Sunday 28 December 2008

Boxing Day Swim

Rockcliffe beach, boxing day. It was FREEZING.....note the 'wimps' in wetsuits! Actually it was still freezing, I can vouch, hence the lack of a photograph of the event, but I can assure you it did happen.

Thursday 11 December 2008

The stool is growing

I seem to have taken ages getting this far this week - partly because of reduced elbow function still, but I've also been struggling with the 'engineering'side. The hexagons are from a north star Big Blue ready made die, and are making up the central column of the stool with the middle one acting as a locator for the second tier. After this shot I did perforate them (like a holey cheese) to cut down the weight. Slabs are wrapped round the central structures with 'fins' pinning the slabs together. I've put a back on the bowed seat and it should locate in the top hexagon.....with luck, and a lot of tweaking. Phew, all a bit tricky. Tommorrow I should be able to get the top seat on, and I hope it will look ok. Judging proportions, upside down, standing on my head is a bit fraught!

Sunday 7 December 2008

The start of a stool

The beginnings of another stool. This is going to have a slab on top to form a thick sandwich. The base is in two sections and I'll put a few photos up as I go along. I got stopped short this weekend as I STUPIDLY went out on my bike and hit a huge frozen puddle. A trip to casualty confirmed no cracks, but my elbow is only just beginning to function like an elbow should after two days rest.

Still, it meant I enjoyed two fairly leisurely days. Saturday was the opening of 'Galloway Past and Present' at the McGill Duncan Gallery. I only had a few pieces there, but it was a lovely mixed show and I'm pretty thrilled to have sold my big dish 'Speedy', as well as a wiggly shoals dish AND my Christmas Cracker penguins. It is always so exciting to find people actually want to have the things you make!

Today I was a visitor at the Corsock Craft Fair, (great to be on the other side). As well as Hannah's scrummy honey pots and Amanda's beautiful glass, there were HATS. Lots of them. For a hat-a-holic like me it was too much. Delightful Afghan hats ( sold for the Afghan Schools project), Jem Cox's handmade bonnets and Joanna Gisbeys incredible creations. She makes them out of old jumpers, deliberately washed up and felted. I bought one last year which has POCKETS. My favourite this time was one made from a V neck jumper where the V became the head hole and the side bits drooped down, medieval style, ending in four cornered knots - brilliant! Ron you would have been in your element.

Heavy comb and tassles

Some of the larger dishes from the comb shaped die came out of the kiln last week. While I am happy with the shape and decoration, they are far too heavy, the comb die just pushes through too much clay. My idea was to give the structure strength, but in fact it was overkill. I like the feel of the 'tassle' like ends though. Next time I am going to make a ridged sandwich to give the thick fat feel I like .

Saturday 29 November 2008

Lark books have requested me to promote their new publication of '500 Platters and Chargers'. If you ever find yourself a copy, don't forget to look at page 224. I am not sure about my fierce dog platters, ( or charging dog chargers) sharing a page with a skull, but hey I shouldn't complain. It is exciting to be represented in such a nice

Friday 21 November 2008


At last I have been getting back to finishing these large dishes. I've been glazing them - with home invented 'brush on glazes', though trailing the glaze was also working quite well. It will take a couple of kilns to get them all glaze fired, more slanty kiln shelves...they didn't shrink in the bisc THAT much. The big loopy legs did crack a bit at bisc, I'm not sure whether it was the stress of being on a slant or that I hadn't put a proper hole in the hollow.
( Stupid!) I got the repair stuff out to fill the cracks and had made a pretty good job of it when I birled the thing round on the banding wheel and knocked a clean slice of the end! More repairs...(huh, even more stupid)!

Thursday 13 November 2008

Twisty spout

I quite like the way the spout of this teapot twisted as I was throwing it. I think the tea might come out in a spiral though, so maybe an exciting pour....


