Friday, 7 November 2014

Autumn leaves

I thoroughly enjoy the meetings held by West Forest Potters because each month we invite a well known potter to come and demonstrate and talk about their work. This is a fantastic opportunity to gain further inspiration and possibly learn new skills to include in our own work.

In Sept 2013, I was enthralled by the work of Liz Teall who uses real leaves as a resist for slip decoration of her work. Over the past few weeks I have finally got around to experimenting with this technique. After a fair amount of trial and error I am starting to produce some pieces which I am fairly happy with. My first successful pieces were a pair of 'double bowls' which I made as new bowls for the cats, they appear to be delighted with them!!

Cat bowls

 I like using my small heart bowls to experiment with different decorative techniques, as well as using leaves from the garden, I have also cut paper spirals (got to have my koru in somewhere).

Heart bowls

Koru and fern leaf heart bowl
 I have also used this technique to decorate a 'salt pig'

I am sufficiently happy with my results so far that I plan to continue to develop this technique, but may have to wait until next year when I have more leaves in the garden.

Monday, 3 November 2014

More Arts Gallery

Having got myself back into production, I was excited to receive an email recently inviting me to exhibit (and hopefully sell) my work in the More Arts Gallery in Wokingham. A group of local artists, under the More Arts organisation in Wokingham are currently using an empty shop in the town centre to exhibit and sell their work in their 'Here Now' exhibition. The shop is open Fridays and Saturdays from 10.00am to 5.00pm with the artists on a rota to steward the exhibition.
Fortunately I had enough work to display both in Wokingham and at Riseley Village Tearooms.
I set up my display on Friday 31st October, ready for the shop opening on 1st November.

My work will be on sale for all of November, fingers crossed for some business!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Back in production

Over 4 months have passed since my last post; since then I have had a cortisone injection in my wrist and physiotherapy, this has removed the pain and enabled me to get back to 'playing with wet dirt (clay)'. I am a happy potter again.

My kiln had been out of action for so long that I had to brush away the cobwebs before using it again in September! Since then I have been busy making items which I hope to sell in the build up to Christmas at Riseley Village Tea Rooms as well as doing a few experiments with slip and firing glazes at a higher temperature.

Here are some photos of some of my recent work:-
Shallow heart bowl (cobalt oxide under vellum off-white glaze)
Shallow triangle bowl (copper oxide under vellum off-white glaze)
Triple bowl
Pots with new style of handle
Four heart bowl
Bowls (cobalt oxide under copper red glaze)
Heart bowls using new pink clay
Birds - seem to have rectified recent cracking.
Bowls with slip experimentation - the cats are pleased with them!

Sunday, 15 June 2014


I am currently not meant to be 'playing with clay' due to prescribed 'rest' for de quervain's tenosynovitis in my right thumb, caused by over-enthusiastic use of secateurs back in March. I am finding it hard to not use my right hand and very frustrating not to be making things; so thought I would use some of my free time to update my blog with work that I managed to make before the pain really kicked in.

Over the Easter holidays we had a brilliant holiday on Islay and Jura which included lots of beach combing. One of my finds was a large flat scallop shell which I have had fun pressing into slabs of clay and then moulding the 'shells' to create some bowls.

Small shell bowl - h~8cm
Shell bowl with glass - d~25cm

Not surprisingly, I found a lot of broken shells which I like because the internal spiral structure of the shell is exposed creating very interesting shapes to draw...

...and then use as inspiration for clay

Broken shell form - h~12cm, l~18cm

One shell I would love to have is a nautilus (must put this on my wish list for birthday or Christmas), the form was the inspiration for this piece.

Nautilus form (burnished & smoked) - h~21cm, w~18cm

This piece won 'best in show' at West Forest Potters Annual Exhibition as part of the Henley Arts Trail and was sold at the show.

Another piece of recent burnished and smoked work, this time inspired by the Maori fishhook design.

Hei Matau - h~24cm, w~16cm

My little heart bowls are a great way of experimenting with different surface techniques; this trio had wax resist painted on when leatherhard and were then painted with slip. After bisque firing they were dipped in vellum off-white glaze and then fired to stoneware. Must have been successful since they have all sold.

little heart bowls
Salt pig - h~9cm

I used the same technique to finish this experiment at making a 'salt pig', instead of slip cobalt oxide was used, giving a stronger blue.

For this one I used copper oxide to give the green colour.

Finally, a salt pig based on a shell form.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

To glaze or not to glaze?

I think it is fair to say that I have a love/hate relationship with glazes.
All too often I finish a piece of work feeling satisfied with the shape (and sometimes texture added) only to be disappointed when I have added a glaze - colour might not be as expected, texture often lost or the glaze run badly leaving large blobs of glaze on my kiln shelves!
However, there are times when I open the kiln and am pleasantly surprised with the results.
One of the glazes I love to hate is my marble green glaze. When it behaves itself and 'does what it says on the can' I get a beautiful 'marbled green', as in this yarn bowl.

Yarn bowl
BUT, this glaze is a great runner! You can see this in one of my latest pieces of work.

Double Koru - h~23cm
Admittedly I did increase the movement of this glaze by dribbling on some vellum off-white glaze which recent glazing experimentation has shown increases the range of colours. I had tried to leave a large area clear of glaze at the bottom, but obviously not enough, more grinding to remove glaze from my kiln shelf!

This piece of work was definitiely intended to be looked at from all angles; with different shapes, both positive and negative, appearing all the time.

One of my most dependable glazes has been 'blue-grey', giving a lovely matt finish as in this triple koru.

Triple Koru on yew base
I have found on some test pieces that cobalt oxide in textured areas under this glaze will turn green (not the blue that would be expected with cobalt oxide). I decided to use this to highlight the texture that I had added to the piece below; unfortunately the glaze covered the piece so well that most of the texturing was lost.

 Another dependable glaze has been 'vellum off-white', which I have discovered works well over cobalt oxide, so have used this over the bowl/vase below.

Bowl/vase - h~12cm, w~15cm
Still very mixed feelings about my glazing efforts, time for some more burnishing and smoking...

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Stoned and smoking?

I am continuing to experiment with my own coloured slips in conjunction with burnishing and smoking; this resulted in two pieces which I felt were calling out for some different plinths, shiny black marble came to mind, not cheap!
Lots of searching on the internet and several emails later I had tracked down a local supplier of granite worktops who were willing to cut and prepare offcuts.
I was very excited to collect my first two plinths of black granite yesterday and rushed home to sit my work on their new bases...

Blue pod (burnished & smoked) on granite - h~13cm, l~16cm

Double Koru (burnished & smoked) on granite - h~16cm, w~16cm
I am delighted with the result, especially when Ken came home, noticed them and was complimentary!

Hard to believe that nearly 4 months have past since my last post; it has not been a very productive few months  as Christmas and home DIY took priority for a while. However, I am now getting back into my 'playing with clay' so time to add a few more photos of my recent efforts.

Burnished and smoked hearts

Double koru and Yew - h~24cm, w~30cm

Green 'zebra' vase (burnished & smoked) - h~23cm, w~18cm

 Smoked pebble stacks on yew bases

The kiln is on again with a stoneware glaze firing and several pieces are at varying stages of production, so watch this space...
(Hopefully it will not be another 4 months before I update my blog.)