Wednesday 29 April 2009

More shed news

Here's Marky Mark last night, building the new kiln shed. We worked until it was too dark to see the bubble in the spirit level.

I carried on with it today, adding the window and surrounding woodwork in my usual bodged rustic style, assembled gently with some six inch nails and a tube of Gripfill. When it's finished it'll be symmetrical, a window each side, with double ledge and brace doors hung in the centre of the two windows. I really should be making pots, maybe tomorrow. One thing's for sure, if I don't start soon I'll be under pressure to get everything made ready for the next firing at the end of May. Fortunately I work better under pressure.

If you look in front of the new bit of shed, you'll notice a very fine cane leaning against the wall. It was sent to me by my blogging chum and wood carver, Clay Perry. I'm chuffed to bits with it, thank you Clay.

Here's a close up of the carving.

Now this has made me feel really guilty, because weeks ago, I made Clay a mug in exchange, but have yet to send it. I'm so useless at getting stuff in the post. Trouble is, I'm away to work before the Post Office opens in the village, then I get home after it's closed. We only have one car which Hil needs to get to work in the opposite direction, so I either walk or get a lift. I'm then stuck at the workshop all day until I either walk the three miles home, or get picked up.

So we've decided to get a second car and I can only hope that it helps me to get more organised.

Thanks again Clay, I'll be sending your mug - and sorry too Debbie if you read this, I'll be sending your jug too.

Monday 27 April 2009


I got home from Buxton in the early hours of the morning, so today's been a bit of a lazy one, in fact I went back to bed for a couple of hours because I was so tired.

This afternoon I returned the hire van, then went to the workshop this evening to start the huge task of getting my chaotic workshop back into some kind of order, so that I can start making pots again this week - it's been a long time since I've made any.

Ceramics in the Round was fairly quiet at the weekend. I couldn't find my camera during the show, but here's a picture of what I took with me on the track outside the workshop that I took before I left.

I was lucky that my pots sold well because I know it wasn't a great show for everybody. These shows are unpredictable and you never really know how well things are going to go, it depends so much on whether the right people come through the door. Sometimes it can be great, but others, really disheartening. I've had my fair share of disappointments in the past and no doubt will again in the future, so I feel fortunate that it was my turn to have struck lucky this time and empathise with some of my friends who had a frustrating experience this weekend.

A big thank you to anybody reading this who bought pots, I hope you're happy with them and that they've settled in to their new homes. If you're new to this blog and you have time on your hands, check back through old posts and I expect you'll find your pots when they were freshly thrown, wet clay.

The venue for Ceramics in the Round, was a remarkable 18th century building called the Devonshire Dome, which had very peculiar acoustics.

Hannah, Sabine and I stayed with friends in their beautiful cottage in the depths of rural Derbyshire, thank you very much for having us Dave and Sue.

I came home with this beautiful jug that Hannah slipped into my packing crates when I was packing down at the end of the show. It's a beauty, I love it, thank you so much H. It's reminiscent of a the jug in the V&A that turned me on to slipware when I was a student. The composition is superb and the execution of the sliptrailing, faultless as ever.

I also came home with this fabulous platter made by an old friend of mine, Dylan Bowen. I think his work is brilliant - wonderful use of materials. He has a really interesting website where David Whiting summarises his work much better than I can, so check him out here.

Well it's the middle of the night again so I really must end this rambling and disjointed blog and get to bed. Working late tomorrow with Jessica and Marky Mark, but I'll try and get on here when I get home as I know I've some questions to answer. Who knows, I may even have some shiny wet pots to show you if I can dig my wheel out from under all the junk. Cheers for now.

Wednesday 22 April 2009


Ang was asking what's going on with this little shed. Well originally I put it up as a little lean-to in which I was going to process the clay from the woods, but since then it's developed into a small place which will be used to store and display finished work. At present, all my finished pots have to live in my grubby workshop.

Alongside the new shed, you may be able to work out the kiln shed window on this grainy picture. This is going to be turned into a door and will lead into another shed that I'll start building next week. I need more space and I've been wanting to build these extensions for years.

I'm using scavenged materials, the majority of which has come from the recycling centre a few miles from here. The picture's dark because I was working until late tonight, trying to get the place cleared up a bit before heading off to Buxton for this weekend's show, Ceramics in the Round. I made the small bench infront of the shed with pots on today as one of my display plinths for the Buxton show.

