Tuesday 30 September 2008


That was a scary, tiring but ultimately fun day, that ran on into the evening. Here are Alex on the right and Steve adjusting the light. The workshop was full of tripods and fancy lights, I've never seen it so well illuminated - I didn't know for instance that I've got mouldy bits on my ceiling, I do now.

So I decorated these huge ones, which is a challenge enough when I'm alone, but even more so in front of the lens. You only get one shot at it, working this way with wet slip. They'll look ok when they're fired I think, at the moment they look a bit odd.

And I made some more of these and put this handle on. Lots more to do tomorrow.

Steve and Alex made me feel really at ease, the nerves settled down after a while and I stopped trying to do everything at double speed. I didn't have to speak either and that was a big relief. I'll sleep much better tonight. Tired out, time for a hot tub then bed, goodnight all.

Monday 29 September 2008

My workshop

Well this is a little video stream of my 'tidy' workshop. It's spotless by my standards, it's just the camera that makes it look chaotic, honestly. Certainly the place is the most organised it's been for a long time.

Alex will be with me at lunchtime tomorrow. I've been feeling really nervous about the film thing. Alex has made a number of films about different craftspeople so in spite of the nerves, I'm flattered that he should consider what I'm doing, worth documenting. I hope he isn't disappointed.

I'll get some more video stuff shot later in the week. Bye for now.

Sunday 28 September 2008

Sunday working

A looooooooooooooong day's work today. Mark and I cleaned the kiln shed right out and reorganised it so that it'll work efficiently - that'll be a first.

We rebuilt the firebox extensions, a job I've been wanting to do for a long time. The pic shows Mark giving it some trowel action. When we built them originally they were just piled up quickly before a firing and I never got around to doing them properly, so that's an overdue job, well done.

Tomorrow I have to try and find space for all the stuff that used to have a space in the kiln shed, that's now piled in the workshop, which is a dreadful midden at the moment. I need more space and less junk - isn't that always the way?

Pots to slip and pots to make tomorrow too. Got to get slip on to those big jugs and make some more, busy, busy.

Off to bed now, tired out. Have a good week all, happy Monday.

Saturday 27 September 2008


It's been a busy time on both the work and the home front this week, working long evenings in the workshop and then late again last night in my friend's recording studio, adding some 'harmonies' to a Love Daddies track.

We're off into Exeter in a minute for lunch - into the city, haven't been there for ages, people, traffic, noise and smelly air - it'll make a pleasant change.

Tomorrow Marky Mark's coming over and we're going to tidy up the workshop and kiln shed. I've got Alex McErlain from Manchester Metropolitain University coming next week to do some filming, so it's time to clear away all the mouldy mugs. I'm a bit nervous about it, but I know Alex, he's a top man, so it'll be fine once we've got started. I'm so used to being on my own and 'in the zone', it'll be odd being in front of a lens.

Here's some stuff from the past couple of days.

More leaf resist.

This will be green when it's fired.

I'll put the amber glaze on this one. It has a black slip under the white, the manganese from the black will bleed into the glaze, softening the line.

Another puzzle jug

I made these big ones yesterday. Most of the pots I have for the firing are flat plates, which take up a lot of horizontal space, so I need these big pots to fill the vertical space. Nic's dropping off some kiln shelves for me tomorrow, I need to borrow some because all the plates will gobble up the kiln furniture.

I look like such a tramp at the moment - that's what happens when all I do is spend every day in a shed on my own. Anyway, must pull my wellies on now and head off to town.

Friday 26 September 2008

Potfest South West

Blogger Paul's going to be at Potfest South West today and over the weekend. Paul Young's going to be there too - looks like a good show.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Cheers all

First of all, thank you bloggers for your encouragement, it's much appreciated and has helped me towards shrugging off the gloominess of earlier in the week.

Marky Mark came up this evening for a couple of hours. We'll be working on late tomorrow night too, lots to do to fill the kiln by the 11th.

