Monday 24 March 2014

TFB in the 'Spring Fling At Home' Exhibition

Each Year 'Spring Fling' puts on an exhibition in which everyone who is taking part in the region's 'Spring Fling' open studio event has to put in a piece of their work. It is a difficult exhibition to put on, work ranges from paintings, in hugely different styles and mediums, to furniture, handmade shoes, ceramics, sculpture, textiles - to name just a few. So to pull this huge range of work together into a coherent show is a huge challenge.

This year it was curated in a very different way, showing 'Art and Craft in a domestic setting'. I missed the opening last weekend but called in on Friday. It does really seem to work and is probably the best Spring Fling show ever. Everything had been very carefully thought about with great care taken over each piece.

I eventually found my contribution, 'Toys for Boys' upstairs on a table covered in an old lace table cloth. Velvet curtains by the window matched the yellow body of the vehicle, and there was even a dry spotted leaf taking up the colours.

The car does have a musty yellow feel to it and this has been picked up on. Thanks folks! I tend to be pretty fussy over the way my work is displayed, but I loved this.

I only took a few other photos to give a taste of the show. This year is the first time that Archie McCall is taking part in Spring Fling with his fine stoneware -  and about time I say... 

Hannah McAndrew's lovely warm wood fired pots looked well on the handmade table.

Wendy Kershaw's ceramic picture, well lit where the window light catches it.

Amanda Simmon's enormous glass platter, dancing against the light.

A show well worth getting along to have a look at, it runs until 3rd May.

Thursday 20 March 2014

Frogs in Perthshire

While I was busy with the weekend demo, Rodger was enjoying the frogs. Kindrogan Field Centre was a beautiful setting for the Scottish Potters Association gathering. 

My co- demonstrators were Simon Griffiths who makes animal sculptures and Lisa Hammond who makes shino and soda glazed thrown ware using the wheel. Of course I didn’t get to see the other two which was a shame, but I got reports and pictures from Rodger Above is Lisa blow torching her large pot in an attempt to dry it off a little.

Then using a paddle to knock it into shape.

Simon was a delight and captured everyone's heart with his light humour and Joie de Vivre.

Here he is describing the angle of ears. It's just a pity I never got a photo of the dodo costume which he and his family made for the evolution ceilidh. The dashing White Sergeant with the middle one riding a dodo is quite something.

When one works quietly away on one's own, a room full of watching people is a little daunting at first.

It was hard to fit in so many aspects of the making process into two days. The clay was very soft and there was no drying to be had so it  had to be encouraged to firm up with the aid of a rather vicious gas burner. This was an either all or nothing affair and the audience were in danger of being scorched. My attempts at throwing on a strange wheel, (with a control pedal which worked in the opposite way to my own one), were not impressive. So I can’t say that I made the best job of my demo pieces, but my audience were kind and appreciative. As the weekend progressed I relaxed more and things began to go better! In fact it was most rewarding to be able to pass on tips and inspire others to have a go at new techniques.

I had some wonderful helpers, so thank you to them especially, and to everyone's interest, patience and kind comments.

Wednesday 12 March 2014

How the place had changed.

While going through images for my presentation I came across this photo of Barnbarroch Old School in 1978 shortly after we moved in. (It had been closed for about ten years prior to this). During the year it took to get the building workable I was making pots in the old soup kitchen on the right of the photo. It had running water and an old sink, so was an ideal space to get started with my brand new bright yellow 'Potters Mate' wheel. I remember it being pretty cold in the winter and boiling hot in the summer. In this photo it looks like we have already glassed in the porch and turned it into a (very small) showroom where my first pots were displayed on boards balanced on kiln bricks.

For many years we kept chickens in the playground for  many years, only when we turned their run into a car park did we have to pass them on.

It is easy to forget how much we have done to the place over the years. Today the hedges and trees which Rodger planted are mature and happy - the one behind the bikes is an aspen brought up as a sapling from Yorkshire.

We extended the old porch showroom outwards in 2001, a date which we will always remember as we struggled to re-open for Easter, only to have the road closed in either direction by the army while cattle were slaughtered in an effort to control the Foot and Mouth epidemic. Horrid times.

These lovely sunny photos were taken at Spring Fling late May. This week the rain has stopped at last and suddenly it seems possible to believe that there will be a Spring again.

Today I have been slowly gathering up all I might need to take to demo at the Scottish Potters Annual gathering at Kindrogan in Perthshire this weekend. I just hope the car will be big enough - seems like I am taking the whole workshop.

Friday 7 March 2014

More bisc pots and still none glazed - but nearly there.

Another  bisc kiln to join the other pots waiting to be glazed. I have much to finish off and yet I am still making new work. Still, once everything is sorted hopefully there will suddenly be loads of new pieces to show.

I am cautiously glazing the Waterboys one by one gradually building up confidence in the clay and glaze fit. There are some customers waiting patiently for some to be finished, so I will be so relieved to have one or two problem free results. I am leaving those until last, just because I so want them to be perfect! This small boat is in the kiln tonight, so fingers crossed.


I have still only mixed a small amount of the new (hopefully resolved) glaze so I used the spray gun to apply it rather than pour. The matt glaze does tend to show dribbles so would be difficult to apply such a small amount well by pouring. Last summer we upgraded the spray booth extension by replacing the thin polythene with clear table cloth fabric. It is much better, having a good weight to it, so it doesn't flap around like the thin sheets did.

 Meanwhile I have also been working on some more extruded dishes with edges and handles. The design is drawn with slip and then with a knife. Oh it's good to be going forward with new work. 

Thanks once again to Lark Books for including me in the new publication 500 Figures in Clay. I really didn't expect to have an image selected for this one, and am delighted to be amongst such good company.