Tuesday 26 June 2012

Earth (Wind, Rain) and Fire

Well, it not only rained at Rufford, but more worryingly it was also an exceedingly windy weekend with gusts predicted to be up to 70mph. This made life rather stressful for potters showing their treasures on market stall type stands, which wobbled and rattled alarmingly.

The inclement weather and dreadful forecast undoubtedly meant that visitor numbers were down, but those who came were rewarded by a fantastic show of great and varied work. There was a superb exhibition of Sue and Ashraf Hanna’s work in the Rufford Craft Gallery. Here was an oasis of calm, out of the whistling wind, clear, clean and uncluttered. Certainly worth seeing and it is on until July 15th.

I was next to one of my favourite potters Anna Lambert, whose delightful pieces were a joy to spend three days next to. 

On the other side was Toon Thijs, a Potter’s Market pro, who had a tool, implement and solution for everything. I certainly benefited from his extra stays and his shelter, not to mention his Dutch beer. The awning we attached to the back of the stand also worked a treat, (that is until the wind tried to blow it away).

Potters are a resilient bunch, but their was an air of anxiety as we held onto our stands and pots. and heard the occasional crash. There were some horrible casualties, Peter Beard experiencing the worst one in my area, losing a whole load of pots and a glass cabinet. Jim Robison kept smiling as he always does, despite losing three large planters. 

Normally having set up the display you can relax, knowing that the work is done and for three days you can just stand (ideally in the midsummer sun) and chat to pleasant pot lovers and potters. Not so this time. Each evening we had to take everything down and stack it safely beneath the table to start all over again early the next morning. 

By Saturday evening the wind calmed down a bit and by dawn was replaced by torrential rain. In the morning our white boards were a little rain stained, and the cardboard boxes had gone soggy. 

Despite what I have written there were sunny intervals and on Sunday it was a beautiful afternoon and calm evening to pack up!  It is a really good show in a beautiful setting and it is great to meet all the fantastic potters and their work, and forge new friendships.

Sales were not the best but certainly not a disaster either, which is good considering rain wind and economic gloom. Just-out- of-the-kiln Penguin platter above found a home  - I was barely ready to let him go.

 Oh, and I never did take part in the' Potter’s Olympics'. ( I got a severe joint problem in my finger, (honestly), which I have had splinted all week. RSI/arthritis? who knows, rather worrying). Doug Fitch kindly agreed to stand in for me and so I escaped such delights as blindfold throwing!

This one of my new black vases definitely felt at home in Rufford, (or WRUFFord as my nephew pointed out), as it is a very doggy place. There were lots of tails and noses around, and a fascinating variety of dog breeds. 

Sunday 17 June 2012

It rained and it rained

It started to rain on Friday and it never stopped for 48 hours. The drumming on the roof was so loud, that when it became even louder it seemed ridiculously impossible. I went outside late yesterday afternoon to have a look at what was making the whooshing sound on the road. 

The land drain was so full it gave up even pretending to cope and every now and then  sent up gigantic water spouts.

 A good couple of days to be inside doing a mega glaze. The big kiln is cooling and these overflow black vases are in the top loader. I trail the glaze on these using a fine slip trailer. The clay has had a high bisc so I have to use the glaze thickened up and float it between my incised lines.

 I hope that our overnight visitors, Maureen Minchen and John from Ardnamurchan got down to Wales and back North on their motorbike in the weeks deluge. Maureen makes exceedingly beautifully thrown pots,  intricately decorated with flora and fauna from her home on Britain's most westerly bit of mainland. Maureen was on foundation with me and is always an inspiration to meet up with, full of wise knowledge from her enormous range of potting experience.

 I picked the magazine up off the mat where the postie had dropped it, turned it over and whooped, Hannah is on the front cover of Ceramic Review! How exciting is that!

Next week I am off down to exhibit at  Rufford for Earth and Fire. I'm looking forward to it - meeting lots of great potters, but please stop raining, please! The only thing is it's just so disappointing to be missing Dan at the American Teaparty workshop at Hannah's on Saturday, tantalisingly just down the road. Och weel, can't be helped.