Today I got the handles on the 8lb jugs. They're a bit fatter than I usually make them and I like that. I guess I've been looking at a lot of harvest jugs recently, with this kind of low belly. Getting all the curves in all the right places is tricky, in fact Blogger Matt and I have just been chatting about just that on Skype a few minutes ago - we must be soooooo interesting to live with!

These mugs are made from the woodland clay. There were a few stones in it - I did start to sieve the clay when I was preparing it, but chose to chuck it all back in again - not sure how it'll fire. If anything, it could do with a bit more texture so I'm seeking out a local supply of sand. I made these particular little sprig stamps recently and they were in the last firing so it's the first time I've tried these ones. It's good to have some fresh designs, I used to put new ones in every firing, now I've got loads of them, some that work, some that don't. The clay was still a bit too soft to make anything of any scale, but maybe tomorrow.

Here's a crazy looking harvest jug. It's a decorative effect typical of the North Devon tradition, whereby leaves are applied prior to slipping, then removed, leaving their outline where they resist the slip. I like the fact that it documents the foliage of the time and place for ever. A lot of the old jugs had Silverweed leaves on them, so I was pleased to use some on here.

I'm going to leave this jug in the tiny church in Stockleigh English, the nearest village to my workshop. My father is a retired church minister; when I was little there were three old ladies at his church, I think they were sisters. They would arrange the flowers each week. I never knew their names, we called them The Flower Ladies and they were lovely, so this is in memory of them, as well as for the flower ladies of Stockleigh English - all flower ladies the world over in fact.

I inscribed a verse from a harvest hymn on the front and I was a bit embarrased about my scrawly handwriting, but then I looked at the book my friends sent me yesterday and realised that that's just how it should be!

Tuesday 23 September 2008

8lb jugs

A quicky this because it's late and I need my bed. I got some 8lb jugs made today. These are my favourite pots to make and my head feels in a much happier place to see them on the shelves. I've been struggling a bit with a negative head since I got back from Bideford.

I feel like I've not achieved much in the last couple of weeks, but in truth I've made lots of pots. Because it's all flatware it doesn't look like much, but there are loads of pots in reality. However, jugs is good!

Here's a load of clay I've processed that's come from the woods and field beside the workshop. There's probably about 50 kilos. It was still a little bit too soft to use today, but hopefully I can make with it in the morning - how exciting.

Thank you so much Jon and Jo for the beautiful books.

Goodnight all

Monday 22 September 2008


The blooming car blew up again this weekend - boo, more money down the drain. Oh well, all I can do is try and stay positive. Pretty tired today, had a gig on Saturday night, playing to a barn full of hippies and didn't get home until 4am - can't take the pace like I used to.

I got all the dinner plates and side plates decorated today. That's the main parts of the dinner service completed. Now I have to hope to get a matching set of six of everything through. There are actually three different designs, but they're all decorated with the same technique and will be glazed the same, so it'll be a mix and match service, rather than six of the same - I thought it would be more interesting that way. The first pieces are in the bisc kiln tonight.

Busy times in the countryside, the last few days have been beautiful sunshine, so the farmers are out in force making hay. I draw a lot of inspiration from the lines in the fields, made by the combine and the plough.

Friday 19 September 2008

Ceramics in the City

If you're in London over the next three days, try and get along to Ceramics in the City, where you'll get to see our very own Hannah.

