Kick starting creativity with a workshop

I have spent the last 2 weeks getting my creative juices flowing by doing a workshop with Dionne Swift

I chose to do Dionne’s online course Developing Sketchbooks. This is a very well structured course for developing creative ideas using a range of techniques given to you each day via email and video links. There’s also a facebook group to chat and share work with your classmates.

I hope to take another online course with Dionne soon.

Here’s some of my sketchbook pages

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So my challenge now is to think about how I could translate some of my sketchbook pages into finished work, ideas for glass fusing, ceramics and textiles are forming in my mind.

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What day of the week is it?

Since the turn of the year I seem to have my days all mixed up, I think because I’m not going to the gym (since OH’s accident) I have lost my ‘yardstick’ for measuring the passing of the days.  Before it was either the day before gym, or the day after.

So I decided it was time to try and get back into a routine, the holidays are over, there’s work to be done. I was having a glaze firing so at least the studio was warmer than it has been of late, it’s not very inviting to go out and work when you feel you are going uncomfortably numb.

It’s been a while since I’ve thrown anything, maybe a couple of months, I’ve dreamt about throwing, I dreamt couldn’t remember how to do it.

I decided to throw some raku bowls first, everything went fine.

P1480758Then I decided to have a go with some semi porcelain. I have tried and failed with this clay before, it’s a difficult clay ( to me anyway ). I decided a fluid rim would be lovely on these little bowls, I textured the outside, they look and feel very tactile. I think this would be enhanced with a celadon glaze.

P1480756The 2 clays are really quite different, imagine making a pot with cement and compare that to making a pot with butter, that’s how the semi porcelain feels after sanding my fingernails down with the raku clay.

I do love the feel of s p though, it’s like silk between the fingers; honey rich sticky silk, if only it didn’t want to flop when you reach a decent sized pot.

I  have really enjoyed this past week ( if only there were more hours in the day)  I’m doing an online sketchbook course with Dionne Swift, something to keep me busy indoors when it’s too cold to head out to the studio. I have another week to explore the techniques I’ve learned then I can translate some of my work into ceramics and textiles.
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5 Highlights of 2017

  1. I got a wheel                                                                                                                                      I started to teach myself to throw in March, this is my first pot.

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I practiced, and practiced

potsNow I have some tableware that we use every day.

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I also made a raku kiln and fell in love with the results
20170909_1146542. My family came home for a visit                                                                                    It’s unusual for us all to be home at the same time.
P14005643. A trip to Wells next The Sea                                                                                                I think of Wells as my second home as I spent so much time there as a child; fond memories!
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4. Wildlife watching                                                                                                                        Highlights were getting close to seals off Blakeney Point

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Seeing avocets for the first time

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And a close encounter with a brown hare in the Scottish borders.

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5. Walking

We walked in Scotland, NorfolkYorkshire, Northumberland and Cumbria.

The highlight has to be reaching the summit of Scafell Pike, it was long overdue and I really don’t know why I put it off for so long.

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At the moment I am stuck in the house and can’t get out much, I am pining to be out there in the wilderness but I am contenting myself with my view and the garden birds that are keeping me entertained.

My family know me well enough to have given me foraging and identification books for Christmas.  As well as an incredible book that moved me so much I had a tear in my eye reading the beautiful words; it’s The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris. A beautiful book to treasure, for those old and young who love wildlife, nature and language.

As for creativity, I’ve done nothing for a few weeks, apart from cooking a bit of knitting. I hope to start making pots again very soon. I’ve also signed up for an online course to get my mojo back in gear next year.

I’ll see you in 2018 !

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Catching up with my glazing

It’s been a very strange week, I have not had a lot of time to make anything new, and it’s bitterly cold out there. So I brought my glazes in to work by the log burner and finish some pots that have been sitting around for a while.

My tableware pieces with the tried and trusted Botz glaze came out fine but I’m getting pinholes with the Amaco Potter’s Choice glazes.

I can’t wait to use my dishes over the Christmas period, although we won’t be having Christmas dinner off them as I don’t have any large plates yet.

I fired the last 2 diet / breakfast plates : )

The square dish was handbuilt, I made it for crumble, or shepherd’s pie.
Kiln Fired ArtThis dish is intended for roasting vegetables, it’s my widest piece yet at 26 cm.Kiln Fired ArtServing dishes or pie dishes?Kiln Fired ArtThis is my first lidded pot, if you remember the lid got stuck while it was drying and I almost lost it but it turned out ok in the end.

Kiln Fired ArtI was really pleased with this large jug when I threw it but it is a bit on the heavy side, I might have to cry about it 🙂

Kiln Fired ArtI love eating off my own ceramics, that’s what they are for after all.

