Pollocks take 2

Having only visited the studio on Tuesday night and what with SB being away next week I thought it would be some time before I was able to see how my Jackson Pollock inspired dishes turned out. However as luck would have it I was working from home today and at lunchtime received a call from SB – the kiln was open!

I hastily drove over and was delighted with the results. The two large platters had gone entirely flat in the glaze firing and the englobe had reacted with the clear transparent glaze wherever it was a little thick – but overall the englobe colours were vibrant and the clear brush on wasn’t showing brush marks – I was really happy! I really feel excited by this glazing approach, for th first time in a long time I feel like I was to sketch and develop this idea not just simply skip to the next thing.

I will have a good old doodle and share some plans with you as they arise.

My second treat was this beautiful coiled vase!

This is the same white glaze that appeared so flat on my two previous coiled vases. You can see on the inside how incredible the crystalline effect it can produce is. The blue accents are cobalt and the yellowish brown glaze is an SB studio glaze. It looks quite sickly on a test tile but I really love the effect it gives – earthy and warm.

This glaze combination came from a similar handmade pot I produced about this time last year – one of the few I have kept for myself!

These two types of pots are two styles I am really looking forward to developing.


PS x


Glazing? Pollocks!

After recent glaze failures, I think I may have found my favourite technique! It is energetic and light, and incredibly versatile – a style very much influenced by Jackson Pollock!

Last summer I created a set of vases for a raku firing and used a slip trailer to create a linear effect on the vases. It was something done spur of the moment and without much planning. But these two vases are one of my favourite creations!


I was recently asked to produce two large canvases for my parents – they wanted something light and airy and abstract, but engaging and meaningful. I produced a bunch of test pictures and they decided on a similar Pollock-inspired set of canvases in Blue and Yellow. These two canvases are approximately 200x180cm each.



Apart from having a very colourful lawn as a result, I really enjoyed the energy and different effects I could create using this approach. And so.. I decided to try it out on some slab and former dishes! However my worry was – glaze is expensive and I certainly didn’t want to be wasteful. I would need to be much more accurate with whatever glaze I was using. I was also wary of the glaze being too thick. After speaking with SB at the studio, I decided to go with engobes which are somewhere between a slip and an underglaze (as far as I understand?). They can be applied to greenware and once the pieces are bisque fired I can add more engobe, glaze or transparent layer.

Platter 1. Grid


Four little trinket dishes

Platter 2. circular


Little square dish made with scraps


I decided on a trio of blues and greens. The first large platter came out grid like without planning it so, and so for the second large platter I decided to do circular motions to see how that might look. Finally I took four smaller dishes and lined them up in a row, before throwing the engobe at them in a singular direction. I really loved how this effect came out, creating the continuity between the different little dishes.

The pieces were bisque fired last week and have been glazed with a brush on transparent. Unfortunately the studio is closed this coming week so I won’t be able to pick them up for two weeks – but I feel very excited to see the results! I feel like I may have finally found my approach to glazing – and have so many ideas for tests and trials with different glazes, forms and applications. I have underglazes to play with and lots of amazo potters choice, some left over mayco glazes too… So after some pretty low glazing days – Pollocks to them! Here’s to happiness!

Here’s to clay!


PS x

The rough with the smooth

I’ve recently been going back to basics with coiling and pinch potting. I feel like these are two techniques that evade me, despite their apparent simplicity. However after seeing what can be achieved by these skills – Kate Malone for example, coils! I decided I really should give them another go. And with patience. So often I rush and get things ‘finished’ when really I should spend the time refining the work, smoothing out properly not just quickly.. After all. All those little imperfections carry through to the final piece! Although I am also one to embrace the imperfections – when they are deliberately left – not simply allowed to exist because I’m too impatient to do things properly!

The two pots I was working on for example in an earlier post in February this year. I kept the coils visible and smoothed a large area on one, and added a roughly rolled out slab to the other. I enjoy the juxtaposition of the different textures and making processes. I really enjoyed making these two vases and was excited to glaze them – particularly as I hoped one would be suitable as a gift for a coming celebration.

I decided to use a glaze combination I had used earlier with great results – the blue and white as can be seen on the bottom bowl in the photo below.


I had used this multiple times in 2017/18 and it had always produced consistent results… I think you can see where I’m going here.

For the two coiled vases however – it didn’t. The white glaze didn’t crystallise, it came out matted, yellowy and flat. The blue glaze was incredibly thick, uneven and crawled like crazy.

I felt so, so disappointed when I saw the results. They are flat, dull and… just awful. I’m not sure what to do with these pots now. The on with the wrap around top has a hairline crack as well. Nonetheless, I think it’s important to share our successes and failures. And with pottery – there are certainly a lot of failures! But that is what keeps us going – the pursuit of the perfect pot.


PS x

Ceramic Art London 2019

Just a quick post to alert anyone to one of my favourite ceramics events of the year – Ceramic Art London! It’s on this weekend near Kings Cross – the Granary Square area behind the station this Friday 22nd March till Sunday 24th March!


