Sunday, 7 September 2014

Coffee Set and Coffee Bowls

What a busy summer! Since my last post I've been potting away making lots of pots for wholesale orders and a few private commissions too. And it seems to be a quirk of making pots that sometimes different people ask for similar things. 

This past month the theme was coffee and I was asked to make a coffee set (as seen in the photos above). This included a coffee pot (complete with lid and pouring lip) a lidded sugar bowl and a set of four coffee mugs. Although I've made each of these items separately before this was the first time I've made them together as a matching coffee set. 

The most tricky thing to do was the coffee pot itself of course as it required so many composite elements. The body of the pot is essentially a big jug, but since it was a part of a set, I had to make it big enough to hold a liquid capacity that would pour out and fill at least four of the matching mugs' worth of coffee! Then it had to have a handle strong enough to hold the weight of it plus all that liquid, while at the same time being comfortable to use and pour. And finally it had to have a lid which not only fitted but allowed pouring through the lip or spout whilst in place. As you can see in the photo I also cleaned back the glaze from the rim of the coffee pot to leave a section of un-glazed bare clay. This makes sure the lid doesn't stick to the pot permanently when fired in the kiln.

In the end I was very pleased with the result because everything matched and all the elements worked: and most importantly my customer was happy too! The glaze I used for the coffee set was a new version of my wood ash glaze. This has proved such a popular glaze and works especially well with rustic style coffee themed items! Below is another wholesale order I finished recently: a batch of coffee bowls using another version of my wood ash glaze. I actually have two of these coffee bowls left spare - and both are available in my Folksy Shop now. I hope you enjoy the photos!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Open Studios 2014

Some of my pots on display

I had a great time at my Open Studio show last weekend. This year I was exhibiting jointly with two other artist/craft makers from the Isle of Wight: Anna Hayward and her daughter Ellen Hayward. They were very kind enough to let me share their studio space - three separate wooden workshops in a lovely garden setting. We were open for four days - Friday to Monday - and had a steady stream of visitors throughout. It was a really successful show with lots of sales and positive responses to our work - and it's so nice to have people come out especially to see you too!

The middle workshop - where I was!

Anna Hayward makes beautiful handmade glass beads and jewellery from her little studio: hence the name of her business Little House Jewellery. Throughout the weekend Anna demonstrated glass bead making using coloured glass rods which are melted in a flame and then slowly cooled in a kiln. Visitors could also assemble their own jewellery pieces using a selection of handmade beads.

Anna's studio

Ellen Hayward is a professional Textile Designer currently specialising in interiors. Throughout the weekend she demonstrated her expert hand weaving skills on her gorgeous AVL loom - as you can see below. Facebook

Ellen's Loom

Ellen's weaving

So a big thank you to everyone who popped in to see us. And an even bigger THANK YOU to Anna and Ellen for letting me share their workspace (and for all the lovely teas and cake!)

The second week of the Isle of Wight Open Studios starts tomorrow for Eastern Wight.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Biscuit Bowls - Yummy Cookie Bowls

One day I was carrying a mug of tea in one hand and some biscuits in the other and I had a brainwave. A little biscuit bowl; just big enough for a couple of biscuits. A small shallow bowl to catch all those precious chocolatey crumbs and cute enough to feel like a special treat (without eating the entire packet).

One of my favourite things about pottery is that now when I have an idea for a pot I'd like to own myself, I don't have to wait for someone else to think the same way or look out for something similar-but-not-quite-right in the shops. Instead I can actually make it. And so these are my first little biscuit bowls (or cookie bowls if you like).

I wanted these bowls to be a bit special so I decided to write a biscuit based message on each using letterpress letters impressed into the clay when wet. These are highlighted in a deep brown oxide wash under a lovely neutral glaze. I think this gives them a really cosy but cute feeling - and can be personalised if people want.

I also decided to use a different clay for these bowls. This clay has a lovely light neutral or ecru shade with lots of dark speckles - which I thought would be perfect to go with biscuits. I also left the underside of the bowls completely unglazed to reveal and emphasise the natural bare clay.

My new biscuit bowls are now available to buy in my Etsy shop. Enjoy!

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Getting Inspired: Beach Finds

Pretty Pink Vases - with Glazing Tests
Sometimes I forget how spoilt I am living by the sea. My nearest beach is only a mile away and takes 15 or 20 minutes to walk there. Strangely this 'in between' distance (close but not really close...) feels far enough away to be more than 'just popping down to the beach' and requires at least an hour out of the day and a nice hot thermos of tea to properly appreciate. For this reason I probably don't pop down as often as I'd like to. But when I do go I usually find something to inspire me.

Getting inspiration from the seaside is nothing new of course. Artists are always doing it. And there can be a danger in just repeating what everyone else is doing. So when I look for things to inspire me, I try to look for the 'not-so-obvious'. 

My local beach is mostly shingle, and leans towards the 'small seaside-town/polite walk along the esplanade' side of things rather than remote and windy wilds. Nevertheless, even in a tiny narrow strip of civilised beach there's plenty of little pebbles, shells, driftwood and other shore finds to poke a warm boot at.

Pink Vase Detail - Seaweed and Shells
My latest vases are inspired by a choice of three colours found on my local beach. Pink isn't an obvious colour when you think of the seaside, but there's actually quite a lot of it on my beach. There's plenty of subtle shades of pink in the local shells: these look like a type of sea snail and range from the usual coral shades to unexpected deep maroons. Even some of the grey pebbles have a warm pink tone to them. But most of all there's lots of vibrant pinks and purples in the local seaweed which - once you start looking - pops up everywhere in little clusters. These can look like little pink flowers on the sand or miniature trees draped over the stones.

White is perhaps a more obvious colour to choose. White for the surf, white for the smooth insides of shells and white for chalk pebbles and clouds.

The last colour I chose was the beautiful pale frosted green found in sea-glass. I quite like the idea that pieces of sea-glass are ordinary manmade objects made beautiful by the sea: that being rolled around in the shingle and the waves for years gives them a quality that sets them apart. Part natural, part manmade. And of course being fragments of glass means they fit nicely with the idea of glazing on pots.

Sea-glass and Overlapping Edges
Once I had my three colours - pink, white and pale green - all I had to do was combine them in a design that complemented each other. I chose glaze recipes that were similar in tone (pale) and in texture (glossy and semi-opaque). This allowed them to work with each other as a range, as well as with my existing white glaze - a satin matte. 

I knew even when I was standing on the beach that I would be overlapping the pink and green glazes with the white: just at the edge where they meet. This always gives a small band of extra interest in glazing and fits perfectly with the idea of the shoreline. And then in terms of the form of the vases themselves, well that was easy: it came from the opposite shoreline...

The Other Shore

My new vases, both the Pale Pink and Sea-glass Green, are available for sale in my Folksy and Etsy shops.