Wednesday 30 July 2008

Hatfield here we come

Hil and I have just made a flying visit home from my parents' to collect our car and to ram it full of pots ready for Art in Clay at Hatfeild this weekend.

Much cleaning and polishing to do, got to fly, look forward to seeing anyone there who can make it. Bye for now.

Friday 25 July 2008

More blurred pictures

Pics of people and pots

Here are my friends Johnny the photographer and Different Dave the electrician at the workshop yesterday. I'm looking forward to getting the pictures back that John took, he's a really good photographer. Great to have that kiln working too, it was such a good day yesterday, thanks chaps.

These are a couple of blurred pics I took - I'm not such a good photographer!

Off to my parents' place shortly, back Monday, have fun.

Thursday 24 July 2008

Ron Philbeck

I've had a great day today, sorting through the successful pots that came out of the kiln yesterday. I've got over the ones that didn't make it, there are some really pretty ones, amazing oranges and smooth, semi-matt lemon yellows. My photographer came up and took some pics which I'll have back next week. I took some snaps myself but forgot to bring my camera home.

Also my mate Different Dave came over and wired in the electric kiln which I've had sitting in my kiln shed for a while. It'll make bisc firing a lot easier and I can refire the occasional pot that hasn't quite got hot enough. It's test firing tonight.

Marky Mark called by this evening too to collect his pots. He was pleased with some, disappointed with others.

We're off to my parents' for the weekend to celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary with our extended family. I'm looking forward to seeing them all, some of them I've not seen for years.

It's such a relief to have got that firing all done and not to have to work until the early hours again for a while, I can just relax and enjoy the party.

Have a great weekend all

These pots are from my mate Ron's on-line selling site.

Check it out
here and grab yourself a lovely bit of slipware


Hello World

Sorry it's taken so long to put these on, it's been a crazy day, trying to get the workshop sorted out and pots selected and priced for Art in Clay

The firing was ok although I did have a number of disappointing losses, damp wood and a bit too much reduction being the cause I think. I had a good chat on the phone this afternoon with Clive(Bowen) and he reached the same conclusion after I described the symptoms.

In spite of the losses, there are some really pleasing pieces, I'll take some photos tomorrow, these are the only ones I took today. Getting this firing through was always going to be a challenge, so by and large I'm pleased. A bit gutted that I lost two Harvest Jugs and some other stuff that was for an order - oh well, make some more tomorrow in my lovely organised, cleaned up workshop.

Tuesday 22 July 2008

Monday 21 July 2008

Job done

All glazed, packed and ready to fire in the morning, well done Marky Mark.

Middle of the night so off to bed.

Hope your week starts well.

Friday 18 July 2008

Cheers Tom

Tom headed back to Bristol tonight after eight very busy days. What a top chap, you'll be hearing of him again in the future, I've no doubt about it, he has the determination and the vision to become a very fine potter.

Here are some pictures from our walk to the workshop this morning.

Still more glazing to do, but I'm having a day off tomorrow. I've got a gig with the Love Daddies (don't follow this link if you're easily offended)at a local bikers rally in the afternoon.

Glazing to finish on Sunday morning, Mark's coming up on Sunday evening to do his glazing, then we'll pack ready for firing on Monday.

Have a lovely weekend all.

Thursday 17 July 2008


All went well with the bisc. Tom and I unpacked it today and processed the glazes. We also got quite a bit of the glazing done, hopefully I'll get it finished tomorrow. Tom's off home tomorrow evening.

Here's one of the little flowerbeds outside the workshop. A few montha go this wa just a pile of broken pots and other junk, it's looking really pretty now. I enjoy gardening and get a lot of plaesure from watching stuff grow.

Tom fixed up one of the birdboxes that Brad made when he was here, to the telegraph pole in the workshop garden.

Packing the kiln on Sunday for a Monday firing. New pots by Wednesday. Off to the pub to buy Tom a well earned pint.

Wednesday 16 July 2008


Here's Tom 'helping' a pitcher to dry. He made it yesterday from clay from the woods opposite, I think it's a beauty.

