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. 

Sunday, 6 September 2015


I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go France last week. The colours and patterns were a feast to the eye. Orange and Green, Pinks and Ochres. What a delight.

While away I had left my Dalbeattie Hard Rock Challenge mugs drying out. Every year the organisers ask for a different colour (and shape). This time I decided to be bold and go for an untried combination of green and grey, ochre and a dash of blue. This before I had drunk from the Mediterranean palette.

I took these photos of Father's workshop last time we were over sorting out Father's house and belongings. He was such a prodigious maker I am amazed at just how many pieces of furniture, cushions and gadgets were made by him. None of us are acquisitive, but how can any of us part with any of it. Then there are the items of furniture, paintings etc which have been childhood friends and are as much a part of my make up as the Border hills. Why is it that human beings enjoy the comfort of familiar things. It is hard to imagine the total wrench which refugees go through. 

Last time I wrote this blog I was finishing pots for the Leeds Craft and Design Gallery show 'Figure That'. Here are a few images of some of the pots which I took down to it and which are on display there until 31st October.

I always like to have a workshop name for things, so these long narrow dishes are called RAH dishes. I have discovered that they are great in the windowsill for 'Ripen at Home' fruit, (such as you get in Scotland, I guess that they wouldn't be great sellers in the South of France)!


Monday, 20 July 2015

Extruded vases and a Long Lost tool

Two of the things I have been working on over the last weeks have been a extruded vases and long dishes.The most successful of these will be going to an exhibition at Leeds Craft and Design Gallery next week, entitled "Figure That'.

Once I have made the die the initial extrusions are comparatively straightforward to make. But by the time I have added the bases, incised each design, (no two are the same so each design has to fit the individual flow of the piece), days seem to go by. These ones are ready to be put into the glaze kiln, they have been bisc fired, coloured glazes applied to the designs with a slip trailer, then the glazed sections masked out with wax emulsion so that I can dip or spray the rest of the area with contrasting glaze.

I got this lot in the glaze kiln late Saturday night, so I am hoping for some good results come Tuesday.

I couldn't resist admitting to this ridiculous cat and ridiculous owner, neither of whom at this point helped either of us achieve anything at speed.

One thing I haven't been working on this year is a competition piece for Potfest in the Park, the fantastic show of British and International ceramics held at Hutton in the Forest Penrith next weekend. The year I decided not to apply, the competition theme is temptingly illustrative. It is 'Biblical' - I would have been spoilt for choice of ideas!

But this year I am not going to be there. Last Autumn I decided to have a year out, and the way things turned out this year, it was a very fortuitous decision. It's kind of strange, and I am feeling a little sad to be missing it, and all my friends, though I know I made the right decision.  Have fun all of you, I will think of you setting up your stands. (I shall instead be listening to music at 'Womad' World Music Festival, a treat indeed).

Last week I was looking for a lost tool, and in my frustration I ended up tipping out 4 boxes of odds and ends, things like interesting objects to impress into clay, or half made tools, a lot dating from way back to when I used to run pottery evening classes.

I never found what I was looking for in the guddle, (because it was in fact right under my nose all along), but I DID find my LONG LOST serrated kidney. Oh joy - a treasure from art school days, lost for maybe ten or more years. They 'don't make them like that any more' you see, it is finger cuttingly sharp, and magic to use.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Octo-puss in his new home

It was lovely to be sent this picture today from the owners of Octo-puss looking very happy in his new home. I do rather miss him, so it was especially rewarding to see him so well loved.