Sunday, 26 December 2010

Craft Fairs - the good, the bad, and the shipped in from China

Yeah, I thought it was about time I wrote another post! It's been a while hasn't it?

So what have all you lovely people been up to? I mean, apart from the Christmas thing - I hope you all had a lovely time with your friends and family by the way.

I have been feeling much more sociable than usual, which has helped me keep my sanity at the Crafts Fairs I took part in recently. Last time I blogged I said I had one more show to do, which was more of an Arts and Craft Fair. It was very quiet there, and I didn't sell as much as I had hoped, but I did better than the two previous exhibitions put together! But it was mainly those little dishes that sold.

It was very dark in the Tithe Barn, but at least it was warm (once they closed the door!) and we had free hot drinks.

After that I still had so many pieces that I made a last minute decision to take part in an Arts and Craft Fair in another town. It was a disaster. I thought the first one was quiet, but this one was completely dead. I sold less than £10 worth of stuff in a whole day. This was a more expensive venue as well - £25 a day, compared to £15 for the last one. And there were no hot drinks as we had been promised. As if that wasn't bad enough, the organiser decided that we should pack up early. Some of us wanted to stay for the full amount of time we had paid for, but what choice do you have when most of the others have packed up and gone home? Anyone walking through the door at that point would think the Fair was over anyway.

It was much brighter in the Guildhall, and it is a beautiful building, but it was freezing and we had no hot drinks.

The organiser offered me a free table for the next day, and an extra one (since so many people had pulled out) to do a demonstration. It was the second day that my social skills were really put to the test! For some reason, even though I was sitting right next to my table of wares, people didn't connect the two. I have no idea what they thought I was doing! My friend Anita helped me out that day, and we both had to keep explaining to people that I was demonstrating how I make my pieces. Some people were impressed, but many were just confused!

It was busier that day, but still quiet. And I sold less than £10 again. To top it off I also got a parking ticket, after being told by the organiser that parking was free!

This is how I felt after two days of freezing my butt off for less than £20, which didn't even cover the cost of the hot drinks and food I had to buy, not to mention the parking, the table, and the parking ticket! And I didn't even shout at anyone! It's an unfinished squirrel by the way, with no ears, no arms and no tail.

The thing that really niggled me at this event was that many of the people there were not selling handmade goods, or at least, not made by themselves. One lady shipped her leather bound hand made paper books in from India, and the stall advertising "Hand made Leather Bags" shipped them in from Morocco. There was also a stall selling boots, which I'm guessing the lady didn't hand stitch herself, likewise with the childrens hard backed books. The same was true for the lady selling cards, and the lady selling toys, and the lady selling dog treats... in fact, after talking to so many stall holders who just shipped their stock in from elsewhere, by the second day I gave up asking "Did you make these yourself?" and replaced it with "Did you ship this in from somewhere?". Apart from myself, there was only the jam lady, the cake lady, the knitting girls, the felt decorations lady, and another lady with hand made decorations that brought in their own hand made stuff. And not all of those were there both days! No wonder people looked confused by my demonstration!

So, the good points were that at the first Craft Fair I managed to get rid of sell that Ivy Vase with the glaze that didn't crack, and the leaf that broke. I explained to the customer about the glued on leaf, and she wanted it anyway. Mind you, she is my counsellor! Does that sale count??

Another highlight was swapping pendants for home made cake :) I did this at both Fairs.

And of course, doing a demonstration was definitely a highlight, and a first for me, even if it did leave people confused! Having my hands in clay that day definitely helped to keep me sane!

Next Post: The year in review and my goals for 2011.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Bouncing back!

Well, I never did sell any more than just those two sets of coasters at my first show of the season. Pytchley was much better although only being a one day show, and sales are very reassuring, so I've put all that negative vibe stuff behind me - it's time to bounce back!

My table at Pytchley

Actually, I'm not doing too much bouncing at the moment because I'm nursing a rotten cold! Scott and I always seem to get them really badly, but on a positive note it's not as bad as the flu we had this time last year!

I still have one more show left to go, and I'm hoping I'll do well there. It's more of an arts and crafts market, and I tend to think people go to markets to buy, rather than to just look at beautiful art, which is what I think a lot of people go to art exhibitions for. Am I right?

