Monday 30 November 2015

G is for gannets G is for Glazing

The square plates with gannets were slipped and scored and are now drying out slowly so that they don't warp, though it's been so wet recently there isn't much chance of them drying too fast or unevenly.

Meanwhile the gannet candle holders are slipped and are now bisc fired.

It's amazing just how much the kiln holds when crammed full of the smaller pots. (As oppose to one seat or long dishes).

It was a wet and windy weekend so perfect for battening down the hatches and having a mega glaze session.

Even if it did go on for ever - but with some good music and recordings to listen to, it was dipping, wiping and sometimes even singing along. The glaze kiln was eventually packed and switched on a bit later than hoped, but I got there.

It's still firing -  must go and check those cones!

Monday 16 November 2015

Work in progress

I was recently asked to make a commemorative plate featuring badgers, and in doing the research and drawings I rather got into them. Having chosen the design which I used for the plate, I wanted try some of the others. Above are some new badger bowls, (slipped but not yet fired).


I know I have been putting gannets on things for ages, but the three gannets flying alongside the boat on the way to Orkney had to appear in a new design of their own.


I am not sure about the flying gannet stopper yet, but I will see what I think when it is fired and finished. (Again here it is slipped but not yet fired).

This army of jugs is slipped and over sprayed, still waiting to be trailed,

                              with handles half extruded and half pulled.

I also seem to have accumulated quite a lot of individual Christmas orders which have now jumped to top of the making queue. One of which is for a square plate (incidentally with a gannet on it).  It was good to put my wonderful ex Glasgow school of Art slab roller to use again and fill some press moulds.

It's been a long time without a post, as it felt like there have been no 'outstanding' happenings in the pottery. I have been making a lot of thrown slipware over the last few months, probably more than usual in one go, because I keep thinking that if I get ahead with stock for the gallery, it will then allow me time to get down to some great new project. But when I turn round my stock of slipware has mysteriously vanished.

I know I can't complain, it is great to be selling, but I am actually dying to get my teeth into some of the new ideas knocking at the door in my head.  Still, early in the new year is always a good time for that. 

Sunday 6 September 2015


I was fortunate to have the opportunity to go France last week. The colours and patterns were a feast to the eye. Orange and Green, Pinks and Ochres. What a delight.

While away I had left my Dalbeattie Hard Rock Challenge mugs drying out. Every year the organisers ask for a different colour (and shape). This time I decided to be bold and go for an untried combination of green and grey, ochre and a dash of blue. This before I had drunk from the Mediterranean palette.

I took these photos of Father's workshop last time we were over sorting out Father's house and belongings. He was such a prodigious maker I am amazed at just how many pieces of furniture, cushions and gadgets were made by him. None of us are acquisitive, but how can any of us part with any of it. Then there are the items of furniture, paintings etc which have been childhood friends and are as much a part of my make up as the Border hills. Why is it that human beings enjoy the comfort of familiar things. It is hard to imagine the total wrench which refugees go through. 

Last time I wrote this blog I was finishing pots for the Leeds Craft and Design Gallery show 'Figure That'. Here are a few images of some of the pots which I took down to it and which are on display there until 31st October.

I always like to have a workshop name for things, so these long narrow dishes are called RAH dishes. I have discovered that they are great in the windowsill for 'Ripen at Home' fruit, (such as you get in Scotland, I guess that they wouldn't be great sellers in the South of France)!


Monday 20 July 2015

Extruded vases and a Long Lost tool

Two of the things I have been working on over the last weeks have been a extruded vases and long dishes.The most successful of these will be going to an exhibition at Leeds Craft and Design Gallery next week, entitled "Figure That'.

Once I have made the die the initial extrusions are comparatively straightforward to make. But by the time I have added the bases, incised each design, (no two are the same so each design has to fit the individual flow of the piece), days seem to go by. These ones are ready to be put into the glaze kiln, they have been bisc fired, coloured glazes applied to the designs with a slip trailer, then the glazed sections masked out with wax emulsion so that I can dip or spray the rest of the area with contrasting glaze.

I got this lot in the glaze kiln late Saturday night, so I am hoping for some good results come Tuesday.

I couldn't resist admitting to this ridiculous cat and ridiculous owner, neither of whom at this point helped either of us achieve anything at speed.

One thing I haven't been working on this year is a competition piece for Potfest in the Park, the fantastic show of British and International ceramics held at Hutton in the Forest Penrith next weekend. The year I decided not to apply, the competition theme is temptingly illustrative. It is 'Biblical' - I would have been spoilt for choice of ideas!

