Saturday 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

Here we are approaching the end of another year. Thank you all for tuning in to my sporadic blog posts. I haven't made many pots in recent weeks, so my blogging has been a bit lax, but I promise that I intend to start the new year with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. I have to, because I have a lot of commitments in next year's calendar already.

It's been a wonderful year, not least because I've had the opportunity to meet so many of my virtual friends in the flesh during the past twelve months. You are special people.

Thank you so much to all those who have done so much for me. A special mention for Dan, Hollis and Ron in the States; Marky Mark, Matt, Alex, Hannah, Frank, Different Dave, Nic, PY over here. I am blessed with having the very best of friends without whom I am nothing. And big thanks of course to those of you who have encouraged me and bought my pots.

The boys have gone out to the pub with their friends this evening. I miss them being little kiddies and remember with warm affection those Christmas Eves, when they couldn't sleep with the excitement of it all. I too would lie awake in anticipation of their smiley little faces. Hil's here wrapping gifts for their stockings - maybe they're still children, just briefly, once a year.

So now a few days of family time. Tomorrow we visit my brother, then later in the week, my parents and my sister. It will be fantastic to see everybody and to relax for a while with the people I love.

I Wish you all a very Merry Christmas and send every best wish for a healthy and prosperous 2012.

Monday 12 December 2011

Check this out!!!!

I received an email this morning from Alex, with a link to this amazing piece of film. It's a British Pathe film, shot in 1930, of 'A man kneading some clay outside a brick building'.

This is so exciting for me. Helen Walsh, curator at York Museum, identified this unnamed potter as none other than my great hero, Michael Cardew, making pots at Winchcombe Pottery and sent it to Alex.

The slipware pots Cardew made in Winchcombe were in my opinion, his finest works and to see him as a young man, making and decorating them is incredibly moving. I've never seen this footage before, I can't think that many people have in recent times. Thank you Helen and Alex.

Enjoy this piece of lost pottery history everybody


Saturday 10 December 2011

Teabowls in Tokyo

A while ago, I had a visit to my workshop from Koichiro Isaka, who is the owner of Gallery St Ives, Tokyo. He asked me if I would make some teabowls for an exhibition in his gallery.

The particular type of teabowls he asked for were Chawan. Of course I've never made such things, as I take my inspiration from the English tradition, rather than looking towards the East, so I proceeded to make them with some trepidation.Here are some of them. They're a very English interpretation of a Japanese form, I decided I had to just make, what I know how to make.
The exhibition opened last night. These photographs were taken by Koichiro in the gallery yesterday. There are about 80 Chawan in the show from some amazing makers.
There are pots by UK potters
And from Japan,
You can download the pdf catalogue here

Thursday 8 December 2011

Slippy jugs

Hello all

I've been having a bit of a struggle to get back in to making lately. I was exhausted after all the crazy hours of hard work leading up to the show and wound up feeling somewhat burned out and lacking inspiration. I don't know why, the show was great and I came home full of enthusiasm, but it's been difficult to get started again.

Yesterday I unplugged the phone and turned up the rock and roll and got stuck in to making some big fat jugs. I'm going to do the same again today. I'll post some pictures later.These 8lb jugs have been under polythene for a couple of weeks, waiting for a coat of slip, which they were given yesterday.

This leafy jug has a green slip.
Winter is upon us now, although down here in the softy South West, we've had very few frosts, just lots of rain with sunny bits and the resulting rainbows.

Well I must get to work, back soon
Bye for now

Thursday 24 November 2011

Here we go again.

I've been working a long day today. Marky Mark came by and we worked into the evening. I know I need to start keeping sensible hours again, but I'm anxious to get some wet pots on the shelves. Getting started is always difficult, but it's easier this time, coming off the back of three great firings and a successful show. The show is still open until Sunday.

I started this batch of pots, with making my favorite things, six 8lb jugs. It's good to get the cycle going again. Although they're similar in form, I haven't tried to make them the same. They'll get handles tomorrow, then they'll be decorated using a variety decorative techniques, adopting whichever suits the curves of the particular pot the best. I'm excited about the pots I'm going to be making in the forthcoming weeks, I've got lots of ideas I want to try.

