Sunday, 25 March 2018
When it comes to taking photos of pots, my style of photography for the past ten years or so has favoured a plain white or minimalist background. I like the simple look of this style so it's always been a 'go to' choice for me. Also magazines prefer to use such images when publishing a feature.
But it does have drawbacks. The main one is that people can't tell at a glance how big or small a pot is. This is a concern when some of my pots might look exactly the same but come in different sizes - like my modern pourer jugs, bird tail bowls and pouring bowls. Also, some of my pots (like the garlic grater bowls for instance) don't translate very well on a plain white background. Some pots just need a bit more visual explanation!
So recently I decided I needed to do a photo shoot using 'styled' settings to give some of my pots a context. The setting I chose was my kitchen at home. Most of my pots are kitchenware or food related in some way, so it seemed an obvious choice.
Luckily there's enough daylight coming in through the kitchen window in the morning to allow me to take photos without the need for any additional lighting. I do have a reflector though (made from aluminium foil wrapped over a piece of cardboard) to help kick back some light into the shadows. I just prop it up where I need it.
And talking of props...sometimes this is the best part of planning a shoot. In this selection of photos I have some new props to play with. They include an old wooden board which I've painted using pale grey emulsion on one side. This board is movable so it can be used both as a surface or a backdrop for pots (as seen in the photo at the top of this post).
The unpainted wooden surface in the rest of these photos is actually my normal kitchen table and the little chopping board is one I use all the time for preparing food (it's handmade by CottageCoppicing). A jar of local honey, some garlic bulbs (also from the Isle of Wight) and other food props all help to set the scene. I'm hoping these photos will give some idea of scale and show the pots 'in action'.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the new photos. As always, these pots are available to purchase from my Etsy and Folksy shops. Thanks for reading!
Tuesday, 30 January 2018
|Snowdrops in the garden|
January is nearly over and it looks like Spring is on its way already - as you can see from the lovely snowdrops in my garden.
I've been doing a bit of Spring Cleaning. I've got a few custom orders to make so it's nice to start the New Year fresh with a clean studio. I'm quite a tidy potter (I clean as I go!) because I find it difficult to work when things are messy. So the floor, shelves and wheel needed only a wipe over to get them back to feeling brand new.
I also like to clean and sort through all my throwing and turning tools once in a while. I keep them in an old vintage wooden cutlery tray which has a handle in the centre for moving them about in one go. This box normally sits right next to me on the wheel so the whole lot gets covered in splats of clay during throwing.
As you can see in the photos, they've all been given a good clean and are (obsessively?) arranged into separate sections - throwing tools, turning tools, wooden modelling tools, kidneys, knives... I know some potters might think this is unnecessary. But I find it helps enormously to always know where the right tool is kept and also that it's going to be clean and ready to use when you need it.
|Throwing Tools and Turning Tools|
Once the studio has had a Spring Clean, I find it useful at this time of year to do a complete stock take. This means checking through everything I need for the pottery business including things like glaze materials, stationery items and mailing supplies. And it's also a good time to get up-to-date with all my reclaim clay which can easily build up. So now all my slop buckets are empty and ready for throwing new pots.
As for finished pots, I'm pretty low on these at the moment. Most of the pots from my last glaze kiln (which I fired on Christmas Eve and opened on Boxing Day!) have already gone to local galleries and suppliers as New Year stock. So my on-line shops are currently very sparse. But I've made a long list of pots to make - most of which are my standard ware. As you can see in the photos below, I've already made a start throwing a small batch of jugs, but I'm keen to try some new pot ideas too - hopefully you'll get to see them soon!
|Small Batch of Jugs|
Saturday, 18 November 2017
|New Star Cut Out Tea-light Holders|
Christmas is officially back on track! In my last post I mentioned I was having kiln issues. Thankfully these were resolved after fitting a brand new isolation switch. The new one is more robust than the last one - which burnt itself out. Hopefully the new one should do a much better job and last longer too.
