Ceramic Review vs Clay Craft

Look what the postman delivered this week!

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There is a new clay loving magazine on the shelves this month – Clay Craft!

Whilst the shelves have been dominated by Ceramic Review for years now, there is a fresh face on the block, riding the wave of The Great Pottery Thrown Down, Etsy and all things crafty.

But how do they compare as publications? Where should you be spending your hard earned money? They’re both about clay, so what’s the difference?

Yes the focus of the two publications is clay and ceramics, but I would say strictly speaking, the two publications aren’t necessarily addressing the same audience. Ceramic Review is a high quality, bi-monthly international publication mainly focusing on the work of experienced and innovative potters around the world and sharing stories and events (retailing at £9.90 per issue). Clay Craft is monthly publication, more ‘magazine’ than ‘review’, aimed at everyone from beginners to professionals. The first edition is full of project ideas, a glossary of terms, a review of aprons, short articles with lots of images a directory of events (retailing at £4.99 per issue). I managed to register early and get my first copy for free due to a promotion! The first issue also came with a free kidney tool worth apparently £3 (I wouldn’t have paid £3 for it but it was certainly a pleasant surprise when it fell out of the packaging!).

I’ve been receiving Ceramic Review for almost a year now and the quality of the publication and the writing is evident from the thickness of the page, clarity of colour and style of image as well as the artists interviewed. It really is a joy to hold and read. Every issue has a ‘how to’ section where an artist will demonstrate the steps in a process and the international theme is present throughout the content and events covered. I believe it’s very clear that Ceramic Review targets artists and art lovers alike. What it is not, is an introduction to ceramics as a hobby.

Clay Craft however is much more orientated towards the hobbyist. Although the magazine says it appeals to all abilities – I can’t really see an established ceramic artist gaining much from the content in terms of the level pitched in the first issue – how to make a pinch pot. Now this isn’t a bad thing and perhaps future issues will be different. In fact, when I was first becoming interested in clay and ceramics, this is exactly the kind of magazine I was looking for! I needed (and often still do) a step by step process and terminology explained. I still find myself googling questions well into the night when I can’t figure out what I am supposed to do, e.g. how long to fire a kiln for and how is this different for bisque and glaze firings. Or what are the differences between a quick firing as compared to a long slow firing…?

I can’t imagine Ceramic Review really addressing these questions because the answer is probably obvious or has too many variables, but this is certainly a topic I can imagine might be covered (hopefully!) in Clay Craft.

So is one publication for the ‘Artists’ and one for the ‘Hobbyist’? Well, no. Ceramics Review offers an insight into the art of ceramics and is a visual feast. The inspiration offered by Ceramic Review is not for professionals only and I know I love reading it and my work has certainly benefited from reading it. On the other hand I can imagine a professional ceramicist using Clay Craft to get people/students interested in clay through quick projects or for going back to basics and trying a different technique.

Clay Craft feels cheaper to the touch with a glossy cover and lighter pages than Ceramic Review, but it is jam packed with imagery and full of offers, which is always great for those of us that like a bargain! Which I do. Very much. And at £4.99 per issue, you get two issues for the price of one Ceramic Review. Although it should be noted both publications have offers on for subscriptions at the moment! (Perhaps a nice Valentines gift idea for someone? *ahem*)

I think there is certainly the space in the market for both publications as they bring very different things to the pottery table. Ceramic Review has a solid base and large following, whereas Clay Craft need to establish a readership for which I think a lot will depend on their ability to come up with imaginative and easy to follow projects. However in doing that, they may neglect the intermediate/advanced potter (although freebies may keep people buying, if not reading). As with all things pottery related – time will tell!

I however, look forward to reading both!

PS xx

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2017 is here to stay

Well. Politics, both domestic and global, seems intent on repeating mistakes that were sworn to never be repeated. It’s been a tumultuous start to the year and one that many would like to forget, but as it is, 2017 is here to stay.

On an individual scale, life has been busy. There doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day or days in the week. Since the holidays and heading back to work, it’s been difficult to find time to do anything other than get on top cleaning/sorting/tidying the house however finally this weekend I got a few hours to myself and I thought – let’s see how a little bit of throwing goes!

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And actually, despite perhaps two-three months without throwing, it actually went reasonably well! I decided to try and batch throw a few mug shapes. Four mugs were produced, a bowl and a jug.