A big thank to my friend James, who shot this film at my show at the weekend. He asked me to apologize for it's shaky nature as it was his first iphone film, but I don't think he needs to do so, it's great record for me, of how it was on the day.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Demo weekend on Dartmoor

Next April, I'm going to be giving a workshop demo at my good chum Nic's place on Dartmoor, along with the great man himself and an amazing potter from the USA, Adam Field.

As you can see from the videos below, it promises to be a really interesting weekend. Spaces are limited, so it would pay to book early via Nic's website, right here



Monday 21 November 2011

The show

I just had a wonderful weekend in chilly Nottinghamshire.
The opening was a great success. Here is an old friend of mine, Strav, who came along. We studied together on an Art Foundation course twenty seven years ago, before going off on our separate paths - we hadn't seen each other since. It was lovely to meet up again, we'll stay in touch now via the wonderful world of Facebook.
Here are some pictures of the show. Thank you to Jon and James who took these pictures, I didn't get a chance to take any, so it's great to have them.

It was a brilliant day. Hil and I arrived at the gallery after an early start and a five hour drive, to see what a fabulous job David and Steve had made of arranging the pots, it was quite overwealming. Throughout the day, David, his wife Ausma and Steve were fantastic, rearranging the display as pots were purchased and wrapped, so that the show looked fresh the whole day long. I felt really well looked after.
And a lot of pots went to new homes too, which was way beyond my expectations. It was such a great day, chatting with so many lovely people.

I'm excited about these pressed dishes - I want to develop them in the forthcoming weeks.
I want to make more bowls and thrown dishes too - I'm always short of flatware, it's not something I've invested enough time in
A big thank you to everybody who came and to all the people who bought my pots. There have been some very kind comments made about the work, which is a huge confidence booster and will help me to take things to the next stage.

We stayed with some friends in a beautiful, ancient house, dating back to the 1600's, full of wonderful pots. After a lovely meal, we headed out to Geoff and Pat Fuller's pub which is situated nearby.

It's a sweet little pub - no TV and a ban on mobile phones - how refreshing that is. And of course there was plenty Geoff and Pat's splendid pottery to look at, particularly the kitchen.

On Sunday we headed back home, Hil at the wheel and me with the inevitable migraine in the passenger seat. I was exhausted. It's been a very hard few months, but it's been so worth it.

Today I had a much calmer day, thinking a lot, while tidying up the workshop garden which has been badly neglected this year. I'm preparing myself ready to make the next pots. I'm very excited about them, greatly encouraged by the weekend's events - I feel I know where I'm going at last.

Well that's all for now. Back soon with muddy wet pots to show you, bye for now.

Friday 18 November 2011

It's showtime

On Wednesday, my chum Frank, Murphy the dog and I, went on the long journey to Thoresby Hall, to deliver the pots for the exhibition. It's a fantastic space. Hil and I will be making the journey again tomorrow morning, in time for the opening of the show, which starts at midday.
Before I took them away, my friend Jonathan took these photographs of some of the pots that are in the exhibition.

There are over seventy pieces in the show - I'm looking forward to seeing it all set out. I'll make sure I get some photos of the show and if anybody out there can make it, it will be great to see you there.

Here's a short video of the sgrafitto jug from my previous post, fired and finished. This pot will be in the exhibition.

Well I've a really early start in the morning, so I'll bid you goodnight. I'll report back soon. Goodnight!

Sunday 13 November 2011

Nearly all done!

Hi there boys and girls.

Well I've got nearly all my pots together now, ready for the opening of my exhibition, next weekend.

It's been hard toil, working every day, every weekend for I don't know how long. They've been long days too, often way into the night and I'm absolutely exhausted. I think it's been worthwhile - next Saturday will tell, when I get to see the pots displayed in the beautiful surroundings of Thoresby Hall. Things look so different, when they're given space, it's difficult to see the pots clearly in the workshop surroundings. I've never seen so much of my own work, in the same place at one time.

Here's Different Dave, fixing a Hazel handle to my hedgerow teapot - it worked a treat, I'll post a picture of the teapot later.

