Preparations for the Bristol Wool Fair are underway! And the photo shoot.

Busy busy busy, I hardly get any downtime at the moment, I had to go down to 2 days a week at my paid job to have time for my clay, and it still isn’t enough!
But! Patrick, our kiln (our as in I co-own it with my studio mate) is almost refurbished! Those of you who know me personally will know all about that little saga, but suffice it to say, neither of us had ever re-bricked a kiln a before, but we did it and now it’s over to the professional to do the scary stuff, the elements and powering up any potters out there will know just how exciting this is.

So, I’ve made 23 yarn bowls so far, and with the help of the magical Peter Stone, have cobbled together an advert for the Wool Fair programme, which looks, well, I can hardly believe I made that bowl. The photo looks totally amazing. There is no way in the world that I could have taken such wonderful photos.

I will update this post when I have more time and I’m hoping to get a post on the refurb and my right royal…. well, I really messed up, but we managed to sort it in the end, no thanks to me!

New yarn bowls, new techniques and why I don’t blog very often

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Science Museum SingaporeLamp Post at Wat Pho, BangkokHubby's leg and Giant Ray

Ughhh I just spent the last 2 hours writing this blog post only to have wordpress lose it even after making multiple saves….

Ok, why don’t I post very often? I’m too busy DOING to have a lot of time or oomph for blogging. Why do I bother with a blog? I’m an artist, I need to get what I’m doing ‘out there’ for people to see. How else will the right person fall in love with one of my pieces? So I tell peeps I have a blog, and say that’s where you can see my work.

Anyway, I’m going to be at the http://www.bristolwoolfair.co.uk/ in September selling my yarn bowls and buttons. So I really won’t be on here much at all as I will be as good as living in my studio for the next 3 months trying to make enough for the 3 days. Luckily I only work 2 days a week now. Just enough to pay for my studio while I get making. Besides, it’s all my boss’s fault, she’s the one that picked up the flyer for the fair. Just as well I gave her a yarn bowl!

 

What have I been doing since my last post? Well, apart from having been to Oz and back for the first time in 12 years and having a massive shopping spree in Phahurat Market in Bangkok on the way back for loads of gorgeous lace and lace fabric and embroidered fabric to use in my studio, I’ve been busy working out a few ideas for various projects.

Lace imprint buttons

Thanks to my visit back to the land of Oz and the brief visits to Thailand and Singapore, I’ve been really feeling that Asian zen influence, especially after our visit to Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. So I’ve been making tea mugs, sort of like the ones you get in Wagamama’s made in that nasty plastic that makes the green tea smell weird. Well, I’ve been making them out of porcelain, flecked stoneware, my mixed up reclaim made of the different clays I use and most recently the Vulcan smooth (a sculptural clay that looks and feels like a stiff-ish dark chocolate fondue that throws well, but does go to slip a little too easily).

Tea Mugs

And of course I had a go at making yarn bowls out of my porcelain reclaim. That was fun, but they did slump a little, but that’s ok, they gave me a chance to try out my wonderful new ceramic tissue transfers. These you can use on fresh clay, leather clay, bisq – under or over the raw glaze. The only time I don’t think they will work is on-glaze. I’ve had such excellent results that I’m going to look into making my prints.

Porcelain Yarn Bowls

As well as that I’ve been tackling my avoidance of making lidded vessels. So far I have a few little pots with lids, and hope to be making teapots in the coming months, it’s my own silly fears that have held me back from that, so I’m now going for it, every time I have some reclaim to muck around with I WILL make lids!

One last thing, Bath Artists’ Studios where I have my space, are now doing open days 10.30 am to 12.30pm last Friday of the month. There is even coffee and nibbles. A chance to come see what we are all doing!

Fresh from the Kiln

SwirlDuo

I have recently had an intern with me, for an entire month, and I decided to start a project I had been planning on doing since I got into my studio but had been putting off because I hadn’t had the time to do it as well as everything else.

That project is coloured clay. What I have to say is WOW instant addiction or what?!?!? This Technique is totally awsome. We used the Harry Fraser Porcelain powder simply because it’s in a convenient powder form, and added 5% hi-fire stain to it, made it into a slip and left it for a few days to soak, then we started working with it. Some of the colours didn’t really work, like the pink, that went a funny grey green colour, but the others are so intense, like the yellow, red and jaffa orange in the photos.
To get the swirly effect, I coned some Audrey Blackman Porcelain, then started to throw, but added sausages of colour which I really pushed into the clay, then I just recentred and threw the pieces. We also had a go at making a loaf, which turned out pretty awsome too. Definitely something I want to continue to experiment with in the future.

