HEY CLAY!

Hey!

Well haven’t you heard? The Crafts Council’s Hey Clay! Events are happening all over the country 8-9 April!

If you’re inspired by the Great Pottery Throw Down or just want to get your hands dirty or try something new, then why not see what’s happening near you! A lot of events are free and loads are family friendly!

I’ve submitted a request to attend two workshops, one involving enamel painting on bisque and one slip casting porcelain. Hello!? When else would I get to try something like these??

I can’t wait! Hopefully I booked early enough to get a place. Feeling huge pottery love right now.

PS xx

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

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

Ho! Ho! Christmas Decorations!

Well, it’s about time I got making something to use all that lovely glaze, huh? I’ve been meaning to make some decorations for weeks now, but work has been very busy and by the time I’ve gotten Little One home, fed, bathed and in bed, I’m virtually asleep myself. However after visiting Kate Malone’s studio yesterday, I got my clay and tools out and had a go!

I used a star shaped cookie cutter and the snowflake stamp to make two designs. One is just a single stamp in the centre of the star and the second was created by stamping the entire clay surface before using the star cutter. I then used my own PS stamp for my initials and used a straw to poke out a hole.

In an hour or so I had made roughly 20 stars, which will do perfectly for little Christmas gifts for friends and family!

Although now I need to decide on colours – white? blue? Perhaps not green.. Grey or coral? Or should I try some of the Botz glazes? Not sure. I have a few mugs and egg cups that will need firing too. If I can make a few more mugs this week then I’ll try to biscuit fire this weekend and we’ll be on our way!

Sadly SB’s studio is pretty much closed for Christmas now, so if I want anything made I’ll have to do it myself. Fingers crossed the kiln works ok! Although I need to be careful because the Botz glazes fire at a higher temperature. But if everything is done with the Mayco I should be fine. I would like to make a few little trinket boxes as well.

 

I wish I wasn’t at work this week, I’d love a few days to concentrate on getting these Christmas pressies finished! But such is life. I’ll just have to get to bed early so I can stay awake in the evenings!!

I’ll keep you posted with my progress

PGxx

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

First Bisque Firing… Uh Oh.

 

Last night I tried my first biscuit firing. I had made a few small egg cups, a mug and some tester discs for my glazes. Everything seemed ok and I was set for a 7 hour firing, including an extra hour on the dial. I was home and started the kiln low then ramped up slowly every hour at first then two hours. However when I went to check on the kiln at the 5th hour, the light was off and I couldn’t hear anything. It was still hot but I didn’t think it was working. I left it another hour and when I cam back the handle was cool enough to touch. Something had gone wrong!

I tried to turn the kiln on and off but nothing was responding. I checked the cone and it hadn’t bent at all, so it hadn’t gotten anywhere near 1000 oC. I’m guessing it’s something electrical.

It’s frustrating. I’m away this weekend and I’m not sure what to do. I could open it up, but I’m not sure what I’m looking for. SB said she has a good kiln guy, perhaps I’ll call him and see if he can diagnose whats wrong.

If anyone has any tips or knows of online resources to help diagnose kiln problems please let me know! The stumbling block I’ve come across is that it is an old kiln and most things online are far more modern. Mine doesn’t even have a programmer!

Frustrating! But the price you pay for a cheap second hand kiln I guess.

PG x

Garden Jug 

I have a lot to thank my parents for. They have supported me through the ups and downs, very highs and very lows. I wanted to make them something special and personal. Mum was over recently and really liked my Phnom Penh vase and so I thought I should make something for Mum and Dad! 

My parents have the most beautiful garden and so I thought this would be a good starting place for a piece. I took to my sketchbook and came up with a few ideas. 

I actually began making a vase but as I was working with the clay I wanted to narrow the neck to make the shape more interesting and then when I added an extra piece of clay to elongate the neck, I realised the shape lended itself to being a tall thin jug. I cut a long handle and left it to dry out a little while I cut out pieces for the garden and added textures to the clay using a stamp I made and a fork. Once the handle was a suitable dryness  (it held it’s shape well) I attached it, no problems.

I’m really happy with the outcome, I just need to think about getting the glaze spot on. I was inclined to think all white or a block colour but I know my mum would like something colourful. I just don’t want the colours to be garish or too clumsy. Parts of the Phnom Penh vase look great but other areas look messy. Perhaps SB will have some ideas. 

If you have any ideas for glazing, let me know!