A craft weekend with friends

I love it when we get together with our friends for a weekend of crafting, eating and merriment. Food is prepped in advance so as little time as possible is spent in the kitchen so we can get as much crafting done as possible.

These cheese and marmite rolls were a hit with everyone I will definitely make those again soon.
P1400370There was plenty of cake for snacks to keep up our staying power.
P1400371Just as well because sculpting with chicken wire can be quite exhausting, it’s more physical than I expected, my hands did play up a bit and I have a few war wounds from the wire.
P1400372Here are the finished ducks, I’m really pleased with mine, she’s the one nearest the fire.

P1400375 While we chilled out in the evening Jean and I put our heads together to try and suss out a crochet pattern that wasn’t that easy to follow, we got there in the end, I think I pulled mine out at least 3 times.
P1400376We left the chaps painting watercolours while we did some photo printing on textiles.

P1400384Then we headed to the studio for our own version of the Pottery Throwdown. Two of us had never been on a wheel before, and two of us had had a couple of goes but none of us were ‘experts’ as you can see.   It was a lot of fun though and we all managed to get a pot of some description.

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P1400378The ‘Best Pot’ category was won by Tom, who had never thrown before, I wish I had a photo of his trimmed pot but I seem to have forgotten.

I can’t wait until we have another crafty weekend get together, hopefully sometime soon.

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Note to self…… pay more attention

Last week Veronica invited me to join in with an art challenge. I was in a bit of a rush, as usual so I went over and had a quick read of what the challenge was and mulled over what I was going to do whilst doing other things during the week.

I have friends coming for a craft weekend, which I’m really looking forward to so yesterday  between shopping and a trip to the gym I kept popping out to the studio, adding a wash here and there, then went off to do some scone making or whatever while the painting dried.

So great I thought, I had something finished to schedule on my blog for the weekend, the only problem being I didn’t read and fully absorb the theme of the challenge, I only remembered ‘RITUAL’ and forgot the ‘AND ROUTINES’ part of the challenge.

Now you know it’s not strictly on theme ( I find it hard to stick closely to ‘rules’ anyway) this is how my thought process worked, then you can decide if I pulled off my own challenge with this little piece.

I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for stone circles, I have visited quite a few, Stonehenge, Avebury, Castlerigg, and Callanish come to mind as the most impressive. I also have a ‘thing’ for the Aurora Borealis which I haven’t seen yet, but it’s on my bucket list. I thought about how important stone circles were to the ancients and their ritual practices, and how seeing the Aurora at a stone circle would have to be one of the most amazing sight’s ever.

Then I got to thinking about my composition, how to make the stone shapes and negative space interesting. How to ‘ground’ the stones and link them together, how to paint the aurora in the night sky, maybe have some moonlight dancing on the stones, and how using counterchange, light against dark to hopefully add some drama.

Callanish Stone CircleI really enjoyed this exercise it made me think outside my comfort zone so in that respect it was a success. I get too bogged down in producing finished pieces and earning a crust to find time to play. This one is going into a scrap book, hopefully there will be more little exercises to follow. So thank you Veronica for inviting me to join in, next time I will try to stick to the brief.

Now I’m off to get the studio ready for my friend’s arrival this afternoon.

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My New Toy

Finally after sitting on my table all week I found time to play with my new Shimpo Aspire tabletop wheel. Throwing is something I have wanted to do since I was at school. I longed to ask the teacher if I could have a go at throwing, coiling always seemed so boring by comparison. Also I used to visit Holkham Potteries every year when I was on holiday, I was mesmerised watching the potter sitting up there on his ‘pedestal’  looking so grand in the eyes of a child, and performing magic with a lump of clay.

I’ve never touched a wheel before so I was really apprehensive about  having a go, and as the week wore on I began to feel doubtful, could I ever learn to throw a pot?

