Ending the month on a high

I can’t believe it’s the end of August already and I’m seeing the month out on a high.
It didn’t start so well, the weather has been dreadful but in the end I had a wonderful day raku firing last weekend, we managed to do 11 firings in the day so that made a bit of room in my studio.

IMG_20170826_153909_770The month didn’t go completely to plan as I still haven’t fired the dinner set. I glazed a few vases with some of the combos from my test firing experiment. I was so disappointed when I opened the kiln. The glazes didn’t do what I’d hoped for.
P1440735I did get some wonderful pieces from the raku firing though, including all these leaves which seemed to fit in so well with the bank holiday weather, the rest of the country was basking in sunshine but it felt like Autumn here. I even stood with an umbrella over the kiln for a time.
Raku leavesI think this leaf is gorgeous.

Raku leafI fired rather a lot of small bowls and some pots too, some made me squeal with excitement. I have decided although I love them all I’m going to have to sell some to make more so they will be on my Facebook page hopefully on Sunday.

I made a lot of little bowls, this is my favourite

raku bowls

And some pots, the colour on this one was a surprise

P1440870And a lovely coppery one, which was fired twice, the first time it just looked a bit mediocre.

raku pot from Kiln Fired ArtOh, and my dish, I love this ,it will be hard to part with it so I’m kind of hoping no one buys it but if they do I can buy more glazes and make some more.

Raku platterTwo pots ‘kissed’ in the kiln , you can just see a mark near the base where the glaze came off. But I think these marks showing the making process just add to a raku pot don’t you?


There was a weird thing happen with this leaf, the one I used to stamp into the clay had some black paint on it, obviously I’d used it for another project but I thought it would just fire away, it didn’t. I’m not so sure I like the effect on this leaf but it’s good to know that china paint might hold under a raku glaze.

P1440878There were a few breakages too, this vase is very heavy in the base, it actually flew off the wheel when I was throwing it , I should have dumped it in the bucket but I decided to alter the shape and fire it to see what happened. It cracked. But I love the effect on the front, it reminds me of a lightning storm.

raku vases

Raku vase from Kiln Fired ArtI don’t have time to post all my photos from my raku firing but if you head over to Kiln Fired Art on Facebook on Sunday you can see them all in an album ‘Raku Pieces For Sale’.

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Botz Glaze Mixing Experiments

In preparation for glazing my dinner set I’ve done some experiments combining Botz stoneware glazes. Having spent so long making this set the last thing I want to do is to mess up when it comes to the glazing. I find glazing has it’s own problems but I won’t go there today.

Botz stoneware glazes were chosen because they are lead free and non toxic.

The samples are numbered, and I managed to write down which glazes went where, something I regularly forget to do as I’m so wrapped up in the process.

I applied two coats of each glaze, layering and overlapping them. The back side had 2 layers of Botz Plus as well as the same glazes as on the front. Trying to squeeze out as many glaze possibilities as I could the larger sample had 2 different glaze combinations.botz

Here’s a list of the glazes that I used.

  1. Creme – Turquoise granite – Black blue speckle.
  2. Creme – Turquoise granite – Bright blue effect.
  3. Creme – Ice crystal.
  4. Turquoise granite – Bright blue effect – White.
  5.  Ice crystal – Black blue speckle
  6. Black blue speckle –  (left side) – Ice crystal. (right side) – Bright blue.

I think I like the first combo best for the dinner set but I’m not entirely sure, I’m still considering the black blue speckle glaze  on it’s own that I used on the noodle bowl. I don’t mind eating off dark crockery but I know from research most people prefer light cream or white plates for food. But this set is for me, decisions, decisions 🙂

I love the running effects with the Botz Plus, but on plates I can’t imagine that the glazes will run as much. I have some spare plates made from another clay so maybe I should try  the glazes on those first. I feel I have blank paper syndrome, or in this case blank ceramic syndrome, and I need to get over it soon.

Also I need to do 3 coats of Creme instead of 2 for better coverage. I find it’s quite tricky getting even coverage with brush on glazes.

I haved to experiment further with hotter firing and a longer hold, but that’s for another experiment.

I want to get this set finished but I still feel a bit wary about glazing it.
Which glaze combo do you like best?


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Falling leaves – ceramic wall art

When we moved into this house I decided that I didn’t want anything near the windows that would distract from the view so I went for plain walls and simple blinds.

But for some time I’ve wanted to make something to hang in the corner that would add interest but not overwhelm. I wanted to connect the outside and the inside in some way.

So while I had the raku kiln out I made ‘Falling Leaves’ wall art. These are made with the heavily grogged clay , I used some brushed on as slip to roughen up the surface. This has worked really well adding texture to the leaves once glazed.

