Wednesday 20 January 2010

Snow gone and shelves filling

The snow has gone, the ice has melted and I have a workshop with water again, in which I can work with hands that can once again feel what they are touching. Outside everything is now a wet, grey and leafless porridge, but the days are definitely a little longer and I've made a start, and there's something to show for it. Having some extra help from Allie this month has focused my mind and together we got some dishes extruded using my new die - plus I got a batch of mugs thrown which Allie put handles on for me today. It is so encouraging to see the the shelves filling up again.

There is always an extra surprise with a new die and this time I noticed that one boat like bend gave a simple yet effective dish with little extra help.

The original idea was to curve the clay as it came out, and although I do like the long narrow flow of these dishes, I found them challenging to decorate. There is so much going on with the shape they seemed to require very little - a difficult lesson in restraint.

I tried something new with the handles on this one - splitting the tube and rejoining, to add an extra dynamic.

I unwrapped the sections of a half started seat - kept damp with regularly sprayed kitchen roll and polythene since.....LAST JULY! (There has been no time for big stuff since then). It took a while to scrape off the now mouldy and disintigrating paper towels, but remarkably it was still intact, (no cat prints or 'clumsy oaf' prints even). Over the weekend I played with several ideas for it. Whatever I had in mind last July I have moved on from. I was going to integrate an owl idea into the base. The owl was to hold up the seat section, but when I realised that the overhang was really going to be too risky I went back to the drawing board. Today I extruded some leg sections which I will use as a starting point. I think at this stage I just have to get the structure standing and then see where it can go.

I was just beginning to think that maybe ‘Secret Santa’ was lost on his way to South West Scotland, or maybe there had been an uneven number of Secret Santa participants, when on Monday a parcel, covered in an array of glorious stamps, was waiting for me on my eturn from Glasgow. So thank you VERY much to Dan for a glowing and edibly rich woodfired mug. Yumbo! I shall enjoy very much.

Sunday 10 January 2010

Aerial view of the road to Glasgow!

The Loch was frozen over and by the look of the prints some brave or foolhardy souls had almost made it across to the island. Certainly the ice was pretty thick. Rodger rubbed away some snow and revealed this crack line, beautifully inlaid with snow.

Looks like the road we took to Glasgow last week, and similarly icy.

It's all so beautiful, yet it's becoming a bit of a problem. It is SO hard to get anything done. On Friday the water wasn't draining from the workshop sink. It had been dripping overnight and the pipe to the outside was frozen. What a palaver, having to drain it in several buckets, then all the red throwing and cleaning water had to be emptied by degrees. I tried pouring the first lot straight down the outside drain, but as the drain was also frozen it just sat there freezing in a lovely red frothy mess, so now I have an odd patch of red ice right outside the back door! Second attempt was down the slippery steps bucket at a time and onto the garden..

Red clay spew is not such a pretty sight on the veg patch I'm afraid.

Today the water coming into the workshop is also frozen, so instead of persisting I have been reseaching African carved stools online - found some crackers to put in my 'inspiration' folder.

I loved this Lion! I can't wait to get going now, athough I had better replenish the smaller stock first before I get too carried away.

Wednesday 6 January 2010

Snow - both Distracting and Inspirational

The temperature on the workshop thermometer read 8 degrees c this morning, just NOT that tempting a prospect in which to make that planned early start and knead up icy clay! Instead I got myself warm by shovelling snow paths around the the place, and when Rodger needed his medicinal walk I decided that such a glorious snowy scene was a rare treat and not to be missed.

Snow brings out such splendid patterns, our roof already an inspiration and heading mentally towards an undulating something or other.

What is it about making the first tracks - it just feels great.

The camera couldn't cope with the bright snow, but these deer tracks are worthy of the most skilled slip comber. I just stared at them in admiration. Shortly afterwards we caught a wonderful view of a fox, cat like he studied us for a while, then sat and carefully curled his tail over his paws. After a while he sat bolt upright and pounced - on something.

By the afternoon the temperature in the workshop had reached a heady 10 degrees, warm enough for some action. I kneaded a pile of balls to throw and then made the mistake of shoving my hands in hot water - ouch, the pain! Fed up with that lark I resorted to making a nice little aluminium die for a new mini dish. Small enough to extrude using the big blue, so I should be able to bend it in horizontal wiggles as it comes out, or perhaps those pan tile patterns may appear in some way....Hurrah, I have made a start!

Monday 4 January 2010

I blinked and then, it was TWO THOUSAND AND TEN!

Happy new year from Barnbarroch! Is it really ten years since I made that fire sculpture and hauled it to the top of the Muckle?! It seems like yesterday, but it also seems like ages since I have had time to even think about this blog.

Christmas and Hogmany followed hot on the heels of getting Rodger home from hospital. But today I got into the workshop for the first time in ages and pottered around tidying away the remains of Christmas. I took down the showroom twinkly lights and got rid of empty boxes, bottles and 'I'll just shove it in the workshop for now' stuff. It feels great just to have clear benches.

But it is SO cold. With the fire opened up all day, the temperature still required long johns and six upper layers. I have always found that some good music makes the room warmer, so once I had set up my (new)! ipod nano and speakers things started to feel more cosy and tempting. I brought in three sacks of clay, from the feel of them full of ice crystals, to thaw out overnight, hopefully ready to knead up by tomorrow afternoon.

Initially it is still going to be a short week, as I will have one day a week with Rodger to Glasgow, and a morning a week to Dumfries hospital clinics for his check ups, but it will be easier once the routine is established.

I was disappointed to hear from Earth and Fire the other day as I didn't get in this year. It is a pity as I really had such good feed back last summer with comments on how ' Good it was to see a new face and some completely different work', and 'Why had never done it before', and many said that I was to be sure and come again this year! It would have been good to consolidate. What I mean is that I think it may well have been advantagous to have let Midland folk have a second encounter with my work. Sometimes takes people a couple of times to consider a completely unfamiliar style.

I was quite relieved to hear a few days later that I had got in to Potfest in the Park or I would have felt rather dejected and might really have had to eat a few worms, but actually with Rodger's health an issue I am probably better off not taking on two shows so close together. They were both the highlight and the nightmare of last summer! Also Oskar said, 'Hadn't I heard - it is going to POUR this year at E and F!