I think this will be my last blog post until after Christmas so I’m wishing you all a very Merry Christmas. Xx

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Last minute Christmas gifts ……

Looking for last minute Christmas gifts?

Kiln Fired Art may have something for you if you like giving handmade presents.

We all know someone who is an eco warrior, or loves anything recycled, or someone who drinks wine, beer or gin 🙂
Last minute Christmas gifts

Dichroic glass pendants, a great gift for  Mum, Auntie, Sister, or Friend who like a bit of colour or unique jewellery.

Last minute Christmas gifts

Ceramic succulent planters and ikebana vases are a lovely and unique gift. The oil diffusers are proving very popular this year; and if you hurry there may be some raku leaves left in my shop. Last minute Christmas giftsAnd not forgetting ceramic jewellery making supplies which would make the perfect gifts for a crafty friend.

Last minute Christmas gifts

There’s a lot more to find over in my Etsy shop, I’m trying to keep the stock level at 200 items, but it’s hard work at this time of year.

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Making my own decals with a laser printer

I’ve made a big decision, I’m taking my work in an exciting new direction, finally I got a laser printer to make my own decals. Hopefully I will be introducing a line of functional ceramics with my ‘trademark’ wildlife drawings like the wrens and hares.

I can imagine if you are a china painter reading this you will be shocked at the thought of  me using the ‘D’ word 🙂

Things have changed a lot since I started learning throwing,  I didn’t intend making functional pottery to sell but there is something so lovely about using handmade ceramics on a daily basis,  they are so tactile they need to be handled.

I have already made up my mind that I will no longer buy in whiteware to china paint on, there are many reasons for this decision. The costs involved for one, and the fact I’ve done it for so long I have become bored with it, there are more reasons that I won’t bore you with.
I may paint on my handmade pieces eventually ( and my ‘decal drawings’ will be done with china paints on tiles to keep my ‘style’) but my functional ware will be made using laser decals, which are food safe.

I’m really excited about this new direction, I can continue to improve my throwing skills and have something new and unique for Spring events. I’m planning on expanding my raku range and I will also be using my decals on fused glass too, something I’ve wanted to do for years now.

I believe my work has to keep me feeling excited and evolve to keep it fresh, once I’m bored by something it’s time to try something new. I may come back to china painting but for now it’s on the back burner, until I can throw with porcelain.

Here’s my little test piece with my wren drawing, I have done some other pieces but I can’t show you those yet as they are presents.
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This will keep me busy for a while, but I think I will need some heating on in the studio, it’s freezing in there just now.

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Days out around Birmingham

We have  had a few days out and about around Birmingham with friends.

I’m not a lover of busy cities but I enjoyed a trip into Birmingham to see the architecture, the library, galleries and the German Christmas market got me feeling ever so slightly in the Christmas spirit, or that could have been the Gluhwein.

We visited a couple of NT properties, Baddesley Clinton and Packwood House.

Baddesley Clinton is a beautiful moated manor house, it’s mentioned in the BBC drama Gunpowder.

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P1480021P1480028Unfortunately ( as in the drama Victoria) it’s not totally accurate. There is a priest hole in the house ( used to hide Catholic priests) but it wasn’t as depicted in the program, the priests were hidden in the sewer which was accessed by a rope via the garderobe which must have been dreadful but it saved their lives.

Packwood House is a rather strange but interesting house, it’s a mish mash of a building made from salvaged parts of other houses, which makes it rather interesting.

P1480036I loved the topiary garden but the gates were locked so I will have to go back again in the summer months and have a walk around.

P1480033Then to finish off our visit to the area we headed off to Bournville, Selly Manor and Minworth Greaves which were moved to Bournville by William Cadbury.

Minworth Greaves is a rare cruck framed building which could date back to 1250.

P1480041The wooden posts in the corners of the room, and the ones that form the apex of the roof are cut from one tree with a branch forming the apex, there is no join.

The 3 plaques on the wall are known as Hatchments, which were made for the gentry when someone died. They bear the coat of arms, for a couple one side would show the man’s and the other side would be the woman’s coat of arms. Whoever died first has a black background on that side of the plaque. They were usually hung over the door of the deceased until they were buried then they were moved to the parish church.

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P1480048Selly Manor is a 14th C. cruck framed building .
P1480045What I liked about visiting this manor was the hands on experience , lots of things to touch and smell, and costumes to try on, including armour but I couldn’t even lift the chainmaille.

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P1480052A trip to Bournville wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Cadbury World. This is a mock up of Cadbury’s drapers shop and his first chocolate shop.

I did wonder with all the free chocolate that I might come to a sticky end like the children in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but I’ve lived to tell the tale.

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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.
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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.
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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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