Using Lustre For A ‘Faux Raku’ Effect

I’ve put together a little video showing how I use copper lustre to create an effect similar to raku.

Lustre pots

Kiln Fired Art


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Staithes – a great place to unwind.

We had a couple of days away last weekend, staying at Dotty’s Vintage Tearoom B & B in Staithes.

This is Dotty’s Vintage Tearoom.
P1350756Our accommodation was above the shop, the B&B was perfect for 2 couples as it had a cozy lounge and dining area. The bedrooms were unique, very cozily decorated with French beds and lots of vintage finds.

Staithes is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a long time, since I took up watercolours years ago, Staithes screams out to be painted, it’s very quaint with narrow streets and red pantile roofs.
The next morning we had a walk after a delicious breakfast, be warned Trudie loves to feed you🙂 she is a great host and looked after us really well.
The weather wasn’t so good, but actually the mist and dull sky muted colours, flattened things out, and there were some great reflections so from a painting point of view things couldn’t have been better.
It was a short visit but I will return one day, until I do I have some lovely photos to paint over the winter months. I am determined to get back into watercolour painting this winter.


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The Slow Art Of Kiln Fired Art !

I have 2 kiln loads of bisque waiting to be glazed, and while I was unstacking the kiln I was thinking it would be great if  things could happen more quickly, but good things are worth waiting for so I came up with this slogan……

The slow art of Kiln Fired Art – good things are worth the wait.

It’s true because I have some pots that came out the kiln yesterday that I love, they were fired a third time to add copper and platinum lustre. Thinking about all the time involved from rolling out a ball of clay, and forming the pots. Then the wait of a week or so until they are dry, with some time spent cleaning them between. Next they are fired, slowly, I usually get up early to put the kiln on so it’s finished before I go to bed. Then the wait until the kiln is cool enough to open and unstack. Then time spent adding 3 or 4 coats of glaze, and drying time before firing and cooling again.

Usually this is the end product but if I want to add overglazes or lustres there’s more time painting and firing and cooling and waiting. Overglaze painting could be another 3 firings at least.

So you see why I need to learn patience but good things are worth waiting for don’t you think?
Ikebana bowl

Succulent planter

succulent planter

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Some new clay work

It’s September again, and so it’s time to step up production. I thought I’d try to be more organised and get all my clay work done and out of the way before I start painting lustreware again, it needs a dust free environment, which means the studio will need a thorough clean as clay work is very dusty.

The gallery has just about sold out so I have quite a lot to be getting on with just now. I’m also trying to stock Etsy and Folksy for the “C “word. I know it seems too early to think about Christmas but every year I feel I’m in a mad dash in November so that’s why I’m trying to get organised now.

This is meant to be a clay post so I better show you some of my new makes from the weekend. I’m so impatient with clay, waiting for it to dry takes time and patience. The new slab roller is making things easier for my hands so it was well worth the investment.

So what have I made……

Ceramic coasters.

I was just thinking that it’s interesting that my clay work is mainly influenced by textiles (my background growing up) and what I like to call ‘clay fossils’ ( I’ve always had an interest in geology).
Clay coasters

Beads and pendants. 

My stock of ceramic beads and pendants is quite low so I was determined to make more over the weekend. I have used 4 different clays here, but they are all in the stoneware firing range. I have some new glazes to test fire, beads and pendants are a great opportunity to try out new colours.

Ceramic beads and pendantsRobins, hearts and hares.

My  new Christmas decorations for the gallery are robins, I like to have a new Christmas decoration each year.  My first attempt was more like a budgie, but I think these are more robin like.
Porcelain robins
Ikebana bowls and succulent pots.

I needed more of these bowls and planters, these are made in a new clay, I really liked the way it handled, so I’m dying to see how they glaze and fire.
Ikebana bowls and succulent planters

More coasters.
Ceramic coasters in the making
Ring dishes and soap dishes.

I needed a soap dish so I then thought they would make great little gift ideas for my shop.
ceramic ring dishes and sopa dishes

And even more coasters.
ceramic coastersSo you can see I’ve been pretty busy the past few days. Some test pieces are having a glaze firing today so I should have some pretties to show you soon. Remember the ‘patchwork planters’, they are bisque fired now and waiting to be glazed, but I want to test out colours first.

Today I have started photographing Christmas decorations and dichroic jewellery to list in my shops soon, it’s all go!

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Going “Orff-Piste”!

I had plans yesterday to start my Christmas makes, I did make some coasters but the sun was shining and that’s when my plans went ” orff-piste”, we headed out for a walk.
P1350074It was a lovely day, we only planned a short low level walk but we did actually go off-piste and headed up a fell we hadn’t walked before. There wasn’t a path most of the way and the ground was quite wet and spongy as it was covered in sphagnum moss, it was worth the effort for the views.

We had the place to ourselves.
P1350107Grasmoor, (on the RHS) is one of my favourite fells although it’s been awhile since I’ve been up there. Yesterday the lighting showed up the truncation caused by the last ice  age.

The moss and lichen textures were beautiful, and there were a few bleaberries left , a little treat to keep us going.
PicMonkey CollageIt was so warm I had a much needed to cool off at the beck.
00029We had a rest on Roy’s seat and took in a very special view, it’s one of my favourites, I never tire of it.
P1350171The rowan tree was looking at her best in her Autumn jewels, the bracken is turning rusty bronze now and the larches will be turning golden very soon.

P1350153Once home although I was tired I had to finish making piccalilli with the veg I had already prepped, so all in all I had a wonderful mixed day, I love a bit of spontaneity, it makes life fun.