Here's some really nice dove pictures that Rodger took. They really do have very pretty pink feet. These ones live in our dove cote - the shed which is actually the old school outdoor toilets.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Too many small tubs

Three dishes with variations of this design came out of the last kiln. This one was the nicest as the brown earth in the middle glowed- it was just a lighter tone from being higher (cooler) in the kiln. I'll adjust the oxides in the slip so that I can be assured of repeating this colour. This is how I end up with litearlly dozens of small pots of coloured slips, it's a nightmare. Then I read Ron's blog on deliberate restraints...if only I could be so disciplined. ( I dare not even mention the shelf loads of small tubs of glazes)!

Sunday 9 November 2008

It was good to see Jim and Ian at The Booth House Gallery, always so enthusiastic and encouraging. Jim had some beautiful slabbed constructed pots and his use of scale is always inspiring. Ian Marsh who helped out on the extruding course was there too, and he told me he has just got himself a pneumatic extruder from the States. Mmm, nice one- I can begin to see the attraction of 'no hands', I always need a spare pair. Next day I went on to take some work to 'Gallerytop'. It was small but very nice, and beautifully located near 'Chatsworth House', ( looking splendid with its parklands and golden leaved autumn trees). Stopped off in Bakewell on the way back and had coffee in the Bakewell Tart tearoom. I brought a genuine Bakewell tart home for Rodger. The real thing really is quite something - Hannah and Paul enjoyed a taste of the remaining crumbs on Saturday. This swimmers wavy dish I took to Gallerytop. I wish I had unpacked the box it was in though as I now realise that I have abandoned my precious extra strong and famous 'Big Blue' rectangular box. I don't mind the pots, but do look after my cardboard box, Gallerytop!

I've been too busy to write much lately. I had so many pots that needed to be finished but I got there eventually and managed to unpack three kilns over four days. If I am pushed I can get my small top loader fired twice while the big one is doing its cycle. Then I had to decide what to sort out for two Christmas shows and get the pots priced and packed. I think that this this wavy dish was the best from the kilns, so I saved this one to take to Jim's exhibition at the Booth House Gallery.

Tuesday 21 October 2008

Can you believe it - it really WAS too long for the kiln, I couldn't shut the door. I hadn't taken into account the width of the piece, so even at 45degrees it stuck out. I was hovering with a hack saw thinking I would have to cut off some of the tassle like runners, but we decided that this was worth a go. Quite an angle for a kiln shelf, propped up on kiln bricks at one end. The kiln is on tonight, hope it doesn't slide!
Fat hollow extruded lugs on the dishes today, it gives them a good chunky substantial feel without being too heavy.
Some of the penguins are slipped here - dipped first in the black (by sticking a spike in their undercarriages, a process Annette once described rather too vividly as giving them their smear tests....), and then given their white bibs. They then line up in an orderly procession to have their orange beaks trailed.

Friday 17 October 2008

I dug out this old photo of a Penguin Choir I made as a retirement present for the conductor of the Kirkcudbright Choral. I have an extrusion offcut which I may have a gathering of some of the ones below sitting on- in a festive manner perhaps....
I even threw a batch of penguins - fifty four to be precise, though it never feels as though I've made many as they don't take up much room. The first 6 are fun to throw, after 12 it is beginning to get a little boring....Notice the 'big fatty' - when I've had enough and the chuck has come to an end. They have become a bit of a Barnbarroch thing though and demand is constant. They are often to be found getting up to various antics...
The dishes with lovely wet slip. They are going to have fat extruded lugs.
I did some throwing this week. It's been a while and I really enjoyed it. I neeeded to make some Christmas stock, so decided to take a couple of weeks out from my extruding project.

Friday 10 October 2008

I haven't mentioned the other bit of new equipment this year - the old dish washer died and subsequently made a perfect spray booth - the stainless steel body being put to good use by Rodger. The drainage hole in the base was just the right size to recess a banding wheel. We were concerned that the extractor motor was so powerful it might just suck the slip straight out of the window and bypass the pot altogether, but it seems to work fine.

While I have been spraying pots, Rodger has been sorting out rot in the windows, along with a feline helper.

I have laid out the design on the dishes by incising and also added any extra texture before I spray the slip. The movement of the undulations have once again just demanded swimmers as a design, and in view of all the water lying about at the moment it seems an apt theme to follow.