It’s not only a chance to go and see what’s going on in the world of ceramics, but it is also a chance to meet some of your favourite potters! And by and large, they are wonderful, enthusiastic and open people. I have been for the past few years and it really is a fantastic exhibition. Tons of demonstrations, fabulous work on show (and to buy), and just a really fantastic event. One day I’ll have a stall there – ha!… one can dream.

Some of my favourite potters are making an appearance!

I have been a follower of Rhian Malin for a few years now – her clean, hand drawn geometric patterns and mandalas are just stunning! (Photo below taken from CAL website).


The gorgeously enthusiastic and down to earth Lisa Hammond is back – her work is much more earthy and raw, and her work to encourage and support studio pottery is second to none (photo below also from CAL website).


And Jin Eui Kim whose work blows my mind. All of his work is hand painted and his shapes of form are mesmerising. (Photo from CAL website).


But the best thing about CAL is discovering new and exciting artists and techniques!

Do go if you get the chance – it is certainly not one to be missed! And who knows – we may bump into each other!


PS x


Here we go 2019!

I do realise it’s mid February but I had a few big things to finish up in Jan and so this month feels like a fresh start – in a way January often does for the majority.

This year is a year of taking the time to be kind to ourselves, in the Stratford household. Spending more time together, taking care of ourselves and doing the things we love. And I love clay.

I have been back to basics in the studio this month – coiling! There is some incredible coiled work out there – Kate Malone’s large pots for example! And it’s a staple in terms of ceramics and so I have returned to it. I did a few rubbish coil pots when I was at school I think and really, pushed the technique aside. It’s difficult to get symmetry and consistency, unless you have one of those extruders that can produce coils of a consistent width in large quantities. Rolling the clay by hand I’ve found can dry it out and you need much thicker coils that you might expect in order to blend them together. I guess what I’m saying is, its easy to learn but difficult to master!

I like coiling because it reveals the making process. You can smooth the coils together or keep them visible. I decided to use a mixture of these techniques – both visible and smoothed coils, on a pot I’m making for an anniversary present.

This pot was begun using a larger former, then once I had decided on the shape of the pot I realised the base was too wide and so it was transferred to a second former. I kept the coils visible below and worked coils above the former to create the height. This was then blended and worked to give a smoother finish – therefore showing the stages of pot formation.

I really enjoyed the coils so I took the same former, coiled the base again but this time, rolled a slab with some excess clay, to create the height and neck. I love this combination of techniques and again, it shows the making process – hinting at what it could look like polished, having come from textures and work.

These pots are drying and will be bisque fired this week. As the first will be a gift I am tempted to keep the glaze quite neutral. I did a pot last year that I loved with a studio white and yellow, with a little cobalt added in. I might do something with these colours again, perhaps blue as well. We will have to see! The great thing with the cobalt and the yellow glaze was it highlighted the texture. The white, although crystallised in some areas, is thicker and hides the texture.

Any glaze ideas welcome! I’ll certainly post the end results.

Happy 2019 to everyone!


PS x

Autumn/Winter 2018

Hi everyone,

Apologies for the absence on this blog for a few months now. This blog is very much about my experiences with pottery with a little social commentary I guess, and not a personal outpouring.

However, suffice to say 2018 has been a difficult year for my family and I, and in those circumstances family and loved ones take precedence. As such it’s been an extremely quiet year for pottery for me.

I was still making the odd piece until the summer. In particular I made a piece for a charity auction with the theme of Women – I made a large platter dish decorated with slip and a triskele (a celtic symbol for female empowerment – the maiden, mother and crone) etched in to the dish. I was really happy with it and it made a good amount for charity!


And secondly I entered an art competition at work, for which I made a birdbath based on the London Underground, with a track for a rim and flowers and leaves making up the base. This was all hand made and cut, using a former to shape the piece. I then used underglazes and designer liners to decorate before using a clear glaze on top. Much to my surprise I won the competition! Which was really very flattering and has given me many ideas for other projects I would like to do in the future.


However sadly, I have decided I need to take a short break. Working full time, studying part time (ceramics? I wish!! sadly not although I dream of attending Clay College one day…), trying to be a good mum, wife, sister, daughter and friend hasn’t left much room for clay at the moment. Some years throw more at you than others I guess, and I just haven’t had the time to get my hands dirty much this year.

But! whilst my pottery things have been packed up into the shed for the winter, I will certainly be back making and experimenting in the new year.

Wishing you all happy making

PS xx

Rabbits! The finished pieces

Hello all,

Just to update you on the status of the rabbits! They were glazed with an iron wash and then had a matr white glaze poured on – SB’s own recipe. I had tried for a little more colour variation but overall I’m happy with them! What do you think?

The rabbit sitting up has cobalt eyes and the rabbit sitting down has a glossy amaco brown glaze on the eyes.

More posts to come shortly.. Watch this space!

PS xx