Saturday 28 February 2009

Gnarly Nic

The countdown continues to Nic's Spring on-line show.

Check it out here.


Well that's the end of a tiring but fulfilling week in the workshop. My legs feel stiff tonight, which is a sign that I need to do more exercise - I've been taking too many lifts through the winter months.

This week I've been walking through lanes and across fields to work, it's been great to get back out into the countryside again. The fields are being ploughed ready to be sown with the seeds for this year's crops.

Things are changing at a pace, Spring's definitely on its way which is good for the head and the heart, if not the legs. This is the little road bridge over Hollywater, that I cross every day and when I walk, is always a place I stop for quiet contemplation. The snowdrops, that have been spectacular, will soon make way for the primroses.

Primroses are probably my favourite flowers of all, a sign of the birth of the new season. The hedgerows will be full of them in a couple of weeks.

I made six of these harvest jugs this week. This picture shows an old bloke putting the scroll onto the base of the handle. This is a simple decorative element traditionally applied to the harvest jugs of Devon.

And here are three of the six.

Off into Exeter tomorrow to see some crowds. I love being alone in my countryside hideaway, but sometimes it does me good to get into the city - it would be easy to become a complete recluse.

Lunch somewhere nice to celebrate Luke's birthday, then we're going to watch Exeter City play footy in the afternoon, c'mon City!

He was very happy with the plaudits by the way, thank you.

Happy weekend everybody

Thursday 26 February 2009


What a mad week it's been, late to bed every night. Luke finished assembling his sketchbook at about midnight last night - it looks great, loads of photos, drawings and research.

Hil's inspection went really well today so she's taking it a bit easier this evening. They were only told that they were going to be inspected on Monday, so it's thrown upon them without much warning. Fortunately she's very good at keeping her paperwork in order, so the last few nights she's been checking through everything just to make sure nothing had been overlooked. All was good. It's stressful though, I can't see why anybody would want to teach.

Guess who? This is Luke's other GCSE coursework that he submitted today along with his model. He did this a few weeks ago, when I was bearded. He's worked really hard at his painting techniques. This one's acrylic on canvas, he did some great watercolour landscape work too.

He'll be sixteen on Sunday - no wonder there's so much white hair in my beard.

I've not got much made today as I had admin stuff to do this morning before walking to the workshop - just a couple of harvest jugs. The walk gave me time to think about how I was going to decorate the big jugs I made earlier in the week. There are three more that had their first coat of slip today, they'll get a second coat in the morning.

These three are finishhed and drying on the shelf. This one has a white slip, which is mottled green with copper carbonate, which is sprinkled on while the slip is wet.

The applied decoration on this one....

will break through the surface of the slip on its high points.

I've done this decoration before, but have yet to get one through the kiln the way that I want it - maybe this time.

Jessica came up this evening and unpacked her kiln load of pots. We put them in the electric kiln because they hadn't been dry enough to make it into the last woodfiring and it's still a few weeks until the next wood kiln burn up. She had some fantastic results, I think she was really happy, I certainly was, I'm proud of what she's achieving. It's so satisfying seeing how her skills are coming along, particularly the way that she's mastered the concept when decorating, of taking some very basic elements and using them in a simple but clever way. There was a lot of good stuff to learn from that batch of pots, so I expect she'll be back next week with lots of ideas about where to take it next. Very pleasing - I guess that's what makes people want to teach - ah, I get it!

Happy Friday all

Wednesday 25 February 2009


This computer's in demand tonight, Luke's frantically printing out stuff for his sketchbook ready to hand it in tomorrow for his GCSE and Hil's preparing for her OFSTED inspection in the morning poor thing, so short but sweet this one.

I'm really proud of what Jessica's achieving. Here she is fettling a batch of egg cups that she's made. There'll be more about these on a later post. She has a lot of shiny new pots that will be coming out of the electric kiln tomorrow evening too, so exciting stuff.

I was invited to see the three-day old lambs at the farm nextdoor this evening - aaaaw, bless 'em.

And here is Luke's GCSE piece, fired, finished and fabulous.

Good lad Luke, a well deserved success.

He's got lots of great ideas for his next models and can't wait to do some more - the boy has a future in this game I think, time for me to retire and hand over the reins.

And finally, Happy Birthday Blogger Matt, hope you have a good 'un.

Well it wasn't that short in the end, but it was sweet.


Worked really late tonight. Luke came up and glazed his other model which took until 10.30. It's in the kiln now so will be out in the morning, hopefully looking as good as the last one.

I made another five of these big jugs. The tallest is just under 20", which is as tall as the chamber of my biscuit kiln, but they'll shrink a fair bit as they dry so that's fine.

Jessica's with me tomorrow daytime and Marky Mark in the evening, so I'll have plenty of company. Today it was just me, the Nuthatch and the Woodpecker.

