Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmas break

I've stopped work in the pottery earlier than I had intended to as the boys are home from school. Their school closed early because of the snow.
However, I took a day off from domestic chores to have a day in London. There is still thick snow here and impacted ice so I wore walking boots and other suitable clothing but I must have looked a bit out of place in the V and A as the snow had cleared in London.
Rather than try to pack as much as possible into my visit which is my usual strategy I decided to spend my time in the Medieval and Renaissance galleries. I'm looking for the imagery they used apart from the obvious grand religious themes.
I like the look of these lions so they maybe putting in an appearance on next years pots. I wish I had the time to invest in making a ceramic aquamanile like the ones below.

Today Barnaby and Mark came for a walk with me. It's still very white and the snow crunched beneath our feet. We did a circular walk of about 7 miles. I'm not a great romantic so I must admit one of the best parts of the trip was the pub lunch at the pub below. It works out quite well as it's about half way round the walk!
It's pleasant to enjoy family time but I am ready to get back to work now- well perhaps I can fit in another trip to the V and A after all I never ventured into the ceramics galleries.

Monday, 13 December 2010

In the studio today

I've had this old cupboard for years. Until now it's always held the 'potions' like oxides, lustre and essences. But I decided to repaint it and put a display into it. Some of the work I want to revisit and try to take further. I'm having a bit of a clean up so that I can start working on the next batch of pots.

Here are some bowls that I've tried some different approaches on. I'm not too sure that I like the background. I've grown so used to the cream slip that the blue doesn't really work for me. I may try using the bird drawings again on a cream background. I had also thought of using some gold lustre on them but that may be just adding too much to the cost of producing them.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Children's pottery

I've been going into the local school after school on a Tuesday to do a pottery 'after school club' for them. The school is for children with special needs. This week I've just started getting some of their work through the kiln so here is the first batch.
They enjoyed making these figures so I hope that they will be pleased with the glazed work. The little chap above is a plumber and that's a pipe he's holding.
Farnham went really well. I took this photo when I unpacked some of the boxes but before I tweaked the arrangement. I had fully intended to take lots of photos this time so that I could think about improving my display for the next show but I totally forgot. All I have is this blurred picture.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Busy week

This week has flown by. I glazed on Monday and repacked the kiln. I remember throwing on Wednesday. Last night I got the first coat of paint on these shelves and then another this morning. They may not actually look very big but unfortunately I can't lift them which means I am hoping some kind fellow potter will give me a hand tomorrow.
The bowls below are the insect bowls from last week. They are very small. I like the odd little beasties but it will be interesting to see if other people do! I could not get outside to photograph them as it has rained all day.

This little slab built pot is an 'idea'. It's only approximately 4 inches by 3. There are 'ideas' in odd corners all around my studio. I've had a piece of glass cut to fit the hole and the idea is that you can glimpse the contents of the box. I might try re-working the idea with a thrown box when I've got time. I think I might get a much better finish and the man at the glaziers tells me that they can cut round.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Preparation for Farnham

I just managed to dash into the garden as the light was going this afternoon to take these pictures. I would have liked to take some more but the light went very quickly.
These are pots I've made to take to Farnham. When I decorated the insect bowls I timed the process and was amazed to find they took me well in excess of four hours each! That is after they were thrown, slipped, banded and turned.
After Farnham will be a good time to sit back and take stock of what I do before I start a new batch of work so maybe I won't be making too many of these.
I have shown both sides of the two casseroles below.
The blue tits are the ones I saw in my garden when they were clinging to the seed heads of the crocosmia. I am quite pleased with these and I don't think I can I can make the drawing lines any finer. The clay has burnt through just enough to give some warmth so that they aren't too clinical.
On a more mundane note I had to go to Ikea yesterday to get some spot lights for Farnham. It's cheaper to buy new ones every year than to have the old ones PAT tested. You can look up who else will be at Farnham at Art in Clay here.

Friday, 12 November 2010


Factoid - every insect has six legs.
I should know I've been drawing them all week! My handyman made me some new shelves and thoughtfully put in a narrow shelf for small pots. ( I didn't like to tell him I didn't have any small pots). I do now or hopefully will before Art in Clay Farnham next week-end. These bowls are tiny about 3 inches across.

Last week-end we went to the Horniman Museum in South London. These bronzes were beautiful. They are from Benin. But I had forgotten what a spooky place it is. They have a gallery full of stuffed birds and small animals ( the dead zoo some young pupils I taught called it). I was hoping to draw some owls but that gallery was closed for ' essential maintenance'.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Books and pots

Another reliquary out of the kiln this morning. I'm calling this one 'the birds and the bees'.
The tiles below are some tests I've done to work through some ideas. I'm not quite sure where I am going with them yet.
At the moment I am reading this book by Edmund de Waal and I am enthralled with it. It's a good read but also gives insight into the work of Edmund de Waal. I think it is amazing how things we have grown up knowing about infiltrate our work in all sorts of subtle ways.
I don't think I can do the book justice if I try to review it so read Claudia Clare's review on her blog .
Whilst I am talking about books here are some of the books I glean images from for my work. I often call in the Oxfam book shop and have bought quite a few there. If I use books in the pottery then I don't want to be too precious with them so buying them second hand feels good.
ConnieN left me an interesting link to a whole catalogue of useful photographs of wild life.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

sketch book and GCSEs

Normally my sketch book has just straight forward drawings that I work on to transfer into images for the pots. At the moment I am working on owls. What I am looking for are shapes that will fit into a landscape shape on the pots. Still got plenty of work to do on that yet.
However, my son has just started his art GCSE. So I thought I would try it myself to encourage him and feed him some ideas.
The first thing he had to do was alter the cover of his sketch book. I've built a sort of box on the front of mine to house one of my keys.
The next subject was leaves. As you can see I've looked at some ideas that don't need a huge amount of drawing skills. It's a long time since I taught what was then O levels and things have changed a lot since then.
Does anyone know of a good web site out there on this sort of thing just maybe mum helping, even at arms length, isn't too cool!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

I've been playing about with this cardboard template to work out some ideas for a reliquary. I was quite pleased with it and remembered just in time that I needed to make the templates bigger to allow for shrinkage. I'm calling it 'the birds and the bees'.

This is one of the casseroles out of the kiln this week. I am very poor at taking photos of my work and so often things go off and I realise too late that I haven't kept a record of them. Sometimes it's helpful to keep a record to go back to ideas and build on them. So today in the middle of cooking Sunday roast I shot outside into the sunshine to try and record this weeks firing. I only photographed this one though because I had to re-organise my priorities and rescue the lunch!

Friday, 8 October 2010


I'm trying to multi-task this morning whilst awaiting the arrival of a new washing machine. Trying to clear space for the men to get the new machine in through the hall and clean the mess from the old one whilst cooking and blogging. You may not be surprised that it isn't working.
It's a beautiful day and when the sun comes out the garden is fluttering with blue tits. The other day they settled onto the seeds of the crocosmia and looked beautiful. I couldn't catch them on camera so I decided to put them onto the casseroles. They are such colourful, bright birds.
You have to look very carefully but you may just see them in the photos.

Whilst I'm in the house I am also planning on making some templates for a smaller reliquary. I'm hoping to get back out the studio this afternoon as I've still got jugs wrapped in polythene awaiting decoration.