blame the rain

I got as far as the garden. 
Laden with camera and props. 
To take some decent shots to promote some newly made pots. 
That's when the heavens opened and my plans went down the drain. 
So the rain gets ALL the blame.

Not a complete disaster though. I snipped a rose off a branch 
that curved to the ground under the weight of too many rain drops, 
brought it inside and took its picture and I think it looks rather nice.

So what do I have to show for my good intentions? 
What about the pendants I made earlier this month and which I think 
worked out rather well...

I rather hope you'll like them. 
Back to picture-taking when the summer returns ;))



I love Open Studio events, the chance to visit artists in their studios, see where and how they work and chat about all things arty. This year, my illustrator friend - and daughter - Zanna and I took the plunge and joined nearly 300 other South East Open Studio Artists opening our doors most hours during two weeks in June not sure what we were letting ourselves in for.

I am one of life's optimists. I tackle all sorts, my eyes on the goal, not on the effort it takes to achieve it. So I was not a little surprised at the hard graft awaiting us.

There was the marketing and the promotion, printing of flyers, cards and posters, collaboration and synchronisation with fellow artists, landscaping the garden, sourcing props, display stands and tables, making several treks to Ikea for shelving, drawers, pin-boards and lighting and then having the pleasure of putting it all together. Then there was the task of scraping from my mud-caked studio (nearly) every trace of clay in addition, of course, to letting our creative juices flow and in my case making sure that my small kiln didn't go cold for weeks! It was 3 a.m. on the first day of opening that our heads finally hit the pillow.

Needless to say, the real challenge was yet to come. Who would have thought that welcoming a steady flow of visitors, offering drinks and nibbles, listening, talking and answering queries could be exhausting. Every night, at closing time, we would just about make it to the sofa on the top floor of our upside-down house hoping for a little pampering from those kind souls around us. 

Every day we met more wonderful people, some of them had travelled considerable distances to visit us, we saw which work held their attention, listened to their feedback, their ideas and contributions and made valuable new contacts. As Zanna was giving impromptu workshops, I found myself balling up clay for anyone fancying a go on the wheel. A plucky lady in her nineties is set to return for a one-to-one lesson as throwing on the wheel is on her long list of things to do. Naturally, we were happy every time a piece of art or ceramic found a delighted new owner whilst the visitors' book was swelling with lovely, much appreciated comments. 

So, did we have a good time and did opening our studios live up to our expectations? As our thoughts turn to the commissions we have taken on, our joint response is a resounding yes. Will we repeat the performance next year? Another definite yes. Is there anything we will do then which we wished we had done this time? Oh yes, have our bags packed before Day 1 and for some serious relaxation jet off to some tropical island the moment the last visitors have said their goodbyes. 

Only kidding, Zanna and I had a fabulous time!




from the ashes ...

Every few months I meet up with other mad ceramicists for a day of raku-ing. Raku is a method of firing ceramics first practised in Japan. It involves heating freshly glazed pots to around 1000 degrees C.

The pots are transferred from the red-hot kiln to a chamber of saw-dust which ignites because of the heat. 

The box is sealed forcing the flames to extract oxygen from glaze and pots. Once the fire has died down, the finished pots are retrieved. At this stage they look far from impressive.

Yet after some serious scrubbing usually in cold water and wet and windy weather (we know how to have a good time!), they take on their final appearance. Crazing of the glaze is what's wanted, the more the merrier. The smoke has darkened crackles and unglazed areas. Some pots don't survive the ordeal. Those that do, have lost none of their strength and have gained a unique appearance all of their own.

Only one of my pots broke on this occasion - phew. Here are 3 that made it. 


cake needs coffee

I've enjoyed working in the studio this week - doors open without freezing to death, sounds of seagulls filling the air, lawn that drowned in all the rain dug up and a touch of landscaping to look forward to ... I mustn't drift off the subject!

The subject?