Some of the leaves have amazing colour.

raku leaves

leaves for the wallThe beauty of raku is you are never quite in control, I’m sure I didn’t use these colour glazes.

raku leaf
ceramic leaf wall art

I thought this leaf was less interesting so I gave it some faux water droplets.
ceramic leaf

Here’s how they look all together, I’m really pleased with them.P1440497
Spacing the leaves was a bit problematic even though I tried them out on the floor and measured the spacing. Never mind, out came the polyfilla. I’m still not sure about the spacing, I might add a couple more small leaves. I have a kiln full of leaves bisque firing today as I’m certainly going to add these to my range of products. I’m so pleased with how these turned out, and they make me smile.

raku leaves

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More Raku Bowls

I managed to get another raku firing done last week, in between the days of torrential rain. I have been waiting eagerly to fire up the kiln again but the weather has been so bad this summer.

I made several pieces including these 3 bowls which are a little experiment. The one on the left is the heavily grogged raku clay, the middle bowl is this same clay but with a layer of stoneware slip on top which makes it look a lot smoother. The bowl on the right is a new clay for me, it’s Ashraf Hanna’s raku clay.
P1440384I wanted to see how they fair during the firing process.
This is the one on the left after firing
P1440434The middle pot with the slip has an interesting crackle effect

And the Ashraf Hanna one, I think for bowls this is my preferred clay but I will tell you about a project involving the heavily grogged clay in my next post.
P1440416Also my daughter is home so she has had a play on the wheel and these are her pots after firing. Very wabi sabi, with some lovely colours.

So this raku firing was a success, I think I’ve cracked it ( or not cracked my pots) 🙂

I got up early this morning to list a few of my raku bowls in my Etsy shop.

raku pots

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Making flavoured gin and ceramic components.

It’ supposed to be summer, but you already know if you live here, the British weather is so unpredictable and this summer has been a bit of a wash out. That does mean everything in the garden is lush and green, my apple crop is better than ever.

I do love the smell of lavender in the garden, it’s time to make some flavoured gin. When I was last in Norfolk I had the best G&T ever, it was so very fragrant  and there was a definite hint of lavender; well Norfolk is famous for lavender.

I decided to have a go at making my own lavender scented gin after reading an article on Craft Gin Club website

Instead of starting with vodka I decided to start with a cheap gin, so it has some botanicals already. Lavender flowers, rosemary, and bay leaf from my garden were added to the bottle along with some black peppercorns, coriander seeds and juniper berries from my spice cupboard. The bottle was shaken from time to time, and tasted daily. It took 3 days before I thought it was ready for drinking.

You can definitely keep your Pimms, lavender gin served on ice with tonic water, lemon and a few juniper berries is definitely my taste of summer.

I have managed to spend a couple of days in the garden making and glazing ceramic jewellery components, I decided to make earthenware components this time as I wanted bright jewel colours. I love these bright glazes and my customers love them.

ceramic jewellery components frm Kiln Fired ArtEnjoy what’s left of the summer , I hope you have sunshine wherever you live.

Cheers !

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A trip to Potfest and making lemonade

Yesterday I had a trip to Potfest, I had a great time, saw some amazing work  and met a few potters whose work I have bought over the years so that was nice.  I was able to buy a few supplies including glaze for my dinner set.

One of the most amazing things I saw was a 3 D printer making pots. I have some of Joan Hardie’s work already; I was amazed to see her work going in a totally different direction these days. It was a fascinating process to watch, and Joan’s ceramic pieces were exquisite, like intricate, translucent, almost eggshell like forms in the most beautiful and intriguing shapes. If you would like to see Joan and Jack’s work they have a website which explains how their pots are printed.

After the raku firing I had last week, when all my pots cracked, it was my good fortune to watch a raku demonstration, and the chap ( I forget his name) gave me some great advice as to why my pots may have cracked, I think I knew where I had gone wrong already but he confirmed this, and gave me some tips too.

These are my cracked pots, although disappointed I’m not too bothered as I’m just getting the hang of firing with the gas torch, you need to get a feel for it, and I did get some fantastic colours on these pots. What you can’t see is how the colours sparkle and shimmer in the light.
Raku potsSo what do I do with my cracked pots? It seems such a shame to throw them out.

I had another minor disaster last week when I broke a piece off one of my greenware pots, but after a bit of filing, and drilling a couple of holes  I have turned it into one of my favourite bowls to date. A lovely noodle bowl, I need to make some more of these now.
noodle bowlI love this glaze and so I bought a large tub of it from Sedgefield Pottery when I was at Potfest, I think it could be the one for my dinner set, but I may do some test fires on mixing glazes before I decide.

I feel I have learned so much this week, I know there is a long journey ahead of me, but that’s the fun of it, and why I’m going down this path. Happy days !

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Raku progress

The new raku glazes arrived, and the weather looked promising so we decided to have another attempt at raku firing last weekend.

This was the second attempt since making the raku kiln, this time the firing was far more successful.

The first pots didn’t have a lot of metallic  colour, but at least I could see that the dry brushed glaze and smoke blackened the cracks did exactly what I hoped for. I did wonder if this pot would survive as I thought the texture may have weakened the pot.

Raku bowls
The second firing was far more successful, the kiln got quite a bit hotter and the posts were glowing red and sticky when they went into the combustibles. This one has some nice oil slick colours.

green raku bowl

I did the happy dance when I lifted the bucket lid to find this lovely raku pot.copper raku bowlI made a little video to show all the colours and how they change in the light.

