Tableware progress – bigger dishes!

I decided not to throw anything until I glazed some pieces and made a bit of room in the studio, but the other day I slipped out to have a look at something in the studio and it just happened!

Out came the clay and I wasn’t seen again until I had made some serving bowls. For some unknown reason things seemed to just work. Centering was much easier, I even centered two balls of clay on top of each other to make a large serving platter. It’s as wide as I can go on my batts, the biggest thing I’ve thrown to date and perfect for roasting vegetables.
throwing progressThen came a straight sided dish that will fit in the halogen cooker.
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Also a pie plate.

P1460077They still need a bit of trimming but I have left them on the batts a little too long so instead of wiring them off I’m hoping, like my plates they just pop off as they dry.

I made a little jug too.
P1460078And a lidded pot, with a gallery and a knob on the lid, I was on a roll.
P1460079That’s until I tried the lid in the pot upside down ( I’d read that was a good way to dry them as the fit together better)
The problem was I should have let them get leather hard first. So half a day later I had managed to get them apart, but the lid was reduced in size with all the trimming and I messed up the gallery, which I fixed. The lid is a little slack now but there is the thickness of the glaze to consider, and at least it doesn’t fall inside.
P1460100This 18cm tall jug has just come off the wheel, it’s too soft to put the handle on it just now. This is my tallest piece so far, I keep thinking back to my first piece which I made 7 months ago, things are definitely growing 🙂

I’m continuing glazing, but I admit it’s not my favourite thing to do, I may have shown these already, forgive my excitement but my pile of dishes is growing. We have eaten off them too, the large bowls are perfect for a hearty soup, noodles or porridge.
P1460090The mugs are smaller than I like but they are fine for an after dinner coffee, I can make some larger ones eventually. I did have an issue with the glaze running onto the batt on a couple of mugs so I will have to try and grind them smooth, fortunately I made 2 spares  of everything.
P1460095The plates have stayed flat, no cracking or warping, but they are more of a breakfast plate than a dinner plate, maybe I should call them weightwatcher plates.
P1460093Then there’s my small dessert bowls, maybe too small, but ok for ice cream, fruit or yoghurt.
stoneware bowlsI have my fingers crossed for the serving bowls, I hope they come off the batts soon, and as for the rest of the glaze firings , no more runs please!

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A close encounter of the best kind

When we were out walking the other day we almost stumbled over this very fine creature.
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I have had close encounters with hares before but usually, if I have a camera with me they run off before I can get a good picture.

A hare will instinctively to sit very still to avoid being taken by predators. Once I managed to get quite close up and personal with 4 leverets but I didn’t have my camera with me that day. Today I was ready as I’d been photographing the view.
I took quite a few photos and inched my way closer and closer to the hare, but it was sitting very still so all my photos are much the same.
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I crept up as close as I could, about 6 feet away. Then off he went, light a lightening bolt.
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P1450153Hares are one of my favourite creatures so you can guess what I painted when I got back home.

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Blake Fell – a wildlife walk

We walk Blake Fell so often I thought I wouldn’t bother taking my camera today as I didn’t intend to blog about it. But you never know what you might see and today was no exception .

I didn’t want to blog the same old Blake Fell walk I have shown many times before, however today was different, we had a few encounters with the wildlife up there.

Firstly a flock of meadow pipits.

meadow pippit 3Then as we climbed higher into the heather and bilberries the ground was littered with hairy caterpillars, I didn’t know the species until I came home. They are oak eggar moth caterpillars.
oak eggar catapillarThere must have been tens of thousands of them
P1460029Watching our footing we headed for the summit, what I love about this walk is the terrain is varied, there are some very steep parts but you get a flatter area to get your breath back before another steep part. This is the summit and where we will have our well earned lunch.

P1460019I love these little wind shelters, believe me it can be blowing a gale up here but today it was still, calm and relatively silent.
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The only sound at this time were the meadow pipits, and a raven, who we spotted sitting on his lookout post surveying his kingdom, just like us really.
raven 1Such a magnificent bird.
raven 2After eating our lunch with the best view in the world we started back down. I can’t go without a couple of scenery shots, the Lake District is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK after all.
P1460051I got OH to name the peaks, I know some but I can’t remember them all.
N W Fells THe Lake District

This is one of my favourite views.
P1460052Grasmoor has to be one of my favourite fells, it has my respect as it’s probably one of the worst descents I’ve encountered, but that’s another tale to tell.
North Western Fells, CumbriaHave a great weekend whatever you are doing.

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I eventually bit the bullet and did it!

I bit the bullet and finally glazed one place setting of what I had called my ‘dinner set’. I had already realised that my dinner plates were too small, more of a breakfast plate size.

I have just opened the kiln to reveal all, the plate on the top shelf was just the colour I was hoping for, and the glaze looked even…… result!

The next batt revealed the bowls and mug, yes they all survived the firing and the glaze looks pretty good, although it’s more green and not as dark blue as I had hoped for, but I still like it so it’s not a problem.

