Gnu Gnu, as she is now known, has form if not substance, and she is beautiful in her transcendence, but her metamorphosis from sleek long planks of red cedar is in abeyance. Over the phone the timber yard had said they could cut the planks into 1/4″ strips and profile the edges into bead and coving, but face-to-face they demurred, so it will be my hands that give shape to Gnu Gnu‘s intimate hidden detail. Which will be a lot of work. And a lot of sawdust and a lot of wood-shavings. Isn’t there something about that in A Midsummer Night’s Dream ?
There’s a buzz in the Pete’s Pots studio, but the kiln has been cold for days and the wheel is still. The bees are back! Last year the nest in the roof went quiet after a few months and I feared the worst, but the Tree Bees have returned and are busy busy. Maybe all those honeypots I made had something to do with it.
Why are the best outcomes so often the result of an intensely focussed need for a sudden solution – or is the answer self-evident? The need was for a display bench for the Open Studios, and the solution was an old oxen yoke cut in half and capped with an ash plank retrieved when I re-roofed the barn. Knocked up in minutes, it stole the show. Oh, and only one of the pots is mine. The other, a little beauty, came from the Charity Shop.
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.
This is it, almost my total stock. Perilously little for 5 days of Arts Trail. A lot went last weekend at the Art in the Garden Trail, and it has been too cold recently to get much more made. On the upside, I’m pleased with the gallery (as I like to call my garage). Pointedly, no photo of the studio, but come opening time tomorrow it will be spruce. If I say that often enough, it’s bound to be true.Oh, and then there are all the neode pots on the window wall – forgot about those. And all the Green Men, sun tiles, leaf tiles and fish tiles. Not too bad then. Roll on tomorrow morning.
Just a couple of days to go and the pace is manic. Oh dear – the weather is starting to look like a repeat of last year. Never mind, the kiln will be on, and the wood-burner, and the kettle, so we can snug down and moan about the cold. The screenshot above is of the front and back pages of the brochure – spot Pete’s Pots!
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!
Emsworth Crafts market tomorrow, 10 ’til 1. My last one in Emsworth this year as I shall be at Funtington in December. This year-end is turning out very busy, with commissions rolling in and invitations to extra markets. Next year there may be less of them, as the pottery is moving in a new direction. I am selling an increasing number of the larger pots, which I enjoy making, but they are less practical for the craft market pitches. More Open Days maybe?
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.
The blog has been quiet for the last 3 weeks as we have been in SW Ireland. A great trip but disappointing on the pottery front. For example we visited a couple of high profile potteries where the work was, in my opinion, a blatant rip-off targetted at tourists. Ridiculously expensive for what it was, ie poorly made, lacking elegance, churned out in quantity with little attention to detail, etc.
On the upside, The Rowans Hospice have told me that our Arts Trail collection on their behalf was worth nearly £75 with Gift Aid included. Our deep thanks go to everyone who contributed.
The snails? On the wall of the Signal Station at Mizen Head. Design inspiration – see them on a pot soon. Oh, and if you find yourself near Dingle, do visit the Phoenix Restaurant. Beautiful place, beautiful people.
Another superb weekend for the Arts Trail Open Studio. This time the sun shone, so there was a lot of sitting in the sun and chit-chatting. A big party and a really great time. People were very generous with the Rowans collecting tins; I’ll post the total amount here when I know it. I’m trying to keep the gallery much as it was, because numerous people asked if it was possible to come and visit at any time. On the other hand, I need the working space for the slab roller and the bigger pots, so I’ve put covers over the shelves to keep the dust off. The gallery will probably stay for the rest of the year. Meanwhile, I’ve got a batch of commissions to work through. No rest for the wicked, as the candle commiserated with the oil lamp.
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 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?
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.