Saturday 31 January 2009

Thanks to a great team

Everything went really well I think - tomorrow I'll know.

I had help from a great team - Matt and Different Dave chainsawing


and Jessica stoking

Too much smoke I think

Cones over at about 10.30

Thank you to a great team.

Tired out today zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thursday 29 January 2009


It's been another very long day today, glazing and packing the kiln.

It was fantastic having Alex's help.

By the time Marky Mark arrived this evening, we'd finished stacking the back which is the hardest bit as it demands lots of climbing in and out of the kiln.

Then we worked hard to finish the front. It's full, - there were a few pots left over, so they'll make the next firing in March.

The gas burner's in overnight to drive away any moisture and we'll start first thing in the morning.

Matt's coming down to help. Check out this great page all about him on the Ceramike site.

Marky Mark is joining us later in the day and Jess is going to come up in the evening for a shift. During her time with me she'll have dug and processed clay, made pots, mixed slip, mixed glaze and fired the kiln.

Off to bed, cross your fingers for me!

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Late night glazing

Well it's been a looooooooooong day's work, fourteen hours in fact, so a quick post and some pics before bed.

Jess decorating the bowls she threw last week.

Alex with the collaborative jugs he's working on with Alice Kettle

Lots of pots glazed - many more to do in the morning and a kiln to pack.

I've got lots of replies to post on here, sorry, I'll get to it this weekend, thank you for taking the time to place comments.

Hollis(who was asking about Hil's soup), I'll get that recipe sorted and Adam(who was asking about my clay), go for some red mud! I use clay from the woods near the workshop for the smaller stuff, and a blend of Valentines red and Exeter brick clay for large pieces.

Happy Thursday all

Yesterday's news

Off to work in a mo, but here's yesterday's news.

Life's craaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy at the moment, preparing for Friday's firing and desperately trying to pull together my paperwork to submit my tax return before Saturday's deadline - nasty!

Jessica is with me today and Alex will be arriving just after lunch, so we'll be in a frenzy of glazing.

Here's a little sgrafitto jug

The place where I went yesterday to get my hardwood. Got to fly, my lift's arrived.

Happy birthday yesterday little sis

Bye for now

Monday 26 January 2009

Happy New Year!

To celebrate Chinese new year, Hil got the wok out and cooked up some tasty Oriental style chicken and sweetcorn soup, served here in a bowl made by my great friend and hero, Clive Bowen.

Happy New Year China!

Sunday 25 January 2009

Sprigs and slips

Wonder what this mad looking pot will come out like. Maybe too mad? Time will tell.

Here's the wet slip on the sprigs...........

and here it is as it's drying.


Here are some shallow dishes due for Friday's firing

Not sure if this'll work, it's simply three dandelion leaves. They look like spearheads or fish.

More leafy stuff.

Fingerwiper lines through white, to black slip beneath.

Dodgy sketching and slippy pitchers

Here are some pictures of the four baluster jugs that I decorated on Friday.

After I'd decorated the jugs, I found a sketchbook with scribbled ideas from back in November - I'd forgotten about these scrappy drawings - as it turned out, they're pretty much the designs I used for the jugs.

It's dreadful drawing I know, but I understand what the scribbles mean. Drawing is so important, I try to scribble something every day. Roll on springtime so that I can start my day with the ritual of a cup of tea on the bench and a scrawl on some paper with a permanent marker.

This one's going to be predominantly bare clay, with a bib of slip and glaze and a dusting of copper carbonate for a green speckle. I plan to put this at the top of the kiln where it'll get a good blast which will hopefully leave interesting flame marks on the naked clay.

This one has a black slip, which is combed through to reveal the white slip beneath.

This is a green slip, over a black slip, with combing through the green, back to the black.

And this is a white slip, combed back to the black - the drawing looks like I intended to use sprigs, the jug has 'deer prints' instead.

Then I remembered that I actually made these designs in the last firing - (thought they seemed familiar!), but some of those pots turned an unpleasant brown and wound up in the Christmas sale - the others have been at my photographer friend Johnny's place ever since.

So, I went and grabbed the pots this morning and took them to Bideford to the Burton Art Gallery, where I have a showcase until 22nd Feb. It felt like having new work, nice. Unfortunately my chum was on his way out so I didn't get time to get the images, I'll post them when I do.

Not quite sure what was going on here - good job I only made four jugs I think!

Thursday 22 January 2009


This is one of my shallow dishes, a tribute to my hero Michael Cardew. The little yellow plate in the back ground was made by Elijah Comfort at Michael Cardew's Winchcombe Pottery in the 1930's. I've told this tale before, but here it is again because it's relevant.

