Saturday 23 October 2010

An Interesting Experience and a Special Birthday

Back from East Anglia and an interesting trip and quite an experience it was too. It was indeed a long drive, taking eight hours to get down, but no mishaps (such as squashed dish lengths). When I arrived at Mundford on the Sunday morning I did momentarily gulp to see that Rodger hadn’t been joking, I really was to be mic-ed up with a screen on the back wall, projecting a giant image of the proceedings. Given that I could have either been like a frightened rabbit or just get on with it, I went with taking a deep breath and just getting on with it! (Not much choice really).

It must have looked quite comical as I needed a helper to hold each leg of the table to which I had G clamped the Big blue extruder. There were one or two mishaps, such as I managed to put one of the die plates on upside down so that instead of a hollow pipe, my handle fell into two bits. Then I didn’t spend long enough wedging the clay so it was full of air bubbles and one of my handles split, and I didn’t make enough spares. However, to be fair it mainly went well, and the timing, which was probably the bit I found it most hard to judge seemed to work out. By lunch break I had managed to throw, bend and slump the dishes and extrude the coracles, leaving the afternoon for assembling. I did feel more relaxed as the day went on, as I had the sense that the audience was interested and everyone was exceedingly nice and helpful. It felt very strange to be ‘clapped’!

As I packed up I had to sign the wheel which I felt was a bit of a cheat seeing as I had only thrown a sailor and a gannet, and the other signatories were huge throwers such as Nick Collins!

I was told later that a lot of other demonstrators bring a helper, I can see now that this would have been useful. It was the little things, like not having time to clear before the next stage, which I found tricky, so I kept losing tools, and often had to ask the audience if they had seen something. Also I hadn’t taken on board that I might be selling work. Felicity kindly sorted this side out for me as there was no way I could handle it.

On the way home I stayed over at Oskar’s where he and Rachel had a very large whisky ready for me. (Don’t worry. it’s not a habit, but it was a welcome dram that evening).

I decided to meander home and just enjoy my outing, so on the way home I called in at Jim Robison’s Booth House Gallery, hoping there might be some of his 70 at 70 show still remaining. Indeed a lot had gone, but it was still on and it was a treat to be shown round his woodland walk. The trees which he and Liz had planted when they first moved there, and were once dwarfed by the pots, have grown into a wood which is now the setting for a collection of Jim’s wonderful large ceramic sculptures. In some of the latest pieces he has incorporated chunks of thick glass, which create a kind of iridescent ‘stopper’ or crown. All very exciting and inspirational. (Sorry I didn’t have a camera).

I then called in at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park where there is an exhibition of David Nash.

Already blown away by the scale of Jim’s pieces, I stood in awe, humbled and moved in the presence of these towering pieces of wood.

I got back to Rodger and Inigo busy insulating the workshop floor. Rodger had been told by his consultant that he in no way to grub around under the floor boards, so Inigo instead was (not) enjoying the experience of feeling ‘like a Chilean miner’.

It should help as at present the boards rest on a stone dyke with air blowing through. Loft insulation is the next thing, Inigo and I will have to toss for that one.

It was a very special birthday yesterday. Rodger's new stem cells were one year old. We had a toast with champagne to them, and to his anonymous French donor.

Friday 15 October 2010

Off to East Anglia

Another very busy week, getting the new pots sorted out, some went off to Mainhill Gallery exhibition, some are put on one side for the Galloway Dark Skies exhibition, some are for orders and some have filled the many spaces in the showroom here. In addition I've been getting my demo organised for this weekend. The Big Blue Extruder worked ok sideways on a bench, as long as I was an octopus. I would like to take Allie too but there was no room in the box, so I will need some helpers on the day.....hmmm, this is going to be interesting. Rodger made up locating brackets and screwed them on the board runners so that they can go back to back with safe non squash able spaces between for the lengths of pre extruded clay.

The car's all loaded up ready for off tomorrow. I've probably got way too much stuff, but not being in my own space I would hate not to have that 'favorite' tool and it is amazing how many bits and pieces I do need - simple things like a sponge and bucket, to spanners and screw drivers.

