Friday, 29 January 2010

Please help me!!

To decorate, or not to decorate...

... that is the question! Ok, I know I only posted yesterday, but I couldn't wait to show you my finished (?) jug/pitcher (what's the difference anyway?). I'll show you it from begining to end, but the question I now have is weather to decorate it with some sgrafitto or slip inlaying, as I had originally planned, or whether to leave it bare and find a nice glaze for it.

This is how the jug started out. I had rolled out the clay and wrapped it around some tubing I got last year from a carpet shop.

When it had set up a little bit, I started shaping it by pushing in the bottom to create a "foot" and then pushing out from the inside with a spoon.

At this point I didn't really have a plan for the rest of the shape, but I just felt it needed something more at the top, so I added the "lip" and the "collar". The lip, or spout, took a few attempts, as like I said, I had no real plan for design and I've never made one before.

Next, after letting it set up more, I smoothed it out and set about making the handle. This is what it was supposed to look like:

The little bit sticking out at the top was supposed to be a kind of thumb rest. I've seen this kind of thing on pots before, and always found them comfortable to hold. But, this is what it actually turned out like - held in place here by a pot of glaze and rolled up kitchen towel!

I'd be interested to know how other potters support the weight of their handles while they're waiting for them to set.

And last (maybe), is the finished jug with no supports.

I didn't have the confidence to try to pull this handle, so I actually rolled it out flat and then rounded the edges.

And that's the jug. But the question now is, do I leave it plain, or do I decorate it as I had originally intended? I was thinking of using the Marianne design, but hadn't decided on either sgrafitto or slip inlaying, although I was leaning more towards slip inlaying. Please help me decide!! Here are the two options:

What do you think?

Update: I did it :)

I can't wait to make another one for "Emma", but right now I am sooooo tired.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

I'm so excited!!!

Well, I don't know where to start! It's so exciting, isn't it? All this "One World One Heart" thing! Already I've had quite a few new visitors to my blog, and I have to say that some of the prizes I've seen along the way on other blogs are absolutely fantastic!! Has anyone else noticed a lack of male bloggers taking part though? The miserable old... anyway, I've noticed a lot of collaging, hand made jewelery, and vintage things. Vintage is good. I like old, that's why I married Scott. Hehehe just kidding!!

But as if that wasn't exciting enough, I have other exciting news too! (my pitch is rising as I speak) Good things always come in threes don't they? Or is that bad things? Anyway, my dear friend Philippa from Loaded Brush is having an exhibition, right here in the next town to me!! How awesome is that?? I can't wait to go!

Plus... yes, there is more... Leanne is coming to England again in March!! (my pitch is now even higher) How awesome is that??

Plus... there's even more... the organisers of Philippa's exhibition said they would extend it, just for Leanne!! (my pitch is now so high that it is only audiable to dogs) How awesome is THAT!!

Phew! I'm exhausted after all that!

On the clay front, after missing two classes in a row, and doing nothing in between, I was itching to get my fingers in some clay again, and yet I was resisting. I have no idea why. Probably too scared of some physical activity! But today I did indeed get my clay out. The idea was to just roll out a couple of tiles ready to try out my new "Emma" design, but I know every clay person (or even every artist) will know what I mean when I say that once I started I couldn't stop! So after rolling out my tiles I also started on yet another goblet (my invitation list for the girlie night keeps getting longer and longer!) and a slab built vase which will be a similar shape to the goblets (all going well).

They're at a really ugly stage at the moment. It always amazes me when something this ugly transforms into something really nice, even though I'm the one making it and I should know what to expect! I shall continue with the shaping this afternoon and update you when they actually look something like they're supposed to!

Meanwhile, last time I was at class I collected my tiles (which you saw in the give away) and the little set of bowls. Remember these?

Here's the completed set:

When my niece Mariah caught sight of them she gasped with delight - without knowing that I made them, and without me asking what she thought of them, which I think is the best kind of compliment :)

Edit: Update on the jug, although it still has no handle yet.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

One World One Heart

I read about this on Kathy's blog, and for a split second I thought "Shall I take part?" and then instantly dismissed it, thinking "Nah, I can't be bothered!" Well, now I've decided that, yes, actually I can be bothered! Kathy has inspired me! And I hope to win her wonderful print that is up for grabs!

So, Welcome! Welcome to everyone who is here to take part in this wonderful competition which is designed to bring bloggers from around the world together. Not literally, but, you know, bloggerally.

Now hang on, I don't want to leave out anything important. First I need to display the logo...


You can click the image above to find out all the details you need to take part.

