I am working on these shallow bowls at the moment. My damp cupboard is full of work under polythene and I am amazed that each bowl is taking me a day to decorate. I am trying to think of song lyrics to run around the rim of these bowls. I would like to have love songs that include birds and bees or seasons. I think the songs need to be familiar to people so that they can recall the song as they read the words. When I do a pottery fair it's amazing how many people stop and read all the words. Of course they don't always buy any pots but at least I think they have enjoyed looking at them. There must be loads of suitable songs out there but sitting here tonight I can't think of any! So perhaps you may have some suggestions.
It's been a busy week with finishing work and loads of glazing. At last I have almost everything glazed - there is hardly a bisque pot left in the studio. I won't be amassing work to glaze again it was not a good way of working. Though strangely, with my studio now full of glazed work, it does look as though I have produced quite a large stock of work, especially as my work is so time consuming. Last Saturday I visited The British Museum. The tile at the top is a medieval one that I particularly like. The pots are all out of the kiln this morning. I used a grogged clay for these which I don't usually do. It felt like drawing on sandpaper when I did the sgraffito so I was concerned that they might look rough but infact there is almost no visible difference between these and those in the smooth clay. I had gone to the British Museum to see the Greyson Perry exhibition. I had very little time in the exhibition as I hadn't realised I should have booked and had to wait 2 hours to go in, though I was fortunate to have the last ticket. This meant that the two chaps who accompanied me couldn't see the GreysonPerry me but still waited for me. ( They didn't even pretend to be disappointed at not getting tickets!) I was fascinated with the exhibition. I found the exhibits he selected to place along side his work really exciting. I was also captivated with the layers of images he was able to build up on his pots. There was sgraffito, glaze, decals and gold lustre all overlaying each other. Busy day tomorrow setting up- if you're about in Farnham do call in!
I have been busy glazing I knew that this was going to happen as you can only bisque fire for so long before it all catches up with you. Anyway here are a few of the 'fish' bowls. They are beginning to look a bit too neat. On the second one down I splashed some underglaze to make it look a little more 'active' and less tight. Art in Clay opens in Farnham in a week so I am busy getting ready for that. Check out the link there are plenty of wonderful potters to see. As I have just come to the end of weeks of work now is a good time to take stock of where to go from here. I have been doing some work in my sketch book to give me some sense of direction. The picture above is a mixture of watercolour painting and collage. I am thinking about how I can transpose this look onto a pot.
On discovering that my 'orange' was firing to an unpleasant brown colour I threw the whole tub of ochre away thinking I would never be tempted to use it again. I then went on to glaze more pots, wondering what I would do with them if they were all spoilt. It was only when I unpacked the second glaze firing that I remembered that I had used a different batch of glaze in the first firing. Confused? I had mixed ( or more precisely my 18 year old) had mixed a glaze for me using lead bisilicate rather than my usual lead sesquisilicate. The reason being that 1. I had plenty of lead bisilicate 2. My supplier pointed out that bisilicate was cheaper than sesquisilicate. So the pots with the brown were with the new glaze! I have since done another glaze firing with my original glaze and no problems! I can hardly believe that the difference in colour can be caused by using a different frit but that does seem to be the case. It does mean that instead of possibly loosing eight weeks of work I have only 'lost' five pieces. Also that I probably threw away a perfectly good batch of 'orange'. The pictures are of work out of the kiln today. Orange miraculously returned! The top bowl is a Christening bowl which is a commission and I am pleased with the way it has turned out so I hope my client also likes it. I am now compiling a list of things to remember! 1 Test everything. 2 Never use grogged clay ( that is another story) 3 ..... to be continued
For several weeks now I've been focused on working. Usually, because my studio is small and my kiln is also quite small I keep work moving through the kiln. However, over the past couple of months I have just been bisque firing. Whilst I was in this mode I just happened to run out of ochre for producing orange. My two main colours are green and orange. I bought many of my oxides and stains in the early seventies when they were cheap and they have lasted well. Anyway, when the orange ran out I got another tub of something that looked the same. However, at the end of last week when I eventually did a glaze firing I found that they were definitely not the same. You can see how awful the result is on the pot on the left. I am horrified and at the moment I am not sure how much work is spoilt but I suspect pretty much all of it. There is no point wasting nervous energy getting upset I've just got to get on and keep working. Some of the work was for commissions so that may need to be re-done. Having had such a bad experience I found it very interesting watching a little film of Greyson Perry talking about his work. The bit at the end about anticipating work coming out of the kiln struck a cord - see what you think the link is here.
Last week I made a number of salt pigs. I haven't made any of these for ages. I started off drawing medieval figures on them which had been what I had planned to do. Then I remembered some drawings I had done of mermaids. I think the connection I had made was because they are intended for sea salt! I did enjoy doing them but now I'm not so sure I shouldn't have stayed with my original idea. As you can see from the pictures I use templates to transfer the mermaids onto the pots. This means that I can get them in just the right place as a mistake cannot be rectified. It does involve quite precise drawing so this week I have done some bowls with fish on. The way I do these feels very different as I can work directly onto the pot without templates. I enjoying working far more spontaneously with much more flowing lines. I also use coloured slips on these to give a greater depth of colour before I apply the underglaze colours and oxides. It's a bit time consuming but enjoyable. I packed the kiln for a biscuit firing today. I haven't done a firing for ages and I know that there is going to be a day of reckoning when I will have to catch up with all the gazing.
