Thursday 29 April 2010

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Tuesday stuff

My boy Luke with his sculpture

It's been drying out in the wonderful sunshine we've had of late and is developing spectacular cracks that show the various strata within its structure. Its deterioration is part of the concept and Luke's been documenting it throughout. His teacher is coming to see it for the first time tomorrow.

This is one of the little pots Alex made last week from the field clay. I'm excited about this clay and its properties - my glazes seem to fit it well and because its paler than my previous clay, the colours are brighter.

The missus getting in on the clay digging action.
I made six of these large straight sided jugs today - this clay is soooooooooooo wonderful :-)

Monday 26 April 2010


A few pictures from recent days. An 8lb jug with wet slip
Bluebells in the lane
Different Dave and the remains of the old woodshed, shortly before he stood on a nail and had to go home poor chap.
Ash before oak, we're in for a soak
The wallflowers have all come into bloom in the sunny weather and are providing a beautiful, sweet fragrance right beneath the workshop window.
Some of the dozen little jugs I made today
Tankards, upturned and drying
More 8lb jugs.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

8lb jugs

8lb jugs made from clay from the stream

They're back

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Lovely, lovely field clay

Just in from drama rehearsal. Following the fun of the pantomime back in January, I agreed to take part in the village summer play, so I'm attending rehearsals on two evenings a week. It's quite a big commitment, I've got a lot of lines to learn, so there will be much talking to myself in the workshop during the next few weeks, while I try and drum the script into my brain.

I've been making 3lb jugs today from clay, dug from the field opposite the workshop.

My friend Matt kindly took a digger down to the stream and dug me out a tonne of this wonderful earth, before his dumper truck got stuck in the mud and had to be dragged out with a tractor.

This is what it looks like 'as dug'.

After much wedging and kneading and picking out of small sticks and stones, this is what it becomes, a beautiful smooth and wonderfully plastic clay, ideal for throwing. It even has an amount of naturally occuring sand. Although it's grey at this stage, when fired it becomes a pale terracotta colour. I think it'll make for much brighter, less sombre tones in my pots.

Different Dave has been up to the workshop during the last two days, cracking on with the final phase of building work.

The old woodshed's coming down, to be replaced with a new one, with doors and windows - how posh it's going to be. We're raising the kilnshed roof, replacing some damaged roofing sheets.

It's one of those projects that looks a terrible mess for a while until it all starts to come together again, particularly as we're making the whole thing out of scrap and scavenged materials, so there's 'useful' stuff everywhere at the moment. Once it's finished, it's going to be really pretty.

Well that's it, more pots, more shed tomorrow, right now it's time for bed for me and my tired little arms.

Goodnight all

Monday 19 April 2010

Alex making pots

This is a short video of Alex making pots last week, for his collaborative project with Alice Kettle.

Sunday 18 April 2010

A week of many presents

It's been delightful sunny weather in Devon recently, although everything's covered in volcano dust.

I've had a really busy few days hence the lapse in blogging, so here are a few pictures of stuff from the last week.

The workshop, with the garden in full bloom. The daffodils have been stunning - they seemed to be a long time coming, now they're on their way over and will soon make way for hollyhocks, roses, evening primrose and summer flowering bulbs. They always look so messy for a while when they die down, but for now, they're still providing a cheerful spring display.

I've been a lucky boy during the past week.

When Alex came down to the conference last week, he brought a present with him - a new bench for the workshop garden.

I used to have a bench and it became part of my routine to sit on it first thing in the morning, with a cup of tea and a sketch book, to plan the day's make, but the bench fell apart and I hadn't the cash to replace it.

Here are my chums Heather(needed a girl to read the instructions!) and Johnny who called by, putting it together for me. Now I can resurrect the old tea/drawing routine, hurrah!

Another pressie!

My friend Jeff came over on Tuesday and delivered a little package. He'd been away for the winter in New Zealand with his wife Stella and while he was there, had spent an most enjoyable few days with my blogging chum Peter, who looked after them very well. Peter sent me this lovely shino glazed mug. Thank you Peter, I love it, I'm very pleased to be the lucky owner of one of your pots. Suffice to say, it's seen some good service already.

Hopefully Peter's going to come and make some pots with me at some stage in the future. The wonder of this world of blog still amazes me.