SwirlDuo(2)

Porcelain Bowl

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Porcelain Bowl

This is one of my favourite pieces. I painted some hi-fire stains on the raw clay just after I turned it. Then I used just a clear glaze over the top. I think it got a little over fired as the glaze moved a little giving that gorgeous blurring and creating a landscape effect. I only glazed the bowl to the inward curve, so there is a ‘pooling’ of the glaze that exaggerates the curve. Inside is simply glazed with a trasparent cobalt glaze. I used the Audrey Blackman porcelain for the bowl which IMHO is one of the best affordable porcelains avaliable.

This bowl will be for sale in the pop-up shop in 2 weeks time along with the yarn bowls I have featured already. After this next selling event I will be starting an Etsy shop as well as various markets.

I am doing a Pop Up Shop!!

DSC_0094As I already mentioned, I will be doing a pop-up with a group of other locally (Bath) based artists. A lovely lady and fellow local artist by the name of Gill Silversides is organising it and was kind enough to invite me to take part see the website here http://poptartbath.wordpress.com/. So I will be selling some of my yarn bowls and few other choice items there and doing a few stints looking after the shop.

Also, a few months ago, a lady came into our shop (where I work) and asked for some donations of items for a charity auction for the local Alzheimers drop-in center, so I donated one of my yarn bowls. The lady came back yesterday and said that it went for £32.50 after a bit of a bidding war between 2 ladies. That pleased me no end.

Anyway, here’s another of my yarn bowls. This one is just a layering of 2 glazes. A cobalt stained glaze over a copper green. I really like the way these two glazes move together and produce what looks like rain over grasslands.

I don’t only make yarn bowls, its just that I know there aren’t that many potters here in the UK making them, and I know how useful they are to the dedicated yarn artist, and they were good project to do once I got my throwing skills back. That does not mean I won’t be making any more, I will just make as I sell to keep a nice selection in stock.

More recent work

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This is another of my yarn bowls. It is the Scarva Speckled Stoneware again, but this time glazed with an earthenware tin white which I then fired to around 1280C. The little red majolica flowers are Spectrum xmas red underglaze which I applied after applying the glaze. The underglaze sank into the glaze while the glaze sank into the clay. The result is a fresh white ground with the fleck from the clay coming through making the glaze seem a natural extention of the clay underneath. The tricky part was applying it. With out the spray booth I had trouble getting an even all over coat, neither dipping nor brush on, something about the glaze doesn’t want to play nice, and if it gets too thick, it crawls, luckily this bowl made it through with flying colours.

I will be selling this bowl and the one in the previous (first) post in a pop-up shop next month, along with about 6 other yarn bowls. What doesn’t sell I will put onto Etsy. The shop will be in Bath, next to At Sixes and Sevens, opposite Blacks and will be there for a month. A lovely lady amd fellow artist by the name of Jill is organising it, and there will be several local Bath artists involved. If you happen to be in Bath in July, do come along, it will be amazing

Yarn Bowl

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So I finally got studio space about a year ago, two years after graduation. I feel I have remembered how to throw now (thanks to my treasure, the Shimpo RK3D).

One of the nicer clays I have been working with is the Scarva Flecked Stoneware. If you want to throw thin, that’s the one to do it. It seems to want to BE thin and I found it tricky at times to throw thickly enough for something as weighty as a yarn bowl like this one.

It is a lovely clay to work with and is especially lush under a tin white glaze where the speckles show through making the glaze appear to be a natural extention of the clay as opposed to being a cover.

Anyway, this bowl was glazed using one from the Botz range, cheaty I know, but as yet I don’t have a huge amount of time to make many of my own glazes yet. On the inside I used the BPS light blue matt S/W from Bath Potters. The bowl fired to around 1280C, maybe a little higher. I do use cones, but this was several glaze firings ago, and my kiln is a converted E/W that can be erratic. Sometimes spot on, sometimes it give heatwork for 1300C. I don’t mind, makes the whole glaze process more exciting.

What is a yarn bowl you ask? Its a bowl that lives at your feet and holds your ball of yarn. You tuck the end into the curl/hook and away you go. It prevents the ball skating around the room collecting lint and also gives it a place to roll around freely. The best ones are made from clay, as it gives them weight.

Well, I cound just stick a bowl inside a plastic/fabric bag tie it shut!! you cry, sure, you could, but it’s noisy (plastic bag), and it causes friction on the yarn(cloth). Plastic tubs are too light, and then of course there’s the little holes in your travel knitting bags. Sure, you thread your new ball through that, but then you stuck with it in there untill you have finished that ball. Do you really want to be stuck like that?

That is why ceramic yarn bowls are the best ones to have. A freind recently told me that it has even improved her tension when knitting and crocheting.