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.

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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.

Swallows

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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Hares, wrens, swallows and Ikebana vases

Yes, this is a mix of a blog post but it’s been a funny week. We have had heat in this part of the world, and thunderstorms. We were without electricity for a whole day, and my kiln had just been loaded. So I had to postpone my delivery to the gallery.

I will show you this week’s work but first I thought you might like to see how my swallows are doing. There are 3 or possibly 4 chicks, they are growing fast thanks to the diligent parents who feed them all day long.
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There are problems with BT internet so everything is taking forever to upload, I did get some succulent planters and this ikebana bowl listed in my Etsy shop. The great thing is my pots can be used for both, or even for cacti. I got a lovely bunch of arum lilies for only £2 at Aldi today so I got my photo shoot done. Don’t they look great with the dark glazed pot?

ikebana bowls

Some of these have gone off to the gallery along with some of my handpainted porcelain lustreware, that was stuck in the kiln when the electric went off.

Not sure which is my favourite, the little wren vase , or the hare vase, I do know I never tire of painting them both.

wren handpainted vase

Handpainted hare vase

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A wet week – swallows and bleaberries

I was wondering what to blog about, thinking I haven’t made much this past week, (I have been catching up on custom orders) but I have been out and about even though the weather has been quite dreadful.

It was a celebration weekend last weekend which meant we dined out a couple of times, so we opted for a trip to the coast to walk off a few pounds. As I said the weather has been dreadfully wet and windy this past week, it felt more like autumn than mid summer. But there is always beauty to be found whatever the weather, I love the moody sky, and the limited colour palette certainly reflects the weather conditions.
P1330167I was drawn to the textures of pebbles and seaweed collected along the groins, and the sounds of the sea rolling in, then taking the cobbles back out with it.
P1330159Wednesday looked more promising so we headed out on the fells, but it was short lived and we were soon sporting waterproofs, but the weather didn’t spoil our day.

This is the route up the fell, we started in the middle distance where the light coloured  buildings are.
P1330448And this is where we were heading.

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The skylarks were not deterred by the rain, I love the song of skylarks, they remind me of my childhood.
P1330463And look at this lovely fledgling undeterred by the rain, I haven’t identified it yet.
P1330458Much to my delight the bleaberries were ripe, I used to pick them with my Gran, most folks would call them bilberries, I believe she called them bleaberries from her time living on a croft in the Scottish Highlands, or maybe it’s a Yorkshire thing. I do know they taste good but they dye your tongue and teeth blue.
P1330447I love the view approaching the summit, even on a dull day I love it as it’s so serene. If I’m honest the gentle rain was rather lovely too, until the howling wind got up.
P1330465It’s been much the same weather most of the week, yesterday I was concerned as my swallow parents couldn’t fly out from under the porch to hunt, but thankfully today there has been a few dry spells so they were able to feed their young, I’m not sure how many chicks there are in the nest, I’m hoping to see them popping their heads over the top soon.
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I’m hoping for some sunshine this coming week, fingers crossed.

 

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What’s on my worktable today

I have been working with clay this week, I’ve made some more succulent planters and ikebana bowls, it’s been so cool there is no fear of them drying too quickly. I made a large hosta platter but it’s probably going to be too big for my kiln. Why do I work large then ask questions later? I made a little birdy too, I think it’s a great tit, but will decide later when I work out how to colour it. I would usually work with overglaze enamels but I’m learning something new here so it could be underglazes or stains but that means test firing some samples. I would love to make some large sculptural pieces so this is my starting point, let’s hope it doesn’t explode in the kiln.
ceramics dryingI’m making a texture plate for a ceramics and glass pieces, but it all takes time so nothing I can show you yet, I think I’ve joined the ‘slow art movement’.

