I’ve been slapping leaf sprigs from the Green Man construction all over the place, and here they are on a tile, coated with my favourite blue glaze. The last of my stock sold last weekend, but some nifty footwork in the studio has produced a new batch – which should be coming out of the kiln as our first visitors surge up the drive on Saturday on Day 3 of the Arts Trail. Sod’s Law says none of them will sell. As I said, c’est la vie.
First craft market of the year at Emsworth this morning. Both the sun and the people of Emsworth came out in force, there was a super buzz in the hall, and sales were good. Rowlands Castle for me next Saturday, then Bosham Art in the Garden Trail , followed over the next two weekends of the Emsworth Arts Trail. More sun, please, more sun!
It should have been night out with friends to celebrate the start of Spring, but not even Orion’s dog, brightest of the bright, could make it through the veil of cloud. Even so, Merulus was in fine voice in the early hours, followed later by his erstwhile cousins the Rubeculas. A sudden inspiration to put the Green Man’s leaves onto a stoneware planter came during the song and I think it has worked well.
I make these as bird-baths, the idea being that the crinkly rings give the feathery dippers a grip to stop them slipping & sliding relentlessly into deep water. This one of a batch I am making in stoneware for the Bosham Art in the Garden Trail, Sat 20th & Sun 21st April. They will be on sale at around £45.
Amongst a batch of commissions from before Xmas was one for a pair of house names. The somewhat unusual name was to be clearly readable despite being set back from the road, with unobtrusive decoration. After a few sketches we settled on what you can see here, and the plaques came out of the kiln today. The big question – what does the name mean? And yes, I have Googled it.
A commission for 3 Green Man wall plates has given me some trouble, as I am not a sculptor. Googling him produced a vast number of images. I don’t want mine to be a copy, so that was an extra constraint. After several sacrifices to the bin I came up with this, and, as I write, the plaster is setting in the cottle. Further vegetation will be added, but cannot be included in the plasterwork because of the undercuts. So fiddly. Is this why Henry Moore went for smooth?
With the passing of the Winter Solstice there is a palpable sense of heading into a new year – the days are already getting longer, although it’s difficult to believe in this wet and gloomy weather. So Pete’s Pots wishes everyone out there a joyous Xmas with friends and family. To my potter friends, may your clay respond lovingly to your touch, and shape itself to your wishes rather than its own. May your firings be surprising yet successful, and may your pots bring joy to all who hold them.
If you are sensitive to the magic and melancholy of the 60’s, the title of this post may resonate with you. Similarly, there is a strange connection between the colour blue and ceramics. For many people it is the only one to consider. This lidded jar was made by Emma when she spent a day in the studio exploring some clay possibilities. I’ve glazed it for her. She wanted….. blue.
Blooming alone it might be, but it looks happy in my little pot, as does the holly with the sprig of conifer. All three were picked the same day, in this year of strange weather when the garden doesn’t know if it is coming or going. Talking of going, I’m at Rowland’s Castle tomorrow. 10 ’til 1 in Village Hall. Looking forward to it.
A friend of mine at the craft market comissioned a couple of lamp bases for her new lounge, based on the shape and size of my large vases. “No problem”, said I naively, “Just needs a narrower neck”. Wrong. Bringing the coils up to a narrower neck changes the aesthetic of the overall shape. Then there is the tricky problem, given shrinkage, of how to get the hole correctly sized for the lamp fitting. And these issues are not confronted until about 90% of the coiling is done. Oh dear, back on the learning curve again. The first four attempts are in the bin, but now it is starting to come good, and very satisfying it is too. A pity that I am 180 years too late for Goethe.
The success rate on the big plates is slowly improving. Careful drying and firing are needed. This beauty, stoneware with a plain blue glaze and crimped edge, is my favourite so far. Others – some of them, anyway – are in the bin. In fact, my bin is rather full, as I’ve been having a smashing time, clearing out all sorts of rubbish stock. Feels good. Hope I’ve got enough left for the next few craft markets, or it’s out with the super-glue.
A good friend of mine commissioned a set of mugs for a relative of his who was about to embark on a degree course. Each mug boasts a famous bit of Mathematics in gold lettering, and this one was especially apposite. Answers on a postcard please for what the complete formula is, and whose formula it is (Terry, you are banned from taking part!)
Back in the UK and all the ware which was drying out nicely while we were getting soaked in the Pyrenees is lined up for firing. First batch for biscuiting included the bigger orbs and a couple of large plates. All the stock orbs sold during the Open Studio days in May, as did the ‘tyre’ planters – replacements for these went in the kiln as the orbs came out.