I've also stuffed my much loved laptop with pictures. When I came to it I found loads of good images and hope that I have put together a decent presentation. It is all be a million miles away from working in a quiet workshop here, so it will be an experience. I've been feeling pretty nervous, and I had to give myself a pep talk. Instead of 'Oh how scary having to explain myself to all those strange faces, I have been turning it round and making myself think, 'How exciting to meet all those potters and have the chance to show them what do'. I think it's sort of working. Tell you when I get back!

I just wish it wasn't so far to East Anglia - I got quite a shock when I actually got round to looking at a map.

I found this Puffin teapot in a box. It was made for a special order and then never picked up. I was busy saying to someone that I didn't have any teapots at present when I remembered it. As the customer wanted one with a bird on it was just the thing. So sorry to the original owner to be, but two years is a long time on the top shelf!

Monday 11 October 2010

500 Vases and some new pots

A parcel arrived last week from the USA. A complimentary copy of 500 Vases, the latest Lark Books publication. How nice to be once again included in this sumtuous feast of pots. Having already been in 500 Platters and Chargers I was invited once again to submit an image, so thank you Lark Books. Most pots have a full page to themselves giving them the space they deserve and it is an interesting and varied collection with superb photographs. Mostly potters are from the USA with a few from Canada, and I have only found one other from Britain so far. Is it churlish to feel a bit peeved that I was one of the few who had to share a page, with the right hand side of the main image nearly lost in the spine? A pity, but still, nice to be in such good company whatever.

I had hoped that by now I would have sorted out my presentation and demo for the East Anglian Potters, but timing has been such that I have been too busy trying to get the last pots out for the Mainhill exhibition. So it’s all been pretty manic again. What is it about deadlines, however hard I try to keep ahead I still go crashing into them. Perhaps I am always too optimistic about how much I can achieve in one day.

So here I am on the computer getting some photos in order for East Anglia next weekend and thought I would just quickly catch up on the blog.

Two big kiln loads of glaze over the last few days. One unpacked and one cooling. My Father came over yesterday and kindly acting as courier to take the pots over to the Mainhill Gallery exhibition. He quite enjoyed leaving the cloudy East for a day to soak up a bit of Galloway Autumn sun.

Those two kiln firings coincided with beautiful and unseasonably hot weather here, leaving me gasping in what is normally a cool if not austere workshop.

Mainhill asked for something hare-ish. I was pleased with this one's face.

Here are some of the coracle boats. Above 'Noah with an outboard'.

This fellow is either being pecked, or has a hand full of corn.

..... Noah went for a swim?

Last week we took the big blue extruder off the wall and Rodger has found a thick board to mount it on. I am going to experiment with G clamping it to the table top and see if I can extrude from it horizontally. That way I can at least do some actual extrusions in situ next Sunday. Otherwise I will be taking pre extruded lengths and somehow not squashing them in transport. Quite a bit to work out yet. Better go!

Sunday 3 October 2010

The Hard Rock was Hard, but look who won

After a torrentailly wet night and morning, things dried up just in time for the Hard Rock Challenge. It starts off with a 10 mile run followed by a 17 mile bike ride round Dalbeattie's Hard Rock MTB trail. I was posted to marshall at the top of one of the steepest decents. What excitement when the first bike through was no other than Hannah's Paul! Go Paul Go, (but take care please).

Here is Allie negotiating the nasty little rocky bit with two tree stumps. It was rather a too eventful place to marshall, as with nasty skiddy conditions the tricky stump produced one casualty who has to be taken off with a suspected broken collar bone, plus there was a broken ankle at the bottom of the next section. Blimey, making the prizes for the event was the easiest bit. These folk are nuts!

Well done to our very own, or rather Hannah's very own Paul and his runner Steven, winners of the mens team. Enjoy the mug!

..and Allie put up a great fight, winning first local woman in the individual competitors. Pipped to first overall by an unknown tri-athlete from Aberdeen. Sorry Allie -not these mugs again, she can't get away from them.

The herd of runners.
The final corner, photo finish.

Here is Rodger's consultant Ranjit, cruising along. A lot of local doctors seem to do the event, Dalbeattie clinic has two who take part. We were happy that Ranjit stuck to running only this year, we need him in one piece.