Once that's over with I can't wait to get my hands in some clay again! It may seem a little early to start setting goals for the next year, but already I'm thinking ahead about what I want to achieve. The FPAA have said that there will be a limit to how many pieces each artist can exhibit next year, which is fair. Currently artists can only exhibit two paintings, but if you are a ceramic artist you can display a whole table. Next year ceramic artists will also only be able to exhibit two pieces of art, so I really want to exhibit my best. I'm kind of excited about this. I think it will mean no more sales at the FPAA for me, but it will become an avenue for me to display real works of art. I shall have to keep stretching myself to produce pieces that create enough presence on their own.

Back to the present day, the glaze on the swan didn't turn out too well and so I couldn't include it in the Pytchley show. That'll teach me to test my glazes before using them for the first time!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Negative vibe

Hello all. Well, what can I say? I'm not sure how to start this post off because all I'm going to do is moan my head off anyway. You don't have to read it, but it's my blog, so there!!

I was "stewarding" at the show today, and each time I do it I come home feeling negative and down. There just doesn't seem to be a very positive vibe this time, or maybe it's just me? I can't decide.

Why it could be me: I seem to need a lot of reassurance about my work, and I'm just not getting it. I "only" sold two sets of coasters on the preview evening, and nothing since. Still, I keep trying to remind myself that someone liked my Jane Austen theme enough to buy the coasters, and that maybe they just couldn't afford a larger piece. No-one has left a comment in my comments book this time though, which mean as much to me as sales.

Why it's probably the vibe from the show: I don't even know where to start with this one! I really hate snobbery and partiality. On the preview evening I was talking to a member of the FPAA when someone else butted in to introduce a posh looking lady who was obviously very "important", and suddenly I wasn't in the conversation anymore, and I was left standing there looking at someones back. I was too tired to care at the time, but with other events this week it's really starting to niggle me.

You may recall that in the summer when Stella (a fabulous artist and a really lovely lady) won both "Best Ceramic" and "Runner up", Scott was outraged. It really didn't bother me at all, but Scott was convinced that it was all fixed. But this time round it is starting to bother me, but not because I haven't won anything, but because I just hate hate hate the favouritism thing. Once again Stella has won the "Best Sculpture" (and rightly so), but maybe others had mentioned that she shouldn't win both 1st and runner up because this time there isn't a runner up!

I started looking around at the other pieces that had won prizes, because I noticed that some fabulous paintings had been completely overlooked, and some of the winners weren't actually as good. What I noticed is that a high percentage of those who had won were committee members of the FPAA (and two of them were there while the judging was taking place). I don't know why this depresses me, but it really does. Other people have noticed it as well, including the actual owner of the Museum, who made a complaint to the Chair Person of the FPAA. She was very honest (despite being a winner herself) and agreed that the person who judges needs to be someone from another town who doesn't know any of the members. But sadly, some other committee members (who have won three years in a row) feel very strongly that the judge stay the same... it just disgusts me, and I don't particularly want to be associated with an organisation like that.

So I'm wondering if all of this is affecting the "vibe" at the show. It just doesn't feel the same as it did a couple of years ago before I was a member. I remember going to the preview evening with Anita and the room was just buzzing. I've never seen it as busy as it was that night and the vibe has never felt the same. This one feels worse though.

All of that being said, I have to say that it is a beautiful exhibition with lots of different styles and media.

Rant over. I'm just not sure about renewing my membership at the end of the year.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Updates and photos

Wow, what an insanely busy week I've had! I was glazing all day Monday and Wednesday and I just about got everything fired in time! I unloaded the kiln at about 12.30 Thursday night / Friday morning, and I had to set up my show on Friday!

There were a few disasters along the way... the piece that broke in my hand and dropped into the kiln... but also my lovely swan ended up with a huge crack underneath!

This actually happened in the glaze firing, although the swan wasn't glazed. I know that sounds strange. Well, the swan was made with stoneware but I wanted to use a low fire glaze on it, so I read that I could fire it to stoneware and then glaze it. Previously I would have just low fired it even though it's stoneware and it wouldn't have been fully "mature", but I got it in my head this time that I wanted everything to be done "properly". Anyway, I have managed to repair the damage with more paper clay (amazing stuff) and popped it in with my low fire glaze firing, but it still needs to be glazed. Thankfully, John (from the clay class) has said I can pop it in their kiln on Monday, so I should have it by the weekend for the Pytchley show. Thank you John!

Another disaster was the red vase I made for my sister in law. When it came out of the kiln it looked like the surface of the moon! (but red) I took this photo especially for you dear readers...