Well one of them this week was to fire mugs with birdie transfers to go with the bowls I finished last week. More often than not, I'm irritated when clothes have a design on just the front while nothing's happening behind. In the same way, I thought that putting one bird on just one side of the mug would NOT do. Hence I've got 3 - and in the case of the little coaltit 4 - fellows hopping around each mug.

All I need now is that coffee and cake ... 


p for patience

Potters need patience! Lots of it!! Especially during the cold and wet time of year when it can take literally AGES for newly thrown pots to dry out. And dry out they must - completely. Otherwise they explode in the kiln.

I'm not the most patient of souls - actually I was born without that particular virtue. So I practise the next best thing: distraction ... wrestling with cruel inventions like photoshop for instance ... and planning what to make next.

Thankfully I have managed to fire a kiln load or two and been experimenting with more decals of birdies which my lovely illustrator daughter produced a while ago.

I rather like them :)


toil + good intentions

The shelves I got during my recent endurance-session at Ikea are coming in useful holding the assortment of bowls, cups, mugs, saucers, bells etc I've thrown over the last fortnight. Want to see them as proof that I'm not fibbing and have instead been lying in the sun these last few days - lol. Here they are:

They have to dry out completely now before heading for their first spell in kiln. If they go in too early, there's a risk that they explode. Don't want that !!

The last two days I spent updating and (hopefully) improving my website. I built it using weebly.com. I find their templates reasonably easy to customise, I'm not after a medal for mastering html. 

Weebly are based in San Francisco - another reason why I like them ;) - and I couldn't resist using on the home page a picture of flowers I photographed in Mendocino CA (I love that place) last time I was there. 

These blooms have given me the idea (again) to use flower images on pots I make, a bit like the bird on the bowl above, only larger. I will make a concerted effort not to go anywhere without my camera for the new few months ;)))


wind + mud + valentines

The wind sounded pretty violent again last night. The birds roosting in the tree in front of my house must have thought they were on the high seas again. I felt sorry for them. I hope they will sleep a little better tonight. - Sigh.

The garden looks like a rice-field after a good dowsing. Yesterday, Kipps (my dog) took a shine to it, did a few high-speed turns and then shot in and had a mad-mood round the studio - transformed the floor into a mudscape in no time at all.  - Sigh.

On a cheerier note, I had 2 separate Folksy successes: 2 sales in 1 day - that felt rather nice - and a bowl of mine featured in Folksy's favourite finds section. I took a screenshot to capture the moment. Here it is ...

I made a macrame bracelet with a ceramic heart following a really useful tutorial on youtube. Had intended to put it on Folksy in time for Valentine's, but the weather has been too grey for decent photos. - SIGH.

Luckily I had taken shots of other recent Valentine (inspired) pieces.

Wonder which one might be your favourite(s)? 
And as I'm on the subject ... I wonder what will be MY surprise come 14 Feb ? ;)))


potters' mecca

My little girlie is almost back to normal - thanks for all your kind comments! On Monday she had to attend a session at the V&A in London. I went along so she'd have someone to lean on, to lug her backpack (heavy one!) and to treat her to some nice tucker before catching the train home.

Whenever I'm at the V&A I'm drawn to their vast ceramics section - it's a bit like a potters' mecca to me. A while ago on Pinterest I came across a plate on show at the V&A of a hare from the 15th century. I found it and it impressed me even more than the picture.

Whilst there, I remembered a mug I spotted on a previous visit. So this time, I made sure I didn't leave without a photo - I love a good laugh - :)))

I adore the colours and patterns of ceramics made in Syria between 1400 and 1500. Wished I could make something only half as nice!

Another exhibit that makes me chuckle as well as shudder is this stack of plates. They came out of the kiln looking like this. The supports had collapsed, causing the plates to touch and with the glaze hot and liquid they ended up well and truly stuck. Not a surprise I'd want ever!

Tucked away in a corner is this little figure of a boy with an almighty donkey head. I always find it a bit unnerving.

Well, that's enough from her at the museum. I've been back at work, hands covered in clay. Will hopefully have some pots to show you next week. x


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...