditional Harvest jugs
Have a look it's quite inspirational!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Clay wall

With the recent good weather we have at last been able to sit in the garden and enjoy the sun. Having a cup of coffee in the garden or lunch is a simple thing but such a pleasure.
Here is a glimpse of my shelves! They are starting to fill up now and I had to get a biscuit firing in last night to make some room.More decorating to do today and then tomorrow I will be back to throwing.

Mark and I had a very enjoyable day out in London on Sunday. We went to the market in Brick Lane for lunch. It was a beautiful warm sunny day and everywhere was buzzing with people. There is an exotic array of food stalls in the market all very colourful and enticing. After ferreting around some of the market stalls we explored the little shops down Cheshire Street. We then walked on to see Hannah at Ceramics in the City.
Clay is one of the most wonderful materials. It's great to handle and it's plastic qualities make it a wonderful medium to use. I think I played with mud pies quite a bit as a child.
I find almost everything made out of clay fascinating.
I came across this video of Andy Galsworthy building a clay wall the other day. I so wanted to get my hands on that clay and join in!!
See if you can find it here

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Children's work

I decided that I would not continue the children's class this term so these are a few of the remaining things the children made. They were very disappointed as they have really enjoyed the classes but I need more space for my own work. Also it will mean that I don't have quite as many commitments.
When we were out and about in Reigate on Saturday we noticed signs for Heritage week-end and various buildings that are not generally open to the public were open. One of them was the oldest public lending library in the country having been opened in 1701. Another was the Natural HIstory Club which had a display of the remnants of medieval pots that had been excavated locally. Even in their broken and fragmented state they were very strong and captivating. I would very much have liked to actually handle them. I particularly like the green glaze and have wanted for some time to develope a green glaze. I think it's time for some more glaze testing!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

In search of Medieval pots.

I am still at home with the boys rather than potting. Today I decided to take the boys to London in search of medieval pots . But where have all the medieval pots gone? The V and A have closed the fourth floor ceramics department and are also redoing their medieval galleries. The British Museum have closed all their medieval galleries whilst creating a whole new set of medieval galleries. I found a few medieval pots at the Museum of London but was told I could only take photos if I didn't use flash. The pots were wonderful even though they don't have many on display.
We went to China Town for lunch before I trecked two boys and a husband across to the Craft Potters Shop. I picked up a copy of Ceramic Review for September/November and found it had an article by Hannah entitled A World of Opportunity. I was tempted to scan it into the computer and put it in here but I am sure Hannah will do that. Hopefully will find my way back to the pottery next week.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Kitchen dressers.

This post is really a special for Hannah. Sorry if it's becoming a bit Homes and Gardens!
The dresser above is in my neighbour's house. Made by Allan who is now totally indispensable. This one has a base cupboard and a different top. I kept my top simple as mine is really for getting in and out of the van. My friend has lots of my very old pots from when I started back when all the children were safely in school full time.

Monday, 28 July 2008

More bowls

This is the large bowl I played about with when the rim got dented! I enjoyed playing around with the slips. The green colour has only come through quite faintly whereas the turquoise and yellows are stronger. I will definately try working with this again with some slightly different colours.

These bowls were all taken out of the kiln this morning. They are nearly 8 inches across. The sun was so strong that it was difficult to get a clear picture. These were enjoyable to make so I may well make some more. I'm off on a youth camp ( just as cook and bottle washer you understand) on Saturday so I am switching my attention to that for a couple of weeks!!
I am already missing potting but with three boys I need to do some 'mum' type of activities.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

West Wales Break

Not getting any pottery done this week. I went to West Wales for the week-end. It is a beautiful part of the country. Above is a picture of St. Anthony's shrine. The hedgerows were full of cowparsley which I think will look good on some large jugs.
I've brought my parents back for the week to give them a break.
Below are some pictures of Simon Griffith's stand at Aylesford.I liked the way he had captured the character and feel of the birds. I love the owls- great surfaces as well.