... but then when I looked at the photo it struck me how much it looks like a strawberry... which gave me an idea! I filled in the pinholes craters with black under glaze, and then refired the piece with my low fire pieces. So now the dots look like seeds (I hope) and I shall exhibit this as a strawberry vase! The finished result is included in the slide show below. I have no idea what caused the pinholing in the first place though. I vaccumed my kiln, and wiped my vases down before glazing, so I don't think it's dust. And it only happened on the red one...

Apart from that everything has run fairly smoothly, I've just had to make some last minute changes to what I had planned to display and where. This is my table at the FPAA. The drawings in the background are from a kids drawing competition.

A couple of people at the FPAA said that my work is "evolving" and that I'm "coming along well". One lady bought both sets of my coasters on the opening night, then another man asked about them, and my friend was planning on buying them herself! So I know what I will have to start making soon!

There are so many photos to show you I decided to join Photobucket and upload a slide show. I hope you enjoy it. I still have my pendants to photograph once they are on the chains.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

My new toy

Just sit back and relax, and have the blog post read to you!

Potter at an art fair by icsthrower - enjoy!

Hey, let me know if you like this type of post, I may do it more often!

Saturday, 30 October 2010

I finally finished the rabbit... er... meerkat!

How does something start out as a rabbit and end up looking like a cross between Yoda and ET? I don't know, but here it is.

He looks like he's meditating doesn't he? Honestly, his head isn't really that big in the flesh, the camara lies.

Less than two weeks before my first show now. So am I finished making all of my pieces yet? Umm... no.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Busy doing nothing

Wow, I have been really struggling to get clay time recently, which put me in an incredibly bad mood today. I can only go so long without clay before I seriously start losing the plot and feel like doing violent paintings again! I don't even know what's been getting in the way, just rubbish things, like gas men, and feeling too tired and things like that. I even followed my counsellors advice and scheduled it into my diary, and it still didn't happen! The end result is that by the time I actually managed to get my clay out today, I had lost my confidence again...

I started on a piece weeks ago that was supposed to be a rabbit, except it looks nothing like one! So I started altering it a bit to try to make it into a meerkat - something that a couple of people have asked me to make - but today I seemed to be struggling with that as well! And I have less than 3 short weeks before my shows begin!

At least I know I will be able to fire my pieces now... oh yes, we've had lots of fun and games in the kiln department! Someone came to change our electric meter (I would say "upgrade" but I hate that word!) and he noticed that the kiln was completely bypassing the meter! So he had to make an "emergency call" to "abort" (yes, he really said that). I was expecting the CIA, to come crashing through the window from an overhead hellicopter...

Needless to say, it is all sorted out now, otherwise I wouldn't be joking about it. But it was extremely stressful and it cost us an extra £153 to have it put right (which we are trying to get back from the electrician who wired it in), but at least they didn't disconnect my kiln, or our whole house supply, or have us sent to prison, despite treating us like criminals even though we had absolutely no knowledge of what the electrician had done.

Rage - from ... umm... a long time ago

So, I have actually made some pendants, because I can just about manage cookie cutters...

... and I made some log things with birds before I lost my confidence somewhere...

... I'm thinking I really need to find my confidence again because I've just spent about a million pounds on glazes... and of course I have those shows coming up, so the timing isn't great. If you see it anywhere, please send it home :)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Busy busy busy!

Hello people! It's been a busy week here! Specifically, it's been a busy week with clay, I'm glad to say!

My week kicked off with clay class on Monday evening! I don't really need the classes now that I have my own kiln, but I go to accompany my lovely niece Sophie. Sophie is 16 now, so she qualifies for the adult learning course, but she has Autism and so she needs a carer to be with her. And I get to catch up with some of the other students who have re-enrolled!

Sophie is a wonderful artist. She can sketch an outline for a drawing in minutes! She particularly likes to draw Pokemon, but she draws other things too, mainly in that Anime style. What amazes me most is that she draws everything on a graphics tablet! I tried using one of those things recently and I couldn't even sign my own name without considerable practice! There are so many of her pieces that I love, (and I don't have all of them) but here is one that she drew for her Mum recently:

Anyway, she seemed to enjoy the clay class and is looking forward to this Monday coming. I shall have to remember to photograph some of her clay work!

Back to my own studio, I tried to get as many pieces finished in my white clay as possible before getting out my brown/black clay, because it stains everything! I could still do with making lots of little pieces for the Arts and Crafts fair coming up in December, but I wanted to get my main pieces for my two main shows out of the way first. After a very busy week I am nearly finished! Phew!