I think my mugs and dessert bowls could have been larger but as this is my first crack at it I’m happy enough with them. This is more of a luncheon set than a dinner set, for soup and a sandwich, some fruit salad and coffee these would be just perfect.

I have another 9 of everything to glaze and then I can make some larger mugs and plates, some serving dishes, a tea set, oh the list is growing.

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I do love them though and can’t wait to use them, better get some more glazed so OH and myself can enjoy eating off them at the weekend. Smaller plates aren’t a bad thing, they will be good for my waistline. I’m chuffed to bits with how they have come out, what do you think of the glaze colour?

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Deep joy opening the kiln…….but……

It was deep joy indeed when I opened the kiln on Friday, however I soon realised I need to keep better notes. I must remember to write stuff down.

It’s been weeks since I glazed these vases, it was the second time for glazing as the first time round the colours didn’t run and merge together. These are Botz stoneware glazes which I layered up and also gave them a coat of a Botz product called Brilliant Effect, this makes the glazes run and gives some lovely effects.

I realised I’d not applied it thick enough the first time these pots were fired so I reapplied glazes and BF and fired again. Result!

 

P1450652I love making these little pouring bowls and I love the way this one has turned out, it has some pinholes so I may decide to fire it again. I love the effect on this pot but here lies the problem.

P1450653I forgot to write down the glaze combinations for each pot, I know there’s turquoise granite on this little pourer, and I know the glaze combinations are based on the tests I did for my dinner set but which is which?

Here’s the test tiles again to compare.

botzI think I can safely say this little thistle vase is number 3. Creme and Ice Crystal, the only reason I remember is because my daughter liked this one best.

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I really don’t know what this one is.P1450665

I suspect this is number 1. which was my favourite, Creme, Turquoise Granite and Blue Black Speckle. It’s a gorgeous vibrant blue, with white green and turquoise runs.P1450669

So in future I need to write things down, the memory is not what it used to be .

I think I have made my mind up finally for the dinner set , I’m going to glaze with Blue Black Speckle ( as I thought I would ), it’s giving consistent results, I like the colour and the satin look. Here’s another serving bowl which came out the kiln on Friday, I do like the way the BBS glaze has broken on my ribbed dish. Also if I keep adding to my set if I use a glaze straight out of the pot I should get consistent results each time, so Blue Black Speckle is a winner!

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I’m just about up to date with my work so hopefully the dinner set glazing should commence next week 🙂

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My Ikigai – Raku Firing

Ikigai is a trending Japanese term which means something similar to Raison d’etre; a reason for being. Or putting it simply a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Having a kiln is most definitely my reason to get up early, when opening the up kiln every morning is like Christmas morning.

At the moment I especially enjoy raku firing. On a dry bright Autumn morning what’s not to like, being out in the garden with the trees changing colour, birdsong and even a visit from a hedgehog. To top it all you don’t have to wait til the next day to see the fruit of your labours.

Getting back to the raku glazes I mentioned in an earlier post; before I hurt my ribs I did some glazing and took photos to see if I could work out what affects the glaze colours, it’s all in my earlier post but basically I photographed the leaves with the glaze pots so I knew which glaze was on which leaf.
ceramic leaves collageHere are the leaves after firing in their groups, they weren’t all fired at the same time. The first group of leaves were glazed by OH, who got roped in to help, the colours are not as colourful  as I have gotten with this glaze so I think he has applied the glaze too thin. ( Shh don’t tell him ). Some have nice copper colours and one has a bit of light blue which is lovely.

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This raku leaf has a blue / copper glaze , the results are much the same as I’ve had before.leaf to hang on wall

These 2 leaves have a glaze called cosmic copper which doesn’t always look as good as this, I did put the glaze on thicker this time.copper leaves

There’s not much to say about these in terms of colour they are similar, but you can see the speckled effect you get from throwing on sawdust in the reduction chamber.

raku leaves wall art

These 2 leaves look quite different, I will mention the colour in a moment.

ceramic leaves

Another 2 leaves where one has more colour than the other. I was amazed when I opened up the bucket and saw the colour on this leaf and the one above. What had happened was the 2 leaves had lain on top of each other and where they overlapped the colour was intense.

 

Raku leaves

Here’s another pair of leaves that came out much the same, but the other oak leaf has a lot of colour; this leaf had been fired before but I didn’t like the result so it was given another coat of different glaze and refired, the combination of 2 glazes could have affected the result but I don’t know.

Raku leaves from Kiln Fired ArtThis is how it looked before, it is a lot nicer now.

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Although most leaves with the same glazes are very similar I think I have learned a couple of things. Firstly  I think a thicker application of glaze gives a better chance of good colour.

Also, as I already know the reduction process is key. I think I may try overlapping leaves deliberately, and I might even try putting one in the chamber upside down, but that may not work so well as the sawdust is likely to blacken it.

So all in all it was a great reason to get up in the morning, so what’s your ikigai?

 

 

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A bit of yarn bombing!

