Friday, 1 January 2016

New Year, New Beginnings


It's New Year's Day today and I'm starting as I mean to go on! It's been a really busy Christmas season and my stock of pots is very low. But before I can re-stock I have some orders to complete - in fact the first kiln of the year is already booked up! So I've been throwing some beakers today as part of an order of 20.

Today has been the first chance I've had to get on the wheel in quite a while - and it's good to get back to making. The photo above shows how dark it is in the studio at the moment, even in the middle of the day.

Anyway, it's just a quick post today really, to say I'm still here! I left the blog alone for quite a few weeks I notice during all the Christmas rush - there was just no time to keep posting. Things have calmed down a little in the last few days though and so I'm looking forward now to getting back into making some new pots for the New Year.

Happy 2016!


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Christmas Crafts at Quarr Abbey - 2015

http://events.onthewight.com/quarr-abbey/christmas-crafts-at-quarr-abbey-2015
A medley of work available at the show


The kiln is working overtime at the moment making orders and getting ready for Christmas shows. I have two more glaze firings left and then I'll be ready for my next event which is a joint show at Quarr Abbey.

I'm exhibiting with four other local artists and craft makers from the Isle of Wight. On display will be a range of different disciplines including woodturning, textiles, acrylic painting as well as lots pots of course. So if you're in the area, hope to see you there!


Thursday 19th November - Tuesday 24th November 2015

Open Daily 10.30am - 4.40pm

Quarr Abbey Gallery, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 4ES

Free Admission


Exhibitors:

Jude Allman is a potter who makes hand thrown stoneware vases, bowls, jugs and homeware accessories decorated using simple glaze combinations in a modern rustic style.

Peter Wright of Wright Turned makes natural lathe turned wooden platters, bowls, cups and garden dibbers using wood from native Ash, Oak and Beech trees.

LisToft is a maker of intricately decorated porcelain vessels and jewellery with bronze and turquoise flowing glazes.

SueWright Handknits is a hand knitter, weaver and spinner who designs unique clothing and homeware accessories including scarves, socks, bags, rugs and runners in soft practical yarns.

Tim England is inspired by fragmented shadow and light, and combines abstract and figurative aspects in both his paintings and ceramics.


http://events.onthewight.com/quarr-abbey/christmas-crafts-at-quarr-abbey-2015


Monday, 5 October 2015

Speckled Stoneware Clay - Some New Pots and Designs


This year I've been using a speckled stoneware clay more often to make new designs. Some of these designs I make exclusively using this clay because they go together so well. When fired, this clay is lighter in colour than my usual stoneware and is best described as 'ecru'. It has a brown speckle throughout which comes from the tiny flecks of iron inside the clay.

As well as being a lovely clay to throw (it's very smooth and creates hardly any mess!) the speckle feature is very versatile. I often leave areas of pots unglazed to show off the natural bare clay. The speckle is great for this as it has lots of interest both visually and also to touch. It's a very tactile surface when fired and feels rougher than my usual stoneware but has a warmth to it too. It's great for making modern style cylinder shapes like my new large fruit bowls and salt and pepper sets (seen in the photos above).


I've also been using the speckle stoneware as a base for some new sgraffito designs (seen above). My usual stoneware clay is a bit too dark for this type of work, so having a lighter clay has allowed me to develop a new range of blue speckle ware. I've made just a few pieces in this style so far (some of which have been bought straight out of the kiln!) It requires brushing on a blue black slip onto the pot whilst still at the leather hard stage. Then I scratch (sgraffito) a design onto the pot. This reveals the light clay underneath giving a contrast. Finally I use a clear glaze over the whole pot to allow both the blue and the bare speckle clay to show through.


The lighter colour of this clay means that when I apply my usual glazes to it, these look very different too. This creates more versatility and options without having to create new glaze recipes. Most of the time though I prefer to use either clear glazes or an oatmeal glaze with this clay - both of which allow the natural speckle and ecru colour to show through. This style creates a very simple but modern feel which I really like.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the photos of some of my speckled stoneware pots! All the pots in the photos above are currently available in my Folksy and Etsy shops.


Sunday, 16 August 2015

Packing and Firing a Glaze Kiln


Yesterday I packed and fired a glaze kiln. Above is a composite of all four shelves as I packed them one on top of the next - number 1 being the first or bottom shelf and number 4 being the top. These are what the pots look like when they've had glaze applied, but before they've been fired. In other words they should look different by the time I open the kiln tomorrow!

When I pack the kiln I use the same shelf pattern for almost every firing whether it's bisque or glaze. In other words I put the same height supports between the shelves into every firing, so the gaps or heights between the shelves are in the same arrangement each time. The reason for this is because the manufacturers put the thermocouple in an odd place, restricting where I can place the shelves (see old post rant here!)

But now I've come to think this was a happy accident! Sticking to the same layout is a great way to fire a kiln. It means I always know that the bottom and top shelf can take higher pots of a certain size while the two middle shelves take lower or flatter pieces of a certain size. Bearing mind that when I pack a kiln I have to lean over into it with heavy shelves and fragile pots covered in a delicate dusting of glaze, knowing in advance where the pots can fit nicely is a great advantage. So having a fixed shelf system has made planning and packing every kiln much easier.

Of course the hardest bit about firing a kiln is the waiting! And I've got another 24 hours at least before I'll be able to open it and see the results. Fingers crossed!