Obvara Firing

Obvara Firing is an Eastern European technique. The bisque fired pots are fired  in a Raku kiln. As they are removed they are dipped in  mixture of flour, yeast, sugar and water and then plunged in to water to stop the changes. The longer the pot stays in the flour mixture, the darker the effect. It is a rapid process, so literally seconds in the mixture makes the changes.

Obvara technique

Obvara technique

The pots work well if they are burnished at the leatherhard stage. They also work well with texture on the outside as the colours of the technique really highlight the marks.

The recipe ( if you can call it that) is: 2.2 lb of flour/ 1-2 packets of yeast/ 1tbsp sugar/ 2.6 gallons of water. Mix together 2-3 days before use to allow to ferment.

Warning: it is quite smelly and if you are transporting the mixture put the pot in a plastic bag to protect the car! If you look up Baltic Raku or Obvara Raku on the internet you will find videos and other examples of the firing technique.

detail of obvara fired pot

detail of obvara fired pot

West Forest Potters Raku Day

July 2nd, We took part in a Raku day for West Forest Potters.

Richard and I on Raku, Martin on Raku and Wendy and Debbie were smoke firing. In spite of some serious downpours, everyone had a good time and there were some interesting results.

Wendy with some smoke fired pots

Wendy with some smoke fired pots




Martin Raku firing

Martin Raku firing




Bucks Open Studios 2016

Male figure. Crank clay with oxide and glaze. Approximately 65 cm high.

Male figure. Crank clay with oxide and glaze. Approximately 65 cm high.

Bucks Open Studios is rapidly approaching. We are opening on June 17th from 11am at Broomfield Farm, Rignall Road, Great Missenden, HP16 9PE. We are exhibiting with Roger Longdin who takes large format photographs and prints in both colour and monochrome in his home studio. Open Studios starts from this Saturday June 11th and there are over 300 entries in the directory.

At the same time as Open Studios, Richard and I are taking part in the Affordable Art Fair, Hampstead June 16-19th . The kiln is working very hard to keep up.

We love working with the Doorway Gallery and hope to be at the private view next Wednesday evening.

Chris took this photograph of one of the male figures I have made. It will go to one of the exhibitions. They are high fired so can be in the garden or house. Emerging from the greenery seems to be an effective way to display the garden sculpture.

Porcelain bowls

small porcelain bowl with red, black and blue glazes. Approximately 5-7 cm diameter.

small porcelain bowl with red, black and blue glazes. Approximately 5-7 cm diameter.

A collection of small porcelain bowls.

A collection of small porcelain bowls.

Put the flags out! I am now officially a full time ceramicist/potter. After 19 years nursing locally, of which, nearly 13 years with Bpas.

My leaving do was last night. I made some little porcelain bowls for the great team I have worked with.


I have been experimenting with a different way of glazing. They have just splashes and brushes of three different glazes and the rest of the clay is left unglazed. These have been fired to 1240 degrees celsius ( I may fire them higher next time).

I am making more now in different sizes as well as these little ones.

New mugs

These mugs are a commission.  The shape was described with hand gestures to suggest cradling a warm cup of tea.

Not much to go on, but I understood the concept. I then just made shapes on the wheel to fit my imaginings of what was wanted.

Black and white glaze was requested. I don’t use a glossy black, but I do use a  warm black/brown on my figurative sculptures and so decided to try that.

The client was really happy. That is a big relief and also a real pleasure to have got it right.

new mugs

work to do

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

unfired figure just drying out

porcelain bowls

small porcelain bowls waiting to bisque

bisqued work for glazing

bisqued work for glazing

new pitchers

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!

We’re on Vimeo

Earlier in the year Richard was approached by film maker Tom Hartwell.  He suggested making a short film of us at work, as he was putting together some films on crafts. Never ones to say no to something new, we agreed.

A meeting was held to decide what and how we were going to film and to map every step of the process. We spent a cold but sunny day in February with Tom following our every move as we made and fired hares.

It was surprisingly enjoyable.  I certainly felt very self-conscious to start with, but Tom was excellent at his job. I can’t say that I forgot he was there, but apart from when he put the camera right up close, it was not intimidating.

This is the finished result which he has entered into a craft film festival.

Good luck to him.

Demonstration this Friday

We set up the exhibition at the Upstairs Gallery in Berkhamsted today. It is looking good. Peter’s lovely landscapes and portraits on the wall and the ceramics of Chantal, Chris, Jeremy, Richard and I around the gallery. The exhibition starts tomorrow, February 16th.

Richard and I will be demonstrating  this Friday, February 19th, from 10am for a couple of hours. We will be making some of our Raku animals. Peter Keegan will also be demonstrating his painting skills. Hope to see some of you there.

Upstairs gallery poster

Chinstrap penguins

These Chinstrap penguins were made for SOTA Gallery in Witney  (www.sotagallery.co.uk).

chinstrap penguin heads

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.

penguin group 4

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?