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

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Amaco Glazes

SB got a whole new bunch of Amaco Glazes around Christmas time – Potter’s Choice cone 5/6, which alone in 2-3 coats give lovely vibrant colours, but also layers and striped, create some really beautiful effects! Having worked on my pieces at home recently, and therefore used my own Mayco/Botz glazes, I’m only just getting back pieces I made with SB and the Amaco glazes.

I wanted to share with you some of the pieces I’ve gotten back over the last two weeks – which if you follow me on instagram you’ll have seen already, because I love them. I LOVE THEM. Seeing these colours puts the biggest grin on my face. You’ll also see my lovely wave roller from Scarva which is my new favourite tool! £10 is a lot to spend on a small roller, but the depth and clarity of design are much, much clearer than the sugar rollers I have used for my star pieces.

  1. Slab built wave rectangle flower pot
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  2. Small round wave trinket box (available to buy from my Etsy shop)
  3. Pink and blue wave mug
  4. Slab bowl with stamp detail design

I’m going to have a play around with colours and textures in the next few weeks and post the results. There is an entire Facebook Group dedicated to these glazes and some of the results are just stunning!

So far they’ve behaved well for me, interacted with each other but not run at the bottom so I’ve had no problem with pieces sticking to kiln shelves or such the like. I’ll have to ask SB what temperature she’s firing at, but so far I’ve been really, really happy with the results!

Is it too early to start a Christmas list?

PS xx

P.S. Throw Down Semi Finals Tonight!!

*SPOILER ALERT*

Devastated Nam went last week. His Russian Dolls weren’t up to scratch, so it was the right call, but he was by far my favourite. I loved his creativity, his designs had clarity and were really playful in different, dyNAMic ways, he seemed like a really genuine and compassionate human being. Let’s see who survives the Great Toilet Challenge and what Johnny Vegas gets up too this week!

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

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

 

Glazing goodies!

They’re here!! How quick is that?!

Two parcels arrived for me today: one from Bath Potters and one from Potclays. 

Sadly another of the glazes from Bath Potters was not available. When I rang up to follow up, they were very nice and apologetic saying that they’d had a school order in which had cleared the shelves! I don’t find getting angry or upset in these situations helps as many pottery and ceramic businesses are small family firms and need our support. And as they had apologised genuinely and promised to forward on the glaze asap, what more could you ask for? Plus with the 10% off at purchase and refund for the other glazes, I’m still happy with the prices I paid and the delivery was very quick! 

At the same time my delivery from Potclays arrived! This was one I was very excited about as the glazes look beautiful and I’m hoping to experiment with them. I tweeted this picture:

The guys at Potclays replied saying they noticed that freebies had been left out and would send them on separately. How nice is that? I don’t know many people who’d turn down a freebie but to go to the trouble really is lovely. I’ve found Potclays to be very approachable and forthcoming with advice and tips.

In fact everyone I’ve meet in the potting community has been very genuine, open and more than happy to talk pots and clay and all things ceramic. It’s wonderful and heart warming especially in the times we find ourselves in politically, that something as simple as clay can bring people together.

Well as I said before sadly we’re away this weekend otherwise I’d be wedging clay as we speak.. So it’ll be a few days before I get to make anything and longer before I get to  (fingers crossed) fire anything.

 But I can’t wait to get started! 

Love 

PG x

Brush on Stoneware Glaze (part 1)

I originally bought Botz glazes from Ceramatech in Tottenham (Steve at Ceramatech is genuinely lovely guy and very helpful should you ever contact them) as the bulk of the brush on glazes at SB’s studio are Botz and they are a short drive from where I live. The two first glazes I bought were Blue/Black 29883 and a white/blue speckled glaze called Ice Crystal 29898. The blue/black glaze came out well on my coffee jar:

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but inconsistently swamped another piece with more delicate detail:

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Whereas the Ice Crystal didn’t come out speckled blue at all, it came out more… dusty yellow? And again, didn’t do much for the detail with uneven coverage.

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These two initial pots of glaze were to give me something to work with at home for firing, however their versatility seems to be limited (..or perhaps it isn’t? Tips and ideas welcome!)

I mentioned in the previous post last night that I had put in an order for a few brush on glazes with Bath Potters. These were for two pots of Spectrum stoneware mid temp glaze (no. 1118 and 1115 if you’re interested!) and a grey and white Botz glaze. I had liked the look of the Spectrum glazes and was keen to try something new. Sadly they got in touch to tell me the Spectrum glazes I had ordered were out of stock, which is obviously a shame, but they were quick to offer either an exchange or refund (I opted for refund). I’m looking forward to getting the Botz glazes and will review them when they arrive. They fire at a high temperature and I hope to get creative, combining the two new Botz glazes with the two ones I have.

However I am still keen to get a few ‘base’ glazes, or staples.. Does that make sense? Block colours.. but versatile colours that I can use, layer, mix… something that gives me a little more to work with. For want of a better word, a ‘starter pack’ or something similar?

After putting my glaze dilemma out to Twitter (Started firing stoneware@ home – what brush on glazes to start with? Or try coloured slip? Thank you!), Mayco came back as the recommended option. Potclays even offered to throw in a few goodies if I ordered with them!

(I went for brush on glaze as I just don’t have the space to keep dipping glazes.. as I’ve said previously, all my pottery equipment needs to be packed away into the two large plastic tubs I keep in the outside loo! Yes we have an outside loo. No it doesn’t work. Yes I have converted it into my kiln space / pottery storage)

Which leads me to the present. I have just placed an order with Potclays for blue, white, green, grey and coral ‘Mayco Foundations Sheer’ glazes and a couple of designer liners which will allow me to ‘draw’ with glaze. Apparently these glazes don’t run very much and are forgiving in terms of coverage. I’m hoping to make a good few things for Christmas and I think these colours will be just the ticket!

One good thing about working full time now is having a few extra pennies at the end of the month to spend on things like this! Although I am still a dedicated bargain hunter. I don’t part with my hard earned money easily.

One day when I have my dream shed/permanent designated pottery space, I’d love to have a go with dipping glazes. I know you can buy them pretty much ready made, but it’d be fascinating to actually make a glaze from scratch and tinker with it. One day.. A girl can dream.

Fingers crossed the glazes arrive ok.. I better get to work so I have something to glaze!

Lots to look forward too… Christmas is coming early!

Stay tuned for part 2

PG xx