Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Waste not, want not

As a child I was brought up with the idiom "waste not, want not", and throughout my life I have tried to keep to the 3 R's, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Unfortunately, when working with clay, things do not always end up the way they were planned. This means that sometimes I finish with a piece which isn't 'right', but I do not want to throw away. I was reading yesterday about a ceramicist, Pierre Bayle, who built all his imperfect or broken pots into a wall outside his home in France; I have a long way to go before I can build a wall!

So far, I have had 2 attempts to create something in clay to compliment the beauty of this piece of yew.

Both attempts have failed, leaving me with 2 pieces requiring another use. A visit to a local garden centre found me admiring their display of Tillandsias, or Air plants, and set the old cogs in the brain working. Another visit, which lightened my purse by several pounds, and some judicial gluing resulted in a suitable new use and a happy Wendy!
Tillandsia, ceramic and sea-glass (height~9cm diam~14cm)

Tillandsia and ceramic (height~35cm width~11cm)
Being a compulsive beachcomber means that I have a large collection of shells, pebbles and driftwood in various bowls around the house. A gift of 2 deep frames, which my Mum had found in a charity shop, has enabled me to create a display with some of my treasures from beaches; once again putting my 3 R's to good use.

Sunday, 24 March 2013


I guess that I am something of a magpie, collecting ideas from other makers at craft fairs, books and the internet; then adapting them for use in my own work.

Last year I went to the Festival of Crafts at Farnham Maltings and was fascinated by some silver sea shell shaped jewellery. The maker was very willing to tell me that she used a product called Siligum to make moulds of shells with which to cast her silver shells. Further research on the internet led me to put this product on my wishlist for my birthday, and I was delighted to receive this just over a week ago.

I had lots of fun last weekend making moulds of lots of the shells I have been collecting over the years. Some particular 'shells' that I wanted to make moulds from were found on the beach of Oakura near Taranaki on the North Island of New Zealand, they are called Spirula, and are in fact the internal flotation chamber of a small sea squid, Spirula spirula, commonly known as the ram's horn squid.

These shells are extremely fragile, so I was very pleased to be able to use my new Siligum to make moulds which I can now use to re-create these beautiful spirals in clay.
Searching through my craft supplies, I found that I still had some Silver clay which I was able to make workable with the addition of some more water, so I soon had a pair of silver 'spirula' ear-rings...

I also have made a matching necklace using a larger shell as a mould, but have not taken a photo of this yet.

Now that I have these shells preserved in moulds it was time to use the original shells in a way which I could enjoy their beauty and stop them from getting damaged, so I have mounted them in a deep frame found in a charity shop.
Difficult to photograph without getting myself in the image!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Stock Piling

Over the past few weeks I have been busy preparing work to exhibit (and hopefully sell) at two events taking place on the May Bank Holiday weekend.

After my successful first exhibition last year with West Forest Potters as part of the Henley Arts Trail; I have been looking forward to this year's event, which takes place on the 4th - 6th May 2013. The event attracts a lot of visitors, so is an ideal opportunity to exhibit some larger, more expensive pieces of work. With this in mind, I plan to include my recently completed rock-form water feature.
Rock form water feature - Ceramic, sea glass and pebbles (h~65cm)
I have also made a new set of Calla Lilies.
Calla Lilies - Ceramic, copper & oak base (h~110cm)

When making my lily heads, I thought it would be fun to try making a vase in this shape, I am pleased with the result (and the vase even holds water!)
Calla Lily Vase (h-18cm, d-9cm)
The other event taking place on the May Bank Holiday weekend is the Thrive-Spring Open Gardens on Saturday 4th May. It will be a busy weekend, but I hope that sales will be good to go towards the recent cost of my kiln and equipment.

New stock for the weekend includes:-

Hei matau (h-23cm, w-16cm)
A hei matau is typically a bone or greenstone carving in the shape of a highly stylised fish hook typical of the New Zealand Maori. They represent strength, good luck and safe travel across water. This is my interpretation made in clay and using the lovely marble green glaze.

Burnished and smoked abstract (h-21cm, w-16cm)
I plan to make mounts for both of these pieces from yew or spalted beech, waiting for warmer weather to work on the wood either outside or in the garage.

Triple bowl (h-9cm, d-14cm)
Continuing to develop and refine (?) my triple bowl idea; this time I used a large light bulb as a mould for the bowls, which worked well and used the marble green glaze inside, so no worries about the glaze running onto the kiln shelf. Unfortunately managed to break the koru on the handle before the piece was fired, a little judicious re-shaping has salved the piece.

I am also making more bowls, birds and garlic pots; as well as making ear-rings and cards using small ceramic hearts and flowers.

If you are free on the Bank holiday weekend, do come and have a look either in Henley or at Thrive.