Saturday 27 March 2010

March pots

That's one big kiln out this week, and another one cooling tonight - there has been a lot of glazing going on. This little chap seems to have survived his fiery ordeal with equanimity. Maybe he had to stuff his paws into his ears though, as the kiln control box has been making an increasingly and alarmingly loud crackly noise as it cuts in and out. Rodger assured me that it wasn't about to go on fire, but I still think I should get an electrian's advice before the next firing.

Some of these long dishes were quite sucessful -. I have another batch underway right now, which I think (hope) are looking more confident than these first attempts at sideways bending.

I was sitting by the burn near Langhom a few weeks ago, watching the water rippling over the mossy stones and noting the colours, mossy green, browns, golds, greys, all quite beautiful in a cold March sort of way. As a result a few new glaze and slip colour tests are on their way which I hope to incorporate into the next ones.

Other new pots included some espresso cups, I liked this one - just big enough for one sheep, rather than the usual whole hill of them,

..and the new shape fatter mug. I've kept this one as I wanted to 'get to know' it through use, and I have found that I am drawn to it as it hangs on the mug hooks. This one is an entirely new design colourwise as well as shape and still has the brown handle.

Unfortunately for me I also really liked the ones which survived having had their handles slipped as well, so I shall have to get to grips with this slipping handle business.

A Spring Fling 'preview' article in D and G Life was shoved under my nose last week. Top pic features Hannah and bottom pic Allie and I doing a long dish lifting demo at last year's event. A photographer came round to do a shoot of one or two studios last year so I suppose I shouldn't have been so surprised.

And for something completely different, I managed to dash into Dumfries for a couple of hours to join the Samba Sisters playing for the bikers 'Easter Egg run as they roared into the town centre. The sun shone, mostly, and the rain kept away, mostly. But the best bit was noticing this baby in a pram, not much more than around 14 months old and sitting up with wide blue eyes and rocking intently to the rythm, competely entranced.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Year of the Tiger, (crocodiles and foxes)

I have been wearing a lot of different hats lately, metaphorically speaking.

However I am also genuine hat-aholic, so I rather enjoyed crocheting my tiger tail appendage for a 'Year of the Tiger' party the other week. It was great having dreadlocks for a night. I have plans for another head piece with thinner locks using French knitting rather than crochet, this time in red and black to fit in with the colours of the 'Samba Sisters'.

I was discussing the benefits for the old knitted balaclava with my textile friend Jo Gallant. We decided that this fifties and sixties piece of practical childrens' headgear has been much maligned lately and it is time that it had a come back. If we could but slip it under the fashion designers radar - reinvent it as a must have accessory. Sounds like next Autumns challenge. Maybe a few crocheted dreadlocks to cheer it up?

But I digress!

Last week Allie was helping me to extrude and put together these 'baskets'. She got the boring bit of putting on the ends, (sorry Allie), and at the weekend I got the exciting bit of adding the edges and creatures. I have a nice little extrusion which gives a lovely fat body as a basis of these crocodiles...

and foxes. I wasn't going to add creatures to so many, but I was enjoying myself and got a bit carried away.

Today Allie was in and put the feet on the baskets. We were both surprised at the extraordinarily long time this took, but when we worked out that as we had made 17 in all with 4 feet on each that was 68 feet to be added! But the feet just make them float.

I also added a few feathery outlines to the trailing edge of the eagle's jodhpurs, something I had been deliberating (and suggested by Griffin, thanks)! Yes, it was a good move - just enough to break up the severity of the outline, but not too frilly, I hope. I have incised where I will add some glazed detail later which will also change the feel ot things.

Lots of throwing last week, mugs and jugs. I have been making the same shape of mug for years. I have TRIED to change it, honestly, but people collect them and always want the original tankard style. But I am BORED with it. So fuller bellies it is, and I really like them. New shape - needs a different handle, so another challenge. The way I slip my mugs, I pour the insides, leave to firm up, dip the outsides leaving the rim as red clay and then put the handle on afterwards so that it is also in red clay and picks up the rims. Now this came about, not only having looked at old Devonshire pottery, but also because at one point I had such a bad experience with shimmering and slip flaking.

Now, years later, having avoided it and slinked around the problem, I find that I am really challenged in slipping a mug, handle and all. At least three handles split and fell off, and the weight of the handle distorted some mugs horribly so that a few sagged against their neighbours. I did throw them beautifully light and even, but perhaps TOO thin?! There is no way I am going to start getting the blow drier out for mug handles, but any suggestions would be welcome. Is my slip too wet, too thick, or what. (The ones that did survive look great though).

Rodger was definitely feeling more like his old self the other day. He made me a nice low turn table from this old swivel footstool, on which to work on my eagle seat, so that I was seeing it from the right angle from the start.

But what do the neighbours think of our washing line?

~(and just in case you are wondering, the old tee-shirts are used for soaking down the clay)~