Category Archives: kiln fired art

A Restorative Walk In The Woods And Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall, in a wonderful part of Northumberland was our destination yesterday.
Roman WallThis is Birdoswald Roman fort, below are the granaries. Above shows the remains of the Roman Wall, which you can see snaking across the countryside. I find it incredible that something this old remains, you can still see the tool marks made by the masons hand on the stone.

Birdoswald Roman fortThe views across Nothumberland are breathtaking, or that could have been the stiff breeze.

River IrthingYesterday  turned into one of those days of those days where plans go awry, instead of following a Roman road we decided to head off into the wood that you can see cloaking the river in the picture above.

Combcrag woodSome of the tees had faces.

Combcrag woodSome, like this red cedar were huge, and I wondered how it got to be there.
Combcrag wood

The path was steep in places, as we ventured down we started to get a glimpse of the river Irthing below.

Combcrag woodThis was truly a magical place to be.

Combcrag woodThis area was the site of a Roman quarry, and there’s Roman graffiti on the rocks although I didn’t know that while I was there.

Combcrag woodWe sat a while by the river, watching the dark amber peaty waters flowing by. Time stood still in this place.

There was a hint of Autumn in the air, berries, and signs of leaves changing colour already.  I gathered some from the path to ecoprint  at home. I love the connection this gives me to a place and time, which makes me very emotional.

Combcrag woodIt was a wonderful day out with such diversity to experience, the forest bathing  or shinrin yoku  as the Japanese call it was so restorative, I came home feeling refreshed and ready for some ecoprinting

Jam Making With A Glut Of Apples.

It’s been a strange year in many ways as we all know. Most of my crops started well and grew like Jack’s beanstalk in May with the lovely weather, then things turned very wet and windy and most of our vegetables failed to produce. The exception being our apples which thrived in the warm weather and swelled with all the rain.  So what do you do with a bumper crop of apples?

We eat them daily and I have stewed and frozen a lot. The blackberries ripened early so I had to rush out in a dry spell and pick what I could, unfortunately the wild bullace tree doesn’t have any fruit at all this year so no jam there.

I looked online for jam recipes using apples, I always make apple chutney and sometimes blackberry and apple jam, as we have so many apples this would be a great way of using them up. I found recipes for apple and raspberry jam  which I made using raspberries that were in my freezer.
Apple and raspberry jamApple and blackcurrant jam made using home grown blackcurrants which I froze as they ripened until I had enough to make something.
Jam making
Apple and ginger jam made using root ginger, I had accidentally ordered to much when shopping online.

Do you like my new jam pan? Well worth the money; I bought a digital thermometer as well having burnt marmalade to the base of my old jam making pot last year. When the thermometer reads 105 C the jam is ready to jar up.
Jam making
Apple and apricot jam as I had a bag of dried apricots in the cupboard.
Jam making
And of course apple and blackberry jam from my Gran’s old cookbook.
Jam makingI had to make some bread to sample my jams. 🙂
Homemade bread and jam made this morning 😊They tasted delicious, here we have apple and apricot and apple and raspberry.
Homemade bread and jam made this morning 😊
My task next week will be making some chutney.

Raku Love

I had a raku glaze firing this week and it reinforced my love for the raku process. What really gets me is no matter how many Raku firings I’ve done I always find something wonderful and unexpected, like each time is the first time.

I need new experiences in my craft and raku has a way of its own which fulfills that need. I do everything exactly the same as the previous time, same clay, same glaze, same temperature, same reduction bin process but results are rarely the same and there lies the wonderment and excitement for me.

So I  started thinking about what could be different if I look deeper, glaze thickness could vary, rate of heating, air temperature  when they come out of the kiln, combustible materials, temperature and  amount of oxygen in the reduction bin. 

Fish glazed the same way as 100’s before but this time some have a yellow green colours.Ceramic fishThere were a few new pieces too including cosmic hares and wrens. Ceramic decorationsAlso a few hearts and trinket dishes and pendants. Raku work from Kiln Fired Art
Raku work from Kiln Fired ArtAnd leaves of course. Raku work from Kiln Fired Art
Raku work from Kiln Fired ArtThese have all made their way into my Etsy shop Kiln Fired Art. If you would like to see little videos of how the colours change in the light ( you just can’t capture this in a photo) then follow me on Instagram or Facebook.

More Tie Dye with instructions.

More tie dye done this week, I needed some gym tops. My last tie dye post was so popular I thought I would give some more details on the process, there’s loads of how to’s on Youtube so I won’t go into too much detail. If you have any questions just ask.