I’ve had a few days away in a sleepy village in the Scottish Borders. The kind of village where you might see a car drive through every 15 minutes, a bit like stepping back in time and very peaceful.

P1450083However all was not quite as it seemed at first glance, just look at the phone box.
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The locals were lovely but we couldn’t get a word out of this lady.

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The village had been yarn bombed, with a tea party theme

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This chap really made me smile.

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We loved the village, the pub was great, and we had a lovely walk , and saw some amazing wildlife but more about that later, I’m still recovering from hurting my ribs and I can’t sit at the computer for very long so see you later 🙂

 

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Raku Alchemy – Part 1

Last weekend we spent Sunday firing raku pieces, it’s a shame it is weather dependant but somehow that adds to the magic of the process.

Yes, I do think raku is magic, a bit of alchemy. Just look at the colour on this leaf.

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There were other leaves that had the same glaze as but they didn’t give the same results as this one incredible leaf. So you can see where I’m coming from in terms of alchemy. I want to have a greater understanding of the process.

There must be something in the small details of the firing process, firstly temperature, and time to reach that temperature, I’m using a thermocouple so the temperature should be uniform.

20170909_102448Next the time taken and temperature of the piece as it goes into the reduction bucket. I’m not so sure this makes a great deal of difference as some pieces sit around longer in the kiln than others and they come out (sometimes) with great colours.

20170909_102505Then there are the combustibles, sawdust, newspaper and cardboard, but on this firing I’ve been consistent in using only sawdust. Each time I’ve let the bucket flame for a few seconds before putting on the lid. I’ve noticed that when the flames ‘kiss’ the glaze often the colours appear, but not always. Also as this is a reduction process the exclusion of air is important so a tight fitting lid helps a lot. I’m not sure how fast or how long the piece is left to cool makes much difference as the colours seem to appear as soon as the flames go out and don’t seem to change as the piece cools down.
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So there are lots of possible reasons some pieces might have more colours than another piece with the same glaze, I haven’t mentioned glaze application, but all these pieces had 2 coats of glaze.

So for my next firing I’m going to try and remember which pieces have what glaze so I can compare the results after firing to see how the colours vary using the same glaze.

I took some photos with the leaves and glaze so I can identify which is which after firing

I have ammended this post as I intended having the leaves fired before posting but I had to postpone the firing yesterday as I’m resting with very sore ribs. So there will be a second post showing the results when I’m able. Good things are worth waiting for ☺

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It’s time to stock up.

It’s that time of year again when I need to knuckle down and  get back to work after a fairly leisurely summer, and make new stock for my galleries; and so the build up to Christmas begins.  I find it very hard to mention that word before November.

While my work is cooking away in the kilns I have been adding some earring charms to my Etsy shop. Adding stuff to Etsy is quite time consuming so I need to be more organised now, each morning I get a kiln loaded first before sitting down to the computer to add some stock to Etsy. Next there will be bowls and raku leaves and other gift ideas. I’m used to the rhythm of this pre Christmas period as I’ve done it long enough now but by Christmas Eve I know I will be shattered, still it’s a long way off so I’ll just keep making and listing.

ceramic earring charmsLet’s hope this rain doesn’t go on too long as I have leaves to raku fire before I can deliver the new stock to the galleries.

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A trip to Ennerdale show

 

The sun decided to shine on us so we headed off to Ennerdale show. I love country shows, Ennerdale show has a particularly intimate feel, nestled between the fells in one of my favourite places.

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There were vintage cars on show
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And vintage tractorsP1440908

Steam engines, this steam butter churn was my favourite.

P1440903We stood in the sunshine watching the different categories of horses and ponies being judged.

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P1440919P1440947They really put them through their paces

P1440911Next we went to look at the livestock, the Herdwick sheep are my favourite. They were brought here by the Vikings.
P1440934They look so cuddly

P1440940Then the fowl, love this fluffy one.P1440924And Jemima
P1440922We found the perfect vantage point for our picnic on top of this hillock.

P1440952It was a great place to sit and watch the fell races, those runners must be incredibly fit.

P1440970We missed the start of the hound trail but we did see the finish. The trail is an aniseed one, this sport is taken very seriously in Cumbria.
P1440967Then it was time for the Cumberland wrestling so we headed back to the showground to get a better view. This is the juniors bout.

P1440975Then a couple of guys from the contingent from Brittany.
P1440978The wrestlers faces were so full of expression
P1440981The moves were entertaining, each bout started and ended with a handshake, and it was the best of 3 bouts for each pair of wrestlers.

P1440991The ladies from Brittany

P1440988The final bout, the guy in blue had fought several rounds, this was the bigger guy’s first bout. There was quite a size difference, Jan from Brittany won but John gave him a good run for it.
P1450004Country shows are a great day out and each has it’s unique appeal, there’s always something different to see. It’s something that brings the local community together, there were competitions for art and craft, vegetables, baking etc in the marquees.

It’s a great British tradition, I had a great day out.

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