I want to try and get some huge fat jugs made tomorrow if I can, then that'll be most of the big stuff made. The next firing will be some time around 27th March.

Right now though, Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

Monday 23 February 2009


It's been busy times here lately. Alex and Steve came on Friday to do more work on the film. It was interview stuff and I rambled and stumbled and stuttered over my words. I wish I was better at saying what I want to say, I always think to myself afterwards, I wish I'd said this, or I wish I hadn't said that - oh well, too late now, hopefully my pots will speak better than I do.

Saturday morning we went to the little church in Stockleigh English to deliver the Flower Ladies jug.

The jug's been in the workshop for quite a while, so it was a great to see it in its new home, made me feel quite emotional. The Flower Ladies met me there and I was able to hand it over to them. I hope it'll be there for a long time to come.

Saturday night I played with the Love Daddies, which was quite bad really. With a bit of help from some bad mixing from the sound men, the smoking ban and our under-rehearsed set, we managed to clear the hall fairly successfully. A shame really, we'd put a lot of effort in to it. Good job I'm used to that kind of thing - pottery's so often the same, loads of hard work just to end up with a disappointing outcome. It was the early hours by the time we'd broken down the kit and cleaned the hall up. Maybe I'm just getting too old for all that stuff.

Sunday evening I took Luke up to the workshop so he could glaze his GCSE model. The tree broke off before it was fired, so he made another model, enabling him to use this one as a glaze test, so we popped it in the kiln last night. More of that shortly.

Today I added the applied decoration to the big jug I made last week.....

....and threw a big baluster jug. I'll be making more big jugs tomorrow.

The next firing will be pots for the Derby Boys show at the Long Room Gallery, Winchcombe, with my college contemporaries Nic Collins and Simon Hancox.

I have to go to Scotland in three weeks to do a demo for the Scottish Potters Association(scary), so I want to get all the big stuff made before then.

And now to end this rambling post, the highlight - some pictures of Luke's model that came out of the kiln today. I'm very proud of him. He was thrilled by all the comments that folk left for him on earlier posts by the way, thank you.

I think he'll be getting a good grade, he deserves it, he's worked hard.

His other one will be out of the kiln on Wednesday, ready to submit for his exam by Thursday's deadline - that's either cutting it fine, or great planning - hmm, think I know which.

Happy Tuesday all.

Friday 20 February 2009

Back in the groove

Luke decided he ought to make another model just in case the other doesn't come through the kiln successfully, so he's worked really hard on it this week.

He finished it tonight. His first one is in the kiln bisc firing. It'll be out in the morning, so fingers crossed.

I went up to Cookie's workshop this afternoon to help with the backdrop for Saturday's gig. His workshop is in an idyllic setting, an old barn in a semi-derelict Victorian farm yard. Joe, my younger son came too and played with two of Cookie's children. Here's Joe, wearing my work jacket.

And here's Cookie, executing some energetic brush strokes, he made a great job of it.

This evening Marky Mark came up to the workshop. I got started with making the next kiln load. In at the deep end with a big tapered jug. This one's about 20 inches high. I fancy making some ridiculously tall ones.

Lack of confidence and self doubt can be very destructive sometimes. This jug seemed to go pretty well though, so my head's in a much better place tonight than it was. Just as well, Alex and Steve are coming tomorrow to do some more work on the film. It's good to be making again, I really needed the break.

Wednesday 18 February 2009


Evening all

Just to say I've been off line for a few days, but all's fine, I'm just feeling a bit burned out at the moment.

The demo went well last weekend I think, although I had a nasty migraine the night before and throuhout the day because I'd got myself so stressed - ridiculous. A great pity because I ended up spending most of the time at my parents' place, in bed. Anyway, thank you to everyone who came and many thanks to the folks who bought pots. A special thank you to Sam and James for the fantastic honey.

Since I got back I've barely been to the workshop. Monday I tidied the place up and sorted it out a bit in readiness for the next big make, but the rest of the week I've been busy with the family as it's half term holidays. A couple of evenings I've been with the band, tightening up some new songs for a gig at the weekend. It'll be the first of the year for us and with a lot of new songs that I still don't know how to play yet. The band's a very important part of my life. We've been together for a few years now so it's like having a second family - We drive each other crazy too!

I just haven't been able to think about pottery very much - needed a break for a few days. I'll work late tomorrow night with Marky Mark which will probably give me the burst of positive energy that I need to get started again.

So no pot pictures, but here's one of the Love Daddies at the Aeon Festival back last year in the soggy summer.

Maybe some pots tomorrow, in the meantime, love to all.

Saturday 14 February 2009

Tuesday 10 February 2009

My boy Luke

Not much blogging action so far this week. I've not been up to the workshop in days, my head's been in a bit of a funny place - time of year and all that.