So yesterday I had my first go, and this is the result of my very first attempt.

pot

I found getting the pot off the batt very tricky, I managed to distort the pot so I left it til it dried and formed it into a little lipped vessel. I think it’s probably far too thick but I just want to keep it as my first wheel thrown pot.
P1400367I had a lot of failures but a few bowls don’t look so bad if you don’t look too close.

first thrown bowl

OH would like a porridge bowl for his birthday, so no pressure.

first bowlsI know I need a lot of practice, but that’s the fun and challenging part for me, it’s good to  learn new things as we get older, and one day I may be able to throw a half decent pot, until then I shall enjoy the journey, and I love ‘wonky’ anyway as it has so much more character.

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As one kiln closes another opens

Having a monthly review now I feel that I should save up all my makes for the end of the month, so maybe it’s time to review having the review 🙂

The first thing I do when I get out of bed is head up the garden path, usually in my dressing gown and slippers ( sound familiar?) to open my kilns. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, it feels like Christmas every morning when you have a kiln.

So today I have one to load up and switch on, and one to open up, so I thought I’d share this moment with my readers.

This is what’s going in the one I’ve just switched on, the brown stuff will be coloured and shiny once fired. The black pen lines fire away and leave no trace. This is the first stage of one of my handpainted lustre bowls.

P1400362This is what’s on the top batt (shelf) of the kiln I’ve just opened up. The kiln fairies have played nicely.

P1400363I told you it was exciting ( or is that just me?), this is what’s on the second batt.

P1400364And the bottom batt.
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I will give you some better photo’s of my pots at the end of the month once they have some lustre on, I know I’m being a tease 🙂

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February 2017 in review

Well I started my log book with great intentions this month but it went wrong quite early on, I think I was over ambitious as to what I could achieve realistically as February is a short month, and we had friends staying for a few days which was great fun.

So this is what was on my list this month:

Things I want to achieve – Placemats ( custom order),felt pictures, hanging pots, hares and wrens, jewellery components, earrings, herb pots, digital textile art. Work on my Etsy shop.

Health and wellbeing–  healthy eating, meditation and exercise. I fell down here with healthy eating for a few days but I meditated most days and did 6 gym sessions and a few walks.

New things to try out – Lino cut, macrame, sketching, etching glasses, texture plates.

What I actually achieved:

Etched glasses

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Texture plates and a form for ceramic work – More about these in another post, when I have made something with them.

Glazing earrings and pendants –  I showed some of these in my last post but there’s a lot more to glaze, it seems to take ages to get them all glazed fired and listed in my shop.
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Tile paintings- This is the first firing of the boat sheds on Holy Island, I’m working on 4 scenes on tiles which will be mounted on board and framed up, more later.
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Glass light catchers.20170226_094809

Watercolours – I’m continuing with my ‘affordable art’ idea as it has had a great response from people, many pieces have found new homes so quickly and that makes me very happy.
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I still have these two paintings in my shop, what a bargain at just £4.50. I’m just thinking what a great alternative to a card, and they will last as they can be framed up.

small watercolour painting

small landscape painting

Clay work – I am loving playing with clay, these ikebana bowls and succulent planters are drying out waiting for a bisque firing. As you can see I made a vase as well. I have some ideas for new pots too.
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Hanging hares and wrens, and a few fish too, being photographed for my shop
ceramic hanging hares

Placemats for a customer.
glass coasters

All in all I don’t think I’ve done so bad this month but it is a very busy time of year for me, I have shops to stock up for Spring, and I’ve just bought something that’s going to challenge me for a while, and take up a lot of mt time so I better get up to date with my orders before my new toy arrives.

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My succulent pot collection

My succulent pots collection is growing, I think I must start to curb my enthusiasm. They do look lovely on my kitchen windowsill, don’t you think?
succulent planter

I was 2 pots short and wanted to replace the shop bought plant pots I was using with some of my handmade ones.