I bought some 100% cotton T shirts from Amazon, I got Fruit Of The Loom XL this time as I want them baggy.

Firstly they were washed then soaked for an hour or so in soda ash solution. Maybe 3 or 4 tablespoons to 3 L of warm water. I rarely measure anything accurately.

They were rung out as much as possible then laid flat. Now to spiral them by pinching a spot and twisting.


Tie dye T shirts

   I kept pleating the fabric where needed and continued twisting.

Tie dye T shirtsNext they were tied up with some yarn.

The dyes are Procion M X , they are really vibrant saturated dyes and work well. I mixed 1 to 2 teaspoons of dye with 1 teaspoon of urea ( you don’t really need the urea but it helps the dye go into solution) then mixed with warm water to dissolve. I probably made about 1/2 to 3/4 of a yoghurt pot of each dye. Tie dye T shirtsYou get different effects depending how you place the dyes. I used a pipette to add the dye to the fabric, working in wedges I did all one side, then turned over and did the other side. I kept the same colour in each wedge on both sides. This one has red, orange and navy blue.Tie dye T shirts

The blue and turquoise ones used leftover dye from last week. One has 2 spirals on it. They were covered in plastic and left overnight . Tie dye T shirts

I undid the bundles and rinsed out as much dye as possible before putting through the washing machine.

Here they are after ironing. Tie dye T shirts
Tie dye T shirts

I don’t usually wear red but I think that one is my favourite. Tie dye T shirts

 

The return of my mojo and channelling my inner hippie.

I’ve not blogged in a while as my mojo left me, I really didn’t have anything  worthy of blogging about. A couple of ‘creative play’ days with my friend has got my creative juices flowing again and now I feel ready to get into making mode. I’ve also had a mega destash in the studio to make some space to work. Clearing the clutter always helps don’t you think?

We decided on easy projects that were fun to do. We got in tune with nature doing some eco printing with all natural dyes, the photo’s didn’t come out very well but you have seen my eco printing before.

It’s been years since I’ve done tie dye, these were dyed using Procion dyes, I really love the first T shirt.

Hippy days

Hippy days

Hippy days

Hippy days

Hippy days

The next day Jean showed me how to do an acrylic pour, I found it difficult to get large cells so more research and playing are needed. I love the effect on this one that Jean did, it reminds me of marbled paper.

Hippy daysThis one is mine, it’s the last one that I did, I was using up the leftover colours, it had more cells than my other attempts. If you would like to see some more of my acrylic pours head over to my Facebook page.

Hippy daysThese 2 days have been a tonic to me, there’s nothing to beat getting creative with friends to rekindle a flagging mojo. Happy days!

Wish I Was There!

I haven’t blogged for a couple of weeks as there hasn’t been a great deal to talk about. This week I should have been walking the North Norfolk coast but instead we have been at home, what with the dreary weather I haven’t even felt like going out for a walk.

I started a new blanket which I have called ‘Wish I Was There’, the colours remind me of days at the coast. I have been thinking about my holidays in Norfolk and a boat trip to the seal colony that we did a few years back, I got my holiday dvd’s out to reminisce. 

I think less is more with this blanket, I love these muted colours. Wish I Was There BlanketA couple of weeks ago I took an art course online with Louise Fletcher called Find My Joy, this got me really thinking  about  my crafting life and where I find joy, so I’m having a destash of the things that I no longer get so much pleasure from. It’s a natural progression, I like to try different things  so  I have started to destash my studio, but it seems so much more messy now than it was before. I still have a small Paragon SC3 for sale which is now on ebay along with glass and china painting enamels, jewellery making supplies  etc. There will be a lot more to follow.

Paragon SC3 for saleI’ve spent a lot of time watching the raindrops on the pond that we built just before the weather changed.

pond

I’m so pleased we built it, already the wildlife are using it, on the first day a blackbird took a bath and since then we have sparrows , dunnocks, greenfinches, a cheeky vole visting daily. 

I managed to catch the dunnock having a wash and brush up.

You need to click on the little square corners icon to see the video.

Enjoy your weekend, my destash and tidy mission will continue, I have to make space as I want to paint large messy paintings. 🙂

Sourdough Stottie Cakes

As you may know already I’m dabbling with sourdough, I try to keep baking to the weekend taking Hercules ( my sourdough starter) out of the fridge on Thursday for dough making on Friday (after a couple of feeds) then baking on Saturday morning. I make more dough on Saturday for baking on Sunday. Hercules is fed then returned to the fridge.