Umm... what next... (quickly refering back to the page linked to above)... oh yes, of course, the GIVE-AWAY ITEM!! After much deliberation I have decided to give away... (drum roll) these tiles, never before seen by blogging eyes!!

They measure approx. 5 3/4 x 5 3/4 inches, and about a 1/4 of an inch deep. They are ceramic tiles, decorated with coloured slips and sgrafitto, and glazed with clear glaze. (The Pig one also has some pink glaze on it) On the back they are signed LD 2009.

Here is what you need to do if you would like to win this pair of tiles:

1. You must leave a comment on this post with a link back to your blog or your email address so that I can inform you if you win.
2. The closing time for entry will be 9am UK time on the 15th February (you may just sneak in a little later if I'm not out of bed yet!) and I will be announcing the winner later that day.
3. Also, you must jump through a hoola hoop... oh wait, no, it says NOT to make people jump through hoops, so scrap that :)

And that's it! Mention in your comment if you have a give away too, and I will visit your blog. (That's not to say that I won't visit your blog if you don't have a give away, or that you even have to have a blog, but it helps) :) No, I don't mean that! I'm joking! The winner will be picked completely at random from a hat (if I can find one) or a bowl.

Thank you for looking, and please call again :)

Friday, 22 January 2010

The art of letter writing

Yesterday I wrote a letter to my friend, as my email has been down for a while now. It has been so many years since I have actually written a letter using pen and paper, that I had forgotten how enjoyable it could be. Such as it is, living in a modern world, full of instant forms of communication.

I was relating this to my nephew in the evening (I have no idea what made me think it could be of interest to an 11 year old boy) when it suddenly occurred to me that this world of technology is all he has ever known. With the use of texting, email, facebook, and MSN at his disposal, he has probably never written a letter on paper in his life - and possibly never will. I showed him the writing set that I had used - the matching paper and envelopes neatly kept together in their own matching folder - and asked him if he had ever seen one before, and he admitted that he hadn't. How sad! Still, the art of letter writing can't be completely dead or I wouldn't have been able to purchase a writing set at all - although it was quite some years ago now.

I'm almost determined to make all my nieces and nephews sit down to letter writing next time they each visit! Not only have they probably never known the joy of writing one, but they have probably never received one either! Can anything be more enjoyable than receiving a handwritten letter from a dear friend, through the post? No, there is something about a handwritten letter that is much more appealing than anything typed. Even if the writer is convinced of their writing being so awful as to make it hardly legible, surely to it's recipient it is always more attractive and more warmly received than any email - even those dressed up with fancy fonts, coloured type, and patterned backgrounds.

Of course, reading Jane Austen, as I have been lately, makes me yearn for a simple life with no television, no internet, no mobile phones, and no noise from the traffic outside. People wrote to each other more then, and amused themselves with simple pleasures - playing cards, conversing together, walking together, playing music - but no doubt my ideas of how life was at that time are more romantic than they ought to be. I still crave it more than this life, however. And on that note I shall go, to switch off my central heating and to light the open fire...

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Back to class, and the year in review - part two

I can't believe so much time has passed already since my last post, and I still haven't given you the lowdown on the second half of last year yet! A week ago my neck and shoulder went into a spasm for no apparent reason, and I have been in excruciating pain ever since, putting me completely out of action again, and I'd only just recovered from being ill for 5 weeks with a flu/virus! It's so frustrating. It's still very painful, but I did manage to get to class last night - the first class after the holiday, and I wasn't going to miss it!! And guess what? Anita has joined too! She's been wanting to come to the clay class for such a long time, but wasn't able to due to her commitment to teaching the painting and drawing class. But this term the class had been cancelled, so she was able to join our class instead! And last night she seemed to really enjoy herself. More about class later though, for now let's get back to the review... which will be very short...

In my last post I left off in June, which was really the highlight of the year for me, when Swanee and Polo came out of the kiln, beautifully glazed! What a relief! Classes pretty much finished for summer then, and I was hoping to be productive throughout the summer months before classes started again in late September. But, things didn't exactly go according to plan. I was feeling pretty washed out all summer, and only managed to make one vase!

Yup, this is the only thing I made all summer

Classes Started again at the end of September, and a had a few pieces to glaze from June, but by October I still hadn't decided how to glaze my little vases, despite having the whole summer to decide! I toyed with the idea of leaving them plain with a little design painted on them in iron oxide and having them fired to stoneware, but not knowing when the class would have enough pieces to warrant a high firing, and having the Pytchley exhibition in November drawing close, I decided to glaze them after all.

how they would have looked...

