Ancient Tribal Jewellery Components

Remember not so long ago I designed some new ceramic jewellery components, mainly ceramic pendants with a hand carved and stamped design based on the whirlpool Corryvreckan? You can read about it here.

I decided to use the same stamp on some new black clay and make some rustic pendants and earring charms.

I was disappointed when I opened the kiln as they were a lot more ‘rustic’ than I’d planned. I couldn’t see the potential for these pieces and that’s where my Facebook friends stepped in with fresh eyes and suggested I try out a wash of metallic acrylic paint on them.

I have to say I am more than happy with these pieces now. They now look like they have just been dig up, my mind is thinking of ancient tribal jewellery fit for an Iceni queen, jewellery for Boudicca. Or Cartimandua queen of the Brigantes, or maybe something a Viking shield maiden would wear.

Ancient tribal ceramic jewellery components

Ancient tribal ceramic jewellery components

Ancient tribal ceramic jewellery components

Ancient tribal ceramic jewellery components

Ancient tribal ceramic jewellery components

Ancient tribal ceramic jewellery components

Ancient tribal ceramic jewellery components

Ancient tribal ceramic jewellery components

I’m pleased that I now have two completely different styles to add to my range of ceramic jewellery components in my Etsy shop, now I just need to find the time to list them.

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My weekend catch – raku ceramic fish

We braved the weather last weekend to have another raku firing as I needed stock to deliver to a gallery. One good thing about it being windy, it blew the smoke away.

The firing was a bit of a mixed bag with a few breakages. The pieces that broke were the new fish pieces, which always broke in the same spot.

  • Is there a weak point in the design?
  • Is the clay too thick where the hanger attaches?
  • Are the fish too thin?
  • Are we heating them too quickly?

Hopefully things will be resolved on the next firing.

I did get some great results on the ones that didn’t break, well mostly!

If you know the raku process you will know that serendipity plays a big part in the process. I like that, you never quite know what to expect with the glaze colours. These fish have a glaze that’s usually very colourful but this time it’s very dark with some copper. Not what I was hoping for.

Ceramic fish

These two leaping salmon both have the same glaze, but one had less oxygen in the reduction bin so it has more metallic copper colour.

Raku leaping salmon

Raku salmon

The little fish came out fine.
Raku fishes

I just love the shoal of sprats, each one seems to have it’s own identity. I found myself giving them names and little life stories as I was cleaning them. You see the one bottom right, he feels quite smug with himself and considers himself ‘a bit of a looker’, a squid in a bar once told him he had a shark-like smile and now his friends call him Sharkey. When you are as small as a sprat looking like a shark makes you feel like one of the big boys.

I could happily keep these but they are my shop now.

Raku ceramic fish
I had a few losses with the mackerel but a couple with great colours were glued and will get to live with me. Once I get some clay I will be making more.

Broken fish

This one didn’t break so he swam into my shop. I can’t keep them all.Ceramic fish

I think the texture on these raku fish is just gorgeousP1510133

They came out just how I had imagined them, it’s great when that happens.P1510134


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Jam making from foraged fruit.

It’s that time of year again, Autumn is in the air and the hedgerows are yielding their fruitful bounty.

I think the fruit this year is exceptional, so much sunshine followed by lots of rain, I thought my apples would burst. It was time to go picking from the hedgerows.

There is a special place I like to go, up what once was a Roman road, well it’s supposed to have been a road, but now it’s really more like a stream, sometimes dry, and very overgrown.As you can see I had to fight my way through the undergrowth.


My secret bullace tree was laden with fruit, it didn’t bear any fruit last year.

I love foraging, I’ve done it as far back as I can remember, picking blackberries with my Grandpa who used his walking stick to reach into impossible places, hooking fruit laden branches. Then making jam with my Gran.

Two of my Grans cookbooks are where I go for preserves recipes.

One dates back to 1947, it’s an interesting book, it makes me smile as it tells you all sorts of things, like how to put on an afternoon ladies bridge party, what kinds of food to serve as well as a few suggestions for a tipple or two.

The blackberries were very ripe so they were soon made into blackberry and apple jam. I still use a cold plate and the wrinkle test to check for a set, the old ways are simple but if it works who needs a sugar thermometer?Untitled

The rosehips were in such abundance that I had to pick some, not really knowing what to make with them but my trusty cookbooks had a recipe for apple and rosehip honey. It was a bit fiddly but doesn’t the colour look gorgeous and it’s rather good on porridge or a bit of Greek yoghurt.