The chewy texture of sourdough reminds me of a traditional stottie cake from Northumberland. I couldn’t find anything online for making a sourdough stottie so I set about to make my own. My Gran baked them regularly so I know how a traditional stottie should be and how a shop bought one differs. I’m going to try to make my Gran’s version.

Where does the name come from you ask? To stot something is to bounce if off something, like “stotting a baall off the nettie waal”, or “it’s stotting doon ooutside”, meaning  bouncing a ball of the toilet wall ( in the days of outside loos) or in the latter, it’s raining heavily.

Here’s my recipe, I thought I would have to make a few to get it right but actually the first attempt was pretty close to what I wanted.

Sourdough Stottie Cake.

2 1/4 cups strong white flour

2 tablespoons melted butter

1/4 cup active sourdough discard

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

150 ml warm water

1 tablespoon dried milk powder

Method.

Mix the dry ingredients except milk powder in a bowl.

Mix the  milk powder and water, stir in the discard and the oil.

Pour into the flour mixture and bring together into a rough ball. Let it rest 10 minutes.

Stottie cake and pease pudding

Tip onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Leave to rest covered with a damp tea towel for  minutes.

Flatten out with your hand and put on a baking tray, poke a hole in the centre, and prick with a fork ( I forgot to do this). Leave in the fridge overnight.
Stottie cake and pease pudding

In the morning bring out of the fridge while the oven heats to 200C. Put a tray of water in the bottom of the oven. Pop the stottie in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, turn over and bake another 15 minutes.

It should be cooked, I like to check the internal temperature is about 98 C so I know it’s done. Wrap in a tea towel and leave to cool.

Stottie cake and pease pudding
I made some quick pease pudding to eat with my stottie cake. I soaked yellow split peas overnight then rinsed and put in a pan with water and a stock cube, boil until the peas mush. Keep an eye on the water level and top up if needed. I like a bit of texture so didn’t go completely mush, but I blitzed with a hand blender. As the pease pudding cools it thickens up and becomes spreadable.
Stottie cake and pease pudding
Traditionally the peas would be tied in a clout (cloth) and put in a pan of vegetables, water and bacon bones or ham hock to make pea soup , the peas thicken the soup and the peas in the cloth take on flavour from the stock.
Stottie cake and pease pudding
For a miner’s family this would be 2 cheap filling meals for very little money especially if they grew their own vegetables, pea soup and dumplings and ham and pease pudding sandwiches. My quick version is still very tasty, you can add other things like bacon pieces or onions but we had it plain.

The texture when I cut into the stottie looked right, just a little dense but not too heavy.
Stottie cake and pease pudding

It tasted great, just as I remember it.
Stottie cake and pease pudding

The next day I made another stottie cake but cooked it differently to see if I could get a crust like a shop bought stottie. It was cooked in a cast iron pan then put in the oven to finish off. While it was in the pan I realised why they have a belly button, it lets the steam out and stops it puffing up like a pitta bread.
Stottie cakeIt came out more stodgy, but the crust seemed to have the right texture.
Stottie cakeIt tasted good but I do prefer my Gran’s stottie cake.
Stottie cakeStotties will be a regular feature of my sourdough baking in future, I wonder how my Gran would rate them 🙂

 

Back to work – back to a different kind of normality.

I’ve made the decision to open up my Etsy and Folksy shops again. At some point things have to start to return to ‘normal’ what ever that is now. Things will probably be this way for the foreseeable future  and we/ I have to get on with our lives at some point. I have to say planning  a trip to the Post Office gave me a sleepless night wondering what the best time and route are to avoid people, I could quite happily stay a recluse, I think a lot of us feel that way.

At the start of the year I made an action plan to take my business forward in 2020, listing everything I needed to make over the summer months to keep me stocked up until the following January. This plan has now gone to pot, like many creative people I have struggled with creativity and making at this time.

What I decided was just do a little bit when I felt up for it, for example I went to tidy the studio , looked at a bag of clay and made a few pieces, much nicer to do than tidy up. I walked around the garden saw the smoke bush had leaves so I did a bit of ecoprinting, and so on.

I have reopened my shop mainly with little gift ideas, like flat hanging leaves which can go in the post box and can be sent direct to a loved one to let them know you are thinking of them.
Hanging leaf Silk scarves, send to a friend, or Mum with a note from you included in the package.
leaf print silk scarf
I made some small fused glass light catchers, I used to make lots of these, they are made with recycled glass they are environmentally friendly . Another small gift that will go through the letterbox and put a smile on someones face.
glass lightcatchers

I have plans to make some small stitched pieces as well as some small artworks so hopefully they will make it into my shop before too long, I’m doing a little when I feel up for it and keeping it fun. There’s lots of raku fish and wall art leaves to list too but all in good time, I’m just going with the flow and easing in gradually for now.