However, the jug and bowl were sacrificed in the turning stages – I need to practice turning as much as throwing!

 

I decided on pulling a few handles as well and again, this didn’t go as badly as I imagined. After being left to dry for a little while, four were selected and added to the mugs. Again I need to work on making my handles a little longer and thinner – they’re quite chunky at the top and this looks unbalanced when attached to the mug.

I carried on throwing this evening – the wheel was out, so why not! It’ll be at least a few days if not weeks before I use it again, so why not make the most of it? I played around with some recycled clay and indenting a thrown shape. It’s a little basic, but I quite liked the rippled rim and little narrow spout of these two, so I decided to keep them.

I even managed to convince Beloved to have a go this evening! Spreading the ceramics love throughout the household! I’ll have Little One making little cups and bowls in no time!! In fact, that’s a great idea.

After all the making before Christmas and the slurry from wp-image-455328090jpg.jpgthe wheel, my scraps tub was full and so the process of reclaiming began. That’s truly something I love about clay, there is so little waste.

I’m hoping that in the next few weeks I can make enough to do a biscuit firing and then two more glaze firings – one with the Mayco Foundation glazes, a low temp, and one using the Botz glazes, high temp. Although there’s no point just throwing anything in, it’d be nice if the kiln was full of things I wanted to make and give. In which case, it might be a while before the firings happen – but that’s ok. Good things come to those who wait!

Also, the second series of the Great Pottery Thrown Down starts this week! The contestants look a bit ‘cherry picked’ and seem to be far more experienced than amateurs.. but I’m looking forward to it all the same! For inspiration if nothing else.

PS over and out! Take care of each other xx

Kate Malone’s Open Studio!

This weekend was one I had been waiting for since meeting Kate Malone at Waddesdon Manor – Kate’s open studio!!

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I left Little One at home with Beloved as I wasn’t sure what her studio would be like (as it happened there were loads of kids in and out!), but I also knew that if I wanted to pick up a Kate Malone master piece (which I did, if possible) that I’d need to be there early!

Kate’s studio was easy to find down a little alley and what can I say… what an incredible space! A feast for the eyes. It was a well organised, beautifully lit place with a little kitchen, loads of work space and that huge wonderful kiln at the back. Upstairs was like a little Japanese studio, incredibly calm with windows the length of the building.

There was literally a pile of her famous pumpkins as we walked in the door on the left and some of her beautiful mugs, hearts and trinkets to the right. A pumpkin immediately caught my eye, a stunning blue, green and grey medium sized pumpkin. I grabbed it! I had to have it. I had a figure in mind and it was pretty much the top of my budget, but the piece was so striking, intricate and lush.. I felt like this was my chance to own a real Kate Malone piece and a pumpkin at that! The lovely assistant put it to one side for me and I investigated the studio.

Upstairs I met Rich Miller of The Great Pottery Throw Down fame! I contained my excitement and managed to have a chat about his pieces without my voice breaking with glee and even got to chat about the show! I had picked up one of his cups almost as soon as I went up stairs and after taking up so much of his time I felt like I owned the mug of his I had been clinging too, and so I purchased this as well.

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It really is a beautiful mug, well weighted and a beautiful handle. A great little cup! He used water colours to paint the different images which were reduced in size and then converted into little enamel transfers which were floated into place. The detail is stunning and Rich was an incredibly nice guy.

Upstairs I managed to snap a few pics of Kate’s personal collection – the pineapples, snapdragons and beautiful flower vases.

When I went back downstairs I managed to say hello to Kate again, she’s a very warm and happy lady! I tried to put into words my thanks to her for opening up the world of clay and ceramics to me through the TV show and her own exhibitions. I don’t think I really got any of it across, I probably sounded like a mumbly eejit.. but I tried. Clay means a lot of me, it’s my vehicle for creativity and stress relief.. it helps me balance my life. At a time when I felt like I was losing my identity, it has helped me forge a new one. I love it.

And now, I have a little Kate Malone treasure to call my own, my very own pumpkin. It’s been a great weekend!

…Can’t wait till next year!

PG x

 

Sharing is caring 

Evening all!

I wanted to share with you the results of some of my bowl stamping experiments. I am still getting frustrated by not getting glazes the way I want them, either in terms of coverage, colour or effect. It’s something I hope to work on in coming weeks.