I’m going to have to wait at least a week for the next raku firing as it’s set for rain all week, but I will get my pots glazed and ready to go.

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July review, mountains climbed

And so another month has flown by, it seems I have shown most of my makes this month already, but there is something going on.

I have continued building on my meditation technique and I feel I’ve made a breakthrough. I know meditation is about letting go, allowing the mind to go blank. However it’s not so easy to do in practice, thoughts do come and go. What I find really interesting is how these thoughts relate to my creative self.

I have a metaphor for how I see the way my creative mind works, it’s a pin table. The ball, the ideas that bounce around my head, the bell sounds and the lights flash with an idea, then I bounce off onto another idea. It can be quite exhausting, and that’s how I came to meditation in the first place, I was starting to feel stressed. Now I realise I need to slow the pace of creative thinking down a bit and spend more time with each idea.

Remember I climbed a real mountain this month, I’d been putting off going up Scafell Pike for so long, I didn’t think I could do it, but it was actually much easier than I thought. Climbing this mountain has helped me with a creative mountain, and so I started throwing a dinner set.

I want 8 place settings so I decided to make 10 of everything as some might be lost along the way. I have wanted to do this since I got the wheel but it seemed too big a mountain for me to climb.

Ten bowls and 10 mugs thrown.
P1440070Plates, drying nicely, these are slab rolled and finished on the wheel.

P1440067This morning’s meditation has left me with a clear vision of where I’m heading, I realise that everything I do and love influences my work. So where am I heading?

I will tell you later 🙂



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Northumberland Coast and Castles

There is no better place to spend a few days in the summer than the Northumberland coast. Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England, many of which are strategically positioned on the coast. The number of castles is due to the Border Wars from 14th to 16th centuries.

This is Alnwick castle which is the home of Percy family, the famous Henry ‘Harry Hotspur’ Percy was born here in 1364.

P1430622Alnwick castle has stone figures along the battlements, apparently this was the fashion in the 1300’s and other Northumbrian castles had them. Alnwick castle is probably more famous now for being used as the set for the Harry Potter films.


Some of the castles are now just ruins, like Dunstanburgh castle. Looking very dramatic from Newton beach, which is a lovely sandy cove, a great place for a walk before crab sandwiches for lunch at the local pub.P1430628

Bamburgh castle was the seat of the King’s of Northumberland , in 1465 the castle fell during the Wars of the Roses. It was restored to it’s former glory by Lord William Armstrong who lived at Cragside.P1430651

The castle dominates the whole village of BamburghP1430655It is a very quaint village and one of my favourite places to visit.

P1430653It has a wonderful long sandy beach, this view of the castle has been a backdrop in many films.P1430659Bamburgh was the birthplace of Grace Darling, or Grey Starling as I thought she was called when I came here on a school trip when I was about 7. Grace lived with her father, the lighthouse keeper on Longstone, which is one of the Farne Islands.

During a storm Grace saw the wreck of the Forfarshire on some rocks, she and her father rowed out and rescued the survivors. Grace’s act of great courage resulted in her becoming very famous, this is where she is buried in the churchyard in Bamburgh.

These are pictures of some of the Farne islands, including Longstone.P1430660


Bamburgh castle from the beach. If the sun is out there are no finer beaches in the country, although the sea is always cold.P1340268

It’s a lovely, if not bracing place for a walk, but I have been sand blasted when the wind picks up.P1230054

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to some of Northumberland’s coastal castles, Northumberland has about 70 castles in all so it’s a great place to visit.

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Creative time with friends

Some good karma came back at me last week, aren’t these flowers gorgeous. Also our friends came over for a few days, I love our time spent together.


P1440062The weather was set fair so we did our planned firings first, saggar pots were prepared in the usual way, a couple had some copper sulphate instead of ferric chloride.

raku kiln

We got some interesting effects, the whiter ones have the copper sulphate on them. saggar fired ceramics

The raku firing had mixed results, Tom’s pot  came out the best with some lovely copper oil slick colours. toms raku

And a lovely green and copper insideraku bowlThese  pots were less successful, I have put it down to the old glazes which I reconstituted, they started cracking off before the bowls even got into the kiln. The green glaze was a new one and gave much better results. However there were some lovely colours on these pots so I think the firing process was probably ok.
raku glazesWe sat and waxed up our pots over a glass of wine, the wax brings out the colours
saggar potsThere are some interesting green areas on the copper sulphate pot, I think I might try a saturated solution next time.

copper sulphate saggar potsWe had worked hard and felt quite hungry, I made a tapas style meal served in my little bowls, it’s the first time they have all been used together. Do you remember the salad bowl that I made, and we had berries from the berry bowl for pudding.

tapas bowlsJean makes the most adorable needle felted animals , this is her dog collection, after dinner we set to work making a little terrier, maybe we were tired or had too much wine, mine eventually started looking more like a hare, which is what I hope it will turn into one day but I have put it to one side for now, my mind is on pots……Needle felted dogs……lots and lots of pots, I have started making a dinner set so we can eat off my dishes next time friends come over. More about that in another post.

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