Thursday 29 November 2012

Thursday, bleuuuggghhhsday

Evening all
It was mighty chilly this morning, but the sun shone all day long which was delightful. There's still a lot of water about from the recent floods and the lanes were slippery under foot this morning with shiny ice.

It's been a funny sort of day, melancholic and reflective. I think the winter sunshine has something to do with it. The frost in the valley didn't thaw at all all day. Come to think of it, been a tough few days. Hannah being here cushioned the blow of Luke's return to uni and home is quiet again now for the next three weeks or so with just the three of us.

I never get lonely in the workshop, but I guess it's partly because of Hannah's company last week, which was really great fun, that I felt very much on my own today - not lonely, just alone. In fact, I didn't want company today, my head wasn't in the best of places. I came home in the last of the daylight to get the dinner on the table. I work too many long hours, then beat myself up for leaving work early, but I was all done in today and I was glad to come home. I feel fine now(even though I've just burned the dinner - oops!)
I managed to achieve a fair bit, mixed slip and glaze, (both jobs that I avoid as long as possible) and finished decorating little jugs. These bowls have a coat of nicely sieved black slip - I'll do the decoration on them tomorrow.
And these are the little jugs. They too will receive further coats of slip in the morning.

Hil managed to borrow a video camera for me until I can replace mine. Mine had become really temperamental before it finally died and used to frustrate me no end with its intermittent performance. I'd forgotten how well these little Flip cameras work when they do what they're supposed to do.

I enjoyed stitching this little film together this evening.

Off to pantomime rehearsal tonight, then, if all goes to plan, a glass of cider or two in the Half Moon afterwards, hurrah. Cheers all! 

Tuesday 27 November 2012


Evening all
Nothing much to report, just a few pictures to post.

I  handled and decorated the jugs that I made yesterday. This one's for an order.
Two more 5lb jugs
My clay was a bit too soft today really for making dishes, so I made a couple, then I'm ashamed to say, I  allowed myself to get distracted and made some little dinky 1.5lb jugs.

Other than that, I mixed slip, pugged some clay, drank some tea and came home. Right now I'd better go and jump in the shower as I have pantomime rehearsal tonight so it's all a bit of a hectic rush.
Bye for now

Monday 26 November 2012


Hello all and a happy Monday to you.
Devon continues to be bombarded with a deluge of rain this evening. My journey to work this morning took me through a couple of rather scary floods that made my poor little car splutter and steam. It's been relentless.

Here are three big jugs which I had photographed recently by my friend Jonny. They're in an exhibition at the Castlegate House Gallery in Cockermouth. Well two of them are, the yellow one sold last week. They're about 17" tall and they are the biggest ones that I've made in this style.
Today I've been on the wheel again. It took a little while to settle back in after having had company all last week, but it was good to find my focus again - I work best when I'm alone. These three are 5lb jugs. One is for an order, the other two are for my website when it's launched at 5pm on the 8th December. The Home page has a countdown clock on it. I'm excited to have a web site again at long last, it must be three years since I had a proper site up and running.
Here's a dish I made today - I'm working on dishes and bowls for the rest of the week(although I have paperwork to do tomorrow), which is something I've been promising myself that I'll do for ages. I keep getting distracted and end up making jugs.
A cockerel money box.

My video camera malfunctioned while Hannah was here, so this little film is short, but I think, sweet. I'll need to invest in a new camera in the next week or two if I'm going to carry on making these films, a shame, but I guess I've had my money's worth out of this one.

Time for bed
Goodnight all

Saturday 24 November 2012

Soggy days with HMcA

Well that week just flew by. Nic's course was excellent and everybody left equipped with the basic skills required to make bigger pots - all that is needed now is lots of practice. Unfortunately I don't have time for making whoppers at present as my priority is to make small pots for an exhibition in Tokyo in the spring, but I'll get on to it once I feel confident that I've enough stock behind me.