For example the large floral  bowl I made didn’t, in my opinion, come out well. I painted blue glaze onto the flowers and poured on a white dipping glaze, but once in the kiln the blue smothered the flowers and the white pooled at the bottom giving a completely different effect to the rim. The centre of the bowl looked almost clear rather than white.

Perhaps this was a result of my pouring or applying too much blue glaze to the flowers, I don’t know.

The bowl with the geometric stamped rim came out much more even with the green dipping glaze (although still patchy in areas) and even a drip from another item in the kiln seems to have brought it to life. I wasn’t mad on the green glaze tester but actually it is my favourite of the bowls for colour.

I have another bowl to show but this one was done quite differently – I’ll explain more when I take some photos!

As ever I try to view my work as learning opportunities and here are definitely things to be learnt from these bowls.

Beloved looked at me last week and the piles of ceramic dishes piling up and so I selected a number of pieces to go to friends and family. It’s nice to think they have gone to good homes and are being used rather than sat gathering dust. Friends and family are so supportive and of course have a very different view of a pot compared to the potter. Whereas I see primarily imperfections, they might have a more positive overall impression. It feels good to share and sometimes we all need to little positivity and encouragement.

Some things in the pipeline are Christmas related goodies, more throwing practice, working with coloured slip and my big project… a dolls house for Little One!

Thanks for all the likes and comments, it feels great to receive them and I am always appreciative of advice and tips! 

Keep potting 

PG xx

Oh, hello!

Hello friends, hello.

Apologies for long gap between posts – PotterGirl has gotten herself a full time job, Little One is in Childcare and Beloved is doing just great. However while full time employment has meant we have more money coming in (yay!) it means less time for clay day to day (boo..).

Particularly when starting a job, things can take a while to settle and for new routines to start. I’m out of the house before it gets light and I’m back not long before it’s dark. Weekends are time to spend with Little One and Beloved, but I’m slowly getting back my evenings and a little time for clay at the weekend while Little One sleeps.

I’m also still visiting my favourite local ceramicist SB! Which is why I have a few photos of finished projects and one or two of a few things in the pipeline.

Also, I haven’t been able to get someone to look at my kiln yet, so things are still being fired at SBs rather than at home. Which is fine, but certainly slows up the process.. Mental note. Sort out kiln already!?

So here are a few items I’ve gotten back, in one piece thankfully! You’ll probably recognise most of them from earlier construction posts.

With the new work schedule things will be taking a while to complete, but there are still lots of projects to be working on! So please bare with me if there is a long time between posts – I am working away in the background and I will post as soon as I can! I’m on instagram and able to update that quicker so should you so wish,  please feel fee to follow me, @pmstrat

PG xx

Clay reclaiming complete! 

After leaving the clay to slake down for 24hrs and then laying it out about an inch or so thick over my home made wedging board, I left the clay to dry for 48hrs. I checked on the clay every few hours and I think somewhere between 36-48hrs is probably sufficient although I initially dried the clay outside and then under a lamp for a while. When I got up this morning the clay was a good viscosity in that it wasn’t wet to touch but wasn’t close to leather hard. I’d say it was damp to touch and my thumb left an impression easily in the clay without my thumb getting stuck or covered in clay! I hope that makes sense. 

I scraped the clay off the wedging board – this time I laid it on the canvas side but next time I think I’ll lay it out on the plaster side. The clay stuck to the canvas a little and from what I’ve seen on YouTube it should be able to come off in one piece on the plaster side. I wedged the clay a little on the plaster side and it stayed in one piece.

Overall from a 12.5kg bag or so of clay, I was able to reclaim 2kg! I’m really happy. Yes it’s a bit of work, but it’s part of the best thing about working with clay – you can reuse it! 

I am going to a throwing class tomorrow with the studio owner I first had a few classes with about 8-9months ago. He holds a throwing day, 10am-5pm in his studio for £70 which is much more reasonable than the 2hr one-to-one class for £60 I was considering in Hitchin! Other people were charging £100+ for a day. It’s madness.

Anyway I will write a post about throwing tomorrow after I’ve been to the studio! I will also get to work using the reclaimed clay this afternoon while Little One sleeps and see how that goes.

PG over and out x