Thursday, 28 May 2009

Spring Fling Open Studios

By the time Spring Fling weekend arrived I was already pretty exhausted from the weeks build up! All ready to go with the courtyard swept and pots arranged, the gallery dusted and polished, the windows, ( and I am especially proud of the windows), cleaned inside and out, and the display of pots re-arranged with new pieces from the week's kilns.

10.30am (or earlier, in fact before the official opening time) the cars started to arrive. Quick panic, (oh how will I cope), and off we went. Once it is underway it is easier and I am too busy to be shy. I met some very nice people indeed who were interested and enthusiastic about the new work. Most were on a mission to visit many of the other studios, some were old friends and customers and a a few were just passer-bys who stumbled in
(and one or two stumbled out again none the wiser, as they were really looking for a tea room or other sort of happening).

Some extra feline help arriving. In fact I DID have a lot of help, so thanks to Rodger, for charming everyone, Inigo and Allie for helping with extruding demos and explanations, my brother Philip for providing us with sandwiches and tea, my sister in law Chris who did a quick course in wrapping up pots, and my Dad for coming over to join in the fun and giving his support.

...But commiserations to Angus, the official Spring Fling photographer, who after nearly an hour of work had his bag run over in the car park!
Can't think what was being explained here, or maybe I was trying hypnosis?
Queues making me nervous.
I must have lost my voice by this time, certainly nearly lost in the crowd here.

All over now and the workshop is once again my quiet oasis. However with it being half term the gallery has carried on being very busy, with late 'Spring Flingers' and other visitors. All in all quite a week.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Extruded clay, pugmills and barrels

Thinking that I should really have some interesting 'work in progress' for Spring Fling, I started a new seat this week. I've got some ideas going round my head that I need to try. The 'throne' was a bit narrow for a reasonable sized bottom, so I needed a larger diameter object over which to mould the clay. After rolling the oil drum round from the coal shed and getting it to the back door I decided that it was looking rather too dented to be any good after all. I went back to the original water tank, but how was I to make it four inches fatter?
Got it - wrap it up in bubble!
Now just when you might all be thinking that this extruding game looks a breeze...... nothing is that simple. The lengths started to tear horribly, and it got worse and worse. Allie and I struggled with the pugmill all afternoon, even resorting to cooling the poor overheated beast with damp cloths. I think maybe my little half horse power mill is being pushed to its limits.

We had to give up in the end and let the machine recover. The next day I got Rodger to come and help feed the hopper. Three minutes in there was a yelp - and he withdrew a nastily sliced finger. It appears that the safety grid had corroded and worn away leaving shards of razor sharp metal.
Here are some shards embedded in the screw...
and here is what was left. With so much to get done this week, I had to roll the last two huge slabs by hand and get the top of the pugmill to the blacksmith. Why DID I take this on right now?
The second bisc kiln was fired with this ridiculously too-long dish in it, on a slanted shelf again. Actually it is for a commission and had to be that length, but it is getting a bit silly I know,
A pile of glazing, most of which I got through today. The kiln was packed eventually, but I have at least three kiln loads worth to fire. I keep mis-judging how much space my bigger pieces take up. I'll get some more smaller things in the top loader tomorrow and both should be unpacked on Friday, in time for Spring Fling. I'm a bit afraid that by that time I will actually be ready to collapse.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Bird Throne, Snake Seat and Oryx Stool

We took some shots on Sunday of the black seats. I think I am pretty happy with them generally. Of course I can see loads of ways in which they could be improved,the main lesson is that they really don't need over elaborate decoration - they are such bold objects anyway. I think the amount on this Bird throne is about right.
On the other hand the top of this one is a bit too much. It is actually greatly improved since Rodger ground down the way-too-thick green glaze, and I refired it. It had looked as though someone had put a cushion on top of the seat. At least it is more part of it now.

This is the three tier one - by far the most complicated contsruction and more successful as an object than as a seat but for the record, it does work!
It's been a glorious three days weather wise, but I had so much slip decorating to do I have been rather up to my ears inside, catching everything before they dried out. Now that I have finished and I DO want things to dry....guess what, it's started to rain!

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Tropical Scottish Pottery

I love the Gunnera when it is just shooting out its leaves like this. You can almost see and hear it growing. Spring is here (or was), and summer is round the corner it seems to whisper. It does make the place look oddly tropical. I power-hosed the front of the showroom in a 'make the place look good' for Spring Fling. Can you tell?

I have had/ am having a bit of a pre 'Spring Fling' (open studio jamboree) panic. I had a couple of days of rather manic throwing this week to get some serious stock made. As well as that I have had quite a few firings with mainly pretty good results and I 'll get some photos up soon.

The most exciting were the three enormous stools, or as Jim called them, 'seats', and it does sound nicer I think. Yes, the seats - one turned out really much as I had hoped and the other two.... well the glazes were not quite right. Dear Rodger came to the rescue and ground the top down where the glaze was much too thick while I added some extra to the top of the other where the glaze was somewhat thin! They were re-fired on Thursday and I've just had a peak in the kiln, and I think they are looking a lot better...I'll take them out tomorrow when they have cooled properly.


Freshly slipped pots look good enough to eat!
I ran out of black stain and didn't have enough to top up the dark green slip bucket, so it had to be poured.
On the other hand there was plenty of this colour 'oystercatcher grey', (not that oystercatchers are grey but it is the background colour for the oystercatcher design. Allie looks like she's wondering what to do next....Oh, it's alright she managed to lift the base up to wipe after all...
Jugs, mugs and salt 'ovals', sitting with the white slip inside. I do find that the white middles make a good contrast to a darker decoration outside, allowing it to sing out, but it is quite an extra palaver. It has to then be dry enough to handle before the outsides can be dipped or poured. Wowa, rather a lot to finish, decorate, fire and glaze in two weeks, not sure if it is possibl.e.