Exhibitors are as follows:

Katie Adams, Leyla Folwell, Ramp, Adrienne Baba, Lisa Hammond, Penny Fowler
Lesley Risby, Svend Bayer, Margaret Gardiner, Ingrid Saag, Julian Belmonte
Georgia Shearman, Linda Bloomfield, Akiko Hirai, Laurance Simon, Karen Bunting
Imahiko Kawamura, Penny Simpson, John Butler, Hilary Laforce, Jenny Southam
Amy Cooper, Sophie MacCarthy, Pat Southwood, Prue Cooper, Hannah McAndrew
Yo Thom, Jane Cox, Agalis Manessi, Mark Titchiner, Ben Davies
Marcio Mattos, Motoko Wakana, Laura de Benedetti Bud, Emily Myers
Alistair Young, Annabel Faraday, Susan Nemeth, Stanley Field, Sue Paraskeva

Thursday 18 September 2008

Big 'uns

Two harvest jugs, one of them for a commission. These are about 18" tall so are some of the biggest pots I make. It's been pleasant getting back to making tall stuff after all that flatware of late.

The dinner service is all thrown, there's going to be a lot of finishing to do tomorrow, turning the backs of plates and applying the footrings - stuff all seems to dry out so suddenly when the sun shines.

Not that I'm complaining, the weather's been lovely today - sunshine's been in such short supply this year. It was that melancholic kind of sunshine this evening on the walk home.

The plants in the hedgerows made me think of some beautiful glass that I saw just here.

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Alan Gaff

This evening many of our blogging circle are stunned by the sad news of the death of Alan Gaff of Argyll Pottery. It's shocking news. The following words are from Hannah who knew him outside of this virtual world. What a tradgedy.

'I don't want to write this because I don't want to believe it. Nicola who works with Alan sent me an email today with the horrible news that Alan had an accident last night on his motorbike and has passed away. I know there were people reading the blogs who were starting to think of Alan as a friend since he started joining in with comments on our blogs and with his own. This is not much of a tribute as as you can imagine I am not really comprehending it. Nicola asked me to let people know and this I think is the way to reach as many people as I can. I can only say that my heart goes out to Alan's family and to Hugh and Nicola who he worked and laughed with. I will certainly miss his general mickey taking and the friendly rivalry of my low fired earthenware pots to his high fired stoneware.'

Paint : Mud : Wood

Monday 15 September 2008

Thank you Hannah!

Lucky me - look what arrived this morning in the post, thank you so much Hannah, why doesn't it work in my hands like it does in yours? As Ron would say, 'practice, practice, practice!'

12" dinner plates today, they'll hold a few potatoes - more of them to make tomorrow. I need to get the main components of the dinner service finished this week so that I can move on to the other things I need to make. Firing date's set for 11th October, so the pressure's on.

I got some of the clay from the woods mixed into a slip today. I'm going to pinch the kitchen sieve tomorrow to get rid of the worst of the stones and roots(hope Hil doesn't read this). My plan is to be using this clay for as much production as possible by Christmas if I can get the processing sorted out effectively. All these plans - well, only time will tell.

I'm really enjoying my walks home, there's lots of Toadflax around at the moment - I hadn't realised just how much my head benefits from the exercise.

Sunday 14 September 2008

Sunday dreaming

I want to build one of these - don't know how I'm going to afford it, but having fired the updraught kiln at Clay Art Wales and since, the one in Bideford, I'm realising that I've probably built the wrong kiln.

Certainly both of the updraught kilns have been a lot easier to fire than mine, stupid of me not to build to a design traditionally used to fire galena glazed earthenware, I guess I just didn't know what I was doing when I first set the workshop up.

That said, my current kiln does give me some fantastic results, but it's a lot more temperamental and difficult to control than the updraught.

My friend Matt(I called him my landlord the other day, but he's a great friend that owns my workshop) is keen to be involved with building it - it helps a lot that he's a builder, some of the brickwork in these kilns is extremely complicated to a simple boy like me.

So somehow I've to raise the capital, but if I can, I hope to have it running by this time next year - that's ambitious, but it's good goal to have.

So there are my thoughts this Sunday evening, happy Monday everyone, have a good week

That's my boy #2

Another video of my boy Luke at Nic's place the other day. It ain't pottery I know, but I'm so proud of him, it was the first time he'd ever sung in public.