...and how they ended up

I also experimented with making a figurine in October. It was nothing amazing, but I had nothing else to do at class that evening and it was something I had been wanting to try for quite some time. It kept me busy for the evening, but I didn't keep it and I seem to have deleted the photo of it.

In November I had lots more glazing disasters. My little bowls were streaky; I tried to touch up my damaged little ivy vase and it got stuck to the shelf; and the crackle glaze on my large ivy vase didn't crack! Despite all this, the month proved to be a busy one, and not a complete disaster. I started making lots of "goblets" which I decorated with sgrafitto, in preparation of my girly night (which I had to cancel because I became ill!) I also received my first commission of a couple of goblets for a Christmas present (which I... didn't have ready in time because I was ill). Oh dear, maybe November was a disaster after all! No, no, it was a good month, because November also brought my first exhibition in Pytchley, which although I didn't sell anything, the organiser was very positive about, and encouraged me to come again next year. Of course, my display was smaller than planned, owing to the fact that my small ivy vase stuck to the kiln shelf and my fairy vase got damaged... What a month!

Then of course I spent most of December being ill, but I did manage a little more sgrafitto - my "Marianne" design (which I have since altered).

I look forward to using this design more in the future, on vases for example, as well as trying out a new "Emma" design... which leads me nicely into my goals for the coming year...

Goals for 2010

I'm not very good with goals. Goals make me anxious. There are things I would really like to accomplish this year, but they won't be set in stone so as to create unnecessary pressure.

First of all I would like to do the three things which I meant to do last year but never seemed to get round to, and that is: slip trailing, finishing my second tree fairy vase, and finishing my portrait of Scott when he was a little boy, even if it means starting it again.

I'd also like to be more prepared this year for any exhibitions I may take part in. Hopefully the FPAA will accept ceramics for their exhibition in June, and of course I shall exhibit again in Pytchley in November. Edit: I should also add that there will be another Open Art competition this year in my town, just as in 2008, and I plan to be well prepared for that also.

As for goals regarding clay - I always have so many new things in mind that I would like to try that it would be impossible for me to achieve them all in one year, and for some of them I feel I may not yet have the skill to succeed. I suppose they are more long term goals, but for this year, at least, I would like to create and expand a Jane Austen collection. I'd also like to make at least one more animal this year. So I suppose they are my main goals for 2010.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

The year in review

Well, it's that time again when everyone looks back at what they have accomplished over the past 12 months, and looks forward to what they hope they will achieve. I didn't feel like I had accomplished very much until I looked through my blog posts for the past year. Was it really less than a year ago that I completed Swanee and Polo? I suppose that is an achievement, only marred by the pressure I have put on myself to produce more. (I don't know where I got this idea from that I have to produce something new every month, and that every piece has to be bigger and better than the one before) So let's look back over the year in a positive light, and remind myself just how productive I have been...

January As mentioned above, in January I finished making Swanee, my first animal sculpture. I made slip for the first time (although I still haven't tried any slip trailing) and I made my first mixed media piece, using loo roll! I also bought and used some water colours for the first time, which wasn't as awful as I thought it would be!

mixed media piece, inspired by Kathy LaRocco

February In February I started making Polo and also started my portrait of Scott when he was a little boy (which I still haven't finished!!)

March was a fantastic month, because I met Leanne!! As well as the chocolate exchange, I also managed to accumulate 3 pieces of Leanne's sgraffito pieces, as well as a bunny which she left for me to glaze, and her wonderful carving on one of my vases! I suppose that's my first collaboration! I also finished Polo that month, and then went on to make my Tree Fairy Vase (named by Kathy) which seemed easy in comparison!

April After Leanne's inspiring visit I bought myself some coloured slips to try out some sgraffito myself, as well as some slip inlaying. My pieces were obviously not as detailed or amazing as Leanne's, but I had fun!

sgraffito and slip inlaying

I also started my second Tree Fairy Vase that month, which is another project that is still unfinished!

By this time I was starting to accumulate quite a few bisque fired pieces in need of glazing, but so far my glazing had been a disaster!

But then, in May I had a very pleasant surprise with my ivy vase! My first glazing success!!

I then glazed Swanee and Polo, and left their fate in the hands of the kiln gods...

Success!! With June came the revealing of Swanee and Polo, and I was very happy with the results!! And just in time, because then I had my first exhibition with the FPAA, although I only had 3 pieces on display. Unfortunately, the ivy vase got damaged, and I really considered the whole event to be a disaster for me personally, although one artist admired my Polar bear, and he had just come back from being in the arctic for 3 months, so he should know what they look like!

I made a few other more functional pieces during June as well.

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm worn out already! I think I shall continue with the review later, when I shall also write my goals for this year.