Alex came back down from Manchester on Tuesday. He's curating an exhibition of slipware at York Museum later in the year and came to make a series of small pots, made and decorated to demonstrate the various slips and techniques associated with the slipware process. We started off by digging grey clay from the stream and red clay from the woods. The native clay hardly requires any preparation, just a few stones and twigs that need pulling out, then it can be wedged, kneaded and thrown on the wheel.

Here are the pots, a set of each in grey clay and in red clay, white over black slip, black over white, applied deco, leaf resist etc etc. They will be partially glazed to illustrate the effect of glazes upon the slip. Some will be fired to high temperatures to show what happens.

Here's Alex throwing on the Cardew kickwheel. He's an extremely good potter - way too modest about his skills. A while ago he wrote an excellent book entitled The Art of Throwing which has recently been reprinted in a paperback format.

It's full of fantastic images, old Winchcombe pots for instance, all the type of work that gets me excited, so it's a great buy for makers and collectors alike. You can buy it here.

Alex also made a number of pots for a collaborative project that he's been working on with textile artist Alice Kettle. Alex has part decorated them. After being fired, Alice will add further embellishment to their surfaces with gold lustre. It'll be an interesting contrast, gold applied to earthy Devon slipware.

Even more presents, in the form of two wonderful books.
Thank you Tim for the book about the Donyatt excavations and also the medieval shard found on the banks of the Thames, now added to my shard collection in the workshop. I used to have this book, but loaned it to somebody and it never came back, so I'm delighted to have a new copy - it's such a good resource book.
Recently I met the author at Blogger Paul's place. By coincidence, I had just made a puzzle jug, based on the 17th century ones made at Donyatt that are featured in the book.
The book on the right is a lavish volume featuring the work of celebrated photographer Garry Fabian Miller, who came to the workshop last week and kindly gave me this book. He's a fascinating man, I enjoyed meeting him.

The aforementioned puzzle jug - this will have sgrafitto decoration.

And another pressie!
Some sloe gin from Heather - since polished off this weekend. It's been the Folk Festival in the village with people travelling from all over the country to sing and play and dance in the village's two pubs, so we had an unusually boozy weekend, sloe gin and real ale that was funded by a seconds sale that we set up on trestles outside the house.

There were a lot of unusual hats and costumes

and Morris dancers galore

I told my boys that my good friend Nic Collins and I have talked about joining a troupe - you can imagine how pleased they were with that idea. In spite of their cynicism, I reckon it looks like a lot of fun and an important part of our folk heritage that should be preserved.

Here's a video of some of the Morris dancers outside the Ring o'Bells this afternoon

Ah, that makes me so proud to be British ;-)

Monday 12 April 2010

Chums from Plymouth

I had a visit today from my friends from Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery. I currently have an exhibition at the Museum, please pop in if you're in the area. Here's Ali Cooper wizzing it up on the wheel. I only discovered today that Ali is also a blogger, you can see what she gets up to at the Museum in her blog Coops' Musings from the Stores

And here's Adam Milford spinning up a mug. They also made press moulded dishes which we were able to toughen up outside in the glorious sunshine so that they could be slipped and decorated.
Here they are with their little mugs handled and slipped. They're both coming to help out with the next firing, so I was keen that they should have some pots in the kiln. I'm glad they were able to make it over today, thanks for coming A&A, it was good fun - oh and thanks for the cider too :)
I decorated a whole load of breaksfast bowls that I made last week.

The driveway at Hollyford has been full of massive potholes since the winter, so tomorrow I'm going to lend a hand with the repairwork.
I'll try and get some more pics from Bideford posted on here soon
Tired! Off to bed, cheers all

Saturday 10 April 2010


Here are some photographs of the wonderful RJ Lloyd collection in the Burton Art Gallery, quite amazing.

There were locally made bricks and tiles....

Ah, here's the info stuff....

Keep scrolling

and stunning harvest jugs.

Rustic domesticwares - these jugs were made in Bideford, Barnstaple, East the Water and Truro.
Bowls and dishes made by Michael Cardew and EB Fishley
Little birdies
big ships
Wassail cup

Puzzle jugs
Incredible. There were more cabinets than this and apparently many more pieces that are in the reserve collection.
The conference was really interesting, with some excellent speakers, well done to Jo Simpson for organizing a fantastic event.
Happy weekend all