Saturday 13 September 2008


Here are some of the decorated pots. Still lots to make next week to complete the dinner service.


This is how I practice decorating, lines drawn on a piece of board with slip wiped across it with a sponge. It's a good way of loosening up. I'd love to do some mono prints like this one day.

Friday surprise

Blogger Matt and Tig turned up at the workshop yesterday which was a lovely surprise.
Matt made a quick jug, then blasted it with the gas burner to get the handle on. I'll have to slip it for him on Monday. He's coming back to help with the firing in October, so it'll be good to have one of his pots in the kiln.

You can see some of Matt's pots which are for sale on Tig's site as well as lots of other goodies, buy now for Christmas! Check here.

His mum and dad and sis came by today too, it was lovely to see all those Grimmitts. I got out a few of my old Winchcombe pots the other day when Hannah was here and they were still in a box on our living room floor, so I was able to show the Grimmitts some of my collection of pots made by their ancestor, the amazing Elijah Comfort. I'll take some photos of them and post them in the next few days.

Last night went to a private view of paintings by a friend of mine, Greg Mason,(his daughter Jessica came to me for work experience a few weeks ago). What a talented painter, he has a blog right here


I've started making pots for my next exhibition at Gallery 86 in Crediton, if you'd like an invitation, drop me an email and I'll make sure you're added to the mailing list.

The show is with two painters, Heather Cutler and Carrie Clark and my fellow Love Daddy, Paul Cook. It opens on October 18th,.

Paul's making a huge table, benches and chairs. The table's going to be set with an extensive dinner service that I'm making. I'm really enjoying throwing some runs of tableware again, it seems like ages since I've done any repetition like this, it's a good discipline.

Here are some of the pots from this week's make.


I've been enjoying walking home from the workshop again of late.

The weather was beautiful on Thursday evening, such a change from the deluge we've experienced throughout most of the summer. Hil and the boys have survived their return to school and I've managed to slip back into a sensible work routine at last. Well fairly sensible, long hours, but fulfilling and enjoyable. My head's in a much better place now.

The season's moving along now, autumn's in the air and the hedgerows are heavy with fruits and berries. I enjoy autumn with its rich earthenware tones.

Devon's a beutiful place to live, I'm such a lucky man.

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Made some pots!!!

I've put this first picture on here of my landlord Matt and his new pup Digger
for Beck as I know she loves little baby animals, what a sweet little hound.

Wet pots on the shelf at last - tankards - not that I really need tankards, but it took the pressure off a bit making something I don't need - does that make sense? Anyway I got a dozen bowls made too. I'm struggling a bit with my head at the moment, but this is a good start to getting back on track.

The rest of the day's been spent getting the place sorted out for production again. Bideford was great fun, but it's set me back rather as it was a week without making any pots and now I have to get back to the serious business of trying to pay the bills. I've an exhibition in October to make for and a whole load of commissions. The next few weeks are going to be busy busy busy.

Hannah gave me this beautiful little jug from the Bideford firing.

And here's a bowl of mine from the kiln. There are a lot more pictures from the event over at Blogger Paul's.

More wet pots tomorrow - hoorah.

Monday 8 September 2008

Cheers Hannah

Hannah went back home to Scotland this morning. It's been great having her down. We worked and talked pottery late into the night last night, finishing some mugs we made earlier in the week.

Hannah decorated some of mine and I decorated some of hers. It seemed really odd to both of us to see each other's decorative styles on one another's work. She's such an amazing decorator, if Mary Wondrausch is the Queen of Slipware, Hannah is the princess. Cheers Hannah, come again soon.

Bideford pots

This is one of Marky Mark's bowls that came out really well.

One of three spectacular jugs made by my good friend Simon Hancox.

Pictures from Bideford

Philip unpacking the kiln

Henry admiring Hannah's jug - that one's a really beautiful pot, there's a close up of it on Hannah's blog

Svend's jug and Paul Young's as it was passed out of the kiln.