Next the bullace jam which is quite easy to make if you boil the fruit first then strain out the stones. This is my favourite jam, I daydreamed while I made it, thinking of a Roman nonchalantly discarding a plum stone on his walk up the road. I know this tree can’t be that old but I can dream, maybe it’s a descendant.


The sloes are very good too this year so I picked enough for a couple of bottles of gin.Untitled

Next week I will start making chutneys and freezing apples for pies and crumbles for lovely winter treats, my apple mountain continues to grow daily 🙂

UntitledIf you ever need a jam or chutney recipe I may just have one for you, just shout 🙂

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Raku bowls hot out of the kiln this week.

Finally the weather was perfect last week for a couple of days of raku firing. The firing is done outside and you have to stand around whilst doing it so it has to be a fine day, it’s not  something to do if it’s wet or windy, or even too hot and dry as it was over the summer.

We fired for 2 days, that’s 41 kiln firings in total, I can only get 1 or 2 pots or leaves in the kiln each firing. If you follow on Instagram you will have witnessed some photos and videos live as things happened.

I got some amazing colours on my leaves (which are now in my Etsy shop) but today I want to show you my pots.
Some have the most amazing colours. They show up especially well in a video ( look on my Instagram) a photo doesn’t  capture the iridescence.

This bowl below has a lot of copper and iridescence as well as some crusty craters.

Raku bowl



UntitledSadly this bowl cracked in the base but every cloud has a silver lining, I get to keep it. It was my biggest bowl yet, and with beautiful colour. You can see a line running around the base, that’s the crack.


I had 4 bowls crack in total, it’s a  risky process but I think it was how I had trimmed the foot rings, I’m still learning.

But it’s worth the failures when you get a bowl like this one.
UntitledMost of the bowls will be going off to the gallery but I have kept some smaller ones for my shop, as well as some of the leaves.
I was in a hurry taking these photos, they could be better, and if I could link to my videos you would see that the colours are wonderful. For some reason my phone can’t upload video to Flickr, I need to find out how to do that.

EDITED to say… I did it! 🙂

Here’s another one

Enjoy your Sunday!

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Art Elements August Challenge – Swirls

At first I was very excited about the theme for the Art Elements monthly challenge. I thought swirls was going to be simple, so much to choose from. I had lots of ideas which I dismissed as I wanted to do something  different to what I have made before. I gave myself time for my little grey cells to get working whilst busy doing other things, I’m sure you know how it is, sometimes the ideas just pop in your head when doing mundane things like housework.

Ideas just happened when I wasn’t expecting them, I was booking my holidays for next year and I happened to be thinking about a whirlpool off a favourite Scottish island of mine, it’s called Corryvreckan, what a lovely word 🙂

Corryvreckan Whirlpool

Then out of the blue I started thinking of the work of Margaret McDonald, which I saw at Hill House a few years ago, it was designed by her husband Charles Rennie Mackintosh. I love that house and everything in it but that’s another story.

As much as I love their work I wanted to do something that was totally ‘me’ so I put them out of my mind (or so I thought)  and decided to look through my sketchbooks to see if there were any ideas there which I could develop. There were plenty of wavy and curving lines.
Sketchbook pages

Sketchbook pages

Sketchbook pages

Sketchbook pages

I found some lino stamping in my sketchbook, and thought I could try them out on clay.Sketchbook pages
Next came some very quick swirl scribbles (on a scrap of paper I can’t find now) with thoughts of Corryvreckan. I cut some more stamps based on my swirly scribbles.

Sketchbook pages
Once I stamped my clay I knew Margaret McDonald was still in my head 😊

UntitledSome of my already cut stamps had more swirls than others but while I was at it I thought I’d try them all.
Sketchbook pages

Once bisque fired I glazed some, used underglazes on others and fired some without any decoration, to have the application of china paint later. I made some little hollows in some of the pendants which were filled with glass frit, not knowing how the colours would hold up.


Here are my favourites.


This is my nod to Margaret Mcdonald, some have gold lustre as well as china paint. Those tiny swirls look so much like roses, I wish I could say that was my intention.
UntitledI got a clay order  this week so I set to and made some pieces using black and terracotta clays. I can’t wait to try some glazes out on these pieces but that will have to be for another blog post.

UntitledI do love the quality of line made by stamping lino prints into clay, they are delicate, more so than I could get with tube lining.

