Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Spring Fling this weekend and the windows are squeaky clean

It is Spring Fling this weekend and the windows have never been so clean, well at least not since this time last year.

Everything has been washed down and dusted and Rodger helped to mount two of the 3D pictures on the wall. It was rewarding to see them up. 

 The keyhole slot in the back worked well as a secure way of hanging them, it was just a little fiddly getting the two screws in the right position.

Now I just have the studio to clear up, but one corner is looking better already.

It's just a case of making things look more like organised chaos rather than plain chaotic chaos.

How did I acquire quite so many brushes over the years? I did inherit a whole lot more from the late Ralph Neat who no doubt had built up a similar life time's collection.

This morning I'll tackle this next half. Tomorrow there is another kiln to unpack, the garden to sort out, flapjack to make, and then all ready to go. 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Lots to do and not everyone is helping

With so much to do you would hope it is all hands on deck, but she isn't exactly helping to put the clean socks away!

How did that happen? Spring Fling Open Studios is less than two weeks away and I still have a mountain to climb. Not only am I trying to get half made pots finished off and through the kilns but I suddenly realised that I really ought to have a few more of the smaller items such as mugs and jugs made. I put aside my glazing to have a last ditch throwing day on Friday, slipping and putting on handles over the weekend.

The 'grey' damp cupboard is filled and ready for some slip trailed decoration today. Will they or won't they get finished in time?

Meanwhile back to glazing - bowls with their foot rims waxed, ready to dip.

A set of gannet candle holders,. The gannets have been glazed in coloured glazes, and masked out, then the whole dipped in transparent glaze. Some of these are for Roger Lever's gannet exhibition, 'Infinite Space', opening at the Lever Gallery in Dalbeattie on Friday. Roger is a photographer and he has taken some superb shots of these magnificent birds. His studio is also open during Spring Fling, so worth a visit. 

This is a very busy and rather overcrowded glaze bench - I use wax emulsion to mask out, but of course as would happen with a deadline looming I went and ran out of it half way through.

I had forgotten the old pre-emulsion method of hot wax. It's brilliant, if a bit smelly. An old chip fryer keeps it at a constant melt and it forms a much denser resist than the emulsion.

Now to get this lot through the kiln. These trays are very greedy for space.  

This one came through last week in time for the Gannet exhibition tomorrow.

These wee fellows are to keep him company.

Other finished pots from the last glaze firing are waiting to be looked over, priced and displayed. Being Spring Fling, the latter means the annual showroom window clean, major de-spider and dust session. Later.

This year once again I have Wendy Kershaw coming down to share my studio over Spring Fling. It is lovely for me to have her company and beautiful work around and it makes for an interesting combined studio visit.

Spring Fling runs from 23rd May to 25th with an early opening preview for Wendy and I on the Friday - do come and join us if you can. 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Back to work in a Changed world

After a prolonged time away I am back in the workshop, rescuing my somewhat mouldy pots. I got the batch of 3D pictures sprayed with coloured slips over weekend and they are now drying slowly under polythene. 

This one is Aesop's Fable 'The Fox and Stork'.

The first version was a plate which was sold at the preview of the Spring Fling exhibition at The McGill Duncan Gallery.

I did like these when they were still in the plain damp terracotta red clay, but once the colours are fired I think/hope they will come back to life.

The last 6 weeks or so have been sad yet special ones. We lost our dear Father after a short illness. He was 89 and had lived a full life. He was really remarkably fit right up until the last year or so. 

He was a regular a visitor to Potfest in the Park, I don't think he ever missed it. The last time he undertook a long drive by himself was to go to Potfest 2014. He loved to come and see the show, meet his pottery friends and see what I had been making for it. Often to my embarrassment he would declare to be my biggest fan! 

He was a GP by profession, but also a fine woodworker.  He always kept his hands busy. It was in his workshop in the cellar, with the freedom to use his tools and under his gentle encouragement, that I owe my love of making. As Len McDermid said in his tribute: 

                                               'He constructed and he invented.
                                                He made things and he mended things. 
                                                He mended people and he made people'. 

Here is Father making a canoe. He made many boats, and taught us all seamanship.

