Saturday, 21 May 2016

Mega making - the run up to Spring Fling

The beast of an extruding machine saw some action recently with the birth of a new dish die. Although I had made this die sevaral weeks ago I have only now had a chance to try it out.

First impression was: I wanted a big dish die, and well, it is BIG!

Maybe too big in fact, this one would need a rather long kiln. Of course the intention was to cut it into sections, but even so it is quite wide, so proportionally even after cutting they are still turning out pretty large.

 We had a fair bit of splitting at first, this got better after I stiffened up the clay. (Cutting, drying and re -wedging and all that potter's faff).

The edges were a bit raggedy but a bit of chamois leather sorts that out. I knew that I had pushed the die size to the limit of what an extruder could be expected to manage so it is pretty miraculous that the clay actually managed to find the edge at all.

I wasn't sure how tucking the edges up was going to work, but after a couple the best method became obvious.

The addition of edges and handles finishes them off. 

Some have an initial slip ground and will have a further design added at the glaze stage. Others I slip decorated, my friend the tiger had to go in one, here slipped and drying out.

As is this bee dish.

The big kiln has been packed with bisc and is pretty FULL, a lot to be glazed before SPRING FLING open studio event next weekend.


The extruded frame pictures and RAH dishes are being glazed while it cools down, so it's back to back firings from now to next weekend. Whether everything will be finished or not, there will be lots to see and talk about so do come along and see us.

I am sharing the studio again with Wendy Kershaw so it's going to be exciting to see her new work. 

We have a 'Preview' Late night opening on Friday 6.00pm - 8.00pm. Do please join us for a drink and informal chat or at any time over the next few days for coffee and flapjack.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Island of the Long Beards

The latest extruded frame pictures assembled.

They are designed to be wall mounted, and are therefore theatre, as in seen from the front and the side. In order to really get into the feel of the piece have to work on the whole, including the back, but it might be a pity to have the bottoms to the wall.

The idea for this one came from looking at some Persian manuscripts. My picture is really just a 3D version of this charming illustration I found, entitled 'The Island of the Long Beards'.

It has been easiest to make a rough plan on card to use as a guide with which to scale the thrown and extruded components.

The figures were a challenge. The bodies, heads and legs were thrown and the arms pulled like handles, keeping them soft enough to manipulate once the beards were on. 

Then the feet were turned sideways mixing low relief with the full bodies.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Wolf in Sheep's clothing

It seems a while since I have made any totally new work but at last I feel I have cleared the decks enough to be allowed some proper creative play time. These are the first two of the new set of extruded frame pictures which I put together this week. Having learnt a lot from the ones I made last Spring I am constructing these in a slightly different way.

The main problem with the first ones was uneven shrinkage while drying, so this time I am adding the figures while the frames are still fairly soft.

It means that rather than working on the pictures standing up, the soft frames are still face down. Unfortunately this is not such a good position for my back as it involves leaning over at an uncomfortable angle. Tomorrow I will have a think about how to prop them up a little.

These two have now been lifted onto newspaper to enable the frames to move as they shrink. When they are a little firmer I will spray them with coloured slips and then proceed to dry them extremely slowly.

Putting them together becomes quite a jigsaw puzzle, well a kind of 'time' jigsaw puzzle. Which bit to lay in first and at what point. The pieces have to still be soft enough to be flexible but not floppy. A card template has helped quite a lot as component size chart and general guide, though as in all things clay it is only a starting point.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

First try this Saturday

I aways love how McGill Duncan Gallery manage to display their exhibitions so beautifully so I am looking forward to this coming Saturday when I am happy to be exhibiting work there alongside prints by Lisa Hooper and paintings by John Threlfall and Tracy Levine.

Come along if you can, (drinks from 11.00 - 1.00pm), or call in over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016


Back into the workshop after the break, to find the half started teapots, abandoned when Christmas hit.

Bodies, lids and spouts have been patiently keeping sweet in the damp cupboard waiting to be completed.

I just managed to get the handles extruded and shaped, then New Year hit.

Still they waited, patiently.

At last, finally assembled, and this fleet of teapots is ready to walk. I don't often make teapots, but when I do I really enjoy them,  they have such attitude.

Monday, 30 November 2015

G is for gannets G is for Glazing

The square plates with gannets were slipped and scored and are now drying out slowly so that they don't warp, though it's been so wet recently there isn't much chance of them drying too fast or unevenly.

Meanwhile the gannet candle holders are slipped and are now bisc fired.

It's amazing just how much the kiln holds when crammed full of the smaller pots. (As oppose to one seat or long dishes).

It was a wet and windy weekend so perfect for battening down the hatches and having a mega glaze session.

Even if it did go on for ever - but with some good music and recordings to listen to, it was dipping, wiping and sometimes even singing along. The glaze kiln was eventually packed and switched on a bit later than hoped, but I got there.

It's still firing -  must go and check those cones!

Monday, 16 November 2015

Work in progress

I was recently asked to make a commemorative plate featuring badgers, and in doing the research and drawings I rather got into them. Having chosen the design which I used for the plate, I wanted try some of the others. Above are some new badger bowls, (slipped but not yet fired).


I know I have been putting gannets on things for ages, but the three gannets flying alongside the boat on the way to Orkney had to appear in a new design of their own.


I am not sure about the flying gannet stopper yet, but I will see what I think when it is fired and finished. (Again here it is slipped but not yet fired).

This army of jugs is slipped and over sprayed, still waiting to be trailed,

                              with handles half extruded and half pulled.

I also seem to have accumulated quite a lot of individual Christmas orders which have now jumped to top of the making queue. One of which is for a square plate (incidentally with a gannet on it).  It was good to put my wonderful ex Glasgow school of Art slab roller to use again and fill some press moulds.

It's been a long time without a post, as it felt like there have been no 'outstanding' happenings in the pottery. I have been making a lot of thrown slipware over the last few months, probably more than usual in one go, because I keep thinking that if I get ahead with stock for the gallery, it will then allow me time to get down to some great new project. But when I turn round my stock of slipware has mysteriously vanished.

I know I can't complain, it is great to be selling, but I am actually dying to get my teeth into some of the new ideas knocking at the door in my head.  Still, early in the new year is always a good time for that.