Saturday, 15 October 2011

There's no rush

Time for a little update - I haven't had much clay time, but I have had some!

That bowl/vase/I hadn't decided yet, turned out to be a large candle holder:

The clay has dried out here so it looks very pale, but once fired and glazed the blue slip on here will be dark blue. I've scraped some off, and I'm hoping that it will produce a streaky cloud effect. It's just an experiment really, so we shall see!

I have made more shot "glasses" as well:

The frustrating thing is that despite using a stencil each of them seem to have come out a different size! It probably has something to do with me being extremely impatient and not letting the clay shrink a little after rolling it out or something. I'm also using a different clay at the moment. My white stoneware clay didn't come out quite as white as I wanted it to, so this is from my bag of St Patrick's white. It's quite grainy actually, so I hope that doesn't effect the glazing of the pieces. These each have something different written on them.

And then finally, another unfinished piece:

It doesn't look like much at the moment, but this will be another candle holder. I want to experiment with the shape at the top of this one. I'm enjoying experimenting, and after all, that's what it's all about - experimenting, growing, learning, and having fun.

After doing a little run of shows last year I struggled a little bit with my feelings about my art. Partly because no one seemed to really appreciate it, and partly because I felt like I was just producing it for other people. I've been invited to do a couple of shows this winter, but I think I will give it a miss, continue to work at my own pace, and if next year I have a body of work to show then great, but at least there is no pressure. Art shouldn't feel pressured. So I'm hoping that working at this relaxed pace I may be able to produce something amazing, but we shall see. I shall keep you updated anyway :)

I'm also looking forward to making more tortoises! None of them sold at the shows, although my sister bought a couple, and the rest I gave away as gifts, but I really enjoyed making them! So that may be next on my list, just to keep changing what I'm making to keep it fun.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

"Best laid plans" and all that...

So what happened to this amazing idea I had of making 12 animals over 12 months? Umm... well, I haven't started it yet! I broke the panda into pieces to recycle the clay, put it in a large bowl with water, and then forgot about it. When I finally pulled the bag off to have a look, it looked like this: WARNING: THE FOLLOWING PHOTOGRAPH MAY MAKE YOU VOMIT.

Eew! What do I do with that?? I mean, seriously, if I drain the nasty, slimy, brown water away, can I still use the clay? I think not. This is paper clay by the way, I've never had this happen with any other clay.

Clay isn't the only thing that got left this summer...

I know I should probably cut it down, but it looks so pretty growing on the inside of the house :)

So what exactly did I do all summer? Well, I don't really know. I've had to look through my photos to remind myself!

After my holiday, my family came to visit from Norway for 4 weeks. It feels so long ago now :(

I also went to a classic American car show this summer...

... I went to a party...

... I saw some owls...

... and occasionally took photos of pretty stuff...

... and that was pretty much my summer.

And then suddenly, yesterday, I had an urge...

It's not an animal, but it's clay! Six shot "glasses" and a bowl/vase/I haven't decided yet. For those who are non-clay people, the clay will shrink, so the shot glasses look extra big at the moment! Scott thinks they look really good, I just think they look... wonky! Why is everything I make always wonky?

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Back from holiday! Lots of news!

Hello everyone! We're back from our holiday! Actually we've been back for a week, but it's taken me this long to get round to updating my blog!

All week I've been thinking that there is so much news and so many photographs to share that this will be one incredibly long post! So I've decided to cut the waffle, give you the news in brief, and put all the holiday photos in a slide show at the end!

So on with the news...

Umm... yeah. I can't remember it all now! Umm... Oh yeah, well, after sleeping for nearly our entire holiday, I got my blood test results and they are all clear. So unfortunately I have nothing that can be cured with a little magic pill.

About the holiday - we slept a lot. It was so quiet and peaceful - exactly what we needed. It rained most days, but we had fabulous weather on the Tuesday so we went to the zoo! It was incredible. The animals are so beautiful. I wish I was allowed to stroke them! I did get to feed an elephant and a giraffe though!

Despite being so tired, I had a crazy idea this week to make 12 animals in 12 months! I was shopping for a diary, and saw a calendar with a different animal picture for each month, and the idea was borne! What this means is, I will have to scrap what I have made of the panda so far, because I will need to keep each animal at a reasonable size to be able to finish each one within a month. Of course, I suppose this also means that it will be 12 months before anything is fired or glazed, so I won't have any finished work for a long time. I'll play it by ear...

And the final piece of news is that I have lost half a stone in weight! Go me!

Now on with the photos...

Friday, 10 June 2011

Plan? What plan?

The panda is well under way...

Umm... ok, I know it doesn't look like a panda... actually, Scott said it looks more like a toilet! As usual, I have no idea what I'm doing and I'm just sort of making it up as I go along. I usually have a better idea of what I'm doing the second time around... ok, I know that didn't work with the squirrel, but I built the second swan much quicker, and it came out better... until I glazed it...