Some of the last white pieces I made were some Jane Austen coasters. You wouldn't believe how much I struggled to make a few simple tiles! Although I manage to keep them flat during drying, they keep shrinking out of shape! If you look carefully in this photo you can see:

In the end I scrapped the ones I made at first and made some more, but this time I let the clay shrink a little before cutting them out! It seeems to have worked.

Here is one of the black/brown pieces I have made this week:

I only noticed after taking the photo that the news paper that is wrapped around the tube has a picture of someone in an army uniform! Kind of ironic! Anyway, the areas I plan to glaze are painted in white slip. I have made quite a few pieces similar to this bird one...

... but they are all standing on end while they dry! So they're not really in the best position for photographing! (If I lay them down while they are soft they will collapse under their weight)

And that's this week! I have a couple of pieces to finish today, and then I need to make one more animal (maybe a Meerkat, since someone asked me about that recently) and then I should have enough for my two main shows! Yippee! After these three shows I have a whole six months until my next show! So I predict lots of animal sculptures! :D

Monday, 27 September 2010

Paper Clay

As promised, here is my review of paper clay - so called because a percentage of it is paper or some other combustible material, so that after firing the piece made with it should be lighter in weight. I've also heard that it is supposed to add strength to the piece while building, and can be repaired or added to even in it's dry state.

The first thing I noticed is it's strange texture. It feels spongey, and it does actually feel lighter than clay even when wet. It's very clean and easy to use, and it doesn't even smell like clay, which I missed. I think it probably was a little stronger while building and held it's own weight quite well, but I still had to leave it to set a little every now and then. The only two negative things were the smell and the fact that it dried my hands out much more than ordinary clay. It didn't smell bad, it just didn't smell like clay.

And here is the finished piece. I'll have a better idea about weight once it is fired and glazed.

And no, I'm not tired of making swans yet! This one is a bit bigger than my first swan, and measures at about 17 inches long, 9 1/2 inches high, and 7 inches wide.

In other news:
I have sent off my applications for my upcoming shows and have had a postcard printed to advertise them! Unfortunately I forgot to put the date of one of the shows on the postcard!!

Apart from that it's just go go go, getting ready for the shows!

Kathy asked me, did I ever dream of this? Well no, I didn't, and I don't suppose the man who interviewed me at the college did either! Hahahaha! Oh how I wish I knew what his name was and how to contact him!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Some updates

Hello blogging friends! Oh dear, what a naughty blogger I've been! I haven't updated for ages! To be honest it's just so easy to write a quick (one sentence) update on FaceBook and upload a photo and forget about the blog. But for those of you who have more sense than to use that (addictive) service, here is an update!

It was so wet during August! You may recall I had 4 vases in the process of being made all at the same time, and I was struggling to get them to set. For those of you who have been wondering, the hair dryer worked very well!

It took quite a while, but I finally got the vases finished!

The one on the right is for my sister inlaw and will be glazed red. The one on the left I have carved an ivy design and I intend to do an iron oxide wash on it once it has been fired. I will try to remember to take photos of the process!

The other two vases took longer to finish as my Mum took very ill and I didn't get any clay time for a while. I'm glad to say she is much better now and is giving up smoking!! These ones have the Marianne design slip inlayed on them, and since this photo was taken I have also added some fancy little handles either side of the neck.

These two came out much smoother because before I had finished them I invested in a whirler! (A whirler is a round stand that spins round, although it's not powered like a potters wheel is) So I was able to spin the vase round and use the steel kidney/scraper on the side to get a more even finish.

I also bought some other essential items - some 12" shelf props, and an angle grinder to try to clean these shelves up! I shall need to do that soon because I'm loading the kiln as I go (which is why I have no photgraph of the vases with their handles on!) I'm running out of surface space, and I don't want anything to get damaged, so I put the vases straight in the kiln when they were finished.

This week I have started a project using paper clay! More about that next post!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Ok, another question!

I started another couple of vases yesterday, but before too long they were too floppy for me to work on, so I started another couple of vases while I was waiting for them to set a little.

So now I have four vases on the go and one big problem - the weather. I'm leaving the vases unwrapped, but the air is so cold and damp that they just don't want to stiffen up!

I'm thinking about actually using my hair dryer on them! But I know that usually quick drying results in cracking. Do you think it will be ok since I'm not completely drying the pot?

