Saturday 30 May 2009

Two days to firing time

Ooooooooooh man it's been a hectic time recently in Hollyford Potteryland, making frantic last minute pots for Monday's firing. I haven't even had time to write a blog post for a week it's been so crazy.

On the home front, Luke's been spending his half term holidays revising for his GCSE's and my 'little one', Joey turned fourteen on Thursday.

Different Dave called by yesterday to service my wheel as the bearing's become a bit noisy. He was the wood machine shop technician at the art college before we were both made redundant and used to be responsible for servicing all the machines, so he knows how to use a grease gun.

These are his two little ones, Kieran and Tayla, getting proper messy with some of the red stuff.

Some bowls I made earlier in the week. These will be unglazed on the outside and will hopefully pick up some good flame marks. I have black slip versions of the same thing.

This pot is for an order. The green will burn away, it's felt tip pen scribbles that I used to work out the composition. The 'flower trees' and birds are heavily influenced by the naive stylised designs typically found on old North Devon harvest jugs. There's another one that I still have to finish, It's been a mammoth project and has taken me hours....

and hours....

and hours....

and hours, scratching away, night after night, into the early hours. I really hope it comes out. It's about 16" tall, so there's a lot of surface area and there's more removed, than left behind.

Lots of glazing done, I'm off to the workshop now to finish it off. Marky Mark's meeting me there and we'll start the pack. I bricked the door up last night and lit a fire in the firebox, that, plus the scorching weather that's forecast for the next few days, should ensure a nice dry kiln.

Hannah's driving down from Scotland today and bringing some pots to fire too. Well I'd better get to it, catch you later.

Saturday 23 May 2009

Ill fated moneyboxes

Well I went to work and set about making moneyboxes as planned. Much of what I do is heavily influenced by the West Country slipware tradition of country pottery and amongst other shapes, I decided to make a couple of haystacks - an interpretation of those made in Fremington Pottery during the nineteenth century.

This one had toughened sufficiently to work on so I modelled on the cockerel. I decided to bring the others home to work on. I carefully loaded them, on a board, into the car, then drove home slowly along the lanes. I hadn't reckoned on a crazy drunken driver coming round the corner too fast on the way back from a local 50th birthday party. I had to brake really hard and the moneyboxes flew off the board, and were given a considerable modification in the process.

I took them into the garden for this photo, so that I could share their tale of woe with you. As you can see, Sprat, the stupidest of our cats(and one of them is only two weeks old), found them very interesting...............

and that...............

was the end of that.

Friday 22 May 2009


Some funny little fat mugs, sprigged and slipped, loosely based on the ones made in seventeenth century Staffordshire.

Three pound jugs I made yesterday(like I need more jugs) - I've decorated some of them today with leaf resist - the lanes are full of amazing foliage at the moment and it's such an inspiration.

Yesterday evening I had a visit from a group of students from West Hertfordshire College. They were a good bunch and stayed a while - I did a harvest jug making demo for them, force dried with the gas burner and finished with a scroll handle. Here are a few of them clutching their purchases, with Marky Mark behind, ever stylish in lime green nylon. Thanks all for your support, come again some time.

It was a beautiful day today and even though I knew I needed to be making pots, I had to get outside and cut the grass - it was getting really long out there. If I don't keep on top of it, the brambles on the grassy bank under the oak tree get themselves going. It looks really pretty out there now.

As soon as the firing's over I'm going to finish off the sheds, then build some raised beds which will be stocked with plants from the marvelous Futureprimative web site, where you can purchase stunning plants, groovy soap and fabulous Matt Grimmett slipware as depicted above - check it out today. (Surely that must have earned me a discount?!)

It's going to be a working weekend, so an early start tomorrow. Moneyboxes, bowls and pressed dishes to make. Counting down to firing day, a week on Monday, when I will be assisted by the Princess of Slipware herself.

My friend Arwyn Jones, a very good potter who lives near Plymouth is coming to visit me at the workshop in the morning. I haven't seen him in ages, so I'm looking forward to catching up with him. This is a picture of one of his breadcrocks.

Happy weekends all, hope the sun shines for you.

Our Bernard up to his tricks

Just got in and it's midnight so I'm off for a bath then bed, I'll share today's stuff tomorrow.

Many thanks to David Asterisco for sending me this.

