Monday, 13 December 2010
Sunday, 28 November 2010
(Festive berries in the abbey grounds)
Monday, 15 November 2010
Monday, 8 November 2010
I will be exhibiting at Handm@de Winchester this Saturday (13th November) and have almost finished making preparations! I'll be trying out a new display and some new work too which includes some lovely Christmas Decorations for this season. So if you're in the area do pop in! They'll be lots of lovely handmade crafts on offer as you can see from the images above (the little white and pink ceramic hearts on the multi-pic are mine by the way!) The show will be held in Winchester Guildhall and opens at 11am until 5pm. Click on the pics to link with the Handm@de blog.
Tuesday, 2 November 2010
Today I thought I’d blog about the new range of Mug and Mug Cosy sets launched by Osmosis this week. You may (or may not) already know that Osmosis is a joint venture between me (potter…) and my sister Sue who is a textile designer. We have a shop on Folksy called Osmosis where we list unique homeware designs using both disciplines – and this week we’ve been adding a new range of mugs and mug cosy sets.
Our new range is designed to be even more exclusive than the last because everything about them is handmade. My new mugs are hand-thrown as usual but this time I wanted to use my white gloss glaze inside and out to create a very simple but versatile design. The aim was to allow Sue to choose any colour she wanted for making the mug cosies (since all colours go with white) rather than have to complement the colour scheme with the glazing. It also means the mugs are very striking and show off the new colours beautifully.
Sue has used pure natural wools in her mug cosies so they feel even softer. Each one is hand knitted in moss stitch and features Sue’s own design label. Finally, we decided we wanted to make this range even more ‘handmade’ so each mug cosy also features one of my handmade stoneware buttons in matching simple glazes.
We’re really pleased with the results and hope people like them as much as we do! We’ve already added three of the colours onto our Osmosis shop on Folksy and will be adding more soon: so please do have a look if you get the chance! In the meantime though, here's a final composite shot of our mug sets being made showing the mugs coming out of the kiln (in black and white) and some colour matching ideas using wool and buttons during one of our creative 'brain storming' sessions!
Friday, 22 October 2010
A while ago I blogged about adding food to my photos to help illustrate how my functional pots might be used in and around the home. During one of these shoots I used olives in my ‘small white bowls’ to give some colour and interest. I decided to try this again, this time using fruit and sugar. The above photo shows some of the new images I’ve taken which I’ve put together as a composite.
Using sugar in these photos gave me the idea of changing the description of my bowls from ‘small white bowls’ to ‘sugar bowls’. Originally I didn’t like the idea of being so specific in case people thought these bowls were limited to a particular use. But lately I’ve been wondering if it’s more useful (on-line at least) to be less vague: describing something as ‘small’ is a relative term and anyway I also make smaller bowls than these which I call ‘mini’ bowls! So I’ve started listing them as ‘sugar bowls’ in my Folksy shop hoping this means people will have more of an idea of the size of these bowls at a glance. Of course in the description details I also make the point they can be used for any number of things around the kitchen, like dips and olives etc. And at shows and in the real world - where they can be seen and touched - they almost don’t need explaining!
Here’s another photo of the same sized bowl in a different glaze. This is the wood ash glaze made from real wood ash. I’ve also called these ‘sugar bowls’ too in my listings just to be consistent. Here I’ve used limes and plums to illustrate size. These ‘sugar bowls’ measure 10cm by 4cm by the way – and are so useful! Click on the images above and below to link with the listings in my shop.
Sunday, 3 October 2010
I realised about twenty minutes ago that it’s been a whole year to the day that I began writing this blog! One whole year! I can’t believe it: the time has gone by so quickly. And although lots of pots have been made during the past year, regrettably only a few paintings have been painted... Hopefully though this new blogging year will redress the balance a bit.
Anyway, I felt I couldn’t really let the day go past without marking it in some way. So I’ve decided to wish my blog a Happy First Birthday by posting this photo. I took the photo ages ago of some letterpress typesetting letters I bought off eBay. They’re from a complete set of Gill Sans font size 14 and arrived in the post (with a very heavy thud on the front doormat) tightly packed in their own dinky little box. They looked so nice altogether I just had to take some photos.