Anyway! So I wanted to make a smaller panda first, and then make a bigger one once I knew what I was doing, but this one sort of... got big. It's not as big as it would have been if I had decided to make a big one, but it's not really that small either! (You know it's big when I have to wrap it in a black bin bag!) You see? No plan. There's never a plan...

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

He's done!

Yep, I finally finished Mr Squirrel and moved him to the "drying cabinet" today! (which is really just a portable green house, but it works just as well)

Last night I hated him - today, not so much. I "tweaked" him this morning, so he looks very slightly different to these photos from last night. Not much, just a little in the wrists, which I think look a little deformed here (well, mostly the other one, which you can see in the 3rd photo).

This is the best I could do with his hands.

He kind of looks like he's sitting down instead of squatting on his feet. I tried to correct this a little by bringing the bottom of the legs in, but he still looks a little... laid back.

And I'm still not really sure about the tail, although it's not quite as flat as it looks in the photos.

I made this one to replace the squirrel I gave away (you see, I don't really want to part with them). In some ways I think this one looks better (the hands and the face, and the ears are positioned better), in other ways not so good (I like the tail on the other one, although it should have been wider at the top, and the other one was rounder and leaning forward more), but I'm hoping overall this one will be better once I have glazed him. Looking back, the glaze on the last one was awful!

The "other one"

I gave this one to my brother and sister in law as an anniversary present, and I must say, they looked very disappointed! Last I heard it was being used to keep a cupboard door shut!

Time for my panda!!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

You can't have it - it's mine!

I know I'm strange, but my feelings about my art seem to change more often than the weather, and in the UK the weather is always pretty changeable. I think it must be because I haven't been doing this for very long, and maybe it takes a while for us to decide where we want to go with our art? I mean, one minute I want to have a successful exhibition (successful = lots of sales) and the next minute... well, they're mine! I want to keep the things I've made!

I think part of it comes down to the type of objects made. Maybe if I sat at a wheel all day and made very similar items I wouldn't mind parting with them (and I'm not suggesting for one minute that this is easy or not art). But when you hand build sculptures, each piece is a unique and time consuming project, and I suppose you kind of "bond" with that piece. And I suppose there is always the question of whether you can ever recreate that piece again.

Believe me, using a wheel isn't easy!

I still want to learn how to use the wheel, but actually I really enjoy making animal sculptures, and I've kind of decided that that's the direction I want to go in. I have tried to sell my animal sculptures previously, but now I'm glad they didn't sell. And I know deep down that if I successfully manage to make the large and detailed sculptures that fill my mind each night, that I won't want to part with them either. So I suppose I'm destined to be a poor and unknown artist after all!

I find hand building much easier

Ok, I know that last image is of a vase, but the shape was a fluke, and I like it, so I want to keep it. And please don't ask about Mr Squirrel. I hate him, and yet I know I won't want to part with him either.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The squirrel is driving me mad!

This is the progress so far...

As you can see, he now has a tail...

But he still has no hands or feet...

You see, last Tuesday I managed to sort his ears out, but I just couldn't get the tail right. In the end I gave up, exhausted.

This time I managed to get the tail right, but I just couldn't do the hands! I must have made the hands 3 or 4 times tonight. It's driving me insane! I suppose I'll have to be satisfied with only completing one part of our friend each session.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

OK, so it's not a Panda...

On the day I decided to make a panda, I didn't actually have enough paper clay for the project (which is the clay I decided to use, because I can build quicker without it slumping). So I decided to gather all my dried up pieces together to recycle them, when I came across this:

Remember this? This is the squirrel I started in December as a demonstration piece at a craft fair (umm... just ignore the face, I was having a bad day!). Over the months it had completely dried out and it's head had been squashed as well. It didn't matter, because as all clay people know, nothing is set in stone until it has been fired - and set to stone! So instead of recycling it I decided to rehydrate it and finish it off while I was waiting for more clay for my panda.

I should have taken more photos of the process! The bottom fell off, so I had to stick that back on, and I didn't just cut his head off, but I cut him down half way down his back to make it more curved. This how far I have got with him:

I should have him finished by now, but I can't believe how much I am struggling with confidence! I even find myself cleaning dishes in an attempt to avoid unwrapping my clay! (Yeah, how weird is that?) The stupid thing is that I know that if it goes wrong it doesn't matter! Now I'm annoyed with myself because I've wasted a whole day of potential clay time. If someone could explain this crazy head of mine to me, I'd really appreciate it.

Anita seemed to understand it. She said it's like that fear of facing a blank canvas and not knowing where to start. Do other clay people get like this?