Tuesday 19 May 2009

Country capers

I had a stall at a local country fair today. It was supposed to be an open air event, but the rain was torrential, so we all set up inside huge barns. It was a waste of time as regards selling, but it was good fun and great to see a lot of my friends that I hadn't seen for a while, so I didn't worry about sales and enjoyed catching up with fellow craftsfolk chums - potters, signwriters, blacksmiths, etc.

I shared a pitch with my good friend Paul Cook of Wood Art Words. Here are some of his wonderful carvings.

And here's the man himself.

This timber frame is part of the roof structure of the Love Daddies practice room, that is being made by green oak builder friends of mine, Tom and Ben. They took it along to demonstrate their trade.

Hil and Joe came up after school and got to hang out with Johnny Kingdom. Ah, the excitement of living in the West Country.

I've got to work sooooooooo hard for the next few days now, lots of pots needed for a firing a week on Monday, so late nights to come.

Monday 18 May 2009

Monday morning

Off shortly to see a man about a bottle kiln - can't say much more about that at the moment, so I'm just teasing you, ha ha.

Here are some of the pots I decorated yesterday. I really didn't want to drag myself up to a damp, dark, dirty workshop on a Sunday afternoon, but it had to be done. Once I got there and settled in, it was fine. The woods opposite my little shed are wonderful at the moment, verdent and full of bird song. I'm going to go over there later today to get some clay from the various seams to use for slip tests in the forthcoming firing - I still want to do some experiments with naked clay in the hot spots and it'll be interesting to see how the different slips 'flash' with the flame.

I've decided to sgrafitto the two big Harvest Jugs. They'll take many hours to complete, but will, I hope, be worth the hours of scratching away dry slip. In preparation, I brought home some of the local flora last night and spent a couple of hours drawing. I want to capture the essence of the plants, birds, trees etc. that I see daily around me, but in a naive style rather than a literal interpretation - a tricky thing to get right.

This pot looks really messy at the moment - well it is I suppose, but when it's gold and black and green, it'll look very different.

The combing on this one will become more evident after firing.

This one will be green.

Well I have to head off now onto big, busy main roads, nasty. I'll leave you with a picture of this little fellow/ess, awwwwwwwwww.

Happy Monday all, catch you later.

Saturday 16 May 2009

Stuff from Thursday

This is some of the stuff I was doing on Thursday.

More decorating to do later, I'll post the pics this evening. Yesterday I was supposed to be making the last of the big stuff, so I'll need to do that later too.

These harvest jugs are bigger than the ones I made last week, so they'll take a bit more decoration. I haven't worked out quite what I'll do with them yet, probably much the same as the last lot, drawing through wet slip - just a bit more of it than on the others.

More tall baluster jugs. I've got four of these made and four large tapered jugs. These will need slipping today too.

This will be black and gold and green when fired.

I made a rubber comb with bigger teeth to cut through the slip with a broader line which I tried out on this jug - I like the stronger mark that it leaves. I'm looking forward to putting it to use on some pressed dishes.

Right, off to town, back later.

Devon in the Spring

Just recovering from a nasty migraine, haven't had one for ages.

The herbaceous borders outside the workshop have burst into life too and most of the stuff that I planted last year has come back.

Here are some pictures that I took earlier in the week, of the hedgerow alongside the lane to my workshop. The countryside is amazing at the moment.

I've got to go into Exeter now to buy the boys new shoes - an expensive business, then off to the workshop later to catch up on yesterday's lost time. I'll post some more pics in a moment of Thurday's work.

Tuesday 12 May 2009


Evening all.

Here are the harvest jugs I made last week, all decorated.

This is the huge one.

And here are the others.

The little oak tree in the workshop garden is in full leaf and inspired the drawing on these.

I'm starting to feel much more 'in the groove' now. There's always an initial panic when the shelves are empty, but I can see the pots starting to build towards a kiln full, I reckon I've got about a third of a slack kiln load.

These are eight pound jugs, made yesterday and handled today. They'll be slipped tomorrow and will be mostly black and green - the harvest jugs are all going to be yellow and amber.

These are some tall jugs I made today. The baluster is about 21" tall and won't fit inthe bisc kiln unless it shrinks a bit which I'm sure it will. I need to make more big pots tomorrow.

It's been a long day today, I worked until 8pm, so I'm exhausted. I was supposed to be going to the supermarket tonight, but it'll have to wait for another night, I'm off to bed. Goodnight all.