Saturday 31 May 2008

Saturday evening

Lids turned and knobs thrown on.

Brad's twin-handled 'jug' and another one of his bird houses, made with clay from the stream.

P.S. Thank you to yesterday's visitors from Croydon, good to meet you, sorry the place was such chaos!

Saturday morning

Here's a birdbox Brad made yesterday. There's a small hole in the front into which a dowel will be fitted, then it can be hung on a tree by a chord through the lug handles.

This is Brad in his 'Englishman's hat', throwing a bottle/jug with grey/gray clay from the field behind the workshop. It'll be interesting to see what this clay fires up like, Matt and I dug some clay out that was a yellower colour/color a while ago and it came out of the kiln a beautiful orange terracotta. This stuff looks like it's probably a stoneware clay, it's certainly got a lot less iron in it than the yellow stuff.

These are some jars that I threw yesterday. I've been trying to break the habit of making in batches of six, so made four of these with six pounds of clay and four with ten. The lids will be turned today and I'll throw the knobs on too. It's been damp and humid the last couple of days, but today's a scorcher so we'll be able to dry pots in the sun, that'll speed things along a bit. It's going to be a late start, but hey, it is Saturday. More later, have a nice day y'all..............

Thursday 29 May 2008

Back to work

I got back into the workshop today after what seems like ages. I have to say I wasn't feeling very inspired, but I managed to get these bottles made and I'm pleased with them, so it was a good start. Of course you across the pond would call them jugs.

This afternoon I collected Brad from the station. I think we'll have some fun. He's been off down the fields opposite the workshop where he dug a load of clay from the banks of the little stream. He's hoping to get some pots made from it in the next couple of days. We're going to take him to our village pub for a bit of Devon 'culture' this evening. Here he is throwing a jug, which of course, you across the pond would call a pitcher.

Wednesday 28 May 2008

Happy Birthday Joe

Well you may not think he's as cute as furry kittens, (I do), here's my younger boy Joe, thirteen today, in the Crediton Tandoori this evening. I remember people saying to me to enjoy them because they're not babies for long - that's so true, I've got two teenagers now. We've had a lovely family day today.

However, I've got to get some pots made tomorrow. It's been half term this week so I've been at home with the family. I've got Brad Lail coming to work with me for a few days, arriving tomorrow afternoon, so that'll get me motivated again I hope. Brad is a student from North Carolina and knows Ron and Alex very well.

The kittens are doing fine and have been keeping us all entertained. Thank you for checking in everyone, particularly all the new visitors and thanks for all your suggestions of names/liquidization. The boys have called them Kipper and Sprat.

Hopefully this'll return to being a pottery blog tommorrow, lots to make for Earth and Fire and Art in Clay.

Monday 26 May 2008


Just been out to collect these little ladies, fatten them up a bit and they'll make a great pair of gloves.

Saturday 24 May 2008

Ruth and Russel

I had a visit yesterday from two American potters, currently residents of Belgium. Russel Fouts, who brought along one of his beautiful Terra-Sigillata dishes, and Ruth Ballou, who showed me some images of some of her very fine soda and saltglazed pots. Ruth is shortly to return to the States to establish a pottery in South Carolina. It was good to meet them and to share their enthusiasm for ceramics. Russel is moving to a bigger place just to house his ceramics collection, how cool is that?

A busy day ahead of me tomorrow at the Sandford Festival. I'll be exhibiting at a craft fair during the daytime and playing with the Love Daddies in the evening.

Mike Sanderson, kindly sent me a link to some photos of Clay Art on his excellent site, Ceramike

Happy weekend all.

Friday 23 May 2008

Thursday 22 May 2008

Run to the hills

Blimey, bombs in Exeter. I was on one of my rare visits into the City today and met the wailing police cars as I was leaving town. That's crazy, stuff like that doesn't happen in Devon - run to the hills, it's unbelievable.

Fourteen miles north of Exeter, this is what my walk home looked like yesterday, absolutely bloomin' beautiful, I could walk for miles through the lanes at this time of year.

Life's been pretty busy, hence my lack of posting. Mark came over yesterday evening and we went back to the workshop. Luke came too as he had art homework to do and wanted to do some clay stuff too. He's a really sweet boy. I know I'm biased but I think he's growing up into one cool kid. He doesn't realise he's cool - and that's what makes him so cool. Fifteen's such a mad age, full of crazy emotional stuff and hormones, drifting back and forth between being a kid and a young man.

In the workshop I've been making some wobblier, scratchier stuff since getting back from Clay Art - large mugs with incised decoration. It's something I've been meaning to do for a while and it was Michael Kline's incised pots that inspired me to explore marking the pots prior to slipping. It's good fun and very important to make time to play and I know I don't do it often enough. I think these pots will be quite interesting, time will tell. I want to try it out on some baluster jugs. If you never see or hear of them again, you'll know they were rubbish and have been added to the category of pots that get made, then never get seen again on this blog. I've got quite a few of them.