I saw a video on youtube once of a man using a blowtorch on his pot! I really thought it would make the pot crack, but apparently not. So, surely a hair dryer will be ok?

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Inspiration struck!

Well, as I said, my original plan for those vases was to slip inlay a Jane Austen character on each one, but I just wasn't feeling excited about that and I didn't know what to do with them. Then... inspiration struck!...

I looked at my little sketches of Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. How could I bring their characters to life? What was there about the sketches that said "Mr Darcy" or "Elizabeth Bennet"? Nothing really.

I thought about the story. Neither character really has anything about them individually that makes them easily recognisable, like Emma and her snobbish match making, and Marianne and her love for hill walking and her pining for Willoughby. Except...

...their love and hate for each other! Of course! The two need to be together to bring the story to life! And so on one vase I have them turned away from each other, and on the other vase I have them turned towards each other! I was so excited about this idea that I had to do it straight away! So I was up until about 6am!

My slip inlaying never seems to photograph very well, so I have no photo of the other vase and this one might not be very clear, but I hope they will come out well after firing.

I must say a big thank you to Scott and Kim for their advice on my last post. Although I won't be using low fire glazes on these pieces after all, the advice won't be wasted as I plan to try the idea on another piece. Thank you!

Need some advice from experienced potters please!

I finally finished the two vases I was coiling and I'm very happy with them. Here they are:

These are made with white stoneware, and I had originally planned to slip inlay a couple of my Jane Austen designs and just glaze them clear. But now I'm thinking how lovely these would look with one of Mayco's Crystalite glazes. The problem is that those glazes are for earthenware...

...bear with me now while I think out loud...

I know a bisque firing would normally be between 955c and 1060c, bearing in mind that the more the clay matures the less absorbent it will be for glazing... yeah, I'm thinking I might have just answered my own question...

Reader: What question?
Me: Yeah, I talk in riddles in person as well.

...Well, usually with stoneware you would (obviously) glaze fire at a higher temperature than the bisque fire, but with low fire glazes on earthenware it's the other way round because the clay won't mature at the low temperature required for the glazing. But the glazes adhere to the surface because... they have something in them to make them sticky (apparently). So... and here's the question...

I'm wondering if low fire glazes are sticky enough to glaze stoneware if the piece is fired at a stoneware temperature first??

You see, I don't want the piece to be under fired, and previously I have used low fire glazes on stoneware that wasn't matured and the glaze cracked on the inside. (I know, I know, that's why there are high fire glazes specifically for stoneware!) But the low fire glazes are so pretty... and I can't coil with earthenware. You see my dilema.

I'm thinking that if I go ahead with this plan it's just going to be an experiment isn't it?

Breaking news: Inspiration struck at about 4am! Update to follow!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Soooo behind with the blog thing...

Hello everyone. It's me. Remember me? That's ok, I forget who I am sometimes too :)

It feels like such a long time since I have updated my blog! Or read any, for that matter! My apologies if you write a blog and you've been wondering where my comments are!

This summer has been a little bit crazy. I've been trying to spend as much time with my nieces and nephews as I can while they're off school. The problem with that is that I get exhausted very easily and I struggle to juggle everything else. "Everything else" including down time, which I need quite a lot of for the sake of my sanity. "Down time" meaning no communication with the outside world, and that doesn't include when I'm asleep!

Today I finally had some clay time all to myself! (as opposed to clay time with nieces and nephews - not the same at all) This isn't the first time I've had clay time since I last posted though... I have a vague memory of having some clay time before... once. After the tealight swans I made yet more tortoises, the same design as the trinket boxes but money boxes this time. The nieces and nephews have seen them (oops!) so now I'll have to make many many more!!

Today I started on a couple of vases, using the white stoneware clay that I had used before. I'd forgotten what a dream it was to coil with! Or maybe I just didn't really appreciate it until I tried coiling with that awful earthenware clay!!

And that's really all I've done, clay wise. The kids have been making some amazing stuff! I really wish I had the energy and the patience to have them round all the time! They are so creative! Here are just a couple of examples...

Elliot's (10) mask...

and Dylan's (9) scary castle...

I'd love to tell you about all the other things we've got up to this summer, but it would be the length of a novel!!

I hope you are all having a great summer, whatever it is you're doing! :)

ps. You can keep up to date with me now on Facebook! All the news without the waffle! See the side bar!