I was very lucky that nothing else seemed to be wrong with the kiln. I ran a small test firing to check the controller and thermocouple were behaving themselves by programming in a simple ramp of 30 minutes to about 30 degrees. All seemed well. So I spent a week glazing all my pots ready to fire two separate glaze firings.
|Un-packing Glaze Fire|
After packing one of these kilns, all I could do was cross my fingers, turn on the switch and hope it all worked! Luckily it did. In fact I had two perfect glaze firings - one of which you can see in the composite above. Some of these pots have already gone out to galleries or for orders. But the rest are available in my Folksy and Etsy shops.
|Ceramic Christmas Bells|
So now I have a new batch of ceramic hand bells in stock. They come in two glaze options: plain white, and blue and white. And I also have a new version of my tea-light holders with a star shaped cut out. I think they work really well - and I wonder now why I didn't think of making them years ago!
|Christmassy Star Tea-light Holders|
I'm going to be exhibiting at Quarr Abbey again this year for six days beginning next Thursday. So if you're on the island please do pop in. Here's a listing with all the details.
Thanks for reading!
Wednesday, 18 October 2017
|Christmas Bells Drying in the Kiln Room|
I'm currently in limbo and don't know yet whether Christmas is cancelled or not! Last Sunday I packed the kiln full of pots for a bisque firing. Most of the pots are Christmas stock ready for the busy season and include a batch of Christmas Bells (see the photo above).
Everything was going well with the firing and seemed normal right up until about 550 - 600 degrees C (which was when I went to the kiln room to put the bungs in). I noticed an odd smell, but thought it was probably just an excess of steam and vapour coming out of the vent. Now the seasons have switched over, my pots are taking longer to dry. So I thought maybe some pots were a bit 'damp' when I packed the kiln, and this was causing the fumes.
|Christmas Stock including Star Tea Light Holders waiting to be packed into the Kiln for Firing|
It wasn't until I went to turn it off at the end of the firing a couple of hours later that I realised something had happened. Opening the kiln room door, I could see the kiln was glowing orange but the controller and electrics were dead. At this point my heart sank.
I checked the trip switch but that was fine. So something must have happened further down the line. It was evening and I'm always tired on firing day, so I felt pretty down. I was also frustrated with myself for not checking in on the kiln every hour to see progress. So I had no idea what temperature it got to before it went kaput. But the fact the kiln was glowing orange suggested that it might have got close to bisque temperature (which in my case is 1000 degrees C).
|BEFORE: Four Shelves of Pots Packed for the Bisque Firing|
Pottery is mostly a waiting game, so there was nothing I could do except leave it to cool. This would take at least a day and a half before I could risk cracking it open. In the meantime I must have gone through every possible scenario: explosions from damp pots, collapsed shelves, burnt out elements, frazzled electrics, mice chewing through the wires... I was preparing myself for losing all of my pots (that's a month's worth of work) and having to start again.
Finally Tuesday morning came and I opened the kiln. And this was the result (below). Unbelievably all the pots had bisque fired perfectly! Or at least it seems like they have. They all feel and look like I expect a bisque pot to be. I haven't tested any yet to see how they take on glaze, but I'm pretty sure they're fine. So I'm absolutely chuffed and relieved.
|AFTER: Success! Bisque Fired Pots (against the odds)|
I also discovered that my isolation switch for the kiln had cracked and a part of the plastic casing has melted. Probably this was the source of the smell. Everything else 'looks' fine (elements, thermocouple, wiring) so I have all my fingers crossed that it was just the switch. I have to wait again though (until next week) before I can get a new isolation switch fitted and have the kiln checked out. So the saga isn't over.
But I now have a new appreciation for my kiln! I suddenly think it's a legend for doing so well and getting all my pots safely through to bisque. I've decided as soon as I get the kiln running again I'm going to make something in thanks: the kiln gods need an offering...