Joe has youth club on a Thursday in a village just past the workshop, so I dropped him off there this evening, then headed to Hollyford to unload a huge pile of broken up pallette wood that I managed to scrounge this afternoon. I assembled a teapot and had a good yarn with Matt on the phone about last week's Welsh adventures, before picking Joe up again a couple of hours later. I've got looooooads of wood now, which is good, good, good. It'll all need sorting and stacking properly some time soon.

Got to do some drawing tonight and work out a making list or I'm just going to end up making loads of random stuff - oh well, maybe that's a good thing? Yes, random stuff, why the devil not?!

Monday 19 May 2008

Home again

Well that was a brilliant week, hanging around with some lovely people. We got back to Nic's just before three this morning, then Hil picked me up after she finished work this evening and brought me home. Hot tub and comfortable bed tonight, wooohooo! It's been freezing cold and very uncomfortable in the tent this week and my inflatable matress was in fact a deflatable matress, so virtually no sleep for almost a week.
Here we all are infront of the bottle kiln. John, the chap with the green jumper in the next photo was on the team too, but was taking the photo I think.
It was a good firing. We started it at about 2am, then finished about noon on Saturday. It was pretty warm when we unpacked it at noon on Sunday.

I survived the demo, no rotten tomatoes. It was a bit disorganised, but it was good fun once I got into it. I made a jug, force dried it with a gas burner, handled it and decorated it, then a monster tankard for Dave, the chap who's inspecting the jar in the second photo. He and his wife have quite a few of my pots.
The last picture is of a young American student, holding the mugs that Ron made for Matt and me. Do you recognise him Ron?

That's it, I've got to sleep. Thank you people for buying pots, thank you Paul, Matt, Hannah and John for all the kiln, talk and drinking fun and thanks to Nic for getting me there and back safely. I'm absolutely exhausted, I'll tell more and add some more shots later. Back to work tomorrow.

Oh yes, and Exeter won at Wembley woooooooooooooooooooooooooohoooooooooooooooooooooo!

Tuesday 13 May 2008

This time next week..........'ll be all over. That doesn't rid me of the anxiety I'm feeling now! Everything's priced and I sit here midst complete chaos as my living room is currently housing a mock-up of my display. I don't want to go! I want to be a recluse!

I took these pictures yesterday. I remember the many times during the last three years that Marky Mark and I have discussed how good it would be to have a whole stack of pots ready and finished to select from for the shows and this year at last it's happened. Furthermore, the workshop is stacked full of dry pots ready for firing when I get back(this is just a few of them, there are lots more elsewhere in the workshop) - that means I'm either a whole lot of pots ahead, or a firing behind, I think the former so it's a good place to be.

As you can see, the woodland opposite the workshop has burst into a staggering explosion of green hues. Everything seemed to turn from brown to green within just a few days. It's beautiful in there, Mark and Neli(Mark's wife) and I took a stroll through on Sunday. There was a sudden deluge while we were in there, but in spite of getting soaked we enjoyed the sound of the rain hitting the leaves, it's a magical place.

I've started to walk home from work again recently, watching fascinated as Spring unfolds, hedges, fields and foliage changing rapidly each day.

Oh well, onwards, pots and pants to pack. Off to stay at Nic's tonight, then to Clay Art in the morning. Nic lives up on Dartmoor, a very rugged terrain, the influence of which is very apparent in his amazing pots. There are some great pictures of the Moor on my mate Cookie's blog Wood Art Words. It's a long way from Devon to North Wales so we'll share the driving in Nic's old truck.

I'm looking forward to catching up with old friends and of course Hannah and Matt.

Hil and the boys are going to Wembley on Sunday to watch Exeter in the Play-off final, wish I was going with them - instead I'll be trembling in a marquee, trying to do a demo. Come on Exeter, up the City!!

I'll be back.........................

Sunday 11 May 2008

Weekend working

Had to go to work both days this weekend, slipping pots and trying to get evrything up to date ready to go to Clay Art Wales. It's been a scorcher, ideal for speeding up the drying process in the sunshine.

Tonight I'm going to sort out pots that I'm taking and I'll set my stand up in attic. I'm really not looking forward to going away at the moment, a week's a long time to be away from my family. I'm also pretty nervous about the whole thing, particularly the demo I've got to do on Sunday.

I'm catching a lift up with my mate Nic, on Wednesday, so I'll stay at his place on Tuesday night. Lots to prepare before then.

Thursday 8 May 2008

Tee hee

I made a load more jugs in different sizes today, then finished off decorating the flatware.

It was another beautiful day, what a pleasure to be able to sit in the sunshine on the bench in my little garden with a sketch pad and pencil, scribbling designs.

The climbing rose on the end wall is going crazy, it's going to look amazing when it starts to bloom.

The rose made me think of something very bad I did a few years ago in a local discount superstore. There were miniature roses and climbing roses, so just for fun, I swapped the labels, tee hee. Naughty though it is, it still makes me titter the thought that somebody somewhere, has a trellis with a very small rose at the bottom of it and someone somewhere else....well I bet they got a nice surprise, tee hee - oh no, my Mum's going to read this! Now I'm in trouble.