Monday, 2 August 2010

I can't help it...

... I like swans :)

I'm going to have a table full of swans aren't I? Oh well.. :)

I actually broke the neck off this one this evening, so I shall have to attach another tomorrow. Ooops!

In other news:
I gave some of my pieces away that didn't sell last time. I'll never have an inventory at this rate! I don't know why I keep doing that. The recipients were very happy though :)

And my big shopping spree will have to wait a while (damn bills!) but I plan to get some more clay this week. I'm down to my last scraps, and recycling pieces as I go. Actually, that's not strictly true... I do have a freezer full of clay (it's not switched on, because that would be silly) but I can't remember what's in there... some crank... some terracotta... I'll have to sort it out. The terracotta was rescued for me from a school that was clearing out it's art department. I've never used it because not all glazes show up on it particularly well. I could make some terracotta vases though...

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


Yep, I seem to be in this continual yo-yoing cycle at the moment. Not with dieting, but with life, clay... it's been a week since I last had some clay time!

So I got my clay out today. Last time I got my clay out everything kept going horribly wrong! The legs kept falling off my tortoises!! But thankfully everything was fine today! I didn't produce much, but I had a great time playing around with some new ideas. It's lovely to sit in my studio with the doors wide open, getting some fresh air and listening to the rain.

Yes, I'm slowly getting used to calling our conservatory/lean-to "my studio" now. Although it's still full of junk, it's where my kiln lives and it's where I've been working on clay recently. It's much better than sitting at the kitchen table!! But it took me a little while to get used to the "move", and I still don't like going out there when it's dark, although I have a light. So I don't know what I'm going to do come winter when it's dark by 4pm!

Anyway, I made yet another mug for my Mum today! Can you believe that she said the last one was too big?? How is that even possible?? My Mum's cup is never empty and her kettle never has time to cool down! So today I made a slightly smaller version. The thing is with clay is that you never quite know what size anything is going to be because it shrinks. It shrinks while it's drying, it shrinks while it's being bisque fired, and it shrinks during the glaze firing. It has more shrinks than a psychiatric ward!

Here it is so far. I still need to attach the handle.

Oh yeah, and I did this.

Just recycling some old clay. :)

Monday, 19 July 2010

Two down, how many to go??

Here's two tortoises, finished, drying, and waiting to be fired... probably in October!!

They measure roughly 5 1/2 inches wide and just under 7 inches long, although each one is slightly different in size. The depth is a little difficult to measure.

I'm just waiting for the other two to firm up enough to carve, so I'll probably update this blog later today with those.

The question is, how many do I make? How do I know if they will sell or not? Does it matter?

Can you imagine a really really big one of these in the garden? (Like, 2 foot wide) :D

Update: I've finished the other two now.

The green one will be glazed in yellow, making the flowers yellow. The green will still show through. The blue one will be glazed in purple, making the centres of the flowers purple and the rest of the shell... a darker purple? I can't really use my pink on the shell because it's too opaque (that's another story) and I don't think the carving will look very good. I'm thinking I might use it on the body though :)

Yeah, about the pink. Although I like the colour I'm convinced I got "Tea Rose" which is opaque, instead of the "Pretty 'n Pink" that I ordered and was written on the bottle, which is semi-translucent. Oh well.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

I'm on a roll!

Well, I didn't get any clay time at all yesterday. I shouldn't complain, I was enjoying good food and good company instead! I didn't really want to go (because I'm miserable like that) but I'm so glad I did :)

And today I seem to be on a roll! I've made three more tortoises, and shells for two of them, and I'm not ready to stop yet!

To support the shells while they dry I've been using old wash balls!!

I can't decide whether to put handles on the top of the shells or not. Scott thinks they'll be fine without. What do you think?

Now let me see... what shall I make next...

Friday, 16 July 2010

Little and often

I'm not feeling that great at the moment (so what's new?) but now that I have finally got my clay out I'm trying to get (back) into the routine of having clay time every day. So it seems "little and often" is the order of the day. I made a second swan yesterday.

These are only about 5 1/2 inches in length, and 3 1/2 inches tall. Since making these I have had a lot of other ideas for swan pieces, but I don't want to end up with a table full of nothing but swans! So tonight I made a start on a tortoise. I'm going to make it so that the shell comes off, like a trinket box or something.

As you can see, the head still needs supporting at the moment.

