When it's not actually raining in Wales we get a beautiful light,especially in the evenings the light seems to bounce about and create wonderful skyscapes.
I have been busy in the studio mostly making casseroles like this one. I enjoy doing these as there is a similarity between them and yet each one is a little different. I am always trying to invent ways to use the negative space so the resulting pot doesn't look clunky (technical word).
Back in October I decided that I needed some professional development and contacted Joanna Howells to see if she was doing any courses.
Well a few weeks ago the course came around. I had a fabulous week-end on Joanna's course. I felt I learnt a lot and came away feeling motivated to try new things. Joanna was an excellent teacher and the four of us on the course all got individual tuition.
One of the processes Joanna demonstrated was how to make altered shapes. I have now been trying this with my own work and really enjoyed coming out of my comfort zone.
This week, however, I have been making my signature bowls. I don't tire of doing these and I always think I can improve on the last one!
While the bowls are still on their bats I band them hence no need to centre them.
Next they get turned.
After that decorating begins. The rim gets done first as it's the first area to dry.
Following the rim I then sgraffito the design onto the bowl and then add the colour.
The fired pots look so different from those unglazed waiting for their biscuit firing. I enjoy the making process so much I've tended to neglect glazing so this week is a week of reckoning as if I don't glaze I won't have any room for more pots.
I thought I would add a postscript to my travels in China. After arriving in China we flew to Lanzhou. The landscape was extraordinary. As we flew over it looked as though the mountains were giant sand dunes that had been pushed together.As we drove to the hotel it appeared even more like that. The view above is from my hotel window. Although the landscape looked harsh the city appeared as if in the middle of a dessert but it was a very modern international place.
The reason for traveling so far was to meet my new granddaughter. We were able to collect her at Lanzhou and introduce her to her new big sister. It was quite an adventure and a perfect joy to see my daughter's family added to with the adoption of a beautiful new daughter. I arrived home in Wales early on Christmas morning to spend Christmas with the rest of my family.
Just a few days ago I was busy in the pottery getting a batch of casseroles finished so that I could take an unexpected trip before Christmas.
Two days latter here I am in China again! As it's the holiday time there were few flights at an affordable price and so I left my house in Blackmill at 7.50 on Wednesday morning and travelling through Amsterdam and Cheng Du to arrive in Xian 9.30 Thursday night.
today was as sunny as it gets in Xian allowing for the pollution so a walk in the park was in order.
Possibly these photograph were put up by students but I thoughth their simple display method worked a treat.
All around the park were hundreds of these stone sculptures. They are anchors for you to tie your horse to - obviously just ornamental now. The students had protested about the level of pollution by adding these masks to them!
A walk in the park is a great way to spend an afternoon in China with your daughter, son in law and granddaughter.
One of the things that we've noticed in China is that shops selling the same things are congregated in the same area. This street sold things for the dead! You could buy clothes, houses, money, cars and so much more for the departed. Of course it's all made of paper and you send it to them by burning it.
In this town the open air opera had attracted a crowd mostly of elderly people. Many of them had rolled into town on their bikes. These were all stationed at the back of the crowd and everyone was having a good time catching up with their neighbour. I only wish I could give you an idea of the noise and smells of China. The opera was loud but it was alongside a busy road with all the sounds of Chinese horns and hooters. Over the road were a group of men practising their whip cracking and top spinning, both of which made amazing sounds. Where ever we went in China there was piped music. The parks may look idyllic and peaceful but they will all be filled with the sounds of piped music. Whilst that is playing people often engage in their own musical activities ,whether that's on their ghetto blasters or they are playing traditional instruments.
All along this street were shops and stalls selling baskets and brooms and other agricultural implements. I did contemplate bringing one of the beautiful baskets home but decided that it wasn't going to work as hand luggage.
I think best of all was the area selling brushes. Stall after stall and shop after shop sold brushes. Brushes and everything you could need to do calligraphy. Brushes hanging from the ceiling, tiny brushes and brushes the size of brooms, on stalls on the floor, papers piled to the roof, inks, stamps and all sorts of porcelain bowls for the inks and water. For now though it's back to work until my next trip.
Not quite sure how this picture got here but it's me trying to perfect my chop stick skills at a traditional hot pot restaurant!
Today you can come with me to the Folk Museum. The buildings have been brought from different areas in China and rebuilt to form the museum.
If the architecture isn't enough there is a performance for our entertainment. There is an interesting array of traditional instruments and someone playing a bench. Somewhat unexpected but very effective.
The whole place is very beautiful and set in an interesting garden. If you didn't want a ride out to the museum you can walk to the local park where there is always plenty of activity and they won't mind you joining in.
There is Tai Chi, calligraphy line dancing, opera singing and ballroom dancing to name but a few activities.
One of the local markets is made up of a labyrinth of small arcades each one lined with shops selling pots. We can take a wonder down these alleys but unfortunately I don't speak a word of Manderin so we can't chat to the shop keepers but it's fun just looking and no one minds us handling the pots.
Yesterday was planned as a day to visit temples! Mark is just entering the visitor centre at the first- very high tech.
The rained poured but as intrepid explorers we equipped ourselves with umbrellas and I had a fetching little number a cross between a plastic bag and a rain coat. The poppers didn't work but no matter I always carry a roll of double sided cellotape with me and it proved very handy.
Six Doaist Temples left us wet but ready for more.
Unfortunately the second temple wasn't reached so easily and we had to trek up a very muddy hill to reach it.
This was the final temple of the day and by the time we reached it we were very wet and extremely muddy. This temple was claimed by both the Christians and the Buddists, the others were Toaist and Doaist.