Wednesday 7 May 2008

Chubby jugs and sloppy slipping

Did loads of decorating today in a slippy sloppy fashion.

Made some three and a half pound chubby jugs too.

Band practice tonight so got to fly weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Tuesday 6 May 2008


Sooooooooooooooooooooooooo tired tonight. All the bowls are turned and footed, little jars lidded. Lots of decorating tomorrow.

My blogging chum Ron Philbeck from the States called today and we had a good old chat. He recently built a gas kiln and he was doing his first glaze firing today. It's packed full of his lovely slipware, it'll be exciting stuff seeing that come out. Watch this space.

Everything I've done on the wheel today has involved poor posture and stooping so I'm off for a soak in the tub to ease my aching back.

Monday 5 May 2008

Crocks, bowls and winning goals

I just had a great weekend, talking pots and drinking beer, how could life ever be better?

As I mentioned last week, John Edgeler is writing a book about the Fishleys of Fremington so this morning I climbed through all the junk that's piled up in my garage, in order to reach my pottery collection which has been packed away in boxes since we moved. Fortunately I've labelled all the boxes so I know what's in them and was able to find some old Fremington pots that I haven't seen for a long time. It's great to see them again. These pieces will be photographed for inclusion in the book which is due for publication in September.

I keep quite a few Fremington pots up at the workshop too for inspiration(and to hide them from Hil if she doesn't know I've bought them), including this huge, beautifully thrown, late nineteenth century crock.

The weather has been lovely all weekend, which has encouraged the countryside to continue bursting its buds, but has also dried out the pots which have been preserved beneath polythene since Saturday. I've been turning bowls frantically tonight and throwing on their footrings. Loads more to do tomorrow, they range from the largest at about 400mm diameter, to the smallest at 240mm.

Today was interrupted by celebrations as our local football team Exeter City F.C. deservedly won the semi-finals of the play-offs against local rivals Torquay. The boys were over the moon. It put me in a good mood and I was joined at about six o'clock by Marky Mark who had also won in the game he had played today, so we worked away happily into the evening.

None of this will make much sense to anyone overseas and probably nobody here will care too much either!

I'm not a huge football fan, I barely watch even if England are playing, but we often go as a family to the match. Similar to making pottery it fulfills that desire for great expectations, the excitements and the disappointments. We none of us in our house care for the top flight teams, Manchester United etc., that's all about moneymaking for PLC's with overpaid primadonnas, but despite a technically lower standard of play, life is never dull at our local club - we even had Uri Gellar and Michael Jackson as directors briefly, it's true.

So City'll be playing in the final at Wembley in a couple of weeks. Hil and the boys are going to go, but I'll be up at Clay Art Wales and will miss it, just like I did last year - drat!!!

Saturday 3 May 2008


Just got home from the workshop. Everything is starting to dry out a bit so I've wrapped it all up under ye olde medieval polythene - don't know what potters would do without that stuff.

I decorated the big jugs with white slip, combed back to a black slip beneath and slipped bowls and mugs.

A spot of lunch now, then I'll hammer it up the motorway to Winchcombe and back.

Friday 2 May 2008


It's been a frantic few days making bowls, plates, jugs etc., I've put in some long hours, every surface is covered in pots. Flatware takes up a lot of horizontal space.

These pots will be for a number of shows, including The Contemporary Craft Fair at Bovey Tracey and Earth and Fire at Rufford.

I'm also going to have some more pieces in another show at the Long Room Gallery, Winchcombe at the beginning of June, so I want to get some good gear made for that during the next few days.

The show is to celebrate the launch of John Edgeler's next publication focusing on Michael Cardew's stoneware works. This book will be a follow up to his previous title, Michael Cardew and the West Country Slipware Tradition, top of my highly recommended list.

I'll post more info about that show at a later date, but it promises to be a good one with work from Svend Bayer and Clive Bowen.

I've got to go to Winchcombe tomorrow to pick up any unsold work from my show and also Mr Edgeler himself who is coming to Devon to visit some slipware collectors in connection with yet another book he's writing(I'm going to be in that one, more about that another day).

David Frith called yesterday asking me to do a demo at Clay Art Wales, which I agreed to do although the thought of it's pretty scary/exciting, it's not something I've much experience of. In the workshop when I'm all alone, I get 'into the zone', absolute concentration and focus, it's a very personal experience, so it'll be quite a contrast to be doing it infront of a load of people.

I also had a long chat with Blogger Hannah yesterday, who kindly sent me some fantastic books about slipware, thanks again Hannah. Hannah's going to be exhibiting at Clay Art too and will be helping with the planned firing of the bottle kiln. Click here to see pictures of Clive Bowen and Paul Young building the kiln a couple of years ago.

So many blue links on this post, there's enough reading to keep you busy all weekend, have an enjoyable one.