I have plans to carve some larger designs one day, but I have a lot of glazing to do in the next few weeks so it may be a while.

Now head over an have a look to see what everyone has made, I do love this part of the challenge.

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Getting to grips with Instagram, and my frame has arrived!

I’ve been trying to up my game on social media, I must admit it’s not really in my nature to do all this social media stuff, but I thought I could manage a daily photo or two on Instagram.

I have been doing this for 2 weeks now, I’ve gained a lot of followers but soon found following everyone back just caused chaos in my feed as I can’t find the people who I like to see whilst having my coffee.

I have shared my Instagram posts onto my Facebook page, ( which I thought was a good thing as FB no longer allow you to post on your personal page from places like WordPress). My insights tell me my reach is up and so is engagement so maybe sharing is a good thing, so long as I’m not boring people and looking spammy.

Twitter doesn’t share your photo, only the Instagram link, do people really click on links?

Getting back to Instagram, in one week I was invited to 2 online galleries, one of which wanted me to pay for the privilege, the other seemed a bit iffy too. That old saying about if it seems to good to be true then it is, came to mind. I was also asked by 2 instagrammies if I wanted to buy followers, why?

All this social media stuff is just not me, it’s wearing and it eats away at my precious time, so you may see a daily post from me but if you really want to know what I’m up to then my blog is the place to be. Having said that I like the immediacy of Instagram, maybe you only see an odd post, like a snapshot of my day, but later you would see the whole story on my blog. I think they work well together.

So what have I been doing this week? Glazing and more glazing, waiting for a break in the weather to do a raku firing. Edited to say this happened yesterday  but  you  will  have to wait a while for my post. 😊 Or look on my Instagram  😀

Working on the Art Elements theme challenge, will show you at the end of the month.

Also my frame arrived for ‘The Thread That Binds Us‘ mixed media artwork, I’m so pleased with this third or is it fourth frame, the colour is just perfect for the artwork, don’t you think? It’s not the best photo, it’s a dark brownish grey which really picks up the darks in the prints.
Sticking down all those squares is a nightmare to get them lined up as the binding thread is not the same length everywhere, maybe that’s a metaphor on life.

I have put a key on the back of the picture with an explanation for each square, plant type, where I found it, memories of the day etc. I love this piece very much but then it is full of memories, I think it’s become one of my most treasured possessions.

You might have read about my struggle to find the right frame, let me know what you think, did I make the right choice?

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Screen printing progress.

I have been making pots and ceramic jewellery components this week but will reveal those when they are finished.

So I thought I would show you my screen printing practice pieces, I’m doing an online course with Dionne Swift.

I have learnt 5 different accessible approaches to screen printing and when I have time I will explore these techniques further, I want to combine printing and stitching, and also screen print on ceramics.

I like the way each technique has it’s own particular qualities.

I can’t say too much about the techniques but I can say these first 2 samples have lots of layering

screen print


This next printing technique didn’t quite do what I hoped but some of the other course participants have done some amazing stuff so I will have to give it another go.

Screen printing

Screen printing

This technique was quite random and interesting but sometimes you need to know when to stop……too many layers!

screenprintI love the qualities of line that you get with this technique, nice and sketchy.
Screen printing

Screen printingI have enjoyed learning these different methods used to screen print, I intend to explore them further when I have time, but next time I must be more careful with the dye powders, I inadvertantly dyed my clothes, a sheet, and my foot 🙂

Now I have to get my pots finished before I can experiment with stitch and print, I could use some new cushion covers.


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There’s a change in the air so I need to make pots!

This past week the weather has turned, we have had plenty of rain and it’s back to dull Autumnal weather with sunny spells.
I’m not complaining though, my beloved fells need water to green them up, although it’s almost time for the bracken to turn bronze again. I love the changing seasons.
I did have plans this summer to throw as much as I could and bisque fire so it was there to glaze during the cooler months. This also doubles up in heating the studio making it more inviting to work in when it’s horrible weather.

Who would have thought the weather would be so good this summer? However having so many family celebrations, and travelling quite a bit meant the pots didn’t get made.

So this week it has been back to work in order to catch up. At least we can raku fire responsibly as there is little risk of a field catching fire now since all the rain came down.

I have been making leaves which are drying nicely.

Raku leaves drying

I have lots of bowls waiting to be glazed too, so as you read this I am probably tucked up in the studio listening to Bad Company (my music of choice when doing clay work)  a brush and a pot of glaze to hand.