The last three firings have been fantastic which has made so much difference to my state of mind. I used to have too many losses and starting again after a bad firing was so difficult. I'm still very aware of the shortfalls in what I do - I need to expand my range so that I don't predominantly make jugs............I do love making jugs(pitchers) though.

I actually have some flatware in this show - not as much as I would have liked, but some pieces at least. I'm pleased with them and I'm desperate to make some more.

It feels like things are at last starting to fall in to place, after a lot of hard work building this place up from scratch over the last eight years on a shoestring budget. That's how long ago it is I think since Marky Mark and I began building the workshop inside the shell of an old cattle shed - maybe it's seven, I can't remember. I will have been in there full time for six years this January - or maybe it's five -it's a blur.

Whatever it is, I'm still making really stupid mistakes - I managed to crack a good number of my bigger pots by not drying them carefully enough, or by glazing them too dry, but that's because I was stretching my skills and knowedge - disappointing, but now I've learned a few lessons the hard way and next time I'll get it right.

Well enough rambling on. Thank you to everybody who has continued to drop by on this neglected blog, I always appreciate your support and comments and I know I'm very bad at responding, but I really do appreciate it, I've just been getting home too late to get on here.

I decided not to post pictures of finished work until the show opens, but I will share a short video with you of a sgrafitto jug that will be in the show. It's taken many, many hours of scratching.

Well there's lots of other stuff I need to blog about, so I'll be back soon with, among other things, some details about an exciting weekend event that's coming up.

Tomorrow, selecting and packing of pots, ready to deliver them to Nottinghamshire on Wednesday. I'll be glad to get them there.

Goodnight all

Tuesday 1 November 2011

I'm still here!

I'm still here! It's been a manic few weeks, with really long days and late nights and I've had to drop out of the virtual world for a while. I just had the best firing that I ever had - it's so good to have the kiln working properly at last. These pots are for my solo show that opens in just over two weeks in Thoresby Hall.
I'll post better pictures when I get them, but if you would like to see the pots in more detail and can make it along, it would be great to see you at the private view, on the 19th November.

There's a picture of this jug before it was fired, at the end of this post.
These pictures are in a jumble, but I'm too tired to sort them out. Here are Alex and Hannah, two thirds of my fantastic firing crew, visiting the Burton Art Gallery, the day after the firing.
And here's the other fine stoker, my old buddy Andrew Frank' Grundon. Marky Mark's away in Mexico at the moment, so he missed this one.
Ah, slippy dishes, we're going back in time here

Drinking bowls for an exhibition in Japan.
The tall jug, pictured earlier in this post, before it was fired.

Well that was brief, but at least you know I'm still alive. Back soon with some better pics, bye for now.

Saturday 1 October 2011

New pots

Evening all

I managed to get my camera working again!!

Earlier in the week Alex called by. It was great to see him as always. It was also great to have him cast his critical eye, over the pots from the recent firing, as he really knows his stuff. Here we were discussing which pots to send for the publicity material for the forthcoming show. The two baluster jugs on the left were sent.

I hope to get some better pictures of the pots soon, but here are some snapshots of some of the pieces from the firing.

5lb jugs

8 pounders, with the big raw jug in behind
another 8lb jug
After the firing, looking as knackered as we were feeling
An 8lb jug and two 5lb jugs
3lb tapered jug
3lb tapered jug. You can see lots more by following this link here.
3lb jars for the next firing, slipped last week. These are now completed, as are 6lb versions. There will be lots of jars in the next firing, which will add variety to the jugs from the last one. Today I made big pots for the bottom of the chamber.

I'm tired - I've been working some very long days recently and I'm really behind with a lot of my virtual stuff. My apologies if you're waiting for an email, I'll get caught up soon.

Tomorrow I head off back to Cornwall as I'm doing a demo on Saturday for the Cornwall Pottery and Glass Group. The last demo I did was in North Carolina with Hannah - it'll be weird to be doing it on my own this time.

Honest Pots finishes this weekend. Thousands of people have been to see it, it's been an amazing show, if you're near York and haven't seen it yet, time's running out!

Bye for now