I love all the different patterns and textures…..

succulent potThey bring together at least 3 of my loves…..
succulent containerTextiles, texture and nature
handmade planterEach pot is unique
planter for succulentsEach pot has a little bit of me in them
unique plant potsI like that.
handmade ceramic potsI’m going to have to make some more for Etsy, and I have more ideas to come.

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Handmade Ceramic Earring Charms

This week I have mainly been working on new listings for handmade ceramic earring charms, also some new pendants too. There will be more pendants and beads to follow.
ceramic earring charms

Etsy launched the new shop manager this week, so far I like it but just when I think I know where something is, it has moved . They are launching Etsy Studio next month, which is for craft supplies, so this is the perfect time to be listing ceramic jewellery making supplies. I have lots more jewellery pieces to glaze, all I need is more time to do it.

I have also had a few days painting tiles, and a couple of days hand building pots. I love the hand building process and the thought that some of me has gone into each piece, but I am thinking I need to get a wheel so I can find out how I feel about throwing, but it’s a big decision.

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Making a paint brush from a feather

I saw a video on Youtube showing how to make a brush from a feather, I love unusual mark making tools so I thought I’d give it a go.

My feathers from Patricia arrived in the post and I set to making a brush
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Cutting the feather went ok
P1400029I soon found that getting a beautiful fine tip on my brush wasn’t that simple, but I think I know where I went wrong. The widest side on the feather needs to be the uncut slanting section. But as I like unusual mark making tools it doesn’t matter, it’s the quality / properties of the line which I’m interested in.

So here are my brushes, I do have handles to put them onto if I choose to do that. I was very keen to have a go so off I went to paint a little watercolour, but I’d forgotten one very important thing……..

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………have you ever seen a wet goose? The phrase ‘water off a duck’s back’ says it all….

I will be using my overglaze enamels in the next few days and I’m confident that my brushes will work with an oil based medium. Watch this space.

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A cold day in Ennerdale

It may have been bitterly cold and quite bleak on Friday but there was beauty to be found if you look for it. Ennerdale was quite magical with brooding skies, snow flurries and views that can’t be bettered .
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I thought these moss covered stones looked amazing, so very tactile, I wanted to stroke them. Some great inspiration for textile work.P1390939

I can’t wait to paint this, I’m loving the colours in the trees and the light on the wind disturbed water, and the reflections.P1390930

Again lovely contrasts in the trees.P1390928Even on a very wintery day there is inspiration everywhere.

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January 2017 Review

I can’t believe January is almost over, it’s usually a difficult month but once the end is in sight, the nights are getting a wee bit lighter, birds start singing and the snowdrops bloom it seems like the worst of the winter is over.

I intended keeping a design / ideas portfolio this year, but so far that hasn’t happened, but there’s time. However I have a new sketchbook of ideas and a notebook of ‘stuff’. This ‘stuff’ notebook has interested me the most, basically it’s divided into 3 sections:

Things I want to achieve – this includes custom orders,  things I need to restock, and gallery makes.

Health and wellbeing–  healthy eating, meditation and exercise, dry January.

Things to try out – During January I always like to venture down the path of trying something new, or picking up something I haven’t done in a while, this helps me recharge my creative batteries following the madness of December.

Each day I put a tally mark next to the things I’d done in each section, as you can see I never did get round to doing scrumbles, but there’s always another month.
notes

I’m quite surprised to see what I have actually achieved this month.
I got a leatherworking book for Christmas so a tooled leather belt was my first make of the year.
I also got a digital textiles book, which has me totally hooked, I was very pleased with this piece. You can read about my digital adventure here.
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I painted quite a few little watercolours, just for the joy of it. I love juicy watercolours.

Buttermere reflections

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I made a few felt pictures too. I’m looking forward to doing some larger pieces.

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I have been working with clay for the last week or more,  I have enough now to fire up the kiln. I am looking forward to glazing, that’s when they come to life, from mud to a glassy wonder, well if it all goes to plan that is.
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Now I need to write a list of what I hope to achieve in February!

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