Time just flies by, doesn’t it?

So I did get the urns to the glaze stage, but then they went really really wrong. Silly me, never having worked with paper porcelain before had no idea that it can warp so much in a glaze firing. One fell over and the other kind of twisted a bit and the lid totally fused to the body. That kind of knocked the stuffing out of me and I had to step back for a few weeks, I couldn’t even bring myself to blog about it till now.


 So then I tried using some Audrey Blackman Porcelain with fine molochite in it, I just got really frustrated with it, porcelain is fickle, so now I’m going to use the Potclays Grogged Pink (or I might even use the Scarva Professional Black, not sure yet). It comes out a very nice earthy tone at 1280C, and if I use a temmoku on it, it will be a nice fat and shiny dark brown with a sheen of iron crystals on the surface and the glaze breaking to tan over edges and texture giving the form some natural detailing.

It was very silly of me to even think of using porcelain in the first place, Dad wasn’t a fine china sort of person, he worked with his hands most of his life, so using a nice groggy clay is more fitting. Anyway, his urn has had to go on the back burner until I have everything I can possibly make, made for the xmas markets I have coming up, I’ll be doing the next 2 Frome Super Markets, a small one in Bath organised by a friend, as well as the Bath Art and Craft Markets, 3 dates there which I am now managing.

Other than that, I managed to fit in a little side project on something that I really wanted to try, and the tests are really promising. More to come on that, I need to get the vessels glazed and sanded, but I must say I’m really excited over the whole project, even though it’s a departure from my mostly functional work.

Sorry, no pics this time, I couldn’t even bear to photograph the disaster on the kiln.

The Spaceship Urn part 2

Well, it’s been a hugely busy few weeks.
I went back to work, the pop-up shop opened, and I have finally managed to bisq fire the 2 surviving urns. Oh, and my hubby and I went to the Duxford Airshow (709 photos!?!?!?!?). We saw a Mitchell Spitfire with my last name on the side (sort of). My hubby’s last name is Mitchell….
Duxford Day Out (376)sml

Well, 3 urns survived the turning/trimming process, but then, after I attached the fins, I knocked one over and all three fins came off. By that stage, the clay was way too dry to re-wet and attach, even though it’s paper porcelain. I used vinegar in the joining slip, but the join just didn’t seem to be good enough. So after that, I got the surviving two into the kiln for a soft bisq. It meant a not very full kiln, but I couldn’t bear to take any more risks. Now I just have to glaze them. I’m so excited and very very sad. Dad won’t get to see the finished result.

Making the fins was time consuming, starting with a very technical guide
Prowork2013 (148)

I then cut three blanks
Prowork2013 (149)

Which I carefully carved into streamlined shapes and attched them with a slip made from the clay and vinegar to get
Prowork2013 (152)

As you can imagine, it was a huge relief to get them into the kiln for their first firing. I don’t have to panic when I handle them now.

Now, about the pop-up shop…. WOW! The first week I only made a couple of sales, but the second week, my mugs were almost flying out the shop! Now, with just one week to go, I have very little stock left and have to get onto making again. Only 2 yarn bowls are left, out of 8. All of the ones I’ve featured have sold, it’s been very exciting. I know now that my work really is worth the effort so now I have to really knuckle down and make a shed load, literally. There’s a gallery that’s expressed an interest in stocking my work, the open studios weekend is coming up http://www.bathartistsstudios.co.uk/open-studios.html, and I need to get ready for the xmas markets I hope to do.

So that’s me. I’ve been dreading doing this post, and found I couldn’t during the week with my hubby away at work, and now I’ve left it to the last minute. Only two more posts to go on this, and then back to yarn bowls and swirly mugs, and no more play/product development till xmas is gone again.

The Spaceship Urn


My Dad died last Saturday (30th June). It was sort of a shock, but not 100% unexpected.

Anyway, me being an Aussie Expat living in the UK, and my parents being in Oz, I wasn’t able to go back for the funeral. However, I am able to make a contribution to Dad’s next great adventure and what better than a spaceship?

Being primarily a thrower, the classic 1950’s rocket style ship lent itself most handily to my design. The clay I chose (after very careful thought) is Scarva Porcelain Paper Clay. I’ve tried quite a few different clays in my time, but the most unusual to throw with has to be this. It’s pulpy, and doesn’t form a slip in quite the same way. So I started throwing them yesterday and ran out of clay, which is just as well as I wasn’t coping on my own too well.

Because of the size I’m making, I’m throwing 2.5kg at a time so I’m only getting 2 vessels to a bag. So my hubby took me off to Bath Potters (again) for more clay. £53 is cost me for 25kg!! But for this, no expense will be spared.

Today was easier, and there were lots of people around so if I wanted to talk I could and I did quite a bit of wandering around between vessels. So at the end of the day, I had another 4 made, as well as thier saggar slabs (for the glaze firing). And I managed to make a couple of swirl mugs as well.

 So back to these spaceships….. Why so many if you only need one you ask? Well, I need some redundancy, as well as each one will end up with its own personality and I probably won’t know until I’ve glaze fired them which one I will choose. Then I will do the lustre firing. I bought gold, platinum and blue to do the markings and such. AND I plan to name it the R.A.S.S Neil Cross (Royal Australian Space Ship) and hopefully I will be able to stamp that on with the lustre to give it that true Star Trek/Honor Harrington feel rather than clumsy and hand painted.

So anyway, the ships are going to turn out like the unfired junkyard dog in the next pic, only in porcelain and I will seal the bottom and cut the top off adding a small ring inside the lid to give it a gallery. The spike/antenna will be fired separately and added after all of the firings, this will reduce the height and reduce the chance of it actually slumping over at max temp.

the spike is just a plastic dropper to give an idea of the finished product the spike is just a plastic dropper to give an idea of the finished product.

Now I have to wait a day or 2 before I can do the next step which is trimming them into the desired shape. One of the advantages of using the porcelain paper clay is its more robust on account of the flax fibres and the end result is lighter and stronger so will travel better. That’s it for now, more when I get to attach the fins which I will cut tomorrow and get drying before I shape them, that paper clay is WET!