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.
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.
It has been quite a busy day and I didn’t get a chance to take a decent pic, so forgive the quick snap. Many have exchanged hard-earned cash for pots & pieces. I’ve met some lovely people, not least my host Mary and her son Simon & daughter Jennifer. This little corner of Bosham is a hidden Bohemian gem, an artists’ enclave. I want to go and live there. The event continues tomorrow, 11 ’til 4. Next two weekends : Emsworth Arts Trail.
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?
We are nosing about the Wye Valley, and on the way to Hay we ogled the sculptures at Kilpeck church. I spare you, dear reader, the glorious sheela-na-gig. Some of my own work has taken a sculptural turn recently, so I took many photos for inspiration. In Hay, Simon Hulbert’s Brook Street Pottery & Gallery has some magnificent pieces, and the Hay Deli has a tiny cafe with enormously good food. A great day out, a misty moisty morning when cloudy was the weather – all day.
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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?