Phnom Penh Market Vase!

It’s great to get something finally finished! This was a vase I hand built, inspired by the markets of Phnom Penh. It was my first time using under glazes and I think the results are mixed… some very patchy, some uneven, some look ok, some look great! Some areas were painted with different types of glaze, which seem to be more effective and consistent than the under glazes. I think on close inspection the glaze reveals the inconsistencies, but the overall effect is better!

 

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Inspired by the techniques of this vase, I used the circular decorations on two thrown items, a bowl and a vase. I think the glaze for these will be much simpler, perhaps a glaze that changes colour with different textures.

I’ll put up the results when they’re ready!

PG x

Not one but TWO kilns!

Well hello! Avid readers will remember that very recently I was looking at the pros and cons of secondhand kilns. Well let me tell you this past weekend I found myself buying not one kiln but two!?

Top loading electric kilns regularly sell on eBay for £250-800 depending on the size, make, condition and accessories etc. On Gumtree they sell for a similar amount. Being the dedicated bargain hunter that I am (albeit an impatient one at times!) I regularly checked both sites for good condition kilns for sale.

You can imagine my excitement then, when I saw a Cromartie kiln listed for £100! I looked at the timing of the posting on Gumtree and new I was in for a chance – it had only been up an hour or two. I immediately messaged the seller and we arranged collection for the coming weekend – woohoo!

Beloved and I dropped Little One off with her Granny and drove on over to checkout the kiln. I must add that in the week leading up to this, I read as much as I could find online about kilns, firing and buying kilns secondhand, so as to avoid buying a complete doozy.

As it happened the seller was clearing a house and had an entire potters shed to clear with not one, but TWO kilns, tons of kiln furniture and literally hundreds of porcelain moulds. He wanted £100 for each kiln and would throw in the kiln furniture for free. It was such a bargain I could hardly contain myself! Even Beloved got excited!

One of the kilns was the advertised Cromartie kiln:

And the second was a smaller, but in better condition Olympic kiln:

We shook hands on the deal, money was exchanged and the kilns were loaded into the car. I was unsure which kiln to keep but I was certainly keeping one of them and I knew for a fact that I could sell on one of the kilns and make my money back instantly.

I took a look at the kiln furniture and had a good think about storage and use etc. As I don’t have a studio I’d need to find a space not only safe to store the kiln but to fire it too. As it happens we have an outdoor toilet in the garden that has turned out to be the perfect space for both storage and firing!

After taking all of this into consideration I decided on keeping the Olympic kiln. I took a few photos of the Cromartie kiln and popped it on Gumtree for £300. My experience with Gumtree is that people will negotiate down considerably and so I priced the item high, but it wasn’t up there an hour before someone offered to pay full price and pick it up the next morning! And sure enough, they did! Not only did I cover the cost of my kilns but I made £100 which I shall be using to buy cones to fire the kiln and a couple of pots of glaze.

It goes to show, it’s well worth waiting for a bargain!

Now I just need to get to grips with kiln firing… If anyone has any links or tips, do let me know!

PGx

Quick pots update 

I just wanted to share with you two pots I have been working on! They are a thrown vase and bowl decorated with handmade pieces. The inspiration came from my Phnom Penh market vase, which is entirely covered and layered in textures and shapes to resemble the variety and colour of Phnom Penh’s market stalls. For these pieces I have taken one technique and developed this design that is more simplistic but (I think!) effective.

Any comments or glaze ideas always welcome! 

PG x

P.S. Kate Malone influence obvious too? 

Kilns for beginners

I don’t have a studio or a designated pottery space, but nonetheless I have been considering buying a kiln. Going to SB’s studio is great, but getting pieces to her in the car in one piece, waiting 1-3 weeks for them to be fired, another 1-3 weeks to be glazed and fired again… it’s a little frustrating. You can buy small-ish top loading electric kilns on wheels that would be perfect for keeping stored away and brought out for firing.

All this kiln talk got me thinking about firing and the different kinds of kilns and firings etc. As ever, Ceramics Daily have a great article introducing kiln firings, dos and don’ts, with lots of advice thrown in! I would recommend anyone new to kilns to read this article: Ten Basics of Firing Electric Kilns

But. Kilns are expensive. And not just expensive-like-a-pottery-wheel. Kilns are incredibly expensive. Literally £1000+ for a small, top loading kiln that can plug into a normal 240v 13amp household plug and £2000-3000 for larger studio or front loading kilns. I don’t remotely have that kind of money to spare and so I have been trawling eBay and Gumtree for a while for a second hand kiln.

I’m worried about a second hand kiln in many respects, there is a lot that can go wrong with a kiln (and is expensive to repair) and often the paperwork is lost or the kiln’s elements are old, it might be full of rust or all kinds of things. I don’t want to bring something dangerous into my home. But at the same time, second hand kilns can range from £100-500 and this is much more within my price range.

I’ve recently seen a kiln for £100 on Gumtree, a Sitter Kiln LT-3K. I can find the guide for this model online as it is a popular model and make. I’m thinking that as I can get it so cheap, I can bring it to a kiln repair place for them to give it the once over. That way I can be sure it wont burst into flames the first time I try to fire it! If it requires a lot of repair work then I’ll just sell it on.

I have to say the guys at Pottery Crafts at Art in Clay were really wonderful when I spoke with them about their kilns. They didn’t mind me asking probably very basic questions and they didn’t try to push me towards a larger, more expensive kiln. They even had a 10% discount for Art in Clay! If only I had £1,000 lying around.. I’d definitely purchase a kiln from them! I’ll ask Beloved to combine Christmas, Birthday, Valentines & Anniversary gifts for two years… Perhaps one day!

