Monday, 30 June 2008

And that, was that

That was a fantastic weekend. It seems to take ages for Rufford to come around, then it's all over for another year.

I sold so many pots that I'm going to have a mad panic to get another lot made and fired before Hatfield at the start of August. What a positive predicament, I can cope with that!

Based on my own experience as a pottery collector, if you see a pot you want, you have to have it because it provokes such an emotional response within your heart, I hope my work does that for people, certainly I occasionally get told it does and that's what it's all about for me. Perhaps that's why pots are still selling in spite of the gloominess over the current financial climate. As somebody, somewhere, once said, 'never regret your extravagances, because you'll always regret your economies.'

Based upon that premise (and using it to justify my actions to Hil), I bought a few pots myself, I'll post some pictures of them later.

Thank you to everyone who stopped for a chat and/or bought my pots, I met some great people. The joy of these fairs is meeting up with old friends and making some new ones too.

In the picture is Stephen Dee who runs the website Stephen wants to expand the international aspect of the site so I promised him I'd put a link on to let all you potters around the world know about it. It's becoming quite an expansive directory, check it out.

My parents have just headed home after being here for the weekend looking after the boys. I'll see them next in a few weeks time at their Golden Wedding celebrations. I wish we lived closer.

Here's a picture of Hannah holding Ron's mug. I always like to take it 'on tour' with me and to spread the word about his great slipware round the UK.

Blogger Andrew came along. He'll be visiting us down in Devon this week to make some pots at Hollyford and to pick up an old gas kiln I have, I'm looking forward to that.

Today's a day for catching up on the laundry etc. and for drawing up a making list ready for the next couple of frantic weeks, during which I've a lot of pots to make, plus a new woodshed and a 'showroom' to build. Such a bore that I glued so many pots to the shelf in the last firing, I'd have been ahead of the game - oh well, onwards and upwards. Muddy pots on here tomorrow night, happy Monday all.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Rufford here we come

Been making replacements for last week's lost pots, including this puzzle jug.

Off to Rufford tomorrow, that's going to take hours, everywhere seems a long way from Devon, sometimes a good thing, sometimes a bad thing. I'm really looking forward to it, in spite of the losses, I got some of my best ever work from that last firing. I'm also looking forward to catching up with Paul Young and Hannah amongst other potting buddies.

We can't leave until after Hil's finished school at three thirty so it'll be late when we get there. We're going to be staying with a friend from college days who lives just down the road. Camping's fun at these events, but a warm, comfortable bed and shower has got to be good for a man of my years.

Jessica, finished her work experience today. I've really enjoyed having her around and I'm proud of what she's managed to achieve this week. She's experimented with all the slips, made tiles, tried loads of different techniques of making marks and today made her first pots on the wheel. She'll come back during the firirngs next month to see her work through the whole process. I hope she's found my chaotic approach to ceramics a useful experience.

My parents are here to look after the boys for the weekend so got to fly. Hope to meet some of you at Rufford, bye for now, have groovy weekends all. If you wanna see some outta sight slipware, click here

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Diggin' dirt

I had a visit from my friend Heather Cutler, a painter who lives in the village. I really like Heather's work a lot - well she puts my pots in her paintings, so I'm bound to like them.

Jessica was with me again today so the three of us went across to the woods to collect clay. We found loads of the rich orange stuff that fires up terracotta, we'll make some pots from it tomorrow.

Off to the pub with Hil and the boys for a swift pint, smashing, just the ticket!

Monday, 23 June 2008

Vote for the Leach Pottery Restoration Project

Vote for the Leach Pottery Restoration Project

The Leach Pottery Restoration Project has been nominated for a National Lottery Award and is competing against nine other projects for the title of Best Heritage Project. This means they could be in with a chance of winning £2,000.

They'd like every potter to vote for them. You can vote by visiting and go to Best Heritage Project Category.

Alternatively you can vote by phone on 0845 3864439.

The deadline is 4th July.

Cheers all!

Thanks to everyone for your lovely comments, I greatly value your kind support.

