My potting progress – throwing different clays

I took some of my pots out of the kiln this morning, I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about opening the kiln. Now I’m thinking one of these days the results may surpass the excitement of wondering, then I’ll know I’m getting the hang of this pottery stuff. But having said that I’m quite happy with the results considering I have had my wheel less than 2 months.

I haven’t done any throwing this week but I did have pots waiting to be fired. So far I have tried throwing 3 different clays. The first one is a Scarva ball clay which is said to be good for beginners, and it can be fired to earthenware and stoneware temperatures.

Then wanting to have a go with something different I opened a bag of heavily grogged clay, which I found out to be a tile clay. Although this clay is coarse and a little exfoliating on the hands I found I could get a pot that kept it’s shape well, I liked it.

Then I tried porcelain flax clay, which is mainly for hand building and is very, very sticky and not the best clay for throwing.

So I have some finished pots today, they are all a bit ‘wabi sabi’ but I like that, perfection is for machines 🙂 I’ll talk you through which clay is which in my photos.

Last time I met up with friends I said I’d make tapas when they next visit, so I thought it would be fun to make tapas bowls.
P1400819All of these pots except the one in the front are made from tile clay, I love the rustic look but they are really quite coarse on the base, but I have a plan, I will cold work them on my grinder.

P1400821This is my breakfast set, remember I made OH one for his birthday. It’s made from the Scarva buff ball clay but fired to vitrification. The large bowl has a few pinholes so I might fire it again. I used a mixture of a couple of celadon glazes and glazed them on the wheel.

P1400822These two pots are some of my first, they are made from Scarva ball clay. They really quite heave as they have thick bases but I love that weightiness in the hand. They feel very stable so I’m going to use these for water and some Japanese ink that my daughter gave me. This beautiful treasure of a sketchbook is made by Heather of Hilltop Bindery I love it. So now I need to make a brush rest and a brush tray to complete the set.

P1400826I’m showing this little porcelain pot from it’s best side, I think it was too soft when I trimmed it so it leans a bit. I do love these glazes, I can’t decide if I should do some more work with overglazes and platinum.

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Another Scarva ball clay pot, it’s one of my thinnest pots so far, it feels like it should be a sake cup, but maybe it could be a large egg cup for a duck or goose egg, seeing it’s Easter 🙂

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I have some pots in the kiln now bisque firing. I love the journey of learning new things.

Happy Easter, whatever you are doing

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Roughton Gill Walk

We had a nice sunny couple of days so we went to explore new ground. From a geological point of view Roughton Gill is a very interesting place, it’s apparently a mecca for mineral collectors, but alas all I found was a few quartz crystals. There has been mining here since Elizabethan times, and a vast array of minerals have been found here. You can see a full list of minerals found here. Apparently there are some stunning specimens from this area in the National History museum.

It was a beautiful walk on great paths.

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This is not on the tourist trail so we had the place to ourselves most of the way, no yuppies in brand new gear. I do so cherish some isolation from time to time.
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The sheep seemed to take an interest in us .
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And the puddles had signs of life too.
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Someone had kindly made some seats so we could have our picnic in comfort.

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The waterfall at the head of the valley was rather special don’t you think?

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This will be a walk we will do again in the not so distant future, but now I’m off to do some design work inspired by the rock, lichen and river photos I took along the way. I will show you in another post soon.

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Throwing progress and March in review

This month has flown over, I’m really loving learning to throw pots, I think I should have got a wheel a long time ago.

Today was a special day as my very first thrown pots were glaze fired yesterday, it seemed to take ages before the kiln was cool enough to open.

This is OH’s birthday present, I promised him a cereal bowl.

P1400616I made him a beaker as well, it’s a beaker because my attempt a pulling a handle was absolute rubbish.

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I’m going to use this one for mixing salad dressing

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This one with the lip was my very first wheel thrown piece, these are rather chunky so I gave them a grey granite glaze which works rather well. I will be using this one for things like mint sauce.

P1400619I think this is my favourite so far.P1400622This is the largest one from my first batch, it’s a bit wonky but the glaze enhances it don’t you think?

P1400625These are recent makes still drying out, I have managed to go a lot thinner.

P1400615Yesterday I decided to try out some different clay that was lying around , it’s heavily grogged and probably too rough to use for food, the plan was to make some tapas dishes, I might have to order some new clay but these will get used in the studio for storing stuff.

P1400612And this is a porcelain bowl that I threw this morning , just to see what it felt like to throw. It will need quite a bit of trimming, I didn’t want to fiddle with it in case it collapsed.

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I am really enjoying throwing, I prefer doing it standing up, I think I need to try and throw something taller , that might be easier sitting at the wheel, but that’s the beauty of having a tabletop wheel. Also I need to re think the studio layout and probably move my painting stuff indoors as there’s too much dust out there now.

So what else have I made this month? Not much as I’ve had family here, but my duck that I made when my friend came over has made it into the garden.

P1400611And I’ve painted some tiles which I’m off to frame up right now.P1400629My plan for April is to continue practicing throwing, but also work on some surface decoration techniques bringing some of what I do already into my new work.

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A Week of R & R

I took time out last week with my family, and what a wonderful week we had, the sun shone every day and some days were hot enough to sit in the garden amongst the daffodils and gaze upon blue skies and snow capped fells.

We did the tourist thing including some of my favourite leisurely walks, the views were spectacular.

This is Skiddaw
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Castlerigg Stone Circle
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DerwentwaterP1400506

We got to see 6 buzzards soaring above the distillery.
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And even the Isle of Man looked closer than usual
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This is one of my favourite spots above Loweswater
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It was a bit misty when we went to Buttermere  but it was a perfect day for pictures to inspire watercolours as the aerial perspective created by the hazy conditions flattened the landscape.
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I love these tree branches against the sky, I may use them in some of my digital textile work.
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P1400567The larches were starting to green up, I’m not sure if they are leaves or needles, I will have to google that one.
P1400577I’ve walked this path many times but I had never noticed the heart shaped cleft in the fellside before.
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Beautiful birch bark

P1400598And while I was taking some inspirational photos my family meandered on

P1400564A little bit of cloud started building at the end of our walk on our last day together but we managed to sit outside for a pub lunch before heading home.
P1400602Now it’s back to reality, my family have gone, we have rain, wind, and work to do, but it was the most perfect week.

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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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