Last minute Christmas gifts ……

Looking for last minute Christmas gifts?

Kiln Fired Art may have something for you if you like giving handmade presents.

We all know someone who is an eco warrior, or loves anything recycled, or someone who drinks wine, beer or gin 🙂
Last minute Christmas gifts

Dichroic glass pendants, a great gift for  Mum, Auntie, Sister, or Friend who like a bit of colour or unique jewellery.

Last minute Christmas gifts

Ceramic succulent planters and ikebana vases are a lovely and unique gift. The oil diffusers are proving very popular this year; and if you hurry there may be some raku leaves left in my shop. Last minute Christmas giftsAnd not forgetting ceramic jewellery making supplies which would make the perfect gifts for a crafty friend.

Last minute Christmas gifts

There’s a lot more to find over in my Etsy shop, I’m trying to keep the stock level at 200 items, but it’s hard work at this time of year.

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Making my own decals with a laser printer

I’ve made a big decision, I’m taking my work in an exciting new direction, finally I got a laser printer to make my own decals. Hopefully I will be introducing a line of functional ceramics with my ‘trademark’ wildlife drawings like the wrens and hares.

I can imagine if you are a china painter reading this you will be shocked at the thought of  me using the ‘D’ word 🙂

Things have changed a lot since I started learning throwing,  I didn’t intend making functional pottery to sell but there is something so lovely about using handmade ceramics on a daily basis,  they are so tactile they need to be handled.

I have already made up my mind that I will no longer buy in whiteware to china paint on, there are many reasons for this decision. The costs involved for one, and the fact I’ve done it for so long I have become bored with it, there are more reasons that I won’t bore you with.
I may paint on my handmade pieces eventually ( and my ‘decal drawings’ will be done with china paints on tiles to keep my ‘style’) but my functional ware will be made using laser decals, which are food safe.

I’m really excited about this new direction, I can continue to improve my throwing skills and have something new and unique for Spring events. I’m planning on expanding my raku range and I will also be using my decals on fused glass too, something I’ve wanted to do for years now.

I believe my work has to keep me feeling excited and evolve to keep it fresh, once I’m bored by something it’s time to try something new. I may come back to china painting but for now it’s on the back burner, until I can throw with porcelain.

Here’s my little test piece with my wren drawing, I have done some other pieces but I can’t show you those yet as they are presents.
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This will keep me busy for a while, but I think I will need some heating on in the studio, it’s freezing in there just now.

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Days out around Birmingham

We have  had a few days out and about around Birmingham with friends.

I’m not a lover of busy cities but I enjoyed a trip into Birmingham to see the architecture, the library, galleries and the German Christmas market got me feeling ever so slightly in the Christmas spirit, or that could have been the Gluhwein.

We visited a couple of NT properties, Baddesley Clinton and Packwood House.

Baddesley Clinton is a beautiful moated manor house, it’s mentioned in the BBC drama Gunpowder.

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P1480021P1480028Unfortunately ( as in the drama Victoria) it’s not totally accurate. There is a priest hole in the house ( used to hide Catholic priests) but it wasn’t as depicted in the program, the priests were hidden in the sewer which was accessed by a rope via the garderobe which must have been dreadful but it saved their lives.

Packwood House is a rather strange but interesting house, it’s a mish mash of a building made from salvaged parts of other houses, which makes it rather interesting.

P1480036I loved the topiary garden but the gates were locked so I will have to go back again in the summer months and have a walk around.

P1480033Then to finish off our visit to the area we headed off to Bournville, Selly Manor and Minworth Greaves which were moved to Bournville by William Cadbury.

Minworth Greaves is a rare cruck framed building which could date back to 1250.

P1480041The wooden posts in the corners of the room, and the ones that form the apex of the roof are cut from one tree with a branch forming the apex, there is no join.

The 3 plaques on the wall are known as Hatchments, which were made for the gentry when someone died. They bear the coat of arms, for a couple one side would show the man’s and the other side would be the woman’s coat of arms. Whoever died first has a black background on that side of the plaque. They were usually hung over the door of the deceased until they were buried then they were moved to the parish church.

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P1480048Selly Manor is a 14th C. cruck framed building .
P1480045What I liked about visiting this manor was the hands on experience , lots of things to touch and smell, and costumes to try on, including armour but I couldn’t even lift the chainmaille.

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P1480052A trip to Bournville wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Cadbury World. This is a mock up of Cadbury’s drapers shop and his first chocolate shop.

I did wonder with all the free chocolate that I might come to a sticky end like the children in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but I’ve lived to tell the tale.

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A week of raku firing

I have spent most of my week raku firing leaves, beads and pendants to stock up my shop . I now have over 200 listings.  All these leaves are now in my Etsy shop, they are going fast. They look great hanging on the wall, my own collection is growing, I’ve kept a copper one for myself.

raku leaves

I love the unpredictability of raku firing, sometimes the results are amazing, like this leaf dish below.  If  something comes out awful you can fire them again with the possibility of something better ( or worse) in the end.