While I was tidying up this morning I was thinking about what to make next. I have to think of something inspired by swirls for the Art Elements challenge. I have a couple of ideas but nothing is shouting out at me.  Also I would like some dinner plates for Christmas so it’s time to try again, hoping they don’t crack this time. Then there is another bag of raku clay to throw, and my kitchenware pouring bowls are in demand. Told you there was lots of catching up to do…….

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Framing up woes

Sometimes I think it would be easier to find a frame then make the art to go in it.

I finally got round to framing some eco prints with a nice oak veneer frame from the Range, they come with a 3 aperture mount.


I have searched the internet to find a box frame for The Thread That Binds Us. To have an oak one custom made is really quite expensive so I put that idea out of my head and got a bare pine one from The Range, I looked to see what Ikea had but there wasn’t anything suitable.

The bare wood frame needed staining, fortunately I had a dark gel stain left from another project, having stained it up I tried it over my picture but it’s not quite right to me, I have a white frame that would be suitable but I’m not really sure that looks right, I still have a hankering for oak.

So I thought I’d ask your opinion, which do you prefer?

The stained one

IMG_2006You will have to imagine how the oak will look

IMG_2003Or the white wood one?


I also tried black but a box frame in black is too heavy looking.

The jury is still out on this, maybe grey would work, maybe I should keep looking but please let me know what you think, I need your input folks 🙂

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Art Elements July Challenge – Seed Pods

Seed pods and seed heads have been a constant source of inspiration to me over the years so I was happy to see they were Art Elements theme challenge this month. I have used them in my porcelain painting over the years, here’s some lustre painted pieces that I did earlier.

stuff 114

vase1 (2)

This vase has penwork with china paint, and sgraffito white velvet ( which is matt) with shiny mother of pearl lustre over.vase1However as this is a challenge I need to explore new ground, I chose clay as my medium.

I have wanted to make some poppy seedheads for a garden sculpture for some time now.

If you know my clay work you will know I like to make succulent planters and ikebana bowls, I have been thinking of making flower bricks too, which got me thinking of using a seed pod as the starting point for making a ‘flower holder’, these would be fantasy pods but loosely based on the poppy and lotus seedheads.

I thought I would throw the bowl part then alter the shapes and add the cutwork top which supports the flowers.


P1500480I forgot to take photos while I was working , I was so absorbed, here they are sitting drying.

P1500481I made this little vase which is maybe more like a pitcher plant than a pod but I was going with the flow, right😊

P1500482As the weather was really hot I sat in the garden and made some pinched poppy heads, I have to say they are a bit thick, pinching isn’t  my thing.

P1500483So they were left to dry while I went on a trip to Stratford, and then I started a screen printing course. I used an honesty pod as one of my themes, I love these pods, my Gran used to grow them. I think I will have to order myself some seeds.

I was concerned that my  pots wouldn’t survive bisque firing but they did , but I forgot to photograph them before I glazed, I couldn’t fit them all in the kiln unfortunately.

My pots are hot out of the kiln, just in time for the reveal. I have to say I am a bit disappointed with how the glazes turned out, I feel I always have problems with glazing, which is so disappointing having put so much time into making.

Here are the seed pod flower bowls, they all had the same glaze on the same clay and were fired together. I use brush on glazes so I watered some down to glaze the insides and the glaze has crawled. The brownish one had some dry brushing over the first glaze. Why is it when glazes go wrong they go brown and not some wonderful colour.

.I used a glaze I don’t really like called Travertine on the poppy seedheads ( so it’s my own fault ) but I brushed over another creamish buff glaze which I hoped would give amazing results…..wrong!
.My intention was to put these on some metal rods but maybe I will just leave them here hiding amongst the foliage.

Also I put some tiles in the kiln to take to Potfest this weekend, not sure they are good enough though so maybe I will have a look at what’s there first (it is for all levels though).

If I had another couple of days I would show you how I might try and fix some of these mistakes, would another glazing and firing fix crawling?

I have thought about firing some glass frit in the bottom, I was thinking of this before they were glazed so maybe I should just do it.

As for the poppy seedheads, I probably could fix those with some cina paint!

Oh well better luck next time 🙂 If only glazes came out like the catalogue pictures.

Here’s a list of all the participating artist this month, enjoy!

Guest Artists:














Art Elements Team: 














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