Elijah refused to decorate his pots and so his pieces were always decorated by either Michael Cardew or my old friend, the late great, Sid Tustin. I showed the little yellow plate to Sid once and another I have that was decorated by Cardew. The decoration on the Cardew one had much more of a flow to it than Sid's. Putting the two pots side by side, Sid said to me 'Ah, Michael always could lick me with a comb!' - Well, me too I'm sorry to say!

Elijah's great, great grandson, my good friend Blogger Matt Grimmitt has an exhibition of his great slipware in amongst the historical pottery collection of Worcester Museum. Try and get along if you get a chance. Here's the info:

7th Jan - 9th March 2009 - Solo Show
Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum.
Forgate Street,
01905 25372

It's been another long day for me today, but a good one, with Marky Mark joining me again for the evening session. Amongst other things, I managed to get three of more of these baluster jugs made, blasted with the gas burner, handled, blasted, then slipped.

Now to try and dry them and bisc fire them succesfully in time for next week's firing. I like these ones. Every shape has its own challenges - this one, how to make the pots so that they're not too heavy at the waist, but robust enough so that they don't start to whip during throwing as they're narrow footed, but tall and slender. It means getting to the shape as quickly as possible, without messing about too much and tiring the clay. The necks are thrown seperately, then added and rethrown on the toughened pot - itself a tricky process, but the more I make, the 'easier' it becomes. Practice. It went well today so I'm feeling happy. The pots I made last Saturday were so important, not because they were particularly great, but because they ensured that I would have a full kiln load of pots ready. Now that anxiety has been extinguished, I'm enjoying my potting much more - typical, I've got to stop making tomorrow and get on with organising other things, glaze etc, timber etc.

New pots soon woooooooohoooooooooooooo, got no pots, got no money, can't wait!

Happy Friday all

Wednesday 21 January 2009


Frosty again this morning on the seat of learning.

Leaf resist was order of the day again - It's a simple and effective technique.

Jessica was with me today. She's worked very hard at her throwing and it's been paying off. I was so pleased with her, she just got straight on with it and made some fantastic bowls. It was lovely to see her dad so proud of her too when he picked her up this evening. For me it's been really rewarding watching her skills develop - as a traditionalist I feel a need to pass my knowledge and experience on, for what it's worth.

I made this big baluster jug this evening. It might make the firing - I'm going to carry on making this week, maybe some more of these tomorrow. Anything that doesn't make this firing can go in the next one in a few weeks time. It's important to keep the pressure on, I've a lot of commitments to shows etc. this year and it will be so good to get some stock together and for once be really ahead of the game - ha ha, fat chance.

I spent ages adding all this applied deco to some jugs yesterday and managed to destroy one this evening by force drying it too fiercely beside the wood burner. This one's survived so far.

Pots in the kiln mouth. Not many days to go until Fiery Friday.

Worked a long day today, Marky Mark came up for a few hours this evening, same again tomorrow. Nice jumper mate.

Tuesday 20 January 2009


Still finding inspiration in much of the plant life that's in the nearby meadow - these ended up in some of my applied deco today in their own little way.

This is the field where I walk Digger every day. You must be getting bored of pictures of winter grass, but I love it in that meadow. There aren't many places that are just left to go wild these days.

Been slipping today. These pancheons will be unglazed on the outside and then fired rim to rim at the top of the kiln so that the outsides get the full benefit of the marks left by the flame. I'll put little wads of clay around the rim to keep them apart, hopefully the marks left behind when these are removed will create an interesting decorative effect.

The sun shone and for the first time in ages(although it doesn't look like it on this photo), I was able to sit on the bench and do some drawing.

Snowdrops in the workshop garden.

That's all for now except to send....


Let's hope for a better world.

Monday 19 January 2009


A quicky as I've promised Joe I'll play Cluedo.

Here's today's efforts........

Made some tall 'medieval' jugs.

Lots of applied deco

I look like some crazy tramp! Came home, had a shave.

Saturday 17 January 2009

Weekend working

Just in from work, quick bath, then out again to my brother's place down near Plymouth. Here are a few random shots of stuff that's going on in the workshop at the moment - it's looking a lot more likely I'll get a kiln load finished in time for the firing on 30th Jan after today's efforts.

This is today's make, pancheons and shallow dishes of various size and proportion, the largest dish is about 16 inches across, which is as wide as will fit in my bisc kiln.

Finger wipe deco on a 3 pound jar.

Green slip combed on a 6 pound jar

Big tankard with applied deco

Force drying a pancheon - lots of that going on at the moment.

And another big tankard, inspired by my walk through the orchard.

Got to go, more soon

Happy Sunday all.