Monday 31 May 2010

Spring Fling madness

Monday evening, Spring Fling 2010 is over and I am completely wasted! What a weekend, this was the busiest one we have ever had here. From 10.30am, no in fact well before 10.30 (the official opening time), we had a constant stream of visitors. Huge thanks to Chris my sister in law who came up for the weekend to help. I literally couldn't have done without her!

The idea was to get visitors to follow the arrows and come round the back, into the courtyard, through the back door of the workshop and encourage them to go out through the showroom.

Of course it didn't work like that and visitors arrived through every door, at the same time. Chris stood in the showroom welcoming people, while I manned the workshop and yard offering explanations, coffee and flapjack. The sandwiches and tea which we were brought were left uneaten and went cold, it was quite mad.

It was all worth that panic and burning the midnight oil last week though. Friday's kiln of finished pots looked good, and the courtyard was very happy with pansies in City Link and the ceramic seats in the sun, at least sun on the second two days. It really made my day today to see some people sitting in them having their coffee.

I took very few photos of the eagle seat, there was no chance with it only out of the kiln on Friday morning, but he did his duty manning the back door. It was definitely worth putting him back in the kiln for another coat of glaze as he looks much smarter now.

To my amazement within the first hour on Saturday morning someone bought him! Of course I was delighted and amazed, but also rather dismayed, as he simply hasn't been around long enough for me to think about him and get to the state where I am happy to let him go. However they were very nice people and were in no hurry to go off with him there and then, so I do have time to make a good photographic record.

I had some really very nice 'Spring Flingers', all interested and interesting, and so appreciative. It is all very rewarding, but now I am off to have a LONG sleep, I hope, and dream...

of Harpies perhaps. (This one is a benign chimera. I blame Rodger for that...)

Thursday 27 May 2010

Creations, Chaos and last minute Panic

The last couple of weeks have had too few hours in them to achieve all that I had hoped and planned in the run up to Spring Fling. I have simply been juggling too many roles at once. As the days went by I had to rewrite a less ambitious schedule daily. The main priority was to get the eagle seat glazed and fired, along with the black twin vases and bendy vases, coracle pots and black tiles.

What have I achieved? Well, the eagle was glazed and fired, but being a perfectionist I decided to reglaze sections where I wasn’t happy with the patchiness of the glaze application. (It is really hard to apply the matt glaze at the correct thickness. Too thick it bubbles or crawls, too thin it looks mean and indecisive, and I didn’t want a bald headed eagle).

Of the black vases, most came out well and the second half will be cool enough to unpack tomorrow, along with the coracle pots and the eagle. The tiles will have to wait until another time.

I didn’t manage to start of any new work so I am afraid no slip trailing demos this year, unless I have time to extrude some tiles tomorrow, though I think that every minute may have already been accounted for!

Today I should have been tidying the workshop and cleaning the showroom but as I write both are still in chaos. The showroom is being used as a temporary photography studio, which is tricky as customers are still wanting to come in and are having to pick their way over pots which are strewn across the floor.

In my last post I described how I seemed to be having some issues over memory lapses. My last minute panic today arose from me losing my Spring Fling signage and incentive cards. Not just losing, but having no memory whatsoever of having them or putting them anywhere! With 24 hours left to go I was scrabbling round searching every crazy ‘safe’ place. Rodger eventually found them, this only after Rhiannon had set to to print and laminate some replacements, in ....the fridge!?

..and lets hope for a sunny Spring Fling!

Thursday 13 May 2010

A snug fit and some sanity issues.

Well in all honesty I can't really say that it was good management, but when we came to shuffle the big eagle into the kiln it was a very well judged fit indeed. Hey, there was a whole millimetre to spare. (What this photo doesn't show, and indeed what I had forgotten about was that the lintel is a couple of inches lower than the dome of the roof).

It is on a very slow firing, so I am fairly confident that it should be alright, that is as long as I really remembered to vent all the sections.

Remembering, well there lies a confession of a tale. I had a visit from some policemen yesterday. Was I the owner of a certain red car? Er. yes. (Quickly thinking, loving Mother that I am - what has my lad been up to...sorry, Inigo). The car had been recorded on CCTV driving away from a petrol station without paying! REALLY?!* I keep a diary and checked, and yes, indeed I had been in Dumfries on that day,(to see the Tide Machine), and yes I did fill up, and yes it was at around that time. The police were very polite I must say, and together we checked my receipts and bank statement. No two ways about it, I had to come out with my hands up! I thought I would be marched of to prison there and then. However they obviously thought, 'Poor old doolally soul', and said that I would just have to drive in and settle up.
I reckon that Inigo got his own back by telling all his friends about his crazy Mum on face book!
(Still, slightly worrying, in the light of having walked off with someone elses supermarket trolley yesterday afternoon. Poor woman had to chase me round the Co-op).

But I have been working hard. Loads of long dishes slipped and drying out. I have been so enjoying drawing direct on to the clay. There is something very immediate and decisive about the line. I spent a rather indulgently long time incising the black vases (presently being bisc fired with the Eagle). I'm looking forward to getting them glazed next week.

I posted off these commemorative plates last week and they have thankfully been well received. They do take a very long time to make, and to be honest I don't charge nearly enough, considering the research and design time not to mention the execution itself. I try not to take too many on, it could get quite out of hand, though there is always a demand. The one above was a more inspiring brief than the one below, with Newcastle University shield in the centre. I very nearly boobed on that one actually, as I looked up the Newcastle University emblem on google and found it it be an attractive unicorn head. JUST in time I realised that it was Newcastle Australia, not Northumberland.

The impending Open Studio event Spring Fling is coming up at an alarming rate. There is quite a bit of site maintenance to be done. After the ice and floods of the winter and Spring, our car parking area had become a quagmire. I spent the weekend power hosing the patio and courtyard, clearing out the shed, while Rodger valiantly set too and spread most of the gravel himself.

In fact he was probably pushing himself a wee bit too hard. Whatever he has landed himself with another spike of temperature which will slow him down again. Gravel looks good though.
Rodger did manage to get up to Edinburgh for his first major outing, albeit finely orchestrated to be as relaxing as possible, to hear one our favourite Malian singers Rokia Traore in the Usher hall. We had bought tickets way back in February hoping that he would be well enough, and we were right at the front. She was indeed wonderful, beautiful, charismatic and a with a stunning voice which was both uplifting and brought tears to my eyes in turn. Though it felt like a major expedition, it was definitely one to be remembered.

Monday 3 May 2010

Garden of Cosmic Speculation

One day a year the Garden of Cosmic Speculation is open to the public. This year I actually remembered in time and alerted other members of my family who came from far and wide to join me there. The place is a visual feast and everywhere I turned brought new wonders. Why, there was even a giant undulating landform constructed from turf and gravel which looked remarkably like the wiggly dish which I had been working on last week....!

There are plenty of websites with wonderful pictures of Charles Jencks extrardinary creations, but here are a few of my own.

It was my brother's birthday, and how I wished that I had brought a candle to stick on the top.

Now how about this for a seat.

After the Cosmic Garden, My 'large scale' pieces have shrunk to insignificance!