Friday, 16 April 2010

Chasing the thatchers!

Whilst quietly working away yesterday, with only the sound of my whirring wheel to listen to. (No flights from Norwich Airport, sky full of Icelandic volcanic ash) I heard the sound of a struggling lorry attempting to go up the road, with great difficulty.

Intrigued, I popped my head out to see.

Going past my workshop was an incredibly massive load of old thatch, on it's way to a tip. As I use thatching reed ash as part of one of my main glazes, this was potentially quite exciting !

Quickly I jumped in the car, shouting "follow that thatch". Luckily they were only heading as far as the tip on the Cator Estate. I caught up with the driver when they had to wait at the electronic gate and explained my enthusiasm for his load. He was mildy suprised, but came back to the workshop later to see my work. After a (slightly) scientific explanation of glaze technology and the % rate of silica in Norfolk reed he agreed to dump the next load at the workshop.

A couple of reed glazed mugs sealed the deal.

I waited for them until 1.30, but was desparate for some lunch, so I sped home, wolfed down a sandwich, and sped back. When I returned, some 20mins later all I could see was thatch!!

I didn't realise they were going to bring me quite that much!!

It's a brilliant piece of timing as it will be there for Open Studios and will enable me to explain my processes more easily. I am not really looking forward to burning it though, it will have to be forked about 25yards to a small incinarator, in many small batches. No such thing as a free glaze-!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Managed to sneak down to the workshop at 7.00 this morning before anyone missed me. The potential benefits of now having two teenagers in the house is beginning to dawn on me. Maternal duties now not required before about mid-day. Yay!

The batch of open cups emerged, blinking into the sunshine this morning. It is the first time that I have put porcelain slip on them. I really like my thatching reed glaze over porcelain, it softens it beautifully. The reed glaze over "Pete's red" is a rich brown, and I have used it to add accents, and to pull the two glazes together.

Still experimenting with the slip transfers that I bought in Shigaraki last summer with my host Tomoko. I am not too sure why, but they suck up glaze like a sponge, and despite smoothing and fettling they still cause the odd bald spot.

The smallish batch of a dozen tall cylinders have been slipped with porcelain, crank and a lovely chunky black clay slip. The black n chunky only fires upto 1260, so I am economically and judicially using it as a contrasting slip.

I had a quick poke about at the house next door, sadly no more laths, but lots of dumped roof beams that are riddled with woodworm and can be snapped by hand. Lots of quick energy there for my kiln; the next firing will only be my fourth with this particular wood fired kiln, so it is still a learning experience in not overcooking it. It still amazes me how personal and particular they are, it is only half of a transferrable skill, every one is different and has it's own rythmms and requirements.

I noticed today that the cowslips and primroses are finally managing to beat the onslaughts of marauding rabbits and are struggling into flower. The twisted willow of my fences are bursing with Spring like enthusiasm and are putting on a good show. Despite being almost below sea level the rain runs sraight through my workshop down to the Broad behind.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Health and Safety in Tokoname 09

Yet again it is a soggy Bank Holiday weekend. Torn between obligations and desires. Mid-way through a batch of tall vases and interupted by Easter.

Trying to use my time constructivly by researching places to stay in Kyoto this Oct. I have found a suspiciously cheap ryokan, £15 per night !!! There dont seem to be too many duff reports on Tripadvisor or Virtual Tourist sites, so maybe I will give it a go. In 08 my Ryokan was £33 per night, it may be interesting to compare them.

My exhibition in Tokoname is the week prior and I am really really looking forward to returning to the place I spent last summer.

The IWCAT residency was the most totally amazing experience of my life (so far !) and it will be fantastic to see my Japanese friends again.