Take care.

 

Sourdough journey has begun.

I have spent the lockdown try to resist but in the end I caved in and decided to give sourdough bread making a go. I try not to eat much bread but when I found out that you can keep your starter in the fridge and bake once a week I couldn’t resist any longer and so Hercules was born.
SourdoughAs there’s so much sourdough information out there ( bit of an overload for my brain just now) I bought a book called “Artisan Sourdough  Made Simple” by Emilie Raffa. It’s a brilliant book for a beginner as everything is well laid out and easy to follow.
SourdoughHercules (I’m hoping he is strong and mighty) was halved, fed and watered for 6 days as instructed, he smelled nice and had bubbles but he wasn’t rising up the jar. Day 7 he was fed again, by this time I had quite a bit of discard so I decided to make flatbread from the book. I thought it wouldn’t matter how they came out as they are flatbread. They were delicious.
SourdoughOn day 8 Hercules came good and had risen up the jar so it was time to make the first recipe for a loaf as recommended by Emilie. I didn’t have enough white flour so I went half and half with a local biodynamic wholemeal flour. I was sceptical as the bread dough looked heavy, I got a good crust, however as my main oven is broken it had to be squeezed into the top oven and got a bit too dark on the edges.
SourdoughIt was fine when I cut into it, the crust was amazing, very crisp, and well flavoured. The loaf didn’t last long as we sat in the garden with a glass of wine, some salad from the garden, cheese and olive oil.
SourdoughSadly I ran out of flour but I managed to source some online, in the meantime Hercules was fed with what I had left and the discard started to mount up, so we had crumpets from King Arthur Flour website. These were very easy to make and light, but not the same as my usual crumpets, they lacked the rubbery texture. I will make them again but not think of them as a crumpet.

Sourdough
&SourdoughBy the time Friday came I felt like Old Mother Hubbard as our grocery delivery doesn’t arrive until today, so I had a look around to see what I had in. There was some pesto, cheese, tomato and mushrooms, and of course sourdough discard so I cooked it off in the frying pan.

Quick pizza using sourdough discardTopped it and put under the grill, in a few minutes we had a pizza!
Quick pizza using sourdough discardHopefully my flour will arrive soon, I have to say Hercules is a welcome addition to the family, we have unanimously agreed homemade sourdough is the best, we are hooked.

My punch needle cushions are finished.

Not sure what week we are on now with the lockdown, I’ve settled into the groove and I’m enjoying the tranquility of this new slow lifestyle although every morning I wake up thinking it’s Sunday and I do miss family and friends.

I thought I had already posted my punch needle adventure but it seems I forgot so I’m sharing the process from start to finish. My Oxford punch needle has been sitting around unused for ages, once I finished the waffle blanket I needed a  new simple project with a repetitive process as it’s kind of meditative.
Punch needle cushionsI wasn’t sure where to start in terms of design, I didn’t want anything too fussy just blocks of colour. I turned to my ‘Lansdcape’ sketchbooks and found some drawings I liked, then I did a few quick sketches before drawing the design onto hessian with a sharpie. I’m using rug wool from my stash as well as some Aran wool. I chose the colours to match the decor in my home, nice calming colours that I like living with.
Punch needle cushions

Punch needle cushions

Punch needle cushions

I have a frame which pulls the hessian taught making punching quite easy so long as there isn’t any tension on the yarn and you don’t pull the needle too far out of the hessian. My hessian square was bigger than the frame so I had to work around the edges out of the frame. This turned out much easier than I expected.

I soon got into a rhythm and found this process so relaxing indeed, I almost fell asleep a couple of times.

There’s a little video of the punching process on my Instagram.

Needle punching

Needle punching

This is the second cushion, I had to order more wool, also some linen for the backing. I had some manmade fabric that I could have used but seeing the cushions are wool and will be very hard wearing as they are rugs really and will probably last for years I thought natural linen was more suitable.

Needle punching

And here they are, I’m so pleased with them I’m going to make another pair of punch needle cushions for the sofa in the lounge, they will be similar in design but different colours, also I have some ideas for wall hangings and maybe a footstool.

I think I am hooked 🙂

Punch needle cushions

Punch needle cushionsHave you learned anything new during lockdown ? I’d love to hear what you have been doing.

Stay well folks.