Good Friday and it’s a beautiful Spring Day. I am taking a week off, so was just checking everything in the studio is safe to leave.
unfired figure just drying out
small porcelain bowls waiting to bisque
bisqued work for glazing
new pitcher shapes drying.
I can leave things at this stage and a week off will give me time to think of how to glaze these, as well as time to sketch new ideas. I will have plenty to do when I get back to the studio!
These Chinstrap penguins were made for SOTA Gallery in Witney (www.sotagallery.co.uk).
Variations in crackle on these penguins from the same firing.
It is always interesting approaching a new sculpture idea. Photographs are used for reference, but the main thing is to capture some character in the animal. As each one is completely uniquely made, it is great fun to play with the pose and expression as the sculpture progresses. They start on the wheel as an enclosed cylinder, After the clay has dried a little, they are shaped and the head, feet, and wings added. It is getting the head and beak right that gave these fellas their character.
The one on the far right looks like it might be in charge of this lot!
Richard and I both made these. Can you tell who made which penguin?
I inherited a plaster mould from a friend, Sara Johnson, who died a year ago. She was known for her slip cast earthenware fruit and vegetables.
stoneware glazes press moulded pepper
I wanted to use the mould, but experiment with my clay and glazes. I press-moulded the pepper and used stoneware glazes. It is more difficult to glaze the bottom as you cannot use stilts in a stoneware firing so easily.
It is different and it was fun to try. I am not sure I am happy with the base being unglazed.
Commissions are always a challenge. In this case I was commissioned to make a set of eggnog cups.
The brief was quite specific. There is always the worry of whether the finished piece or pieces will live up to expectations not just from me but from the person who has placed the commission. When the colours are specified, as they were here, there is the difficulty of knowing whether the glazes will do as expected in the firing. Glazing always has an element of unpredictability. Opening the kiln is like Christmas- sometimes you are over the moon and sometimes it is a disappointment.
These cups were dipped twice to make a diagonal line with two different glazes. Fortunately, or I should say, as planned, the colours came out well.
Eggnog for Christmas – delicious!
Eggnog cups, approx. 6 cm high
Micro penguins. Raku fired smaller penguins.
This Saturday (5th December) Amersham Artisans are taking part in the Christmas fun at Amersham-on-the Hill. We will be in St Michael’s Church from 10-6pm. There are some talented local artists showing their work such as jewellery, textiles, photography, metal art, glass, and much more.
The high street will be pedestrians only and there will also be a number of outdoor stalls and activities, including ice skating, carols and switching on the Christmas Tree lights.
I have made a few items with a Christmas feel, but there will also be the usual animals, bowls, mugs and jugs. Richard and Alice are enjoying the Christmas markets of Bruges this weekend, so Chris may need to be persuaded to lend a hand.
Click on the smaller images to view at full size.
Cheeky micro chicks
Appreciation comes in many forms. For a struggling potter, seeing a customer come back to buy more work is perhaps one of the most satisfying!
A lady who bought a female figure sculpture from Stewkley Garden Exhibition in the summer came back to visit us yesterday. She was enjoying her original purchase so much that she decided to take two more. It was an exciting day and I am truly grateful, as always, that someone else enjoys the ceramics that we produce.
Amersham Artisans next weekend, so hopefully a few more pieces will be admired enough to find their way into Christmas stockings.
Fern impressed stoneware female figure. Stains, oxides and glazes.
Grapevine impressed female figure. Crank clay, stoneware fired with oxides and glaze.
Here is the finished birdbath made by Kirsten and her friends. I love the fact that they go for something completely different from what I would choose, and we just go with all their ideas. I have the fun of glazing it all and then making the base. The base is a lovely section of old railway sleeper sanded and oiled, on a piece of slate for stability. The underwater theme really works here.
Birdbath from side
looking down at the top
I wonder what the birds will make of it?
We have just completed this commission for an author: a pair of Aardvarks. They are to complement a soon to be published children’s book titled ” ‘Aarry the Aardvark”.
‘Aarry and ‘AaJ
Here are some more images from my iPad of new sculptures:
The first sculpture (above) is crank clay fired to stoneware with oxides and glazed. This was sold by Barn Galleries at a recent exhibition at The Odney Club, Cookham.
The next is a commission going to By Gillian Gallery in Bourne End. It is imprinted clay with, leaves, lace, stamps, found objects and added stains and glazes.
The third is going to an exhibition at Stewkley Gardens run by Lendon Scantlebury, same as above for glazing, but also has gold leaf additions.
The fourth is another one made of crank clay, destined for Bucks Open Studios to be displayed in Roger’s lovely gardens at Broomfield Farm in Great Missenden.
2015 Bucks Open Studios will be open from tomorrow. We hope to see you there.
This stoneware fired torso is suitable for display in the garden or indoors.
Stoneware torso, approx. 85cm including base
The clay is impressed with ferns, lace and other marks while still soft. After the bisque firing, glazes and oxides are brushed and poured on. It is then fired to around 1240°C. I have an idea of how the glazes will colour, but the end result is serendipitous as I cannot predict exactly how the glazes react with each other. Opening the kiln is always a hold my breath moment – joy or back to the drawing board?
The plinth is wood, rescued by scavenging in skips, construction jobs and reclaim yards. It has been sanded, charred, polished and embellished with metal additions.
Hopefully it will be on display during our Bucks Open Studios event in June. Click on Exhibitions and Events for further details.