It's about time that I made some new pots, this blog seems to be about everything but at the moment. I'll be getting busy with that next week.

Tuesday 21 April 2009

Cookie's back

After nearly a year off-line, my good friend and fellow Love Daddy, Paul Cook is back with some beautiful new work on his blog, which is entitled Wood Art Words.

Check him out

Sunday 19 April 2009


I had a lovely time visiting my mate Frank(who is really called Andrew Grundon - it's a long story) and his family. We took a trip to Port Issac yesterday as Frank had to meet up with a guy from the production company that make the tv series Doc Martin. I've never seen it, I'm not a big tv watcher, but I'm told it's a good show. It's filmed in Port Issac. Frank is doing the signwriting for some of the buildings that are being used in the series.

Here he is in his workshop with one of them, a huge sign for an establishment called Large Restaurant. He's a very talented man my mate Frank/Andrew. I've put this slideshow on before, but I'm putting it on again for the benefit of anyone who might not have seen it last time.

Back home last night, then to the car boot sale in Exeter today. I managed to find some louvre doors for the next bit of workshop building.

But here is a shot of today's greatest bootsale bargain - a very fine 19th century pitcher made at the Fishley's pottery in Fremington, North Devon.


Friday 17 April 2009

Off to Cornwall

Heading off to Cornwall in a mo to see my mate Frank. Running late, but here are a couple of pics uploaded quickly before I go.

These are Jessica's pots that she made earlier in the week, she was very productive

And here's Marky Mark painting the new shed last night. We were painting until the sun went down. None of the timberwork is treated, so I was keen to get some primer on before the summer of rain comes along. It won't be quite so white when it's finished. Once I've sorted the floor out, I'll be able to finish the walls off - I'm doing everything back to front here.

Right, got to go, I'm late - happy weekends all.

Tuesday 14 April 2009

Back to work...just

I went to work this afternoon. It seems like ages since I was there last, but it was only Friday.

The last few days have been great, doing family stuff, walking on the beach, lunching in town and watching our local team Exeter City win a really important footy match in front of a capacity crowd - hurrah!

I do feel guilty when I don't go to work, but having had a much more successful firing recently has bought me a bit of time instead of a big shard heap and a panic to make replacements. Nevertheless, lots to get organized before Ceramics in the Round in Buxton a week on Saturday.

Luke's been doing some more modelling, practising for his GCSE art exam that he has to look forward to on Monday. I'm sure he'll do really well with it, he's very good with clay as anybody who remembers his coursework back in February will recall. I'll put a picture of his piece on when it's finished.

My boys are growing up so fast, I want to enjoy spending time with them before they decide they don't want to hang about with Mum and Dad any more - I'm sure that will all start when girlfriends arrive on the scene. With Joe at fourteen and Luke sixteen, that probably won't be long.

I didn't get a lot done today as it was mid afternoon before I got to the workshop - a bit of slipping on some small jugs and some bowls I made last week, slipped and decorated. I got a few more bowls thrown too which I'll decorate in the morning. It's a start anyway.

These little jugs are made from two pounds of clay...

and the bowls, five pounds.

Jess is coming tomorrow so I'll put in a full day, it'll be nice to see her and a good motivator for me too. I'm going to be teaching her how to make plates as I have an order for some and so does she.

I just wish I could take time off without feeling guilty about it, oh well, that's just the way it is.

Finally, thank you Peter in New Zealand for the Kreativ Blogger Award, you make some very beautiful jugs Peter, very fine indeed.

Happy Wednesday all.

Sunday 12 April 2009

Easter Greetings

We took a stroll in the countryside this afternoon.

It's been a beautiful, sunny, Spring day in Devon.

The woods are bursting with new life. Bluebell season has just begun.

Primroses festoon the banks alongside the lanes.

The buds on the apple trees in the orchard are beginning to open, above dandelions and daisies, bright in the afternoon sunshine.

We paid a visit to the little church in Stockleigh English where the harvest jug I made has been returned to the window ledge, following its rest for lent.

Maybe a few pots tomorrow, or maybe another day with the family - very tempting, we've had a lovely few days.

Happy Easter everybody.