I'm looking forward to glazing this one because I'm going to use that Fuji brown crackle glaze that didn't crack! Last time the glaze came out mottled, but I'm thinking this piece will look good either way. I'm going to paint the shell in brown slip and carve a pattern into it, so that will be fun too! Just out of interest... what do you think about this piece in pink and purple? It's just one of those crazy ideas that passed through my brain during the small hours...

Thursday, 15 July 2010

I finally got my clay out!

The temperature dipped for a while yesterday and I finally got my clay out! I made this little swan and a few stamps.

I'm not really sure about it, but Scott insists that although it doesn't look realistic, it looks elegant, and that people will like it. I plan to make more swans and other little animals for the upcoming shows. "Little" seems to sell, don't you think? So although deep down my soul is crying out to make a sculpture the size of my kiln, my bank balance is telling me to make what sells. And lots of little sums add up to a big sum (hopefully).

In a week or so (when we have more cash) I'm going to do some serious shopping! New clay and glazes always seem to motivate me creatively :) I can't wait!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Fighting my muse, and my clay

I've been pretty unproductive for some time now. Straight after my show I was ill, and I was desperate to get creating again. But since I've been well enough I've been struggling to find the motivation. I didn't know if it was the heat, or just because I feel run down from being poorly, or what. But today I think I've finally figured out what my problem is...

My diary is telling me that I have 3 shows to prepare for. That means more vases, more woodland themed pieces, more Jane Austen... but as happy as I was with those pieces for my last show, I'm bored already. I've designed a couple more characters for the Jane Austen range, and I have plans to make new pieces, which should be interesting and challenging.... but I'm really itching to start making some larger pieces.

I watched a program on tv today about white lions and tigers. They're sooo beautiful! I want one! And it has always been my desire/plan to make one. And my Mum told me today that she would like a fancy bird bath for her garden, and immediately I feel inspired to try... but if I tackle these larger pieces now I won't have enough pieces ready in time for the shows.

So I have to make a decision. Do I continue fighting my muse and make pieces that will (hopefully) make me some much needed cash for this expensive hobby, or do I go with it and start on a bigger piece? I keep telling myself that if I just get on and fill the kiln ready for these shows, then afterwards I can make whatever I want. But if I continue fighting my muse will I just continue to do nothing?

It doesn't help that when I did try to make something recently it all just went horribly wrong. I tried to make a start on a couple of round vases, but coiling them was a nightmare! I was saying to myself "Umm... hello? You've coiled a swan and a polar bear, what's your problem?" and I actually think the problem is the clay. It just doesn't seem to have enough strength, even after I let it set a while, to support the pressure of me adding more coils to it.

I gave up at this point. I know they might not look sooo bad, but I was just fighting with the clay constantly and it wasn't enjoyable. Mind you, I have to ask myself, was I less willing to persevere because I didn't want to make them anyway? But when I think about it, I have mostly slab built with this earthenware clay. The only other thing I have coiled with it was that tall Marianne vase I sold, which was also a nightmare to coil. So I think I shall have to change my clay again.

I plan to go back to using stoneware eventually, but in the mean time I'll have to use some earthenware too because I have glazes to use up. Sigh. It would have been so much easier if that first tutor had just let me use my own glazes in the first place...

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

I'm a mug for mugs!

I have a lot of mugs. I've been collecting them since I was 17. As you can imagine, I've had to limit myself otherwise the whole thing would have got completely out of hand. I try to stick to just chocolate mugs but occasionally I see something that I just can't resist.

This isn't the whole collection, but I ran out of wall space! My sister came round one day to help with my dishes and when she saw loads of mugs sitting on the side she thought they were dirty too! But I just don't know where to put them all!

So today the postman brought me something completely amazing, and exactly what I needed...

... a mug!! But not just any old mug! Oh no, it's a very special mug, made by Cindy! :) Exactly what I needed because of it's message (I've been feeling low).

So, I'm starting a new collection of mugs - hand made by awesome potters! I already have... ummm... two. Hehehehe :) Great collection eh?

That other awesome mug is by Leanne by the way :)

So I suppose I'll have to clear some space for my new collection by getting rid of some of these old factory made things. But which ones? Hmmm... not an easy decision!

So, as I mentioned, I've been feeling low lately. That will be why I haven't made anything with clay... or is that why I feel low? I never know which comes first.

Anyway, time to catch up with your blogs. And if anyone is feeling generous feel free to send me one of your gorgeous mugs for my collection!! :D