Sunday, 15 May 2011

What am I doing??

Hey, no posts in three months and then two posts in as many days! What's going on?? :)

I just thought I'd share my thoughts with you today because I feel like I'm losing myself somewhere. Being tired and busy with other things has just sucked the enthusiasm right out of me, so any energy and motivation I can muster up is precious.

I have this show coming up in July that I said I would take part in, although I haven't officially booked my stall yet. Deep down I know I'm too tired to get ready for it, but I can't bring myself to send that cancellation email because I was really looking forward to taking part. This would be my biggest event yet, and there will be so many other fun things going on, like live tribute bands. I can hear them from my house every year and they sound great!

Now, the thing is, I actually have some items already that I could display, so if push came to shove I wouldn't actually need to make any more to have a full stall, but these are mostly larger items that people are less likely to buy. If I want to recoup my stall fee I know I need to make some smaller items, so with my limited energy I need to ask myself if I can really do it. And realistically, I am not going to fill my kiln, so is it worth it? And do I want to waste my energy making saleable items, instead of pieces of art?

Yes, I know the sensible answer is to just send off that cancellation email...

And I'm starting to think I should have bought a smaller kiln.

Update: 16/5/11 I've sent off the cancellation email! The deciding factor was seeing a program about Pandas last night, and now I want to make one! :)

Saturday, 14 May 2011

What's three months between friends?

Hello everybody! I just thought I would come online to announce that I am not dead, and I am still alive and (just about) kicking!

I have hardly been creative at all since... well, since last year really, which is shocking! I have made a few decorative plates and a few coasters, but that's about it. The worst thing is, I haven't even been keeping up to date with everyone else's blogs! Unforgivable! I don't even really know where all my time goes! I've been struggling with all of the usual struggles, which I won't list because it's so... boring.

In other news, I bought a new camera :) mainly because the camera on my new phone is so rubbish! But also because... we're going on holiday this year! Yes, our first holiday in 12 years! So I wanted a decent camera because we plan to go to the zoo and the sea life centre, and I want to get some good photos (for reference maybe). I have mixed feeling about these places because animals shouldn't really be kept in cages, but on the other hand it's a fantastic opportunity for your average Jo Bloggs (i.e. me) to see these amazing creatures in the flesh, and sometimes these places do good things in breeding rare animals and raising awareness.

So that's my little bit of news, now here's the photos...

I tried to make some porcelain pendants, but they started cracking before I'd even finished making them!

These are some decorative plates I made using wall paper!

This one is actually diamond shaped which doesn't show very well in the photo.

And I also made some coasters.

It's gonna take me a very long time to fill my kiln at this rate!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

It's been a while...

Oh dear, it's been such a long time since I have updated my blog, but worse - it's been even longer since I have done anything remotely creative. I seem to have lost my enthusiasm somewhere. And my confidence. And my motivation. I am, however, enjoying reading quite a bit at the moment, so maybe I am simply recharging my creative batteries? After all, things were pretty hectic at the end of last year.

I'm looking forward to the warmer weather. It's not very inspiring to be cramped up in my kitchen, so I'm looking forward to being able to get back out in my studio, but it's too cold at the moment. And I really want to learn to throw this year. So maybe all of my goals for various shows will have to go out of the window. I want to make whatever my soul desires instead of saleable items, and take time to learn and grow.

I haven't renewed my membership for the FPAA yet, and I still haven't decided if I really want to. Just the thought of all the snobbery and pretence drains me.

I am enjoying being at class with Sophie though. I don't make anything myself when I go because I am there to support Sophie, but it's lovely to be with such creative people who are normal and down to earth. Sophie has a real natural talent, and has really progressed in such a short space of time. Here is one of her latest pieces:

I can't wait to see it glazed!

I hope to be able to post again soon, maybe with pictures of my own creations?

Sunday, 9 January 2011

I want to know...

... how much of your own art do you have on display at home? And if you are a potter, how much of your own pottery do you use?

I usually only keep my rejects, but on display at home I also have pieces like my Swan that has been on exhibiton everywhere but not sold. I also have one or two other pieces that are slowly creeping in, like my Marianne vase. I said I wanted to keep my brown tortoise trinket box, but when someone offered to buy it I sold it. Why? Why did I do that? Why am I so desperate to get rid of my pieces when actually... I love them. Yes, I love my own art. Isn't that the point of making it? So why are all my pieces boxed up waiting for the next show or sale?

"Swanee, no-one loves ya, no-one loves ya..."

What has led to these thoughts tonight? It's a mixture of things really. I received the FPAA news letter today, which contained a review of the exhibition in November, and my pieces didn't even get a mention. It kind of left me feeling unappreciated as an artist. And then of course there are the lack of sales... and I'm trying not to care, but I do.

