Monday 31 January 2011

I'm coming to the States

Hi everybody. I've not blogged for a few days now, life's been rather hectic, with a tax return deadline and pantomime rehearsals and performances dominating my life. I haven't got a huge amount of pots made during the last week, hopefully this week will be more productive, although here I am at home, messing about on the computer when I should be at work, so not a great start.

I made a few of these 7lb tapered jugs the other day, here's one after it was freshly slipped.

This is a large jar, drying and awaiting bisc firing.

On Saturday I had a delivery of wood to the workshop. Marky Mark and I cut and stacked it in the woodshed in readiness for firings later in the year. I'm very fortunate, as I can get a regular supply of this softwood, which is delivered to me from a sawmill situated about five miles from the workshop. It's all the off-cuts and scrap that they can't use, but a lot of it's been very useful to me, not just for kiln fuel, also for building the various sheds that we've tacked on to the workshop in recent times. I've another load coming at the weekend, I plan to completely fill the new woodshed, floor to roof, so I'll have lovely dry wood for many firings to come.

Well, what do you think of the new look? Will I be allowed into the States looking like this do you think?

I've been involved in a production of Tom the Piper's Son and as you can see, I have the part of the delightful Dame Aubergine Sprightly.

It's been great fun doing this pantomime, although it's a lot of commitment - we've been rehearsing for months, two or more evenings a week. The show opened on Friday night, which was a somewhat chaotic performance(the first night always is), followed by a much slicker rendition on Saturday. I have a rehearsal on Wednesday evening this week, then performances on Friday and Saturday. I'll miss it when it's finished, I'll need to find something else to do with my evenings for a while.

One of the reasons I got involved with the drama group, was that I felt I needed to boost my confidence of talking in front of people. My life at the workshop is predominantly solitary, so I'm more accustomed to talking to myself. It used to terrify me whenever I got asked to do talks and demos at ceramics events, although in recent years, I've done a lot more of it and it has become much easier. My belief is however, that if I can stand on a stage in front of a full house, packed out with folks from the village and beyond and act the role of this fierce yet charming old hag, perform Sonny and Cher's duet 'I've got you babe', with my friend Sarah, pictured here above, who is acting the male role and my reluctant love interest, then surely the prospect of doing some pottery workshops in front of people must be less scary when I come over to the States with Hannah in April. My word, that was a long sentence. To be honest I am a lot less nervous about the forthcoming workshops now, so it has helped. Mind you, I might pack my frock and a backing tape when I go, just in case it all goes horribly wrong!

Here are the dates and venues of our US slipware tour:

Cape Cod courtesy of Hollis Engley, the weekend of 9th and 10th April,

Liberty Town in Fredricksburg courtesy of Dan Finnegan, the 16th and 17th April

Shelby, North Carolina, courtesy of Ron Philbeck, the 23rd April

It all seems a bit unreal at the moment. It will be great to meet some of my virtual friends, in the real world and to make some new ones too.

Well that's all for now, housework to do, then back to work tomorrow

Bye bye all

Thursday 20 January 2011

Monday 17 January 2011

Big ol' harvest jugs

Hello all

Here are some large harvest jugs that I made today. There's a video of one of these being made which will follow soon, when I can get it loaded up. They're made from 16lbs of clay, the body thrown first, then a part-thrown neck added and finished on the toughened pot.

Loads of slipping and decorating to do in the morning, then late night working with Marky Mark.

I haven't really blogged much about my forthcoming trip to the States in April with Hannah - I'm partly excited and partly terrified and I'll tell you all about it soon. Just now I'm concentrating on getting the pantomime out of the way and can't think any further than that. Opening night, a week on Friday and I still don't know my lines - eek!

Nighty night all

Sunday 16 January 2011

Wednesday 12 January 2011

Wednesday jugs

Evening all
Here are a few pics of stuff that's been going on at the workshop over the past couple of days. The pictures are the wrong way round, as these are 8lb jugs that I made today, after warming myself up with 3lb jugs yesterday.
I like some better than others - I like the shape of this one - they'll all be ok with the right handle and decoration I hope.
This is one of the 3lb jugs I made yesterday. I threw them using reclaimed clay from my scrap buckets, which was very soft and extremely 'short' as you might be able to see from the little splits in the surface. These don't go right through and will pick up the slip nicely, later. You can't hang around when using clay in that condition, so it's something of a challenge. I have a number of really old country pots that have similar characteristics, where the potter has clearly had to make the pots very quickly before the clay became tired and collapsed.
More of the same. In all I have eighteen 3lb jugs and six 8lb jugs. I want to make another six 8lbs jugs before I move on to the next thing, which might well be some more jugs - big 'uns.

Here's a little film shot today of an 8lb jug in the making. Note the new Spring haircut - I'm regretting that one, it's not the weather for it.

Happy Thursday all.

Monday 10 January 2011

Monday Mugs

Happy Monday everybody

Here are the fifty mugs that I made lst week, all slipped and waiting for firing.
These are little stamps that I use for making the sprigs. Every time I fire the wood kiln, I try and get a few new ones in, with the date of the firing scratched in to the side of them. This form of embossed decoration was commonly used by the medieval potters of England.
Here's a mug with sprigs
And this one had marks, drawn through wet slip.

Well mugs aren't going to fill the kiln very quickly, so I need to get stuck in to making some bigger pots this week - maybe a few jugs?

Dan was asking about the pantomime after my previous post. Pantos usually run from before Christmas and in to the spring. The male lead us usually played by a woman and the female lead, or Dame, by a male. Guess who I am this year. Grayson, I'm hot on your heels :)

Saturday 8 January 2011


Different Dave and I went on a road trip to Cornwall yesterday, to Peter Swanson's pottery, near Penzance. We went to pick up the huge blunger that Peter has kindly given me, that I'd attempted to collect just before Christmas. I hired a truck with a tail lift, because the machine is so incredibly heavy. Peter had managed to get the bolts undone that we'd struggled with last time, so we were able to get it out of the door on rollers and broken down into several heavy sections.
I was really anxious that because of the size and weight of the thing, that we still weren't going to be able to move it, but Different Dave, who has done a lot of shifting of heavy weights in his time, was brilliant and lead the operation. Much leverage, and shoving and shunting was required, before the huge machine, which weighed over a tonne, was loaded safely on to the truck in separate sections. Getting it off again when we got back to Hollyford, took a similar amount of brute force and cursing. It's going to be a while before it's all rebuilt and put into operation, but it's going to be a fantastic asset once it's working, thank you very much Peter.
Back in the workshop, lots of mugs with handles.

Next week, nose to the grindstone with full scale production, but not before the delights of tackling the dreaded tax return - groan.

Happy weekend all.

Thursday 6 January 2011


Evening all

A really brief post this as I need to go to bed, but I wanted to check in first. Life's really hectic t the moment, with work, the band and two evenings a week taken up with rehearsals for the pantomime which opens in a couple of weeks.

Marky Mark came by and we worked into the evening. It was great to see him, he's been away in Mexico for a few weeks. It was good to reinstate our regular Wednesday evening session.

I made fifty mugs today, so lots of handles tomorrow.

That's all for now, beddybyes time for me