Monday 22 April 2013

The Leopard Changed her Spots

What a huge relief - the Leopard not only survived but came out well. It was all a bit last minute, out of the kiln on Tuesday and off to the CatStrand Community Arts Centre on Wednesday. We took it up there in a dreadful downpour, driving, with windscreen wipers on fast, past a flooded Loch Ken, to find the CatStrand in a bit of a panic. The banking wall into which it is built was bulging and water was spurting out. If it burst water would have rushed through the building. So there were Rodger and I, standing on top of a ladder trying to hang the Leopard while phones rang, builders, and a fireman squeezed by and general bedlam surrounded us.

The 'Farewell' to Cathy Agnew, who founded the Centre, and to whose name is inscribed on the piece as 'Founder Patron', took place successfully on Saturday evening so I gather the possible flood was averted.

Other pieces from the firing which I was pleased with were this dish with Night Herons. BBC Nature programmes have a lot to answer for. I recall last year a wonderful image of Night herons on a beach as baby turtle hatched and tried to make it safely past their beaks and down to the sea. Needless to say the herons had a feast.

 The first fewswallows have been spotted this week. They often nest in the shed, flying in and out depositing their droppings on our washing line. I am pleased with the movement in this dish.

Today I have been battling with a commemorative plate for a wedding. I really try not to take on too many of these. they invariably take ages and this one is no exception. The brief was 'horses and a little black dog'. Once upon a time I would go out with my sketch book, or off to Dalbeattie library and hunt through books for images to help with these designs. I would love to say that I had gone off for the day with my sketch book but alas no. The internet has made life so much simpler.

Even so it took all morning to research and refine the images. I wanted to have the horses galloping round with the dog in the middle. It would be all too easy to end up with a stodgy static design.

So half way there - a few more colour details to add tomorrow, then another fast dry and quick fire, short deadline affair. I don't like rushing plates.....

Saturday 13 April 2013

Leopard spots

I have fairly been making up for lost time in January and February. I had a batch of finished work out just in time for Easter and right now seem to have more work underway than I can handle. There are enough bisc fired pots for at least three glaze firings, with a further batch of throwing slipped and stashed away waiting patiently in the damp cupboards. Hopefully I will manage to get back to these on Monday.

This leopard dish is for a commission. After it had been bisc fired I brushed the outlines with wax and oxide and filled in with glaze using a slip trailer.  The spots seemed to go on for ages. I kept thinking of the Rudyard Kipling story 'How the Leopard got its' spots'. Certainly not this way. 

I was a bit unsure of my glaze colours, this was going to be a new combination, so I did some overnight tests in the tiny test kiln to reassure myself. The test tiles came out fine but it I know that it will look  very different on a large scale. 

I had two days of wax and oxide painting, and I still have half of the dishes to fill with glaze. After that I wax over the glazed areas and dip the whole dish in transparent glaze.  What a palaver of a method - I must be mad. But it seems to work and give me a result that I like and am in reasonable control of. Well - I hope so anyway.

Today was a marathon of mixing, dipping, pouring, wiping and eventually packing. That's it - the kiln is on tonight. I will know how things turn out on Tuesday.

 I am dying to experiment with our new extruder but I am having to be patient. Soon I should have enough essential stock made and commissions completed to be able to get started with it.