I need to make myself a replacement of this now

But why? Why do I care? First and foremost I should make art for me. I should make it for the enjoyment of the process, and because I love what I'm making. And I do. So why are my pieces boxed up for other people?

My Marianne vase. Yup, mine. I don't particularly want to part with my Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy vases either!

So tonight I have been unwrapping pieces and placing them around my home. Because they're mine. And I appreciate them even if no one else does. It doesn't matter what others think of them because I made them for me. My home will be filled with original pieces that no one else has!

Sunday, 2 January 2011

The year in review and my goals for 2011

Yes, it's that time of year again when people start reflecting on the past year, and the one ahead. Since my confidence yoyo's more than... a yoyo, it's good for me to reflect on what I have actually achieved over the past 12 months.

The goals I set myself for 2010 were to be more prepared for upcoming shows, and to create and expand a Jane Austen Collection, as well as making at least one more animal. I'm pleased to say that I achieved all of those things this past year. The ones I didn't do were trying out slip trailing, finishing my second tree fairy vase, and finishing the portrait of Scott when he was a little boy.

Month by month review

In January I took part in the One World One Heart give-away for the first time. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I look forward to taking part again this year. More news on that soon!

I also made a start on developing my Jane Austen collection, starting with this jug as a prototype, with my Marianne design.

Marianne Jug prototype

The final design

The highlight of February has to be when I received my surprise gift from Philippa King! I also went to an exhibition of hers in February, and it was fantastic to see some of her work in the flesh!

"Hearing Hallucinations" by Philippa King

As for personal achievements, I started on Fred the Head during this month.

In March, Fred the Head had a gender re-assignment and became Freda the Heada! In class, I made my very first pot on the wheel! And it was awful!

My first wheel thrown pot!

I started a 28 day challenge in March but I completely lost all motivation when my class was cancelled and I lost access to a kiln. This was definitely the lowest point of the whole year, especially as I couldn't find any other options available to me.

In April I spent quite a bit of time with my nieces and nephews while they were off school, which was great! They are so creative, and it's so inspiring. I worked more on Freda the Heada, and spent a lot of time online looking for a kiln after exhausting all other options (such as hiring kiln space). And then... I bought one!! :O

My rather large kiln

May was an incredibly creative month, due to the fact that I only had that one month to prepare for an exhibition in early June! I expanded my Jane Austen collection to include an Emma design, and I made a Marianne vase, as well as developing a Woodland collection.

Tree lady vase before firing

It was also a very stressful month trying to get the kiln wired in, but finally it was done and I did my first firing in my own kiln!

The exhibition in June was a success, and I sold three pieces! My first sales! And I received a fantastic gift from Cindy :)

My mug by Cindy Gilliland

In July I made tortoises :)

I spent a lot of time with my nieces and nephews again in August, but I'm glad to say that my clay time didn't suffer too much because of it. I continued with decorating my tortoises and then expanded my Jane Austen collection further by including designs of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy.

In September I used paper clay for the first time. I must say it was very clean and easy to use.

Swan made with paper clay

In October I made lots of Woodland pieces, and pendants. The Rabbit I was making was going a bit wrong, so I made some changes to it and it made a very nice Meerkat!

November was a busy month with glazing and firing. There were a couple of disasters, but mainly my firings were a success. I had a couple of exhibitions during this month. At one of them I did very poorly compared to the summer exhibition at the same venue, but at the other one I did much better.

December was a lazy month! The only clay time I had was a demonstration I did at a craft fair! I shouldn't be so hard on myself though - it's only through writing this post that I realise how productive I have been this past year! It's so strange looking through posts for the past year and thinking "Was that this year? It feels so long ago!"

So that's the past year pretty much summed up. I never did finish Freda the Heada, so I suppose that will be on my list for 2011. After the disastrous time I had at a recent craft fair (see last post) I have spent some time thinking about which avenues I want to use in 2011 to sell my art. I don't think I have completely given up on the craft fair route, because there are a couple of fairs in the summer that bring in thousands of people every year, so I'd like to give them a try.

Freda the Heada

So my goals for 2011 are to prepare for the craft fair in July, to have one or two sculptures ready for the FPAA exhibitions in June and November, and to be ready for the Open Studio's event in September, and the Pytchley exhibition in November. That's five events! Am I out of my mind?? Quite possibly, but it keeps me sane :) I'm tempted to take part in a craft fair in April, but it's a three day event and I was so exhausted after doing just two days recently. I've had people offer to help though...

My clay goals are to continue developing my Jane Austen collection. I really want to try to make some lamps. I also want to make some slim vases, so that I have something slim enough to fit on my mantelpiece! And animals! Lots of animals! I also want to work on trying different flowers on my woodland pieces. Ooh, and I'd really like to try some porcelain this year too.

So those are my goals. What about you?