Friday, 3 March 2017

A new year and new opportunities...

In the cold and dark of early January we returned home from an amazing family holiday in New Zealand with our heads full of wonderful memories, mine also brimming over with ideas to use in my ceramics, and my bag full of driftwood and pebbles!

Once again we visited Hokitika where I drooled over the beautiful jade carvings mounted on driftwood, if anyone has NZ$8500 to spare and would like to buy this for me it would be much appreciated (slight understatement there)!

Unfortunately I was unable to bring back any large pieces of driftwood that could be used as a mount for a large ceramic sculpture but I have been playing with some clay to display on one of my smaller pieces. I am still undecided about whether to smoke this burnished piece or try adding some glaze and fire again.

Small koru on driftwood (~15cm)

Fortunately the post-holiday low was lifted by an invitation to show some of my work in Henley Studios which displays and sells the work of local artists as well as providing bespoke framing and professional photography services.

Koru Craft display in Henley Studios
I can't claim to have been rushed off my feet with sales yet, but I am keeping my fingers crossed!

Another 'new opportunity' for me in the coming year is retirement! I have decided to finish my part-time work as a teaching assistant in a local Junior School at the end of this academic year (July 2017). This should give me more time out in my studio; or at least give me time to do all the other things that currently do not get done because of work and playing with clay.
With this additional time in mind, I have decided to apply for the Wokingham Arts Trail which will take place late September. I am already busy making work for the Henley Arts Trail at the end of April.

I am also trying to include more experimentation in my work this year; so alongside some of my tried and tested forms and surface decoration I am determined to try out new forms and play with different ways of decorating work, be that with sgrafitto, etching, different slips and glazes. Each firing should include some test pieces. I have achieved this so far this year with varying degrees of success, all a learning curve to be recorded and improved upon (I hope).

One success has been these coiled edge pots which have been glazed both inside and out, but the glaze on the outside has been largely sponged away so that it just highlights the texture of the clay.

Trio of coiled edge pots (height ~15-20cm)
Twisted vase (height~15cm)

Whilst I am pleased with the shape of the vase adjacent, the new clear stoneware glaze that I had recently bought has not fired clear. I now need to experiment more with the glaze to determine whether this was due to thickness of glaze or firing temperature.

It's all fun and games!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Ceramics for the Great Outdoors

This week on The Great Pottery Throwdown it is garden week and the potters will be 'making stunning ceramics for the great outdoors'. I have decided to get there first and update my blog with some of my more recent makes for the garden! (No, I do not want to be on the next Throwdown, I don't throw.)
However I do love making ceramics for the garden. Planters are a great favourite and I continue to experiment with shapes and surface decoration.

Umbellifer planter with sea glass (~25cm diameter)
I was particularly pleased with this one made using a flecked stoneware clay into which I carved the umbellifer design, highlighted using manganese dioxide. The use of sea glass around the rim worked very well.
This planter sold nearly as soon as it was out of the kiln! About to start making some more.

Spiral planter with sea glass (~25cm diameter)

This planter also has sea glass around the rim, but hard to see in this photo; I changed the plant to a smaller one before selling the planter.

Paua shell garden stone (~25cm diameter)

This 'garden stone' was again made using the flecked stoneware clay. This time I had great fun carving in my paua shell design (spirals yet again!), these were highlighted using cobalt oxide.

Ceramic flowers on copper stems

Previously I have made calla lilies on copper stems, I have now progressed to these 'poppies' (poppies do not need to be red). Quite a few of these are now 'growing' in gardens around the country, even as far north as Scotland!

Monday, 26 September 2016

Vases and other pots

In early July West Forest Potters held a very successful Firing Day where members had the opportunity to Raku and Smoke fire some of their work. I was able to raku fire a couple of my birds and also this vase.

A few more recent vases...

Here are some lidded pots and saltpigs


For some time I have been making my small birds and glazing with a vellum off-white glaze giving the following result

I like making the birds, they nestle snuggly in my hands as I work on their shape, they also are very popular and always 'fly off the shelves' at any sales I do.

I decided it was time to branch out and try different finishes to the original shape and also try other bird shapes, here are some of my results.

Raku birds
Tenmoku and shiny white tin glazes
Burnished and smoked


I used up all my pink and black clay making bowls and planters, here are some of the planters...


 Here are my recent bowls of various shapes and sizes.


Recent smoked work

Once again a long gap in my blog with lots to catch up on since I have been fairly busy making.
I have decided to concentrate on putting up photos of recent work with very little waffle around them (you can come and look at my sketchbooks if you want to read that!)
So in this post, here are photos of work that has been made using the lovely Ashraf Hanna clay which is burnished and smoked.