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.

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.
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
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.

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.


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.


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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


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.



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


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


Autumnal inspiration


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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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.

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.
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.
I crept up as close as I could, about 6 feet away. Then off he went, light a lightening bolt.
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.

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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