It seems ages since I last posted a blog. At first I felt quite concerned that I just didn't seem to have time to write a post. Mark had time off as did the boys. We went to the Gower to camp then onto Carmarthen and then spent some time camping near St. David's.
I decided that I needed to think of life in 'seasons' and this was a family time. After all 'to everything there is a season. A time for every purpose under heaven.'
Now gradually my routine is being re-established and I am getting back to the pottery.
Just to convince you I've included a picture of me in the studio today. I am currently working on some bowls that are inspired by Cypriot pottery. They are my favourite shapes. The one above is from the V and A collections.
Tomorrow I have work in an exhibition opening at the Mc.Gill Duncan Gallery in Castle Douglas.
The exhibition looks really interesting you can read about it here. Unfortunately I can't be there as we will be celebrating my eldest sons 21st birthday with him and his friends from uni.
I've been watering my cuttings in the green house tonight. I don't think they will survive the week-end if the weather is as hot as today. I have had very little time for gardening this year but at the moment it is still a great pleasure to sit in the garden when the weather is as beautiful as it was today. Have been getting things ready for Art in Clay at Hatfield today. There seems so much to pack! Also been trying to repair our tent as we'll be camping there. Some of the poles needed replacing and my concentration was seriously lacking as I tried to measure each pole accurately. It constantly amazes me how many task unrelated to pottery have to be done to bring everything together.
Plenty to do this week. Today I had to move student son's belongings from one house to another. The bowl was out of the kiln earlier in the week. I realise now because they are quite big I can only put them on the top shelf of the kiln where I don't need to use props. Does mean that I may only have one or two for Hatfield. Getting ready for Art in Clay this coming week-end. We went to the Hannah Peschar gallery recently. I think these two pots are probably by Jennifer Jones. They looked perfect outside this black and white cottage.
It has taken me all day to decorate this one bowl. The pottery was warm today because the kiln had been on last night so the bowl was drying far too fast even with doing lots of spraying it was still very powdery. The wooden slat in the top picture rests on two kiln props so that I can rest my hand on it when painting the bowl so I don't touch it or mark it. This was the last bowl out of my damp cupboard so it's onto some new work tomorrow.
We've all now returned from Rufford. It was a good show but so exhausting! The weather was very good and the organisation excellent so that everything went very smoothly. I have posted all the pictures I took which weren't very many and I've organised them in no particular order. Hannah is above just coming to the end of her demonstration. I thought it was a difficult thing to do to stay calm and talk when you are concentrating on banding and slip trailing. It's fascinating seeing other peoples methods of working. Chiu-i Wu ceramics was in the court yard where I was. I enjoyed the humour of her work. Here's Doug watching his stand or are there some others watching his stand! Seriously though one of the good things about a pottery festival is meeting up with the other potters and having 'pot' speak. It's also very helpful and informative to talk to our audience of pottery buyers. It can be quite isolating working away in the studio and some how getting out to a festival refocuses the mind. Tof Milway and his stand. (This one is just for Dan)! Tof's work is very vibrant. It is somehow very joyful pottery. Jane Cox's stand was opposite mine, her work is perfection. The colourful glazes sang and the finish on her pots was exquisite. Finally my stand. I was disappointed with my stand this time. I thought I would try something different to what I've done before but I don't think it worked too well.
The day started very overcast and grey but this afternoon the sun sneaked out. I took advantage of the light to take a few photos of the garden and this pot. I am showing the same tureen from both sides. I didn't have enough time to 'arrange' the photo as I had to press on with work. It never ceases to amaze me how I continually over estimate the amount of work I can do in a day. I thought I would take a bit of time at the start of the day to glaze a kiln load of pots before going on to sgraffito a bread bin. The glazing took all morning and into the afternoon with a short break to run a boy to his A level in politics. I did manage to decorate the bread bin but I didn't stop until about 8 o'clock!
Like most other potters I am busy getting work ready for the summer shows. The first one is at Rufford. I have never been to the pottery festival before but I have visited the centre and enjoyed the sculpture park. I've been for a swim this morning so really must get to work now!
Last week was a busy week. It was very broken up by various activities. I prefer to settle down to working in the studio and getting a good working rhythm. Wednesday I had to go to London to apply for visas for my two eldest sons to go to China in the summer. Well having cued there I felt entitled to a trip to the V and A's ceramics galleries. Hence the plate above. I seem to see different things every time I go. Last Saturday we went to Brighton to Artists Open Houses. I decided which ones I would like to visit without consulting the map. As a result we seemed to walk miles around Brighton. The botanical curiosities above and the framed bugs are by Linsay Pol and Mark Oliver. I thought they were humorous but also exquisitely done. Back in the studio I've been working on some tureens. I am enjoying working on these. I wish I had a better camera so that I could take my own photos of birds. We get wonderful birds coming into our garden onto the bird feeders and plants. I have tried photographing them but my camera just isn't up to it! Below are teapots that came out of the kiln on Thursday and some jugs that didn't make the grade for The Ancient Mariner.