I bought them for a multitude of reasons really. I don’t own a press unfortunately but the letters individually are useful for pressing into clay to make little messages in both words and numbers. And of course they come in handy for making hand-printed messages onto greetings cards or wrapping paper using ink and a steady hand. Anyway the photo seemed to suit the occasion – and I’d been meaning to blog about them for ages; just hadn’t got around to it!
Also, I thought this would be a good time to officially say thanks to everyone who follows my blog and for taking the time to read it! When I started it I never thought anyone would: so it’s been really nice to get all the lovely responses, tips and comments from people.
Anyway, that’s enough waffling: I have to load this now before midnight!
Friday, 24 September 2010
In the meantime though I found this photo on my computer from the last time I managed to clean the studio – which was (shockingly) way back in March this year. It’s a shot I took of all my pottery tools freshly cleaned and laid out to dry. I remember thinking how nice they looked (I suppose I have a thing for tools!) so I decided to arrange them a bit and take a photo: I thought maybe other people would be interested to see what tools I use for making my pots. So here’s a quick run down of what they are and what I use them for.
Running roughly from top to bottom and generally from left to right:
- Small hand mirror (for seeing the other side of the pot when throwing)
- Big sponge (for big spills)
- Bowl of slops in water (excess clay goes in here for reclaiming)
- Three fine-pointed decorating brushes (for glazing)
- A metal awl, wooden stick and a nail (for making holes in buttons etc)
- Wooden triangular rib and metal kidney (for shaping pots while throwing)
- Small piece of sandpaper (for smoothing bisque ware before glazing)
- Long sponge on a stick (for soaking up water inside a tall pot when throwing)
- Various round and small sponges (for every possible purpose imaginable)
- A metal ribbon tool (for turning excess clay at the base of a pot)
- Rubber slip trailer (for decorating with glaze or slip)
- Wooden stick (for making holes in beads)
- Three metal hole makers (for making various sized holes in pots)
- Wooden pointy hand-building tool (for shaping hand-built pots or throwing)
- Small sponge on a stick (for soaking water inside narrow pots when throwing)
- Rubber kidney (for shaping pots while throwing)
- Two-ended ribbon tool (for turning excess clay at the base of a pot)
- Piece of chamois leather (used wet to smooth the rim of a pot when throwing)
- Plastic stick (makes good holes in card to sew finished buttons onto)
- Three bisque fired seals (to stamp my initials into wet clay)
- Metal wire (for cutting pots off the wheel)
- Metal pin (So many uses…)
- Metal turning tool (for turning)
- Metal ruler (to measure things!)
- Two-ended blade tool (for cutting leatherhard clay)
- Brush (for cleaning and attaching handles)
- Calipers (for measuring pots)
Hope all of that makes sense! Anyway, unfortunately all of these tools are currently lying jumbled up in a box covered in dried clay. So tomorrow I hope to get them all looking as clean as they were back in March!
Wednesday, 15 September 2010
A few weeks ago I took some photos of this lovely clutch bag made by fellow islander Gill from Gillian Chapman Felts in Freshwater on the Isle of Wight. This beautiful bag is one of a series Gill has designed using pure Jacobs fleece. The material has been hand-felted using a wet felting technique and the finished bag features one of my raku buttons in white and mushroom crackle glazes. I think the subtle tones of the wool and the subtle glazes on the button complement each other beautifully – and it’s always so nice to see my buttons being used in other people’s work. You can visit Gill’s Folksy shop here.
I have to say taking these photos proved a bit of a challenge for me! These days I’m fairly used to taking photos of my ceramics and have some inkling about what light will work for which glaze or what angle looks best for a certain shape. But until this shoot I didn’t realize how tricky it was to photograph textiles! The lighting needed for textiles to remain true to life in terms of colour is totally different from ceramics: or at least so it seemed on the day! So trying to get both the fabric and the button in proper focus and in true-colour-likeness proved for a long and tricky afternoon. In the end these three photos were the best shots of the day. But you can also see this bag and two others in this same style on Gill’s flickr page here (probably should have taken it to the beach to photograph too!)
