Monday, 13 August 2012

Chilly February

This lovely line of prints were left all the way from the roadside down to the back field, making a perfect picture to greet me on a chilly Monday morning, they are from a Muntjack deer.
The temperature inside the workshop was struggling to get up to 1 Degree. So I decided to light the woodburner and walk down to the Broad while it warmed the place up a bit.
Seeing it half frozen reminds me of the old photographs that I have been shown from the 1920's and 30's depicting hundreds of people ice skating on Salhouse broad. maybe not today, eh!

Getting ready for Harrogate.

  Little bowls with slip decoration, sunning themselves gently. 
Finished bowls with shino glaze. 
Little bottles, semi porcelain with Norfolk reed ash glaze.
Little bottles, semi porcelain,Turkish turquoise glaze.
Grateful for a few days sunshine after the recent cold snap it's full speed ahead at Cosseys Yard.
 A sudden rush of orders (hurrah!) of my little bowls from a gallery in Cumbria means I need to build up stocks and have some lovelies to take to The British Craft Trade Fair in April.
I want to take work that has been glazed in my Norfolk Reed glaze.
 I'm keen to give the work a sense of place, so this particular batch will all be green.
Bringing together Japanese inspirations and local materials sums up my attitudes to my work and background.
There is a saying "Clay is of the first importance, clay is of the second importance, clay is of the third importance"
This was brought home to me while I was in Tokoname in 2009. Since then I have experimented with changing clays, rather than changing glazes. I have to say, it's much easier.

The reed ash glaze is quite dark on my usual Spencroft fleck clay, the added iron gives it a peppery look which I like. By using a semi porcelain glaze I can lighten the glaze, to the point where I have been complemented on my celadons!
Not sure why, but all of the lighter colours have been proving more popular recently.

Where did the time go?

Just realised quite what a sloppy blogger I am. With profuse apologies to the three people that read this, obviously you are desparate for news!

I was lucky enought to be selected for quite a few shows for 2012 and making started with a vengeance, early in the new year,  despite the bleak conditions at "Cosseys Yard" here in Norfolk.

The first event of the year was "Fireworks" Ceramics and Glass. This was also the first time for this show. It was a nice location, only an hour or so away from me in " Furrin' " Suffolk. I had packed my passport, just in case.
This was also the first outing for the Kangoo as a replacement tent. The plan seemed to come together, a few refinements to be made for next time, but all in all, not too bad, and much better than putting/packing up a wet tent. Why does it always seem to rain at set up and pull down at shows?
Anyway, back to the show.  There were some nice pots by some familiar, and not so familiar faces, what a pity that the advertising hadn't seemed to have had any effect. Not many people came and a slightly bleak weekend was had by all.
Bored and cold,  by Saturday afternoon my nice neibhour and I were manufacturing ourselves fetching skirts from bubblewrap.

Moving swiftly on, the next event was Norfolk & Norwich Open Studios which seemed to be in a bit of a decline this year, no doubt high fuel prices as well as the  recession are having an effect. People still came, but it was a more local  audience, apart from the serious collectors. It's not much consolation to know that everyone else was having a rotten time of it as well, but at least it staunches the paranoia about my work.
Shortly after N.O.S came the Jubilee celebrations and this saw me at an event at "The Assembly Rooms" in central Norwich. This was a bit of a  mixed do, but sales proved suprisingly brisk and we enjoyed the free Pimms!
During a solid three weeks of rain (still having a drought here in Norfolk!) my next event was very local, just a couple of miles down the road at "Fairhaven Garden Trust" in South Walsham. Another damp one, but again, with some suprising connections and commissions made.

After lots more rain, along came "Art in Clay" at Hatfield House in Herts. ( Where hurricanes hardly ever happen) Again I was grateful for the lovely Kangoo, my mobile bedroom proving suprisingly comfy as I lay in bed listening to the thunderstorm lashing down outside. Snug and dry with the essentials of life: radio, phone, my kindle and a tin of cider.
The Friday was a washout, with young student helpers gamely mopping the grass INSIDE the marquees. But potheads are made of sterner stuff and the serious came and bought. Saturday proved to be nearly as wet, and ith crowds down by a few thousand we could all do nothing but go with the flow ;-) The Sunday was wet as well and again numbers were down, such a shame for such a well organised show. Still, it's a testament to the quality of the work there that virtually everyone left reasonably happy.
Driving back to Norfolk, I left Hatfield in the rain and the weather just got better and better as I headed East, typical!

Rumblings in the classroom jungle of Adult Education have prompted me to think seriously about teaching a small class from my workshop. I had many questions and many potential problems. I left for "Potfest in the Pens" with my mind full of ideas and more questions.