Jessica, my work experience girl and I have been sipping tea from brown mugs today. No need to wash up for weeks, a fresh mug every day! I think it was Mick Casson who said 'brown's a colour too you know'.

Got back into the swing with a couple of new puzzle jugs, I'll work hard and soon catch up.

Even though a lot of those pots didn't make it, I know the decoration was much more confidently executed and I learned a lot about mark-making and composition while I was making them, so the next lot will be better for that experience. As long as I don't turn them brown and glue them to the shelves, I'll have some good ones for Hatfield.

I've still got loads of pots I'm proud of to take to Earth and Fire this weekend, so in spite of yesterday's rubbish, I'm a happy man. There would be stoneware potters who'd be proud of a tenmoku glaze like the one I just achieved and I managed to do it two hundred degrees lower, that can't be bad.

Sunday, 22 June 2008


Happy Birthday Blogger Paul.

Here are your pots from the firing

Click the pics to enlarge


Some more

More goodies

Some of the good 'uns

None too good

Well that was a disappointment.

I used to mix my dark glaze using Fremington red earthenware from North Devon, sadly no longer available, so the latest batch I had to use Valentines red clay. Well there must be a LOT more iron in the clay, because when I opened the kiln there were many brown pots, most had runny glaze that glued the pots to down, damaging every single shelf and destroying a large percentage of the firing. My glazes won't work in an electric kiln so I couldn't test it first. Maybe I was a bit foolish to have used so much of it.

Poor Jessica, a young girl who is coming to do work experience with me this week, was there to get her first taste of this risky game. At least it stopped me cursing!

However, all was not lost and there were some pots that worked very well, but the spoil heap will be mountainous tomorrow. Every large jug copped it, all the big jars and most of my mugs. In fact, most of everything including that crazy puzzle jug.

Well, the only thing I can do is get stuck in to making again tomorrow and try again. Fortunately I did get a few lovely pots out in the other glaze so I'll have plenty for Earth & Fire next weekend, but I'll need to go for it now to get some more through for Hatfield in August. What a bore.

Scary looking hillbillies

If you happened to be strolling down a secluded country lane and you stumbled upon these two guys playing with a big box full of fire, would you stay for a cuppa or run for your life?

Kiln opening this evening, I feel quite nervous but really excited, woohoo!

Back later, either happy or sad....................

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Fired - tired

All seemed to go well, finished about midnight. Cross your fingers for me, unpack on Sunday.

Firebox 1, 8:20 am

Firebox 1, 8:20 pm

Spent a bit of time sorting out the garden too, my rose is looking and smelling wonderful, more than can be said for me, off to scrub my sooty body then a good long sleep, can't wait to hit the hay, nighty night.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Ahead of the game

There we go, kiln all packed and ready to fire a day early. What a long day it's been, seventeen hours in fact, no wonder I'm tired.

Earlier in the week I had a call from World of Interiors Magazine asking me for some images of my work. They called me again today and asked me to send some pots to London to be photographed on Tuesday. Unfortunately I've sold all the bowls that were requested, so in order to get some more through in time, I've packed the kiln in readiness to fire tomorrow. That means new pots a day early, hope it's a good one. Chuffed about the mag, it's really posh.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Oxford Ceramics

I had a visit earlier in the week from Oxford Ceramics, who now have some of my pots for sale. You can see them here

Craig Edwards

Here's a blog full of tasty pots to check out, woodfired stoneware made by Craig Edwards.

Kipper thinks he's ace.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

I really, really, really, really, really don't enjoy glazing

But it's got to be done.

Most of it is, I'll finish tomorrow then start repacking the kiln ready for Saturday's firing. New pots on Monday, yippee!!!

I had a great visit today from a couple who really understand where my work is coming from. We had a long talk about the need for tradition and the importance of passing on traditional skills and accumulated knowledge. That's something that's very important to me.

I've learned a huge amount about traditional skills from fellow potters on this crazy blogger thing.

I wonder what Edwin Beer Fishley or Michael Cardew would have had to say if they'd had a blog.

