Sunday 22 May 2011

An exciting new piece of equipment

I have acquired another pugmill, 3/4 hp with a larger diameter nozzle. It seems that this Autumn I might be making even bigger extrusions. My little 1/2 hp pugmill struggles away, and although it's heart hasn't exactly slipped a beat, I know (when it overheats), that I am pushing it possibly beyond it's capacity.

It is a sad story really. Indeed a crime. The last ceramic course in Scotland finishes this term and the department is closing down. It has a good reputation, great facilities and tutors. But it is not 'cost effective' and takes up too much room. Apparently you could fit so many more students into those spaces that kilns, wheels, plaster rooms, and indeed pugmills take up. I am so lucky to have benefited from an outstanding education, I had a choice of colleges, and the one I went to, Corsham, had a ceramics department to die for. Over the last two decades they have been closing down one by one, and especially with the demise of Harrow, and the message that sent out, I do wonder that soon there may only be one or two in the whole of the UK.

I felt like a vulture picking over the sorry remains, I can only say that I will feel bound to put it to good use. But it will all have to wait for a bit as we will need a major workshop re-organisation.

Meanwhile, 'Spring Fling' looms closer. Only a week now until the regions major open studio event. I spent a day this week clearing out the shed, with visitors coming round the back and through the workshop we have to make make it look rather more respectable. Next week I'll spruce up the workshop, well that is in between glazing a last kiln load of pots, tackling the damp cupboard full of platters to slip decorate, and throwing a couple of large plates for two teachers who are retiring in 4 weeks time. Better get my skates on then.

I made it for Colvend school's teacher Miss Macdonald 21 years ago. The boy with the chalk in the centre was my son, and most of the children were recognisable. There were only 14 children (from 4 to 11 years old), in the school. A group of school teachers came in on Saturday with this plate in their hands. They wanted the same idea for their own teachers. This one was when I was still using a majolica glaze, which I have gradually phased out and now don't use at all. For one the glaze recipe ceased to work consistently well, (a change of materials perhaps), but I was also finding that I was getting too tight with my painting. The last straw was when at a show someone asked if the designs were printed. However it was good to see this plate and remember where I was at 21 years ago.


  1. What a nice thing to see that plate again. I really like it. Do show us what you do this time around for the teachers.
    That pug mill sounds good. Hope all is going well for you and the family.

  2. A big blue pugmill.... mmmmmmm! Good for you, and it will be exciting to see what you do with it. Sad about the bean counters and planners who exercise control of education being so allergic to clay, obviously they fear that it will clog up their abacuses and slip might muddy their shoes! No better on this side of the world.... sadly!

    The school plate is such a nice idea.

    I enjoyed your little videos on your last post (sorry not to comment earlier about them). Video seems such a great way of showing what a 3D object is really like, and it was good to be able to look more closely at some of the details.