At Potfest 2013

80th Birthday cake

Tapestries kept his hands constantly busy, especially in later years.

89th Birthday at the Halterburn near Yetholm in September.  Many happy family days were spent making dams here.

Life has changed for me, but my Father will live on in everything I make.

Monday, 9 March 2015

New work for March

I have at last got some completely new work underway. It has been difficult to get a good run on these new ideas. But having made a start it is easier to come back to them whenever I have a minute. 

I wanted to make some three dimensional pictures. The frame is made from extruded square sections.

The waves were extruded and the dinghy was thrown, as was the dog. 

I wasn’t at all sure how these would go. indeed having made the frame it was initially quite daunting to make a start. Like a blank clean page in a sketch book where the first line feels like a sacrilege, the first score and slipping of the rather too beautifully made frames felt a bit scary.

However having got over the first hurdle I am actually quite pleased with the way they are going. Next challenge will be getting the finish right.

Meanwhile Rodger managed to make an adaptor so that I can use some of the old dies cut for the pugmill expansion box in the new hydraulic extruder.

What a change from endlessly feeding the pugmill hopper and coaxing it to deliver. This beast takes a couple of sacks and once it is set up pushes the clay through so fast we are actually going to have to try and slow it down.

The tables are now covered with lots of flat plate lengths waiting to be ready to worked on. No point in making only one.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Ripen at home

Best wishes to you all on this, the first day after the shortest one of the year. With this thick blanket of cloud it may not feel like it, but we know we have turned the corner, and that is good enough for me. 

Was it really Corsock Craft Fair at the beginning of this month, and if so where has December gone? It is a great fair, something quite special in rural Galloway, and packed as usual, an extraordinarily jolly mixture of friends, cake and sales. Here are a few stands, my own one, Hannah McAndrew's, Jo Gallant's cushions and Tom Iglehar'ts glass. These were taken just before the crowds arrived, after which I had no time left for any more photos. More images on the Corsock Craft Fair Facebook page here.

Since then it has been a busy few weeks of both making and finishing off orders, followed by a lot of last minute wrapping, parcelling up and posting. This is also where I realise that the website actually works which means that the next job is definitely web updates, long overdue.

Negotiating the mine field which is the Royal Mail parcel service, the price now dependent on dimensions as well as weight is not much fun. I joked with the postie that I would have to make flat mugs! No wonder independent carriers are doing so well.

Just occasionally I actually decide to keep one of my own pots, and this is a dish which has been in the showroom for too long. I have always rather liked it myself but no one has ever wanted to buy it. I found that it just fits perfectly on the window sill for 'Ripen at Home' avocados and seemed to be perfect colours for them. I am quite encouraged to make some more, and perhaps even display them with wooden avocados. Sometimes people just need a little help to envisage.

Meanwhile Timbalada has moved into the old 'ripen at home' receptacle and here she is enjoying being ripened by winter sun.

Happy Solstice.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Winter Pots for Autumn days

I have had a busy, but rather bitty, making period for a few weeks now. It has been a case of juggling a lot of small outstanding orders, replenishing my slipware for the showroom, and making some new pieces for Christmas. 

 It was a windy Autumn day when I designed these vases.

The boat theme continues - this time with Barge Vases.

This Barge Vase has a Royal King penguin salute.

The load of boat, vase and sea bits were abandoned for a few weeks while other things took priority.

It feels good to get this batch of work finished at last. 

Do come along to the McGill Duncan Gallery's Winter exhibition where you will find  some of these new creations.

Unfortunately I had yet another kiln fiasco last week. Whether it was another element going (seems the kiln is getting as old as I am), or the second contactor in the control box, the result was a kiln which refused to reach temperature. Eventually the top zone cones went down, 4 hours later than expected. 

We had a long planned treat, which was trip to the Sage Concert hall to hear the 'Songlines World Music Award Winners' concert that evening, so it all got a bit late and scrambled. It took a while to unwind, but it was a great evening of music and luckily impossible to carry on fretting about kilns when aborbed in all that exuberant musical energy. It was and lovely to stay over and see Tim Foxell's wonderful spatula workshop, humming with creativity, and Sue Dunne's ceramic workshop.