Firing went well, many thanks for your help Tom and Mark.

Here's the obligatory 'chuck in some wood and pull the brick out' picture.

I enjoy firing days because it's all outside stuff and it gives me a chance to cut the lawn and tend my little flowerbeds, which are looking really pretty at the moment.

I need to shower and sleep now, it's been a long, hot day, I'm pooped, Goodnight.

Sunday 13 July 2008

Busy, busy

Sorry I've not been on here much, we've been burning the midnight oil the last few days.

On Friday I hired a van and Mark, Tom and I spent the day collecting and stacking wood. Also got rid of a lot of junk to the tip. We've got lots of wood now - in the old woodshed of course, any building plans new sheds went out of the window this week as we were frantically making pots. As it turns out, the weather would have prevented any outside work anyway.

So today's firing was postponed until Tuesday. Everything's still pretty damp, in fact I was still handling and slipping mugs this afternoon that have since been packed in the kiln. As ever, Mark did a great job, helping set the kiln stack, well done M.M.

Anyway, all is packed, with a fan blowing air through the firebox to aid drying and it's set for firing on Tuesday. I've got to go to a local primary school tomorrow afternoon to do a demo, but I'll put the gas burner in on a gentle heat in the morning to start the slow, steady pre-heat.

It's been a mad few days, a mad few to come too.

Tom's been making some great pots. He's off to Ireland to study ceramics in September - he's going to be a very good potter, it's clear to see already.

Have a good week everybody, going to take a spin round the blogs now and see what's been going on elsewhere in the world..............

Friday 11 July 2008

Speedy post

Just got in after a starlit walk home, got to crash out.

Tom's here, his eyeballs arrive tomorrow.

Wednesday 9 July 2008

When will it stop raining? It's driving me mad!

What a nightmare this weather is, rain, rain, rain, all week, rain. Not the best when I'm in a rush to dry pots. Today it was torrential all day long, moan, moan, moan!

Sorry, what a moaner.

Mark and I have made a lot of pots this week. It's been mostly big stuff, show pots for the exhibition at the Imagine Gallery, Harvest Jugs for Bideford and everything else for Art in Clay. Tomorrow will probably be the last full making day. I'm doing homework tonight, modelling the chickens onto moneyboxes.

Tom, the student from Bristol comes tomorrow although we're still without a car so I've got to try and work out some way of getting him from the station. I think taxi is looking the most likely option at present. I've hired a van for Friday so that we can go and collect various things from various places, including the hardwood from my suppliers in Tiverton. They promised to keep some in the dry for me, I'm so pleased I rang them earlier in the week to organise that.

I think a Sunday firing is out of the question now, the kiln shed's full of mud, the wood shed's leaked, so it's looking like it'll be Tuesday now. That'll cut it fine for the glaze firing, but it's all achievable.

OK, I'll stop moaning now and get back to my moneybox modelling........

More decorating

More blasting

Tuesday 8 July 2008

More of today's decorating


Still making and force drying, a dicey game if ever there was one. I know pretty much how far I can push this clay when giving it a little encouragement with a gas burner.

I couldn't sleep last night because of thinking about how I was going to decorate the harvest jugs today. In the end I got up, took all the relevant books from the bookshelf, studied them hard and worked out my version.

Before I start to decorate, I like to loosen-up by drawing on a piece of board, sponged over with thin slip.

My decoration is generally fairly uncomplicated, but I felt that the original harvest jugs were always quite fancy, so mine needed to be too. Well, that's about as fancy as I get. I think they'll work OK, time will tell, but at present, I'm pleased with them.

Monday 7 July 2008


Mark was a star and kneaded up loads of clay for me today. I really need to get my pugmill up and running, although it's much cheaper getting Mark to do it! It was a huge help and enabled me to get on with getting a couple more harvest jugs made and some large baluster jugs too.

I also slipped and decorated some of the pots I made last week.

It's been a bit frustrating because the car's off the road at the moment after having failed its MOT. I really need it for collecting wood. It's with our mechanic at present, so hopefully it'll be ready by the end of the week.