But this year I am not going to be there. Last Autumn I decided to have a year out, and the way things turned out this year, it was a very fortuitous decision. It's kind of strange, and I am feeling a little sad to be missing it, and all my friends, though I know I made the right decision.  Have fun all of you, I will think of you setting up your stands. (I shall instead be listening to music at 'Womad' World Music Festival, a treat indeed).

Last week I was looking for a lost tool, and in my frustration I ended up tipping out 4 boxes of odds and ends, things like interesting objects to impress into clay, or half made tools, a lot dating from way back to when I used to run pottery evening classes.

I never found what I was looking for in the guddle, (because it was in fact right under my nose all along), but I DID find my LONG LOST serrated kidney. Oh joy - a treasure from art school days, lost for maybe ten or more years. They 'don't make them like that any more' you see, it is finger cuttingly sharp, and magic to use.

Monday 15 June 2015

Octo-puss in his new home

It was lovely to be sent this picture today from the owners of Octo-puss looking very happy in his new home. I do rather miss him, so it was especially rewarding to see him so well loved.

Monday 1 June 2015

Images from a busy Spring Fling


The garden all tidied up


Ready to go, all clean and planted up.

Wendy's display, looking good!

The boards screening off a multitude of shed stuff whilst displaying pots.

And then the visitors who kept coming

and coming

and talking

and asking

and being wonderfully interested in everything.

There were lots of old and new faces to say hello to, and old and new pots to say goodbye to. 

Thanks to you all for coming along and to the Spring Fling organisers - it just gets busier!

Wednesday 20 May 2015

Spring Fling this weekend and the windows are squeaky clean

It is Spring Fling this weekend and the windows have never been so clean, well at least not since this time last year.

Everything has been washed down and dusted and Rodger helped to mount two of the 3D pictures on the wall. It was rewarding to see them up. 

 The keyhole slot in the back worked well as a secure way of hanging them, it was just a little fiddly getting the two screws in the right position.

Now I just have the studio to clear up, but one corner is looking better already.

It's just a case of making things look more like organised chaos rather than plain chaotic chaos.

How did I acquire quite so many brushes over the years? I did inherit a whole lot more from the late Ralph Neat who no doubt had built up a similar life time's collection.

This morning I'll tackle this next half. Tomorrow there is another kiln to unpack, the garden to sort out, flapjack to make, and then all ready to go. 

Thursday 14 May 2015

Lots to do and not everyone is helping

With so much to do you would hope it is all hands on deck, but she isn't exactly helping to put the clean socks away!

How did that happen? Spring Fling Open Studios is less than two weeks away and I still have a mountain to climb. Not only am I trying to get half made pots finished off and through the kilns but I suddenly realised that I really ought to have a few more of the smaller items such as mugs and jugs made. I put aside my glazing to have a last ditch throwing day on Friday, slipping and putting on handles over the weekend.

The 'grey' damp cupboard is filled and ready for some slip trailed decoration today. Will they or won't they get finished in time?

Meanwhile back to glazing - bowls with their foot rims waxed, ready to dip.

A set of gannet candle holders,. The gannets have been glazed in coloured glazes, and masked out, then the whole dipped in transparent glaze. Some of these are for Roger Lever's gannet exhibition, 'Infinite Space', opening at the Lever Gallery in Dalbeattie on Friday. Roger is a photographer and he has taken some superb shots of these magnificent birds. His studio is also open during Spring Fling, so worth a visit. 

This is a very busy and rather overcrowded glaze bench - I use wax emulsion to mask out, but of course as would happen with a deadline looming I went and ran out of it half way through.

I had forgotten the old pre-emulsion method of hot wax. It's brilliant, if a bit smelly. An old chip fryer keeps it at a constant melt and it forms a much denser resist than the emulsion.

Now to get this lot through the kiln. These trays are very greedy for space.  

This one came through last week in time for the Gannet exhibition tomorrow.

These wee fellows are to keep him company.

Other finished pots from the last glaze firing are waiting to be looked over, priced and displayed. Being Spring Fling, the latter means the annual showroom window clean, major de-spider and dust session. Later.

This year once again I have Wendy Kershaw coming down to share my studio over Spring Fling. It is lovely for me to have her company and beautiful work around and it makes for an interesting combined studio visit.

Spring Fling runs from 23rd May to 25th with an early opening preview for Wendy and I on the Friday - do come and join us if you can.