Friday 1 May 2015

It's Wedding time

Well it's nearly upon us! It seemed like our wedding day wasn't for ages and before we knew it, it's suddenly a day away
We've been working so hard, trying to get everything finished so that we can take a few days off. On top of an already heavy workload, we decided we would make all the champagne flutes.

We've decorated them simply, using our potter's stamps side by side on the front and a heart on the back. These are the stamps. The flutes will be a little keepsake for folks to take home if they'd like to.

The day before yesterday our first guests arrived all the way from America. Hollis and Kimberly who we met when we travelled to Cape Cod a few years ago to do a workshop demo. It was lovely to see them. We are so touched that folks would travel so far to share our special day.

Yesterday we finally finished making, although today we still had to go to work to tidy up and to get the last of the champagne flutes glazed and in the kiln. They'll be out of the kiln, hot on Saturday morning! This picture shows Hannah decorating the last pot I made as an unmarried man, it's also the last pot Hannah decorated as an unmarried woman. We'll keep that one.

This is the jug from my last post, all finished, with a little sidekick that I've made for Hannah.

We stood in the garden tonight and watched the sunset.

it was spectacular.

Away on the distant Galloway hills there is still snow. This place is beautiful.

This is my Best Man Andrew, better known to many as Frank. He arrived this afternoon with his family. It's lovely to see them here, if not a little surreal.

Tomorrow my Mum and brother and neice arrive and my boys with their girlfriends and lots of other friends and family. Sadly my dear Dad is too poorly to make the journey, so my sister has stayed home to see that he has everything that he needs. He'll be very much missed, but will be in my thoughts.

We have a rehearsal at 4pm in the church tomorrow evening, then a meal in the local pub, before Hannah and I say goodnight and she heads home with her Mum and Dad. The next time I will see her will be as she walks down the aisle, to become my wife. She will be beautiful, she is beautiful, I love her so much, my life is amazing with this woman in it, I'm the luckiest man in the world.

Saturday 18 April 2015

The Love jug

Before Hannah and I got together we had been best friends for years.

We'd been to the States together to do demonstrations, made numerous pots together in each others workshops, fired wood kilns together, looked out for each other, looked after each other, talked to each other about slips and glazes and brown pots and Issac Button and medieval jugs in the V&A in wonderful phonecalls that would last for hours.

A couple of years ago, I came to Scotland to visit her. She had made a big jug which was sitting there still wet on the shelf. When I looked at it I could see the culmination of influences from the tradition that we celebrate, but more than that, I could see a synthesis of the two of us.

It's difficult to explain and I don't know if this will make sense, but upon seeing that pot, it struck me that we had grown together so much in our work because we had grown together so much in our lives.

We are obsessed and focussed potters, we live for our art, it is all of us. This jug was both of us, a shared perception. It seemed so clear to me that there was no way that we couldn't be together. So I told her!

I told her that one day this pot would be on the top table at our wedding.

She didn't believe me, (or was actually completely freaked out!) and sent me home to Devon.

I knew full well that we were in each others heads and hearts and that we had become a massive part of one another's conscience. We made our pots for each other, (it was like flirting with clay!). I knew I was in love with her and I also knew that she was with me.

We didn't speak for a few days - that hadn't happened in years, but the silence and the distance were so important - this was what life would be like without each other.

I sat in my workshop and thought about that pot and wrote a poem. I've never written a poem for anyone before and it's no great literary work, but I saw that jug as an analogy for us and it represented in my eyes, our at oneness.

I wrote it out in my best handrwriting and posted it to her.

We spoke on the phone, we laughed, we cried, I told her I loved her, then I asked her to marry me. A very shocked Hannah asked for some time to get her head around it.

I asked her to keep the jug for me and again promised that one day I would decorate it for our wedding.

Two weeks tomorrow we will be married. The jug, with its love poem will be on our top table and Hannah will be beside me as my wife. I love her completely. Great poetry it isn't, but it says it all.

Our wholeness, our consciousness
Proclaimed within a brown clay jug
Our Earth, our clay, our harmony
As  integral as marl and grog
Our slip, our glaze, our synthesis
Layered, shining bright and bold
Our kiln, our fire, our burning light
Our tale of Love set in stone..

Friday 17 April 2015

Busy busy

Hello folks

With just a little over two weeks to go until our wedding, things are as busy as ever in the workshop. We've a lot to do if we're going to be able to take any time off and we're determined that we'll get a few days away on honeymoon, so we're putting in the hours at the moment.