The only thing I am getting a bit worried about is that just to SHOW WILLING I gaily said, 'Yes of course I will take part in the Potter's Olympics' at Rufford. I kind of thought it would be churlish not to. I hadn't appreciated how few would say yes, and of those who did agree they are all full on big-time throwers, and the competitions are, well throwing....! Eeek. Get the booby prize ready.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

The cellist went ‘Boom!

Stupid stupid stupid. I was rushing, trying to get some new vases out for 'Earth and Fire' at Rufford next week. During the morning I dried them in the tepid half- hearted sun, which didn’t get them very far. Then I found that three of them were JUST too tall for the biscuit emergency top loader kiln.

But yes, of course, take out the bottom shelf completely, that gets me the extra half inch I need. Was it because I was so pleased to have got them in and shut the lid without breaking the tops off that I FORGOT to put in the pyrometer? I set it on my steam soak at just below ninety degrees, crowed to a sceptical Rodger that I got them in, then made a phone call. BOOM!

Instantly I knew what I had done, switched off, and opened a steaming kiln to find the tragic sight of three exploded vases.

What an idiot, how COULD I have forgotten to put the pyrometer back in?!
Maybe I have been working too hard, trying to cram too much in, I haven’t actually stopped since Spring Fling, or maybe I am just getting past it.

Anyhow a bike ride later I was feeling better. I've still got seven left, now steaming happily away. Just a pity it was the cellist, the last one I drew, when I felt that my drawing was in the zone, that I lost.

After that sorry tale, here’s a faintly winsome detail of “Girl and her gannet'.

 Lots of glaze painting over the next few days as I work out my kiln firing count down.

 And how’s this for an exterminating cactus. (Dalek sounds emitting).

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Oh and it's that house again. I got over to see it eventually. 'Couch' by Alice Francis, an installation which was part of Spring Fling. Makes you smile and especially effective as a tractor rumbled by. I loved the zip fittings.

Tuesday 5 June 2012

A little white fluffy cloud of nothingness.

 Spring Fling Open studios is over and all I want to do is sit quietly in a little white fluffy cloud of nothingness.

I had some really lovely visitors, interested and interesting and I wanted to give them all a rewarding visit to my studio, but by half way through the afternoon on each day I fear that I was beginning to become a tad incoherent, occasionally completely running out of steam. We got through plenty of pots of coffee and several bakings of flapjack. The latter I kept nibbling to give me an energy boost - in fact I couldn't face another bite of treacle flapjack for at least a year.

At various points over the event we had the cycle tour, the walking tour and the bus tour, and goodness knows how a quiet person like me managed to rabbit on about dies and extrusions and glazes and slips and kilns and pots for four continuous days.

Thanks to all my helpers, especially to Rodger who heroically came to the rescue on many occasions when my brain ground to a halt.

Big sort out tomorrow, and back to making. I actually managed to get the big kiln packed late this afternoon as it started to quieten down, although I was so spaced out I went and chipped the edge of one of my big dishes. Grrrr! As someone had decided to turn the cold tap back on the weather I'll have a nice cosy workshop in the morning.

Sunday 3 June 2012

New Pots for Spring Fling

 What a week, what a weekend. But (so far) I'm still standing! Here are some photos from last weeks manic photo session of some of the new 'Water Boy series'. 'Black Hair' found a good home yesterday - I'm so glad I took a good shot of him as wasn't around long enough to 'let him go' easily.

'Nosey' Water boy


'The Swell' , who suffered a little mishap drying out, but Rodger's sculptural skills came to the rescue with a bit of resin filler in the base and saved the day.


I'm pleased with the inner glow of this  oval dish.

'Ethel' Oskar and Rachael's Italian greyhound puppy had to go on this long dish, all long legs, noses and bottoms.

 On Friday I rushed in to town to find a few flowers for the Flowers barge. Hope the dog doesn't sneeze...

Here's a close up of the new husband in the 'Honeymoon Couple' boat.

It was good to have so much new work to display and to show to the Spring Fling visitors. Two more days to go, will my voice last out I wonder? I'll try to remember to take some photos tomorrow, but it's hard when I don't even remember to drink the endless cups of tea and coffee my kind family and friends are plying me with.