Sunday, 5 September 2010
A couple of weeks ago I found a spare Sunday to paint at last! I decided to spend the day on a simple painting to get back into the swing of things: nothing too complicated or detailed. Still life studies are always useful to get the ideas flowing, especially since they’re easy to set up with anything that happens to be lying around the house. So for a bit of inspiration I chose this little pear sitting on one of my own hand-thrown plain white plates.
After a couple of sketches on paper, I decided to plunge straight into painting on canvas without too much fussing with composition. The canvas is a deep edge 16 x 12 inch. I usually draw a rough outline in charcoal to begin with and then apply a general ‘back colour’ with a big sloshy brush. At this stage I still wasn’t sure what the scheme was going to be, so I just blocked on a base layer using a rough mix of blue cobalt, raw umber and titanium white. I find that blocking the whole canvas with one or two background colours helps to smooth the textured surface which otherwise might show tiny bits of bare white through the painting – it’s so annoying if you miss a bit!
As I got going I realized that my mood was to go VERY simple: not only with the subject (just two pears on a plain white plate), but to be very minimal with the style and colour range too. So the result is quite stylized: an ‘idea’ of a plate and two pears I suppose. It’s quite a calming picture with all that soothing green and because of the large blank, flat areas I think it has an open, spacious feel too. Anyway, I’ve hung it on the wall above the kitchen table for the time being - and it may even turn out to be the beginning of a little series. Here's a close-up cropped shot of the final draft.
Thursday, 26 August 2010
In the meantime I’ve also been taking lots of photographs of these jugs. As you may have noticed I usually photograph my ceramics against a plain white background. This time I thought I’d also try out some ‘styled’ shots to show these jugs in context and suggest scale. Although I do like the minimalist look of the white glaze against the white background, sometimes it helps to add a bit of colour to illustrate how gorgeous this glaze really is! Anyway, here’s a medley of photos that came out of the ‘shoot’ showing a 'styled' shot and also the wood ash and tenmoku glazes.
Thursday, 19 August 2010
Last weekend my sister Sue and I shared a stall in the Arts and Crafts marquee at the Isle of Wight Garlic Festival. It went very well and although it was hard work we enjoyed ourselves. It was so busy by Sunday afternoon people were still queueing to get into the showground! So I’m pleased we made the decision to go again this year. Yet again my photos of the event were pretty rubbish and out of focus: too preoccupied with manning our stall. So instead I thought I’d blog about my new purchases…
At the festival I found a fabulous stall selling lots of gorgeous vintage tools and garden equipment. I picked up a lovely enamel bowl for my studio, and since I don’t have a sink in there it's perfect for all manner of uses. I’ve already been using it to do a bit of mid-summer cleaning: washing all my work aprons and tea towels which were long overdue. I also bought a pair of tongs from the same stall. These were a bit rusty and dirty to start with, but after a few minutes soaking in WD40 have cleaned up a treat. I haven’t used these yet but I’m sure when it comes to raku firing again they’ll be useful for finding tiny buttons or pendants in all the sawdust. But at just £2 for the bowl and a quid for the tongs I could hardly resist!
So all in all it was a successful weekend!
(My sister Sue was also tempted to buy some lovely bowls and pots from the same stall for her natural dyeing process. You can see her blog here.)
Sunday, 8 August 2010
Over the past couple of days I’ve been sorting through a selection of small accessories that came out of the last glaze kiln. These included buttons, brooches, pendants, rings and miscellaneous ‘blanks’. All of these little pieces require some finishing touches. First I usually smooth them all using sandpaper to soften the edges and make sure they don’t snag on clothing or feel rough against the skin. After sanding I add the fittings like brooch backs and ring findings (I use Araldite as a ceramic fixative and the fittings come from my local bead shop). I also thread the pendants onto lovely new suede thongs and individually attach each button onto card in singles or matching pairs to keep them together. All in all it takes a day or two to go through all the pieces - choosing which items go best with which fitting (and also trying not to glue my fingers together). But it’s all worth it in the end I think – especially now I have a new selection of jewellery and buttons (with brand new glazes!) for my next show.