Hannah has been remaking the orders that she lost during our glaze troubles. She's an extraordinary production thrower and has almost completed the making, now she has several miles of sliptrailing to do to finish these pieces.

We worked late last night. The racks are almost full.

I've been making more of these candle holders, larger than the last ones I made. I've also been scratching away at another sgrafitto jug for our wedding, but that's a pot with a story, so I'll save it for another post.

There are bisc fired pots piled everywhere.

We had hoped to fire the wood kiln next week, but we're postponing the firing until after the wedding.

It's glorious weather, so we'll be drying pots in the sunshine again today.

We're away to London on Saturday to visit Ceramic Art London.

Back later, happy Friday all

Friday 10 April 2015

wedding jug number 2

 We're settling back in to work in our Scotland workshop. It's been glorious weather, hence the pots drying in the sunshine. These pots are the order that I've made three times, the last two batches failed due to a glaze flaw, which we think we may well have resolved, so we have our fingers crossed.
 Today I finished scratching this jug which will be used in the church for flowers on our wedding day.
 Hannah made the jug and I decorated it.
 There are only three weeks to go until our big day
All very exciting!

Saturday 4 April 2015

Wassail and wedding pots

We've come to the end of our stay in Devon for a little while. We head to Bedford for the weekend to see my Mum, then on from there, to Scotland to make pots, fire the wood kiln and of course, in four weeks time, to get married! It seems strange to think that next time we're here we'll be husband and wife.

During the past few days I've been working on this wassail pot. The last one I made cracked, which was very frustrating, as it took ages. This is a replacement and will go in the wood firing in Scotland in a couple of weeks.

It's inscribed with an old English wassail poem,

'Health to thee good apple tree
Well to bear, pocket-fulls, hat-fulls,
Peck-fulls, bushel bag-fulls'

It was a nightmare to slip, each of the birds has to be really well fixed on

It's survived the bisc firing and is all packed up in the van, ready to head North in the morning - lots of bubble wrap required on this pot.

This is a jug that Hannah made. I'm decorating it to go with the big jug in my previous post, to hold flowers in the church on our wedding day. We're hoping to make a collaborative pot for each of the window sills.

They take an awfully long time to decorate, there's still a lot to do to this pot before it's finished.

It carries both our signatures, as you would expect, Hannah's is rather neater than mine!

We're still having problems with our glazes. As you can see in this photo, it keeps 'shivering' off the rims and handles. We've tried all sorts, changed the glaze recipe, changed the firing temperature and lots more, but still we're losing lots of pots. It's frustrating and financially crippling. Fortunately the technical man at Scarva is working on it and thinks he can make our glaze 'fit'.
I had to work late in to the night last night to yet again re-make this order of two handled loving cups. It's the third time I've made the order - at least they get better each time, practice makes perfect and all that, but I really hope that these ones come out successfully.
Happy Easter everybody, back soon from over the Border.

Monday 30 March 2015

Wedding Day pots

Here are some pictures of my amazing wife-to-be, decorating a big jug that I made.

We're going to make a few collaborative pots together and they'll be used for the flowers in the church on our wedding day.

There's a little film at the end too.

Sunday 29 March 2015

Wet slip

Well it's been a tough few weeks. We seem to be dogged by bad luck at the moment.

First of all Hannah was poorly, then the glaze started flaking off the rims of pots and Hannah lost several weeks worth of work, then the kiln in Scotland broke down, then the kiln in Devon malfunctioned and we lost a £600 order, meanwhile, the glaze problem continues.

But, all we can do is keep on making and be thankful that we have each other. And I really am very thankful, when things are tough it would be so easy to just give up, but we look after each other and giving up just isn't an option that we would consider.

 I remade the lost order, a batch of loving cup style, one pint tankards. Hannah has subsequently decorated them with sgrafitto text.
This large baluster will have a white slip and fingerwipe decoration tomorrow.
 A freshly slipped 7lb jug
with a simple, single sprig

This is green slip. I really like the green ones, I could be tempted to slip everything green.
This big jug had such a lovely texture that I just dipped the neck, like the old traditional North Devon jugs. I will leave it with a naked clay body, to be flashed and toasted by the flame of the wood kiln.

Time for sleep and with the clocks changing tonight, there's going to be an hour less of it! Goodnight all