Finally I have made the last of the items for orders received at the Open Studios weekends. But for the Irish trip, they would all have been fired and delivered by now – apologies to those affected. All the sempervivum (house leek) planters in stock sold at the time, even though they were a bit wonky and narrowly escaped the bin. I think I’ve cracked the technique now, tricky but satisfying. Working out how to make unfamiliar items is a large part of the joy of making them.
Last day of the Emsworth Arts Trail today. All set for a warm and sunny one, even better than yesterday, when we were able to sit out in the garden chatting with friends and visitors. Rock bun numbers diminished rapidly, but there’ll be a fresh baking this morning. Flap jack is holding up well, but expected to go. The ‘Seconds & Rejects’ table in the gallery seems to be drawing the most interest. Is primacy of perfection a myth? Or is it that we just like a bargain? Come and decide for yourself, it will be lovely to see you. As well as the pottery and photography in the garage gallery, we have knitting and weaving in the summerhouse, which we affectionately call ‘Sheila’s Shed’.
Well, how about that then? As we launch into w/e 2 of the Arts Trail, with O&P safely back here on their mooring, what should Google do but flag up Edward Lear’s 200th birthday on their home-page, with specific reference to The Owl and The Pussycat. For some reason best known to themselves they chose not to refer to us….. As my contribution to the celebration, here is the complete poem as stamped on the hull:
The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea,
In a beautiful wooden boat.
They took some stew and plenty of goo
In case it didn’t float.
But all was well as they rode the swell
Along the British coast
So to builders and donors and muffligate owners
They tippled a hearty toast.
It’s a lovely day here, the sun is shining at last, and we look forward to welcoming this weekend’s visitors to the studios. I’ll be doing a kiln-opening late-morning – disaster or delight?
We have had the most wonderful 3 days, with a steady stream of visitors to the studios. We are some way off the main Trail, so anyone making the effort to come here, especially in the cold & wind & rain, probably had a particular interest in pottery, knitting or weaving. Many friends & neighbours also popped in, some that we hadn’t seen for a while. The wood-burner in the pottery kept us cosy, and the lemon drizzle & flapjack took a hammering. So did the stock, but we are still good for next weekend.
Day 2 of the Arts Trail, and another lovely day. We had a steady stream of visitors, lots of chatting and drinking tea in the studio huddled round the wood-burner. From this you may gather that it was another wild wet and windy one, but spirits were not dampened. This evening O&P went to Thornham Marina to take their position in the Arts Trail exhibition tent ready for tomorrow. We also had a chance to have a good look at the boat. Absolutely fantastic, what a visionary idea, what superb craftsmanship. Double-click to enlarge pics.
Despite the cold and the rain it has been a great day, with a steady stream of visitors who seemed to like the pots and certainly bought a lot. Thank goodness I have built up a good stock level, otherwise by Day 5, at this rate, it would be “Yes, I do make pots, but I’m afraid I haven’t got any to show you”. In the afternoon I did a session on the wheel which seemed to go down well, and the lump of mud obediently transformed into a fine jug which is earmarked as a present for one of our guests.
Things are looking up – the forecast has changed from heavy rain to light rain for today. All is spruce and dapper, and apart from everyhting that I”ve forgotten to do, everything is done. Our first visitor arrived on the dot of 10, a passing dog-walker, who stayed for a chat and a browse. The rain has stopped, no-one has nicked the wind-sock and poster in the road yet, so all is good.
36 hours before we open to the public and the last load of special pots goes in the kiln. My favourites these, handmade in France and biscuit fired over there in my little raku kiln, brought back for glazing and the second firing.
So it was – shall we say a bit of a downer – when the kiln packed up 2 hours into the firing cycle. Kaput. Zilch.
Dylan at Northern Kilns saved the day. He talked me through the diagnostics and I discovered that the contactor had failed. I got a spare from the local electrical wholesaler, fitted it, and now we’re back in business. Hence the big sighs of relief as the figures climbed on the temperature display.
My toe is fine, my head has healed (don’t ask), and I have a new camera, so all is well with the world. Only a week now until the Arts Trail, and mild panic has set in. With reason maybe, as most of my special pots were made from a delivery of clay which proved to be faulty, warping far too readily when fired.
I’ve managed to build up some other stock, even if it is a bit last-minute. Hence these items being fast-dried as the kiln cools from the previous firing, and an extra stock of terracotta which only needs one firing.