I have had some pretty disappointing stoneware glaze results this week, and those firings take over 24 hours before you find out if you have something amazing or mediocre. At least raku gives almost instant gratification, even if it does mean smelling like a bonfire and standing around outside on a cold damp day.


raku leaf dish

One of my regular customers asked me for raku beads of a certain colour, but with the unpredictability of the process they weren’t quite the colour she asked for, although they were still very lovely, and she liked them.

raku beads

Refiring can really change the look of a raku glaze, and I’ve found firing in the large gas kiln, or my small Paragon SC3 kiln gives different results. So does the size of the combustion bin, and what’s inside it.

raku pendants

raku pendants

I made a little video of the leaf plate to show the colours off to their best, it looks amazing don’t you think?

 

 

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My Exploration Of The’ Upsidedown’

You may be thinking from my title that I’ve been watching Stranger Things on TV and you would be right, however that’s not what I’m talking about here, I’m talking about reflections.

Remember my Druids Temple walk, the reflections of the trees in the Burn and the play of light on the water just had to be explored.

My intentions were, do a few sketches of what I liked then translate them into a design for ceramic underglaze decoration, but that’s not quite what happened.

I did do some doodles of things I liked.
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Using different mediaP1470171This one got me thinking of textile work using machine embroidery, but that’s not what happened next, although I might get there eventually.
P1470172Instead I got out my paints and pastels to explore colour and some little paintings emerged.
reflection paintingsI like the semi abstract quality of only seeing the reflections, this is my upside down world.

But I still have ideas to develop further for ceramic and textile work. I do love not knowing quite where my journey will take me when I start an exploration like this.

 

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New work inspired by Diatoms

A succinct post from me today; I’ve so much I want to do, so in a nutshell here’s some new design work that’s keeping me occupied today.

I’ve had a thing for diatoms for a long time but I’ve only just gotten round to using them in my designs.

Diatoms are a type of microalgae, and among the most common types of phytoplankton. I don’t have a microscope but there are plenty of images of diatoms on the internet if you look.

I got distracted the other day when I was at my computer ordering some glazes, and a few doodles ended up on my shopping list. This time I was determined to explore further and actually make something inspired by my doodles.
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Why do I like diatoms?

It’s the simplicity and diversity of their form. Once I got going with my own ‘diatoms’ I couldn’t stop doodling in clay.

I can’t wait to get them fired and glazed.
P1470091More in another post soon.

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Sunday morning – Ennerdale on my mind

The clocks went back yesterday, I awoke with sunlight streaming through the window and my thoughts turned to walking around Ennerdale. Last year I saw a flock of jays at this time of year so I wanted to see if they were there again this year.
EnnerdaleWhen we got there the car park was overflowing, it seems Ennerdale was on everyone’s mind today. So what do you do to escape the crowds ?

Head off piste and go up, that’s what.

So we took a small track off through the wood, new ground for us. I loved the sunlight on the mosses, I’m sure Tatania would be very happy making her bed here.
EnnerdaleOver a stream.
EnnerdaleThere were quite a few waterfalls.
EnnerdaleEnnerdaleI love birch trees in the Autumn sunlight
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We had never ventured up this track before but it was so beautiful, and we had it to ourselves. There has been some talk of introducing lynx to Ennerdale, I’m not so sure it would be a good idea.

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Soon the path widened out into a trail for the Forestry Commission vehicles, the climb was steady but quite gentle.

EnnerdaleThen we came to an old quarry and the track narrowed through the heather, the trees had been cut down and so the view up the Ennerdale valley opened up to us.
EnnerdaleOnwards and upwardsEnnerdale
EnnerdaleWe climbed to the summit of Bowness Knott, looking down over the sheer crag made my stomach do a somersault. I love fell walking but I don’t like sheer drops.
P1470054We retraced our steps down but first I took in that magnificent view of Pillar, Steeple and Haycock.
EnnerdaleBack along the lakeshore, , you see the craggy fell with a few trees on top, that’s where we ended up. Somehow 4 hours had passed, we only set out to walk a couple of miles but it ended up as a 12 mile walk. I wish I’d taken some sandwiches.Ennerdale

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Fun on a dull wet Saturday

What do you do on a dull wet Saturday in October?

I would guess most women would go shopping, or out for lunch maybe. P1460976Saturday is my day for a bit of ‘me time’, but that usually means making something just for me, or trying out some new idea, but not working on orders or sales.

The postman brought me these chargers that I bought secondhand off ebay.

P1460977Why does she need chargers I hear you ask yourself.

Well, if you remember my ‘dinner plates’ that I made on the wheel were more ‘diet plates’; just a bit too small. They were as big as I could go on my batts ( don’t think I have the skill yet to bring the edge out wider than the batt) so I had to think of a way to make larger plates.