A new bit of equipment this year has been a spray gun which I thought would help me to apply slip to the larger pieces. The variety of layered finish has been both exciting and frustrating. Exciting as when it is right it has added great subtlety to the design, but annoying as it is so hard to tell how thick the layers are and repeating a success has been difficult.

The big pots have to be sprayed outside which means carting everything out, from banding wheel to extension lead. On this weeks dry day I rushed about madly trying to get all my layers of slip in before the next shower. I use the old fridge as a backdrop to try to catch the drift and a mask tightly pulled over my face, as well as holding my breath for a very long time.

Some of the other constructions which arrived from the 'comb' die.

I am trying to find ways of giving the right support to the curved form, but this feels like rather an over elaborate construction - I am not really a structural engineer... The form was laid over a curved bed of plaster and I had to wait some time before I could risk turning it over onto its feet. This took three of us -one at either end and one in the middle.

The comb die worked well - but the edges were dragging on the first run. The middle 'combs' were fine, but the edges tore. I went with the tearing on the first dish, but later cut the outside edge right off as it looked too fussy.

A dish with extruded hollow feet which I made earlier in the year was spoilt because the overhang sagged. I thought that if I used ridges, much like I tried with the stools, but this time in the form of a comb, it might give added strength. This die is made from aluminium (an old road sign in fact). The triangular wedges which I put in the picture are the baffles, which bolt inside the expansion box.

Sunday 28 September 2008

I spent a couple of days in London last week, I went down to see my old friends Pete and Charlotte - Pete was having an exhibition of sculpture, following a trip to the remote island of Lolui in lake Victoria Uganda looking at 'rock gongs'. It was at the Pangolin gallery, a new venture in an amazing centre also opening that evening called Kings Place (which holds a newly built concert hall among other things). A wonderful exhibition and so good to see what he has been up to.
Anyway, while in London I spent a couple of mornings in the British Museum. This time I ended up looking at African pots, carved masques and stool -like headrests. I filled a good sketch book and have come back rather bristling with ideas. My new batch of clay arrived this week - 'Valentines' BLACK. Rather exciting stuff...

Sunday 31 August 2008


One of my boys once had a friend who said he liked coming round to our house to play because Oskar had 'buffers'. I always think of that when I bolt the baffles into the long letter box shaped expansion box. We have 'baffles'! They help to slow the flow of clay in the centre and spread it out to the edge. It takes a while to establish the flow and the last long dish shape we extruded was amazing. One edge was flowing at a faster rate than the other, which caused neat and exact un- planned undulations down one edge while the other was straight. It was beautiful. A pity I made this dish so long that when I tried to shut the door of the kiln it was crushed. Rodger says it should teach me not to be so greedy.

So who got me started on this blogging idea....I now have blogger's back- too long on the computer. Still it should get easier now I am getting the hang of it.

Red Hair (detail)

This detail shows the underside of the extruded length, where it is curled over to form a handle and shows the ridges.

Extruded plate length

Here is a long bit of plate ready to cut off, having been extruded by means of the pugmill with expansion box. It has ridges on the base, already built into the die.

Friday 29 August 2008

Long swimmer

Here is one of my long undulating dishes

Long wiggly dish in progress

This is a wiggly dish in progress. Here I am adding the handles

Finished stools

Here are two of my finished stools - they are actually quite comfortable though the next ones are going to be taller.

Stools in the kiln

My big kiln suddenly seems to have shrunk and now seems tiny. These two stools are made from the same extrusion

City Link

The piece I made for Potfest in the Park. The theme was 'Clayopolis'. It was an excuse to do something pretty different.

Halves joined

Extruded lengths firming up

Draping over

Lifting the extruded hollow length on a cloth and draping it over the (barbeque) barrel.

Using the pugmill to extrude

Christine pushing down the pugmill handle and Allie guiding the extrusion onto the board

Expansion box, designed by Rodger and welded together by the local blacksmith

Expansion box attached to the pugmill showing the clay being pushed into the corners by the baffles