I’m heading off to the hills now, have a great day whatever you are doing

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Catching up

Hello,

I haven’t been around for a few weeks, firstly I was busy with work before a trip to Scotland and the Isle of Lewis. We were very fortunate to have good weather while we were away so we could explore some of the amazing beaches and crystal clear waters, I even had a paddle. This is Uig beach where the Lewis chessmen were found, it was like Paradise.
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The beautiful beaches have inspired my next crochet blanket, I love the colours of the Lewis blanket, and enjoy sitting in the evening doing a few rows, it’s quite meditative.
Lewis blanketLast weekend I went to Woolfest with a couple of friends, this is the stash I bought, mainly wool and silk for some mixed media work, but that’s still in the planning, more later. Some  stuff I bought just because I liked the look of it, I have no idea what to do with silk cocoons or carrier rods, but I may be doing some dying once I get a mordant. I love the idea of picking plant material to dye fibres to use in my work, and if the plant material came from the place that inspired me that would be fabulous but I realise you can’t just pick anything, and the colours may not be what I’d want, but it’s a nice thought.

woolfest stashWe had a trip to Castlerigg stone circle and Derwentwater on the Sunday, which was perfectly relaxing after Woolfest the day before. I do have a thing for stone circles, they are very special places.
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It was a great weekend with friends old and new, but now another weekend is here and I need to get my head back into work. I have managed to glaze some ceramic buttons this week to stock up on Etsy, I’m easing back in gently:)
ceramic buttons

 

 

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Ikebana – my first attempt

I thought if I’m going to make and sell ikebana bowls I need a bit of an understanding of the artform so I ordered a pin holder or kenzan to fit one of my ceramic bowls, and also a book on the subject.

I was first attracted to ikebana in the 70’s , I think it was in a WI tent at the summer exhibition, but it’s something I’ve not tried. I know the simplistic line and form could kid one into thinking it’s easy, but it’s not, as you will find out if you continue to read about my meagre attempt.

I decided to have a go at the first arrangement in the book, Risshin – kei or basic upright style. The book tells you that the length of your 3 main branches, the shin, soe, and hikae should be as follows:

Shin – width of container + depth + half as much again

Soe – three quarters of  shin

Hikae – three quarters of soe

So I duly worked out the sizes and rounded them up to the nearest cm, and wrote the lengths on my hand. Armed with secateurs and a ruler I headed off into the garden to see what I could find.

My first choice was the silvery green leaves of the senecio bush  but I found them to be just too droopy when I had to place the branches at precise angles. Actually this was , I found the hardest part of the process. The shin had to be upright but bend slightly to the wide part of the container, with the tip at a 10 degree angle from vertical. The soe should go at the right front, at a 45 degree angle, and the hikae left front at a 75 degree angle. I gave up on the senecio and cut some copper beech foliage, but no matter how much I tried to place these stems at the correct angle they just sprung out of shape.

Now I had to add  jushi, the  flowers, so far I haven’t read enough to know how many but 3 is a good number, right? I did read they should be at different heights and none longer than the main stem. So off I went back into the garden looking for some blossoms, unfortunately there wasn’t much that I thought suitable so I went with this pink rose, which I really don’t care that much for, it’s such a harsh colour don’t you think, but it flowers profusely and the foliage is good. I thought it appropriate to choose flowers in different stages of bloom to add interest. The flowers were easier to place than the main stems, they should be angled so they face the viewer.

So here’s my first ikebana arrangement, I’m not sure it works very well, I think the beech leaves are too large and you know how I feel about shocking pink.

I think I need a lot of practice, and never be fooled by a simplistic flower arrangement, like most artforms less is more.
IkebanaI think I will head out with the secateurs once more and see if I can find some stems with smaller leaves and have another go, I’m going to practice over the summer.

 

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Framing Mixed Media Artworks

I have framed up the mixed media ceramic and textile pieces and if I do say so myself I think they look great, how I wanted them to be in my mind’s eye.

This one is now hanging on my wall, I loved it so much it’s a keeper.
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These make a lovely pair, don’t you think?

ceramic mixed media artMy apologies about the quality of the photos, it’s really difficult to get good pictures when they have glass in the frames. This one is out of the frame so you can see better, I have mounted them so they look like they are floating .
ceramic mixed media artI have so many ideas to follow on from these, that’s the good thing about a tiny spark of inspiration, it leads to so much more.