So the plates would have to be rolled out using the slab roller, then moulded on the chargers, (a dinner plate would be a bit too small when the plates are fired).

P1460979OH was roped in to roll the clay, I can manage 1 board on top but not two.

P1460980The clay was a bit too sticky so it was stacked on plasterboards for a little while.P1460981While I was waiting for it to firm up a bit I threw a couple of bowls. Centering is getting easier, and I didn’t have to trim my rims at all, so that’s progress.

P1460982If you are a maker, do you collect all kinds of stuff that might come in handy later ?

OH went off to watch the sport having completed some artwork of his own.

P1460983The pizza base would make a good template as it’s just bigger than the chargers.

P1460984I rolled the clay down a bit more by hand, my notebook tells me that I made the other plates a ruler and 2 cards thick. I also use wooden battens when rolling clay but if I want thinner clay then rulers are perfect.

P1460985The clay was ribbed then flipped onto the chargers, there’s a circle of newspaper in the base to help in removing them when they are leather hard. They were trimmed around the edge with a needle tool and pressed into the form with a damp sponge.

P1460989I left them a while and threw some Christmas presents, but I can’t show you those.

Then the charger was sat on the wheel, (they just fitted) and I sponged the plates to give them that wheel thrown look.

P1460991Now they are drying slowly under plastic so they don’t warp. I think I will glaze them slightly differently to my other dinnerware pieces and have a light coloured middle, and a border to match my set. I did consider doing something decorative on the rims like stamping or sgraffito but maybe that will be another project……

I have an idea 🙂

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Circular walk to the Druids Temple

At this time of year it’s lovely to walk down quiet country lanes, there’s so much to see. I’ve never walked in this part of Yorkshire before so everything was new to me.

P1460361The route took us past the river Burn.

P1460365The dark waters reflecting a pale blue grey sky and the contrast between water and foliage gave me a buzz.

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Also the linear quality of the treesP1460369

With leaves floating on the surface of the water.P1460371When you walk quiet country lanes you can get quite close up and personal with nature, we saw more pheasants than I could count, lots of small birds including a flock of at least a dozen bullfinches, this was the highlight of my day, I’ve never seen more than a pair before.

P1460395We arrived at the folly which is the Druid’s Temple, commissioned by William Danby of the Swinton Estate. It was built in the 1820 to provide work for the locals, an interesting and unusual place.

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P1460417I love the way nature make it’s home in the nooks and crannies and on the stone itself.P1460418

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P1460438We walked through the woodland.P1460449Leighton reservoir and Ilton Moor.

P1460446More follies.P1460452Animal tracks, I think these are deer.P1460454Skeins of geese.P1460473A ford to cross, fortunately there was a footbridge.P1460477Beautiful mighty beech trees with gnarly roots.P1460489Lovely textures of Autumn.P1460492As well as the colours of the season.P1460499Swinton Park looked rather impressive with its country club, spa, restaurant, and cookery school but I don’t think we would be welcome in our muddy boots.

P1460502So we headed on to the lovely town of Masham for lunch.

P1460506And a visit to the brewery

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P1460508For a well earned pint of Theakstons Old Peculier and a rest

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Before heading back via Ripon RowelP1460513

To Fearby, a lovely quiet Yorkshire village.P1460522

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Grassington revisited – the day the sun turned pink and the sky sepia.

Last Monday we had a trip to Grassington.

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I love this little Yorkshire town, the locals say it’s a village.

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We were lucky enough to live here for a couple of years and I fell in love with the place.

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Our little cottage looked just the same, although it looks a little overgrown. P1460279I couldn’t wait to head down to the river Wharfe, this was my favourite walk, I watched the river on an almost daily basis in all weathers, it has a special place in my heart and has inspired me so much . Today I wasn’t disappointed, it looked  different for sure, more about that in a moment.P1460291

Linton Falls was somewhere I’d head off to every day to say hello to the river, and study how the river looked. Today the river was thundering, you can hear it before you see it, but not as high as I have seen it. In full spate all these rocks are under water.

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The water was brown, it’s always brown and peaty, but it wasn’t just the river that was brown today, something very eery was going on, something I’ve never seen before.

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The sky was a strange sepia colour, and the sun pink, it was very, very strange, it looked like an eclipse.

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The dim sepia lighting was strange but it had the effect of flattening and softening the scene,so it was down to the Autumn hues to bring the scene to life.

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P1460334I retraced my walk to Hebden wide eyed, I had walked this path so many times but it never looked quite like this before.

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This is one of my favourite trees along the walk, I’ve stood under it so many times looking up through the boughs.

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Autumnal inspiration

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P1460349On my walk back the sky was still sepia, the birds were silent except for a lone thrush, who seemed just as bewildered by it all as me.

P1460358It was only later that evening when I saw the news that I found out the cause of this strange sky, it was due to Saharan dust being carried by hurricane Ophelia; at least we know the cause of all this strangeness.

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