Instead, I've put my time into revamping my slide show ready for my demo at the Dacorum and Chiltern Potters Guild this Friday. I feel much better this evening, so it's off to work in the morning. Jessica will be there tomorrow, so I'll have some company.

Incidentally, my computer's been on a go slow and keeps crashing, so if I owe you an email, please forgive me, I'll be on the case asap.

My older son Luke is currently working on a GCSE art project. His brief was to choose an artist and create his own interpretation of their work. He chose to work in clay and based his studies on my good friend Paul Young's modelling, such as the piece in the picture above.

Paul takes influence from nineteenth century Staffordshire flatbacks

and eighteenth century Pew Groups.

So Luke did some research and has made a modern representation of a pew group, in a style influenced by PY.

As you can see in the image, the original features a couple sitting on a pew, with the man playing a woodwind instrument to the woman. Luke decided to put a twist on this, with the woman clasping her ears with an expression of startled alarm....

while the man serenades her with his guitar. Is this a scene that he's witnessed at home perhaps?

I think he's made a cracking job of it, I'm very proud of him. All we have to do now is get it to the workshop and through the kiln in one piece - oh, and sort out the glaze chemistry, eek.

Sunday 8 February 2009

Old Nic

It was Nic's birthday yesterday, happy birthday old man.

Here's a video from his latest blog, leading up to his Spring on-line show. It features one of my favourite tunes from my youth, good ol' Johnny Lydon, voice like an angel.

You can see more of what Nic's up to right here

Friday 6 February 2009

White out night out

Last night was Love Daddy practice night, so Daddy Simon, our guitarist and I headed off with our singer, Cookie, to John the Drums' place in a neighbouring village, where we rehearse in the Love Daddies Jamming Room, a sound insulated space in the downstairs of a converted barn.

We've been writing and rehearsing new material for a gig we're doing in a couple of weeks.

As the evening drew on, one of the new tunes wasn't working quite right, so we stopped for cup of tea. It's not very rock and roll I know, but we're all old men.

Upon emerging from the Room of Rock into the real world outside, we discovered the snow had been coming down and that already a good blanket had settled. There are no windows in the jam room and when we're in there we're in our own little Love Daddy world. We realised that we needed to head home. In retrospect, we should have stayed there.

As we headed off into the wilderness of the Devon countryside, it became increasingly apparent that getting home was going to be very difficult. Cookie took the wise decision that we should head for the main road, so we slipped and slid our way there.

The snow got heavier. The main road was disappearing fast beneath a layer of snow and we slid sideways past a number of cars that were stuck, with their wheels spinning, standing still. What to do? There was no point in stopping to try and help, we'd have been stuck too, so with some very scary, but skilled driving from Cookie, we persevered until we reached the ancient bridge at Bickleigh where there are two pubs, The Fisherman's Cot and The Trout.

We first went to The Cot as we knew that they have a lot of rooms there and it had become clear by now that we were not going to make it home.

Would you let these three wise men across your threshold in the middle of the night in a blizzard? Well the jobsworth manager at the snobby Fisherman's Cot wouldn't and in spite of our pleas, turned us back out into the blizzard. I'll not be using that establishment again.

What has become of humanity? I blame Thatcher and television. We Daddies just spread the word of Love.

So we abandoned the car and walked along the road to The Trout Inn, where we were welcomed by the barman and barmaid, who were oblivious to the deteriorating conditions outside. They realised at this stage that they too were stuck and called the owner down from his quarters upstairs. Understanding our desperate plight, he agreed that we could share a room for £10 each for the night. What a top man, I'll be dropping off a little pottery something to him during the next few days.

So after a few drinks in the bar with the stranded staff, we headed to our room, where Simon and I agreed to share the double bed.......

.....allowing Cookie the single (which he shared with a glass of ale) on account of his heroic driving. It was a brilliant bit of driving too, well done Cookie, I'm glad we went in his car, I couldn't have kept my cool had I have been driving.

The situation was all a bit too much like Planes, Trains and Automobiles for my liking. Both Daddy Si and Cookie snored really badly, so it was a fairly sleepless night.

This morning we hit the road again and struggled back to our homes, where there was no electricity as the power lines were down. The snowploughs had been out, but the cars that had skidded to a halt in front of us last night on the most exposed part of the main road, were still there. Well done Cookie for saving us from a freezing night, stuck in a car like many folk in this area experienced.

Snowed in at a pub - ha, likely story.

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Optimistic Wednesday

Had a good sort out today and got rid of the bad pots into a pile. Jess was good company for an old man with a grumpy head. It's been a day for getting to know the ones that came out well.

And the good ones have worked really, really well, great glaze quality - galena is such a glassy glaze.

Black and gold

Puzzle jugs.

Worked late tonight, making pressed dishes, more of them tomorrow. Time for bed, goodnight.