Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Images from Potfest in the Park

Back from a wonderful weekend at Potfest, all unpacked and our own gallery put back to rights. (We are both off again tomorrow for a long weekend so don't try to visit until next Monday).  It is a great show and so stimulating to be in the company of such creative and resilient fellow potters. The standard of work is truly fantastic.

Here are some shots of my stand before the hoards descended on Friday morning.

And then they arrived, dogs and all. Do you stand at the back or at the front, do you look eager or do you let them browse?

I watched this pair come along with their dog and screech to a halt when their eyes caught sight of the long thin whippet dish.

Will they buy it or not?

They did, good choice!

I was too busy or distracted to take many photos, and I should have done because some of the work was superb. This is Doug and Hannah looking radiant by their stand. But where is baby Pippin? She must have been having one of her rare sleeps after beaming at everyone who came by.

The beautiful display of Fitch and McAndrew slipware.

The Potfest band played on and on.

'Blackbird's Bathtime' - my contribution for the Potfest competition piece, the theme being 'Bird Bath / Flight of fancy'. 

Paul Smith's Bird man diving won the potters' (and my) vote.

Katherine Winfrey's ingenious contraption.  I know that she won the Welsh vote because I enjoyed some of the prize of cake and the beer.

Sue Dunne's competition piece didn't arrive until Saturday but was well worth the wait. The taps even turned!

And why was it late? A sad tale but with a happy ending.

The best thing for about Potfest is the mix of nationalities. Sadly if Brexit happens it will become so much more complicated for the European potters to come across to future Potfests.  

There was an anxious unity of  feeling over the 'Every country for itself' direction we all worryingly seem to be going in. So I particularly loved Belgium potter Toon's Thijs's political figures. The middle one has mushrooms growing out of his head and his brain is on his lap. The one on the left has the shape of Denmark on his placard with 'Keep out' written on it. 

Thanks so much to Chris, Geoff and Matthew Cox for their boundless energy in organising this event. A ceramics festival run by potters who truly understand their needs 

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Pots for Potfest in the Park

That’s the last glaze kiln, just unpacked this evening with pots for Potfest in the Park on Friday. What a manic few weeks it's been but I'm feeling good now.

Mind you I wouldn’t mind waving a magic wand over the packing and setting up still ahead, but then looking forward to being there and catching up with friends and colleagues and seeing all the other great work on show,

I'm hoping to be showing some of my new extruded frame pictures at Potfest, we are just trying to work out a safe hanging system which will be secure enough on our tad flimsy back panels. Rodger managed to take some good photos yesterday, he was enjoying the detailed shots. 

Tomorrow's going to be a pretty busy day getting this lot safely packed up.

There has been a record number of kiln firings over the last fortnight, with a ridiculously fast turn around of biscuit and glaze. How I manage to leave this until last minute every time is beyond me but it was the point when I realised that time was such that it was not actually possible that I panicked.

On this occasion I had to ask very nicely for some help, and Rodger ended up waxing some of the bases for me, then continued to pack the kiln as I glazed. 

Now I just have this lot to sort through, it's all looking good though, so I am quite pleased and feeling much more confident that my stand should look good.

Oh... and I haven't mentioned that 'competition' piece yet. The theme this year is 'Flight of Fancy/ Bird Bath'. Yes, well I have something for it, only just. It came out of the kiln on Sunday night, and in one piece. I would have liked to have had more time for it but hey ho! It's always great to see what everyone comes up with.

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.