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...