Participants in the Emsworth Arts Trail have been invited to submit a piece of work with a marine theme for an exhibition on launch day, 7th May, at The Boat Project at Thornham Marina. I’m working on this model which is almost ready for biscuit firing, to be followed by the glaze firing. That’s assuming it survives that far, and just now, as dry raw clay, it is very fragile.The poem references the Boat Project, a quite remarkable construction of a sailing boat from donated pieces of wood – old tennis rackets, chairs, wooden toys, and so on. Click here to view the Boat Project website.
I’m fascinated by designs where form and function complement each other. To make these stoneware candle-holders I took a plaster cast of a cookery ring mold, then finished the slumped slab on the wheel. I’ve extended this idea to make larger garden planters using an inner-tube as an inflatable mold. The first of these go in the kiln this week.
A super morning at Emsworth Craft Market, even though the weather kept people away. Great to see everyone again. The soap dishes stole the show , closely followed by the new glaze, so I’m happy.
On Sunday we had guests. Emma’s birthday present was a session in the studio, while Rob looked after gorgeous little Megan. In an intense day, Emma did 2 press molds, formed a bowl, threw 2 beakers on the wheel (and a lot of clay into my scrap bin!) and made a superb slab-built lidded jar. The wood-burner kept us snug and the crack kept us cheery – altogether a lovely day in good company.
Busy today getting ready for my first Craft Market of the year, at Emsworth. And it’s going to be raining as I’m unloading. Well, this is England. Should clear later, though. The new pots are rolling out nicely. I’m taking the big garden pot in the pic to Emsworth, as I’m pleased with it and want to show it off. Likewise the big platter. (x2 click pic to enlarge)
I recently bought an impressive set of letters from a company called Impressive Letters (email@example.com). Quite expensive, but very good. Now they need to earn their keep. First up is a short poem, which has gone into the kiln this evening for the bisc firing. The slabs will have to be fairly small, so we are talking haiku here, not epic. Any suggestions?
I’ve made a new ‘page’ titled Pots & Pieces: The Gallery and stocked it with a dozen or so photos of old and new studio output. The layout is imperfect, and after battling for hours with the ‘edit’ option I consulted the WP forums and found that others are reporting the same problem, as of today. Gives me a good excuse!
A very enjoyable morning at Rowlands Castle Craft Market, organised by Sylvia Tomkinson, herself a skilled jeweller. Minus 2 degrees when I left home, but sunny and crisp. The hall was toasty with the radiators at full blast. Sylvia’s mulled wine and mince pies added to the glow. David, who runs Candle Cavern based in Petersfield, had the adjoining stall, and helped me to sort out the problem of my smokey oil lamps. He uses beeswax and soy wax for his candles, and works with a keen environmental awareness. Kate Steed, who keeps a flock of Jacob sheep at nearby Northwood Farm, had her usual cosy display of winter warmers – sheepskin rugs, wool, and knitwear.
I was delighted to be welcomed back by several customers from last year. As always, I had several most interesting and useful chats with people on subjects as diverse as ski-ing, barn owls and the EU. Between times I sold a few ceramics, Xmas decorations and soap dishes being top sellers again.
This is my last Market for 2011. I’m already pencilling-in up to Xmas next year, but the main event to begin with will be the Emsworth Arts Trail, 5 days in May when my studio in Woodmancote will be open to the public. More of that in a later post.
This super local craft market is this Saturday, 10th December, 10 ’til 1 in the Parish Hall. Click here for full details.
Last Saturday I was at the Emsworth Craft Market, another good one, and I had my highest takings of all time (even going back to when I used to sell wooden toys & puzzles there, 25 years ago). My little ceramic Xmas decorations sold well, as did the new soap dishes with their hand-carved bamboo supports for the soap. To find out more about Emsworth Craft Market and to see the work of other exhibitors, click here.
Here we go, dipping a toe Into the world of Blogging If the world ignores my pearls A dead horse I shall be flogging.
Well, ‘pottery’ is a near-anagram of poetry…..
Enough of this drivel. Let’s be serious. This blog will be used to let you know what’s going on in the studio – successes and failures, new lines and abandoned dreams. For a start, the new stoneware is going down a treat. A rich, deep, dark tenmoku complements a subtle satin-matte white, and where they overlap there is the most amazing random mottling.
To date I have used this for mugs, jugs, large round and square plates, vases and dishes. I am also using the white on its own, and in combination with a denim blue.