After the course we headed down West, over the border to Cornwall and to Wenford Bridge where Frank lives. Wenford was also where Michael Cardew lived until his death in 1983, here's Hannah outside his now derelict pottery.
On a walk along the Camel Trail in the rain.
Alongside the trail runs a vast building, which was once a china clay drying shed. It seems to stretch for half a mile or so. The floors had underground heating, which would have dried the clay slurry. Imagine taking a bath in those when they were still active - lovely! They're now derelict, but very exciting for Hannah and me as we ooooed and aaaahed over the number of dense firebricks that were there in the redundant hypercourse - just think of the kilns that could be made. I think Frank thought us to be a bit nerdy, but ah well, we probably are.

We weren't really supposed to be in there, it was completely overgrown.
On Monday, we carried on down to St Ives and to the Leach Pottery, to visit our new chum Mandy who is studying there for a month. I'm sure she had two legs when we were there - very strange, too much kickwheeling maybe?!
The rest of the week was spent in the workshop, hiding from some of the craziest weather we've had for years. The Westcountry was flooded, the roads chaos and the village cut off. Hil couldn't get to work, or Joe to college.
Poor Hannah was stuck here for an extra couple of days as the ballast under the railway tracks was washed away in Exeter so she couldn't get home. Here she is decorating one of my jugs, which I hope to have for sale on my web site when it's launched in a couple of weeks.
And here she is on the wheel making some funny little people pots, based on old medieval jugs. 

It was lovely to spend some time together, I'm not sure when our paths will cross again, next summer probably.

That's all for now, off to town to the pictures, a wet weather pursuit, more rain again today. Happy weekend everybody.

Friday 16 November 2012

Big pots at Gnarley Nic's

Day one on Nic's course was really good. We made pots by the coiling and throwing technique. This involved throwing the base section of the pot, blasting it with a gas burner until dry enough, before adding and throwing more coils, blasting and drying between each.

There were seven of us on the course in Nic's cosy workshop.
He's a good teacher.
'Ooooooh' said Ms McAndrew, 'just look at my lovely big pot'
Here's my effort. I didn't like the shape much, but none of the pots will be fired, it's simply an exercise in learning the technique - lots more practice needed. It was weird to be using grey clay that didn't get me dirty, unlike my usual red stuff that seems to cover everything in my life.
Here's The Master in action. If you'd like to learn his techniques, he's written a book all about how it's done, called Throwing Large.

If you haven't seen the Goldmark film about Nic, it's worth taking a few minutes to sit back and watch.

Tomorrow we'll be making tall, narrow pots by his 'doughnut' technique. If that makes no sense to you, you'll just have to buy his book!

I came home tonight to spend a last evening with Luke before he goes back to college. Hannah and I will be heading off to Cornwall, breaking the journey at Frank's for a flying visit after the course on Sunday, before carrying on down west to St Ives on Monday to visit a friend at the Leach Pottery. We'll be back home on Monday night.

In the workshop on Tuesday to work on some slipware collaborations.

That's all for now
Happy weekend everybody.

Thursday 15 November 2012


Morning all

Here's a very quick post before I dash out of the door. I have to get to the workshop before 9am as the courier is coming to collect these three big jugs.They're going to Cockermouth, to The Catslegate House Gallery

 The beaky jug all finished
He's a strange, grotesque looking fellow and very olde English medieval
 This simple tapered form will be dusted with copper oxide on a white slip, to give it a green speckle on a yellow ground.
 and this baluster will be combed
 8lb jugs

 Marky Mark came by last night and we worked late. He helped me pack the pots for Cockermouth which was great - for some reason I get quite anxious and stressed about packing orders, so it was good to have help.
 Today's wet slip picture.

I'd better get going. Later today I'll be picking Hannah up from the station as we're both going on a course in big pot making this weekend with Nic Collins. I'm looking forward to Nic's course - I want to make some massive pots and it's a treat to be learning the techniques from the expert and one of my best buddies. Fun times ahead with like minded people.

Hannah's staying for a week, during which time we're going to be producing some collaborative works - I'm going to make some big jugs for her to decorate, what a treat.

Here are a couple of little films from the last two days

Autumn colour on this little film.

You'll notice from this one, that Different Dave has got the blunger powered up. All there is to do now is clean the rust from the running gear, then put the belts back on and it should be working at long last, hurrah!

Must go, have a happy Thursday everybody, bye for now.

Tuesday 13 November 2012


Evening all
Here are a few pictures that I took in the lanes this morning on my way to the workshop.

There are some wonderful earthenware tones in the countryside at the moment.