PG xx

 

 

Art in Clay, Hatfield House

This weekend, despite awful weather reports, I took my little family down to Hatfield House for our first Art in Clay event! I had a voucher for 2-4-1 from the Ceramics Review publication and so it was a bargain at £10 for all three of us! (Children under a certain age had free entry too).

We drove around the beautiful Hatfield House (we decided we must go back for a separate visit!) and through the trees, saw long white marquees and tents. I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was a little nervous about going and speaking with other artists. But, the weather held and as we entered our first Tent – the David Leach tent – and we were met with smiles, people talking and an incredible variety of ceramics!

There were pots large and small; porcelain, earthenware, stoneware and paper clay; clay rabbits, gorillas and dogs galore!

The weather cleared and the sun came out as we helped ourselves to a delicious roast pork bap from the food section. As well as the different ceramic artists there was a raffle for Adopt a Potter, a tent for children’s activities, PotClays were there selling glazes and accessories and PotteryCrafts selling kilns and lots of information points.There was so much to see, the hours flew by!

As we walked around even my Beloved became interested in the different effects, glazes and shapes! Everyone we met was truly genuine and lovely. I absolutely love the pottery community. No one minded if you asked questions about how they achieved a certain effect, no one minded if you picked up their pots and had a good look – in fact they wanted you to ask questions – it was so warm and friendly! One artist started singing patty cake patty cake to Little One as he was beating his vase with a paddle, it was wonderful! I even dropped my wallet at one point without realising it, and it was returned to me within minutes with an announcement over the loud speaker – all money and cards intact!

What struck me most with the different artists’ stalls, was that they have developed a consistent colour scheme and style. Some of the pots are quite normal, simple shapes but their glazes are textured or intricate. Some artists paint flowers and leaves etc for a very ‘country kitchen’ style, whereas other artists had more geometric, traditional or contemporary shapes. Other artists are able to achieve incredible shapes and vessels, cutting into the clay or adding other mediums. Every stall was a feast for the eyes!

I had gone to Art in Clay determined to buy a little something – perhaps a coffee jar or a mug. As it happens, the coffee jars were well out of my price range for the most part, so instead we came across Pat Southwood‘s stall and Beloved and I liked a little pot, which I bought. It’s simple but an honest little pot with a lovely ridge and lip. A great little souvenir from a really wonderful day!

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Overall we had a really wonderful time at our first Art in Clay! We’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future events, particularly as it was so family friendly and Little One would be old enough to get involved next time. It has inspired me to try and find my style and build a body of work. Perhaps, one day I’ll be able to have a stall…

PG x

Tuesday night update 

I spent the afternoon throwing pots in the garden while Little One slept! Well, two pots to be exact as I was able to very quickly reclaim back 1kg of clay from yesterday’s throwing endeavour! Sitting outside enjoying the sunshine and a coffee while working on my Shimpo as Little One slept- it was close to a perfect afternoon! 

I was able to turn the two pots quickly before heading to SB’s studio this evening too.

At SB’s I picked up a few things that had been glazed and I was pleasantly surprised! The sugar rollers (star and oval designs) actually came up well. I liked the glaze on the mugs but the desk tidy and dish could have been better. As it happens Beloved likes the effect so alls well. 

I also got my chess set back and they look pretty awesome if I do say so myself! 

I cut the pieces for a box to store the chess set and spent the rest of the night glazing my phnom penh market vase, which I barely half finished! So all in all it was a good evening. SB wasn’t upset I’d tried throwing, I felt really nervous about telling her but actually she was really impressed with my first efforts. I was so worried I’d disappoint her but she was genuinely pleased with my work. You know when you’re more scared of making someone disappointed rather than angry? Like that! I guess I just have enormous respect and fondness for her. 

Well past my bedtime! 

PG over and out x

Home Potter!?

As I was throwing this morning I started thinking about studio/home pottery. From the beginning I have always referred to myself as a home potter. When I first began to work with clay I didn’t know the history or significance of ‘studio pottery’ and it is something I am still learning about.

I looked up studio pottery on wikipedia:

Studio pottery is pottery made by professional and amateur artists or artisans working alone or in small groups, making unique items or short runs. Typically, all stages of manufacture are carried out by the artists themselves.[1] Studio pottery includes functional wares such as tableware, cookware and non-functional wares such as sculpture. Studio potters can be referred to as ceramic artists, ceramists, ceramicists or as an artist who uses clay as a medium.

But what then is the difference between a studio potter and what I have called a ‘home potter’?

Yes I work alone and complete all stages of production myself and my items are usually unique or very short runs. Am I a studio potter then? I guess the biggest difference is the fact that I do not have a permanent studio space. I work almost entirely from home, in short and often sporadic bursts, and have to clear up and tidy away everything!

The photo below is a typical scene when I’m working at home – vinyl fabric down to catch slurry splashes, an old ikea shelf for holding wedged clay and vessels drying, newspaper, an old milk carton for water, my tabletop Shimpo on a stool and normal life paraphernalia in the background – in this case, namely the pram!!

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Perhaps I am a studio potter, but I feel the term ‘home potter’ better reflects my work environment. When I finally get my dream shed with kiln, drying space, work surfaces, glazes… when I finally reach that dream, then and only then will I call myself a studio potter!

PG x