I wonder what I used to do with my evenings before I had a blog.


The bisc firing. More later................

Monday, 16 June 2008

Sorry Clive

I feel bad tonight because I had to let Clive down at the last moment. The fuel tanker strike has hit hard here and all the petrol stations locally are closed. Hil has just enough to get her to work and back tomorrow, so I couldn't go. It'll be walking again for me in the morning.

The bisc firing looks good, although I haven't unbricked the whole door yet. The wall pocket Brad made from field clay fired up a pale buff colour, there it is beside the puzzle jug. I was chatting to the farmer who owns the woods opposite at the weekend and he said that if I show him which seam of clay I want to use, he'll dig it out for me - that's going to be incredible. This particular seam's a bit too pale, but the stuff higher up in the woods is a beautiful rich orange.

Today I mixed glaze, a job I don't enjoy much, but it wasn't too bad as the workshop's pretty organised at the moment, although a lack of running water meant I ran out and wasn't able to finish the job.

When I got to the workshop I discovered that the plate that I use on my bird table had been knocked off and broken, I think probably by a squirrel that visits occasionally. I've been meaning to make a slipware bird table for a while, so that's exactly what I did. It's based on the small, ancient, market buildings that some of the little towns have round here. It's a bit of fun, hope the finches like it. Not sure why I put a cockerel on top, weather vane I suppose.

The birds are great company and eat very well at my place. The photo shows the woodpecker who comes every day. That's the view I have of him from my wheel. I need to wash the window, but at the moment he can't see me so I'm reluctant to do so. Sadly Woody's destroyed my swallows nest in the kiln shed so there'll be no young in there this year. Nature is a toughie sometimes.

Loads of glazing tomorrow.

A beautiful place

Here are some shots taken on my walk to work this morning

Dog roses

Fragrant honeysuckle

Monday 16th

Firing seemed fine, although long. We finished at just after 1am. Thanks for your help Marky Mark, Blogger Matt and Tig. Here's Matt giving it some kickwheel action.

This is a fine jug Matt gave me from his most recent firing, filled with foxgloves and bracken that Tig picked from the field.

The last shot shows the chimney smoking away, I love to see it that way. The kiln shed is usually filled with piles of wood and all that stuff that won't fit anywhere else and it becomes unworkable. At firing time, that part of the workshop gets sorted out, and when the chimney's smoking, it's alive.

Luke's gone off to Cornwall for a few days to do his work experience and Hil's taken him to the station. I'll be walking to the workshop this morning, I bet there will be some lovely things to look at on my way there.

Lots of glaze to mix today before I get the pots out of the kiln. I'll then spend the next couple of days glazing - boo hoo(hated job), then repacking ready for glaze firing on Friday, then new pots a week today -woohoo(best job).

Off to Clive Bowen's tonight to do some of the nightshift on his huge bottle kiln. It's ages since I saw Clive last so it'll be cool to catch up.

Well, I'd better go to work or it'll be time to come home before I get there, more later...............

Friday, 13 June 2008

Packed up and poker in

Thanks Mr Cardew for that deco idea.

All packed, chockablock, including a damp puzzle jug, placed next to Blogger Matt's 25kg candlestick, directly above where the flame first enters the kiln and next to a small vase made just this morning - hey, it all adds to the excitement!

I think it'll be ok, the gas poker's preheating overnight so everything should be nice and dry and hot by the morning. Hoping to start at about eight in the morning. Marky Mark's coming up at about ten and Blogger Matt's coming some time in the afternoon.

Just waiting to watch the Sex Pistols on the telly, live at the Isle of Wight Festival, before going to bed. It gives me a great excuse to put this picture of Luke and Johnny Rotten on here again. I know it's been on before, but hey, it is pretty cool, so here it is again!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Puzzle jugs and espresso mugs

Here's the crazy puzzle jug all slipped up. Don't know if it'll make this firing, the kiln's almost full.

These are some little espresso mugs I made today. They fill all the little gaps a treat. Brief tonight because I'm pooped and I've still lots of other admin stuff to do. Sweet dreams.