Friday, 20 March 2015

Eclipse: Moon Bowls in Black Stoneware Clay


Today we had a solar eclipse. The plan was perfect. Fire the kiln on Thursday (yesterday) so this morning I could watch the eclipse in the garden while I waited for the kiln to cool down. Unfortunately a thick blanket of cloud obscured the entire event! And although it went quite dark around 9.30am (during which time we had a nice piece of carrot cake and a cup of tea) it mostly felt the same as if it was about to start raining. Oh well, never mind! Hopefully the bisque kiln will be fine though and I'll be able to crack it soon and start glazing some pots.

In the meantime - as it's topical - I thought I'd blog about my moon bowls. I've been experimenting with different stoneware clays in the past year or so. One of these clays is a deep black stoneware designed mostly for modelling or sculptural pieces. It can also be used as a throwing clay however - in small doses. It has a very high iron and grog content which makes it very coarse to handle when making. This is perfect for hand modelling but when it comes to throwing (with the wheel spinning round) it feels like your hands are being shredded by sandpaper! When I first used it I raised the roof and could only manage to make one small bowl before I gave up and plastered my poor hands in E45. (People who throw porcelain have no idea...!)




Since then I have modified the original black clay by adding in some of my usual stoneware to make throwing more comfortable. This produces a lovely deep chocolate brown colour when fired and left unglazed. So far I've only used a white glaze on this clay. My usual satin white glaze reacts differently on this clay body producing a really interesting pitting effect. This instantly reminded me of craters on the moon, especially when used on little round bowl shapes. Hence calling them moon bowls.

Would you believe it, as I type the sun is actually coming out?! Time for more tea (maybe another piece of carrot cake) and to check the kiln temperature I think. In the meantime, here's a picture of some more pots and ceramic spoons I've been making with my lovely black/chocolate brown stoneware clay. Enjoy!




Thursday, 5 February 2015

Valentine's Day Ideas

 
It's been a busy 2015 already - mostly with finishing a spill-over of Christmas orders and re-stocking on some essential pots (bird bowls are back in stock btw!). The kiln has been bisque fired once and glaze fired twice already before January had a chance to put its feet up!

I think the kiln was wondering what on earth was going on - especially as it had to contend with some chilly temperatures out in the studio recently. As a precaution I brought all my bags of clay indoors from the outside store, just in case they froze. One day I switched on the electricity to the kiln and the themocouple plummeted immediately to zero. I'm sure if it could display any temperature below freezing then it would have...


Anyway, enough about the cold studio conditions! Here's some new items I managed to make in-between all the other pots in January: just a few ideas for Valentine's Day. I made some very cute little bottles with cork stoppers which you can see in the photos above, and I made some ceramic heart tags to go with them with 'love potion' written on them. 

These bottles are small enough to sit in the palm of your hand and make a lovely gift. They can be used as a bathroom accessory to hold oils and salts for instance and because the glazes are food safe and dishwasher safe, they can be used in the kitchen too. The glazing is plain white so they can even be used as little bud vases without the stopper and tag. They are available in both my Etsy and Folksy Shop.

In the process of bringing in all the stoneware clay out from the cold, I also found some porcelain - so I made this pair of love birds. These are hand shaped and left unglazed to show the pure white porcelain body, while their eyes were picked out by brushing on dots of blue/black oxide. This unique pair of love doves is available in my Etsy Shop. Enjoy!



Monday, 1 December 2014

Homes and Gardens Magazine Feature - Bird Tail Pouring Bowls


© Homes and Gardens Magazine December 2014

Recently I found out my 'bird tail' pouring bowls were featured in this month's Homes and Gardens Magazine (December 2014 issue). It was a complete surprise and I'm so pleased - especially as they look great too which is the most important thing!

I have two sizes of bird tail bowls - a small one that fits in the palm of your hand and a larger one about the size of a normal cereal bowl. Both have been featured in Homes and Gardens Gift Guide along with a selection of other Christmas gift ideas for budding chefs.

© Homes and Gardens Magazine December 2014

In the feature they used my blue and white bird bowls but I also make them using a contrasting brown and oatmeal glaze combination in the smaller size. All my bird bowls are available directly from me via my Etsy and Folksy Shops but in the feature they're also stocked by Aram Store in Covent Garden, London. 

It was such a lovely surprise and a great way to end a very busy year...!


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Christmas Crafts at Quarr Abbey 2014



Next week I will be exhibiting in a group show called Christmas Crafts at Quarr Abbey with four other art and craft makers from the Isle of Wight. This will be our fifth Christmas show at the Abbey - our first was back in 2010 (which you can read about here) - so it's become something of an annual event for us!

This year we're joined by Peter Wright of Wright Turned who makes beautiful handmade wooden pieces on a lathe - some of which you can see in the image at the top of this post. It's always good to have a range of different craft disciplines to give people choice and variety in a show. This year I think we have a lovely mix of materials that complement each other well and have a wide appeal - ceramics, textiles and wood. So we're looking forward to it.

Here's the details of our show if you happen to be passing...!


Christmas Crafts at Quarr Abbey 2014

Thursday 20th November – Tuesday 25th November 2014

Open Daily 10.30am – 4.30pm

Quarr Abbey Gallery, Ryde, Isle of Wight, PO33 4ES

Free Admission


Exhibitors:

Jude Allman is a potter who makes hand thrown stoneware vases, bowls, jugs and homeware accessories decorated using simple glaze combinations in a modern rustic style.

Peter Wright of Wright Turned makes natural lathe turned wooden platters, bowls, cups and garden dibbers using wood from native Ash, Oak and Beech trees.

Lis Toft is a maker of intricately decorated porcelain vessels and jewellery with bronze and turquoise flowing glazes.

Sue Wright Handknits is a hand knitter, weaver and spinner who designs unique clothing and homeware accessories including scarves, socks, bags, rugs and runners in soft practical yarns.

Tim England is inspired by fragmented shadow and light, and combines abstract and figurative aspects in both his paintings and ceramics.