Friday 10 April 2009

Home again

We're back in rainy Devon again after a whistle stop tour around England, taking in Winchcombe, Evesham, Bolton, Blackpool and Bedford. I've become quite a traveller of late, in contrast to my generally reclusive tendencies. It was lovely to see our extended family, albeit briefly.

The Derby Boys show was enjoyable and it was a great pleasure to see our work displayed together. Here we are, each clutching one of our student pieces, made way back in 1980-something. With us is Tim Willey, who was our lecturer at Derby College. He's holding one of my jugs that he kindly purchased from the show.

Tim was a huge influence on me when I was a student. He introduced me to the West Country tradition of slipware and country pottery. These are influences that have been at the core of my work ever since. He also taught me about good handle making - he had inherited these skills from the late, great, Sidney Tustin of Winchcombe Pottery when he was a student.

The show continues for another week, until April 18th. Some of the pots can be seen here on John Edgeler's site.

So yesterday I was back at work. Marky Mark came over and we spent the day getting soaked, whilst bodging together the end wall of the little storeroom. It looks pretty shabby at the moment, but once it's had a coat of paint and there are plants growing up it, I think it'll be fine.

Hil and the boys are off school for Easter and as ever during holiday times, I find it hard to drag myself away to the workshop. Nevertheless, it has to happen today, if only for a short while as I've things to do, so I'll sign out now, grab a bite to eat, then head off to Hollyford for a few hours of potting.


Friday 3 April 2009


Evening all. Thank all very much for your kind comments.

I was so pleased to get a successful firing at last. Hopefully the damp issue is resolved for ever. Planning the pack much better this time would seem to have paid off too.

John Edgeler came on Wednesday and collected a lot of the pots to take to The Long Room Gallery, ready for tomorrow's opening. I'm really looking forward to it. Nic and Simon will be travelling over/up too.

I'm chuffed that twenty odd years after Simon, Nic and I were knocking about together in Derby, we're at last doing a show together.

It was a wonderful course that we had the privilege of studying all those years ago, properly funded and really thoroughly taught by passionate tutors who had great skills and expertise. There were only a few students in each year group, so there was plenty of everything to go around. Golden days.

This is some of the stuff I've been taking inspiration from in recent months. Winter provides bare bones and structure. The countryside's changing rapidly at the moment - we've had some beautiful spring sunshine recently. I'm looking forward to walking the lanes in the next few weeks and seeking inspiration to make some Spring pots.

Here are a couple of jugs from the firing. I couldn't find my camera when John came to take my pots away, so didn't get to photograph them.

These are of some that I still have here. John took some pictures however and is going to give me copies. I'll post some at a later date.

Andy asked how the pressed dishes had come out. Here's a picture that probably explains it as well as words. Some were ok, some were awful. They're something I need to do some work on. Most of my decoration is done through very wet slip on vertical forms and relies upon gravity to help move the slip around in a dribbly fashion. Of course, on flat surfaces this is completely different, so I've yet to find my feet with it. The next kiln is going to contain a lot of flatware, which will force me to sort it out.

Other news.......

Different Dave came over on Thursday and helped me to slam together the front wall of the little lean-to we built a little while ago. The blue sack in the foreground contains the clay that was dug out when sinking in the door post. I have a big old 1950's glazed shop door with brass furniture that will hang from it. It's mahogany and mighty heavy, so we had to dig down deep, into the beautiful clay before we concreted the post in.

The shed's all made from salvage materials as you can doubtless tell. It'll all be given a paint job and have stuff growing up it eventually so it should look quite sweet in a rustic sort of way.

Until recently I've been storing saggars in there, but it's going to be a place to keep my finished work when it's done. Not really big enough to call a 'showroom', but it'll be a place to display and store my pots, rather than keeping them on the top shelf in the workshop like they are at present, taking up valuable space and often resulting in the pots getting splattered with clay.

This is what the pots will look like through the little windows - how quaint.

Next I'll be building a new woodshed. One day I'll be organised - well maybe.

We're off to Winchcombe in the morning to the opening that starts at noon, then we'll stay overnight at Blogger Matt's, before heading off to Manchester to visit Hil's folks. A brief stop off at my parents' place on the way back, then back to work on Thursday. Busy busy.

Happy weekend all.