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My New Ceramic Lamp

Here’s my new handbuilt porcelain ceramic lamp. This light was inspired by my love of textiles, I love the way the design is enhanced by the light shining through the porcelain. I pierced little holes all over the lamp so the light comes through those as well.
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I like the ‘wonkiness’ of the lamp as it reflects the textiles that inspired this light. P1310506I hope to add these to my range as soon as I find out about the regulations for lighting, PAT testing etc.

P1310502I’m firing a wall light today, if it works I need 4 of them for my lounge, will keep you posted.

 

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Ceramic Succulent Planters and Ikebana Vases

Here are my new handbuilt ceramic succulent planters , a new range from Kiln Fired Art . I love the way the texture reflects the form of the succulent plants. Once planted they take very little looking after, I have had mine planted up for 3 months and it’s only been watered 2 or 3 times.  I think this must be because they are covered so there is little evaporation. My succulent is an Echevera, and it’s so happy it has even flowered.

I put a layer of gravel in the base of the pot, then planted in cacti compost and topped it off with some more gravel.

I think the key to growing succulent plants is to not over water, I have a moisture meter that I can easily poke into the soil , but if you just feel the compost with your finger you can feel if it is damp.

It’s been pointed out to me that these are the perfect bowl for Ikebana, Japanese flower arranging, so I have ordered a pin to try it out.

succulent planters ceramic handmade x
I haven’t blogged much lately as I have been so busy with my new work. Something in my stars must have been in alignment lately as I have been quite prolific and produced 3 new lines of work, I will show you more in the next few days.

Enjoy your weekend

Jill

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My Process – from source to design

My Process – from source to design

15 days ago I went out for a walk in the countryside in search of inspiration. I had an overwhelming need to get back to ‘who I am’ and create from the heart. I love the design process, it’s a game, like chess, played out by head and hand.

I came back from my walk inspired and determined to start working on something new, something very different and hopefully by the end of the process I would have made a piece of work to be proud of.

This blog post is about my journey, the thoughts and actions that took place, the concept for a finished piece of work. Kind of a fly on the wall but inside my head.

I love texture and I find rocks, moss, lichens, and bark very inspirational, textures  and abstract pattern always get me fired up. I must have hundreds of these type of photos but a newly taken picture is so much more interesting, everything of that moment is still fresh in the mind and the senses.

I chose a couple of photo’s that I particularly liked.  P1310403My sketchbook, watercolours and a range of drawing materials came out, notes were made; what colours did I like? While working on my sketches I was thinking about how to interpret my ideas, what materials and techniques would work best?

P1310405I knew I wanted these pieces to be mixed media pieces, for a very long time I’ve wanted to combine ceramics and textiles. So I started thinking of how I could achieve this. My first thought was to have the main body of the work as textiles and add on ceramic, or even metal pieces so a quick sketch was made with notes about ideas for making textile textures. I started thinking about using subtle colours on some pieces but strengthening the colour for other pieces.
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The journey of making an actual ‘artwork’ began, I started making a textile picture. The picture needed 3 dimensional elements made from either enamelled copper, or ceramic clay, so I set about and made both. I will finish this piece and I will show it at a later date, but this is where I went off on a tangent and started making some clay pieces.

The clay pieces needed to dry, they were then fired. They were coloured and refired, interestingly I went with my favourite colour palette and deeper hues than I originally intended. I had quite a wait, ceramics is a slow process and sometimes the excitement waned, but once my tiles were fired my enthusiasm returned.

I have spent the last couple of days working on the textile part, more scribbles and notes were made. This was a journey of discovery as I had to learn several new techniques along the way, including soluble fabric, (which is amazing). I discovered needle felting from the wrong side could push the fibers through the fabric giving a fabulous mossy effect.
P1310401I have literally just finished my pieces, I want to write this post when everything is still fresh and exciting in my mind. So here are some photos, I still need to frame them but that’s for another day.

Now I need is to think of a name for my new body of work. I’m not finished yet, there will be more to come.

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I need to take a step back and assess the finished work, I like to look at them for a few days and think about how I could have improved on them, what will I do differently with the next pieces, how will I finish the predominantly textile pieces. But for now my head needs a rest, I feel content but quite exhausted.

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think, good or bad I’d love your feedback.

Jill

 

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