Today it’s raining so I will get on with my Christmas makes, or that’s my plan.

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The Last Sunny Days Of Summer

I’ve been making the most of the last warm sunny days with walks on the fells, lakes and woodlands, and my special, spiritual places.




P1350035Although there are still some lush greens about in shady glades and damp places there are small tell tale signs that autumn is just around the corner. The fells are taking on the purple mantle of heather, but soon that will be replaced with bronze tones of the bracken.

The swallows are gathering, indeed the parent birds have already left for sunny Africa.

I wasn’t alone in enjoying the late summer sunshine.


A darling little baby woodmouse fattening itself up for the winter.

P1340978There seems to be an abundance of  rowan berries this year, does that mean it will be a harsh winter? Only time will tell I suppose.

P1350008I love the changing seasons, and I have loads of inspiration for those long dark nights to come, but I’m making the most of the sunshine while it lasts.



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My New Toy

I bought myself a slab roller with the intention of saving my wrists. I’ve found it’s not that simple, but I’m learning it’s much easier to roll a small piece of clay and take it down gradually.

The slab roller comes with 2 boards and some canvas, they aren’t long enough for larger items so OH cut me some long plywood boards and I got the sewing machine out an zig zaged some strips of calico. In theory you should be able to roll clay on any length of board, and the width is all my kiln will take in height.
P1340633I seem to want to work big though, I made another lacy lamp ( I’m still figuring out the internal lamp bit), and while I was rolling slabs I decided to make a couple of vases. I like the shape, which sort of just happened when I cut a folded piece of paper into a template. The clay for the lamp needs to be quite thin so the rolling pin did come in useful, but I think I will get some thinner sheets of hardboard so I can go down very slowly and thinner, it’s much easier that way.
P1340635These have dried out quite quickly, the clay has mould on it which makes it harder to see any imperfections, let’s hope none show up once they are fired.

Now I can’t decide if I should stain / glaze the vases or leave them white

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Hadrian’s Wall, in search of Sycamore Gap.

I have wanted to walk along the Roman Wall to Sycamore Gap for a long time. I know the place very well but I have never walked along this part of the Wall, which has become an icon since it was featured in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

The Emperor Hadrian built the Wall to control the marauding Picts but it’s a common misconception that the Wall marks the boundary between England and Scotland. There must be another 30 miles of unspoilt Northumberland before reaching the border.

This stretch of the walk along the Wall is probably the most rugged, the Wall is strategically positioned on the top of the Whin Sill, which is a dolerite intrusion.

You can see the Wall snaking out in front of you, it would have been about 12 feet high originally.


Here we are at Sycamore Gap, it would have been lovely to have it to ourselves but everyone had the same intention, people posing contemplatively, and cameras and phones clicking away.


This photo is looking back along the Whin Sill, it clearly shows the ridge of harder igneous rock and the glorious unspoilt Northumbrian countryside.


Every mile along the Wall there was a mile fort, this one has the remains of an arched gateway.

This is the remains of one of the granaries at Housesteads Roman Fort, one of 15 forts.  They would need a lot of bread to feed 10,000 soldiers along the Wall.


We walked back on the lower path north of the Wall, it was a bit boggy in places but it gave great views of the Whin Sill and shows what a great defensive site it is. Also there are wonderful views of the rolling unspoilt Northumberland countryside.

P1340816And I got another view of Sycamore Gap, I think this is the one I will use in my artwork. Now the question is do I work in textiles or ceramics, or maybe both.

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A trip to Holy Island

We have had a wonderful few days in Northumberland, it’s the county of amazing castles, a wonderful coastline and big skies.

Lindisfarne, or Holy Island as it is also known, is reached by a tidal causeway so we had to wait until quite late in the afternoon to get across. Unfortunately sometimes people risk crossing and they get swept away by the tide, the hut on stilts is there as a bolt hole just in case.

The Vikings first landed here in 793 AD, killing the monks, this is when the island became known as Holy Island. P1340362

The abbey ruins and a statue to Saint Cuthbert.

Lindisfarne abbey

Lindisfarne castle, (built in the 16th century), etches itself on your brain forever, it’s so imposing. It stands on a piece of the whin sill which also forms the Farne Islands, and also runs along Hadrian’s Wall.

I have painted the castle a few times but maybe it’s time to paint it again.Lindisfarne castle

Or maybe these charming fishermen’s huts.

This is Bamburgh castle, I’ve never seen it look so clear from Holy Island before, my camera was zoomed right in here.

P1340397I will show you some more pictures from my travels in Northumberland soon but I need to go shopping now.


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That Tony Soprano moment.

Yes it’s coming, I have that feeling in my gut, just like Tony Soprano’s ducks took flight and were gone I know my swallows will fledge any day now.

I can’t stop watching the parents flying in with food even more regularly, then they are out again in a flash. There is very little rest for the parent birds but occasionally one will sit on the field gate opposite.

There are a lot more swallows flying about now so I assume they are fledglings. I’ve observed an interesting behaviour, about 3 of them have been flying around near the nest, it looks to me almost as if they are trying to entice this brood to join them. I’m sure they will be any day now, I have mixed feelings about them going. This surrogate mother is concerned , will they be strong enough for their flight to Africa?

I managed to contort myself over the kitchen bench and get a bit of video, it’s not the best quality being taken through the window.


P1330847As you can see the nest is looking pretty full now, I couldn’t decide if there were 3 or 4 chicks, but there are definitely 4. Look closely and you will see the eye of the 4th one.

Now I want to make some swallow art!


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