Talking of which…our next show is coming up very soon. My sister Sue and I will be sharing a stall together again (as Osmosis) at this year's Isle of Wight Garlic Festival next weekend (14th and 15th of August). It’s our second year at the festival. Last year was very good for us and we had lots of interest in our work, so we hope it will be successful again this year. We’ll be exhibiting in the Arts and Crafts marquee on site with lots of other local artists and craft makers - and there’ll be plenty of other attractions over the two day event including live music and lovely food stalls with garlic to eat of course! So if you’re in the area, please do drop by: here’s a link to their official site.
And I just wanted to thank Helen again for featuring my bowl on her lovely blog last week: here’s a screenshot, and here’s a link to her blog too. Thanks!
Tuesday, 20 July 2010
Monday, 12 July 2010
This year my sister and I (as Osmosis) are taking part in the Isle of Wight Artists’ Open Studios 2010. It starts this Friday (16th of July) and ends next Monday (19th of July) so it’s not long to go! We’re exhibiting in Freshwater on the island and will be sharing a venue (Freshwater Parish Hall) with 5 other artists including painters, sculptors, jewellers and other craft makers. This means visitors will get to see a wide variety of arts and crafts all in one place – so there should be something for everyone! You can see our listings and find out more details here.
Anyway, wish me luck!
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
Saturday, 26 June 2010
Monday, 14 June 2010
Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Friday, 21 May 2010
I painted this little landscape sketch a couple of weeks ago. It’s only small: just 5 inches by 5 inches on a deep-edge canvas. I’ve done a couple of these very small canvases recently (see here) and I’ve really enjoyed making them. I suppose I’ve enjoyed it because I haven’t had to worry about filling up the canvas – which sometimes feels like a large white and empty desert! Instead I can focus on a simple idea using a very simple colour scheme without fussing too much over the ‘finish’. They take just an hour or so to paint from beginning to end, and I think they work nicely because of this ‘no frills’ feel they seem to have.
This particular one is based on a quick line sketch I made about ten years ago while out walking on the South Downs near Ditchling Beacon. The sketch is also very simple – just three birch trees against a rolling slope on the downs. At the time it was autumn so the tree trunks were a lovely pure white and the leaves were bright yellow/orange against a rainy, grassy green. I’ve been meaning to do something with this sketch for a while, and finally a week or so ago I made this colour ‘doodle’.
The paints I used were very sparse: Hooker’s Green, Yellow Ochre, Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, Burnt Umber, Titanium White and just a tiny blob of Leaf Green to add a touch of zing to the grass. I quite like the result; which is sort of chunky and loose somehow. I may come back to it and do a more ‘finished’ piece someday – or I may not! In the meantime this little canvas is hanging up in my studio and feels nice and cool and soothing; especially now my studio is getting so hot in the sun!
Friday, 14 May 2010
I don’t know anything about pewter. It’s the first piece I’ve ever bought – although the fact it's made of pewter is incidental really because the thing that struck me about it was the little spout. I realize it's a common feature of metalwork to form a triangular hole when adding a separate spout on jugs, coffee pots etc. But in ceramics the instinct when making is to avoid this more complicated route and choose the quick and simple solution; which is to shape a lip on the rim of a jug by smoothing a channel in the clay while the pot is still wet. Of course I've seen examples of ‘hole-and-spout-pouring’ jugs in ceramics before, but it doesn’t feature as a design as often as a shaped spout. So I’ve been toying with the idea of using it; something a bit different and quirky maybe...
Anyway, the point is, it’s a nice little jug I think and it's currently perched on my shelf in the studio (along with some other charity finds) to remind me of potential design ideas. I also bought this little 1958 copy of The Observer’s Book of Painting and Graphic Art. You can’t beat Observer’s.
I just want to say thanks again to Kate at Bluebell and Rosie for featuring my tea bowl in her Folksy Friday today on her lovely blog which you can see here. And also to Helen for featuring my buttons on her Folksy Friday last week on her blog Dizzy Izzy Handmade which you can see here. And finally to Haptree for featuring my raku buttons on Craft Blog UK recently which you can see here.
Thanks guys! Bye for now.