Making, decorating, force-drying tomorrow.

Sunday 6 July 2008


We took a walk to our local strawberry farm today. It's been a busy time for them, they supply a lot of their juicy red fruits to Wimbledon. Here's my younger boy Joe in mid pick, nothing to do with pottery, but I liked the picture.

Marky Mark's taken the week off work so will be helping me in the workshop for the next few days. He's going to knead up my clay so that I can get the last of my bigger pots made tomorrow. It may be a little hopeful to think they'll be ready in time, bearing in mind that they'll need to be in the full flame of the kiln this time next week, oh well, I can but try.

I've a student, Tom, coming later in the week so there'll be plenty of hands on deck when it comes to packing and firing.

Have a good week everybody.

Friday 4 July 2008

A must for anyone interested in wood firing

Nic Collins' Kiln Building Course

The course is suitable for complete beginners as well as master potters. It is designed to give you comprehensive knowledge of Anagama kiln building, stacking and firing.

It's held at Nic's workshop on the outskirts of Moretonhampstead which is situated in the heart of the stunningly beautiful Dartmoor National Park.

A week packed with excellent information, good company and superb lunches. To round off the course, you even get a party featuring The Love Daddies!

Places are strictly limited so be sure to book early. For more info, or to have a look at Nic's wonderful pots, click here

A pair of big jugs

Andrew decorated his pots this morning, he's made some really nice ones. He headed back off up east at lunchtime. It's been good having him down, I hope he'll come again some time. I hope that kiln is useful to him too, I'll be watching his blog to see how he gets on.

I made these two big Harvest Jugs today. They're based on the old North Devon slipware ones as shown in the book below. I look like I'm slightly mad. There's a Harvest Jug event coming up later in the summer, so these are for that, I'll tell more another night.

Dog tired this evening so this is brief again, had to put my head down in the workshop for an hour or so this afternoon. I'll be working all weekend, the bisc firing's scheduled for next weekend so there's going to be a bit of force drying going on - still a lot of pots to make before then, so need to get the big ones done tomorrow and Sunday.

Thursday 3 July 2008

Off to the pub

More tankards decorated.

Made some big jugs

Andrew giving it some wellie on the kick wheel, pity he's forgotten his spare jeans! Off to the pub tonight for a couple of pints.

Wednesday 2 July 2008

A real quicky

Andrew's here, we got the kiln on board his van

Thank you Hannah for the beautiful pot, a lovely surprise.

Handled and decorated tankards, this one's a bit crazy.

More tomorrow, sorry it's so brief, bed time, goodnight.

Tuesday 1 July 2008

Michael Kline superstar

My blogging chum Michael Kline has just had a beautiful firing in Bakersville, North Carolina. I've lifted the following text from his blog because he explains so eloquently the way that I think any woodfirer feels when opening a kiln, certainly I can relate to his words. Nothing is ever what you expect it to be, it takes a while to grow into the new pots. Michael, I think your pots are amazing.

It's never what you think it will be, expectation is beauty and the beast. To have expectation or imagine what a glaze will look like or how it might become after a certain trial of fire is an acquired skill when glazing a pot, yet when the pot is revealed after the burn, the expectation can overwhelm and destroy the seeing of the true pot. I always joke that the pots get better every day they are out of the kiln, at least in my eyes. For someone seeing the pots for the first time, the pots are "free of imagination" in that person's eyes. I hope that makes sense. This concept will always intrigue me, although today it is a real bitch. Tomorrow the viewing will be better, I'll take another look and I will begin to see the pots.

What all this means is that I spent most of the afternoon kicking myself and replaying the firing in my head trying in some way to explain to myself why the pots looked the way they did. I could make a list and lay out some theories but as I have written about before, my creative involvement is over now, and that's the bitch. The pot's will be fine, and I will be fine. Acceptance is required now and that which isn't acceptable will be my motivation for change in the next group of pots.

I am reminded that "the kiln is the teacher".