Packing for Potfest in the Pens, apart from being an alliterative nightmare was very stressful. many times I pored over images from previous show to work out the best use of space and methods of covering up those erm, lovely rustic, pens.
A mere 7 hrs, and a Little Chef early starter later ( that does sound odd!) I was "Nearing my destination"  and was being instructed to turn left right on the roundabout. Not being able to achieve this feat I continued in the hope of a forthcoming left turn. Alas, the next sign I saw was mentioning Scotand. Bugger. Underterred, I again sought the advice of Sally Satnag and managed to turn round and had another go at the roundabout. This time I established that it probably was the place that I wanted, but it was impossible to access it. Sailing merrily past my destination for the second time I was now heading back in the opposite direction.
Sobbing gently with frustration I attempted the roundabout for a third go. Sucess.
Tell you more next time, have now run out of space.........................

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Back to Basics

Whilst sorting out some papers at the workshop I came across some of my 2D work from college. These three photo's show the different perspectives that I am interested in.
When marks are viewed at any size and from any distance they become abstracted and form their own patterns.
I clearly remember taking this first photograph, it's in Upton and the field was freshly ploughed ready for planting with potatoes. To get the shot at this angle I was virtually laying down on the road, with a five yr old daughter in the car screaming because I had moved out of sight.
The silk screen print on the left came from a mash up of macro photographs taken from the tyre tracks of many different farm vehicles.
The background was originally made from many layers of ripped, torn and generally distressed tissue paper.
At one time I was making a lot of these prints and was almost at the point of combining printing with ceramics.
As my work is based on the marks made by man on the land around me, and to see those more clearly I decided that I needed a different viewpoint, to be above the fields. After contacting Norfolk Flying Club I was offerred a 30min. flight in a twin seater airoplane. I'm not especially scared of flying, but this plane was tiny! The door was up and over the roof and there was rather too much Gaffer tape in the cockpit for my liking.
However, after we had got up to around 700ft. and started to travel away from the Airport, past the houses and go out over the fields I soon lost all fear, well, some of it anyway.
I became so absorbed in looking at the patchwork of fields and Broads beneath me that the half an hour passed very quickly.
The photographs, drawings and print work that I made over a decade ago now still inform my work on almost a daily basis and I am retrospectivly grateful for being hassled into producing so much of it.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sunday afternoon

Grey skies and a keen wind made for a brisk walk down to Salhouse Broad this afternoon.

Bit of a flock frenzy, probably scared by the lonely hire boat.................
Back at the workshop the wood burner had been warming the place up nicely while I was off admiring the view. On Thursday I threw a dozen small platters and some bowls on Friday. I am willing them to be firm enough to turn soon. What with the big platters and a whole load of other work drying, I'm seriously in danger of running out of room.
Using soggy pots as my excuse for a cuppa and a sit down, my thoughts turn to The British Craft Trade Fair in Harrogate from April 15th -17th.
I learnt a lot last year, both from my own display and a looking at those of others. Some people went to an immense amount of trouble, others just plonked themselves down on a chair with their work next to them. I will remember the chair this year though! Eleven hours of standing on the first day left me hobbling to the pub for my evening meal.
I looked at some prices for hotels and B&B in Harrogate, but they were dreadfully expensive, Harrogate is quite posh. Looks like I will be staying onsite at Cell Block H again, a bargain at £18 per night. All mod cons not provided, bring your own bedding and towel, no electric socket in the roooms and a gents urinal in the Ladies Toilet. .. No one told me it was going to be this glamourous as a Craftsperson!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Now available online!

I've just ventured into the world of online sales. Like a true luddite, about 10yrs after everyone else, but never mind, I get there in the end.
At present, due to the frequency with which I can wood fire, the work that I have available for sale fired in this way is limited.
I am only selling my woodfired work either direct from my workshop, at selected ceramics and pottery shows in the U.K. or from this site
Pictured right is a white stoneware clay with a Japanese "Hi-Iro" or fire mark glaze. Fired in my "fast freda " Wood Fired Kiln from Northern Kilns.
This was fired for 5hrs on recycled pallets.
Other work featured at www.theonlinegallery has been fired in kilns hat lasted considerably longer than the five hours of my "Fast Freda"
A couple of the pieces available online were fired in a communal Anagama in the summer of 2011.
It was great, if
a little daunting,
to be one half of the kiln packing team responsible for the work of around 70 potters.
As I was deemed by those present to be experienced in matters woodfiring
I was leading most of the 2hr shifts throughout the firing.
- 2hr shifts, good grief! Having been toughened up by our I.W.C.A.T. Japanese woodfiring shifts of 4hrs in ludicrous temperatures in the summer of 2009 , these were an absolute stroll!