The woodland opposite the workshop has changed colour considerably during the last couple of days
I finished sticking little bits on this big jug at last today, it's taken ages.
Here it is with a coat of white slip
I made these three today. The pot on the left will have a modelled spout and is based on an old medieval beaky pot in York Museum. They'll all make more sense once they have handles, baluster jugs in particular look a bit odd until the handle is on as they have such long necks. These jugs are going to be on my new web site when it's launched in a few weeks time if they come out well. I'm excited about it, I haven't had a proper site for years.

Late night working tomorrow with Marky Mark, right now I'm off to bed, bye for now.

Monday 12 November 2012


I'm not in the workshop today, with one thing or another, but here are some snapshots from the past few days.

The end of the rainbow missed again.
The entrance to the orchard last week. All the apples have been harvested and sent off to various cider producers. This year's yield has been very poor right across the country, after all the bad weather that we had throughout the summer. I hope it doesn't affect the price of cider too much.
Ash leaves in the mud. It's worrying this business of Ash Dieback disease. If it gets hold like Dutch Elm disease did, it will completely change the countryside, which will be very sad.

Hil and the boys on a lovely day out at the seaside yesterday in Teignmouth. Luke's here until Saturday, when he'll head off back to college in Bath.

We enjoyed a pint on the beach in the autumnal sunshine. Devon has some some beautiful coastline, Teignmouth is a pretty little town and it was relatively quiet on a Sunday afternoon out of season.

The view from the pub. The fishing boat on the right was unloading its catch - I'm not sure what type of fish they were, pilchards maybe.

The designated driver.

Back soon with some pottery action, bye for now

Friday 9 November 2012


Evening all
Off out for a late beer in a minute, so this is a quicky.

Those big jugs take forever to decorate, particularly as I try to make every one different. I roughly lay the pieces on first to work out the composition, before sticking them on with a dab of slip.

Right, it's pub time. Have a lovely weekend everybody.

Thursday 8 November 2012

Happy Daddy

I had a lovely surprise this evening, I'll tell you about it in a moment.

Here's a little video I made today. Different Dave came by and did a bit more wiring on the blunger, which is almost up and running - it just needs a new switch and then I'll be able to blunge lots of lovely Hollyford clay, from the pile in the field outside of the workshop - it might even be working tomorrow - exciting!

I'm making pots for my web site still, which will be launched on 8th December - also exciting!

But much much more exciting, was the surprise of Luke coming down the stairs at tea time this evening, having secretly caught the train home from college. He'd been hiding in his bedroom, unbeknown to all of us, sending his brother confusing text messages, before Joe rumbled him and brought him downstairs, both of them grinning ear to ear. We've just been to the pub for a drink, I can't tell you how lovely it was to see them with their friends, playing pool together. I'm a happy, happy daddy tonight :)

Tuesday 6 November 2012


Hello all.
I'm back on my feet again after all that moaning, hurrah!
Last week we went to Bath to visit Luke. Here he is on the right with his younger, but taller brother Joe. It was great to see him, he's settled in well and was working on an excellent portrait painting of one of his housemates. We took him out for lunch, filled his belly, then went shopping and filled his cupboards with provisions, before heading off home, leaving him to his night out with his new friends.

I'm busy making again and it feels good to be buzzing around the workshop with purpose. My web site is being redesigned and I'm hoping to have some of these pots finished, fired and on it when it goes live. I'm going to Exeter tomorrow to take some pots to be photographed by my friend Jonny, who is also designing the site. I'm excited to be having it sorted out at long last, it's said 'under construction' for three years or more. It's going to look proper swanky.

The big jugs in this video are going to be in an exhibition in Castlegate House Gallery, Cockermouth. I sent a whole batch of pots there last week for the exhibition that opens on 17th November.

I had a call the other day from Svend Bayer, who is one of my great pottery heroes. He asked if I could go and do a couple of night shifts on his kiln firing. I haven't fired at Svend's for years and had never fired this particular kiln. It was a great, if not exhausting, pleasure.

Well I'm suffering from a nasty cold, so I'm going to sign out now and go to bed, but before I go, can say one last thank you for your support when I was down in the dumps - thank you - oh that's two - ah well.

Bye for now, back soon