Update & Etsy site

Hello friends,

It’s been a flurry of pottery related lovely things these past few weeks! I must have watched every episode of The Great Pottery Throw Down at least four times, SB’s studio is back up and running one evening a week and there has been lots of buzz on social media about pottery with the new Turning Earth facility open, KBJ attending lots of events in London and the new Clay Craft magazine on the shelves!

A veritable schmorges board of pottery related paraphernalia for enthusiasts new and old.

I’ve also been busy making, throwing & glazing! So much so that our little home has pots and vases and cups and plates and trinket boxes stacked up on every shelf & flat surface. Normally I give things away to friends and relatives but increasingly people are asking to buy them – which is very flattering! But knowing that I only started making pottery about two years ago and considering myself very much a hobbyist (AND seeing all the weaknesses of a pot rather than the strengths); I have always said no. I thought I would feel embarrassed selling my work because I know I have not yet mastered the skills to produce something of true quality. I love making and I am proud of what I make, but I have enough self awareness to acknowledge my strengths and weaknesses.

Having said all that! Space is a premium for a home potter and an increasing appetite for glazes and tools comes at a cost. Therefore I have taken the plunge and set up an Etsy page. To tackle my insecurities, I have created a cheap, generic price structure (small items £5, medium £10 and large £15) and outlined what I think are the strengths and weaknesses of each item in the descriptions.

The idea is to clear space and put any money towards covering costs of clay, glaze & firing.

At the moment items are listed with 2nd class UK postage only (as I am familiar with this price and who doesn’t love cheap postage) but if anyone outside of the UK wants something then we can look into alternative postage options.

So I guess a link to my page would be useful, right? Well here it is

PStratford Ceramics

I’ll add items as I go and adjust pricing when appropriate but hopefully you might see something you like and a little something that I made finds a home!

I can’t believe it. I’ve set up an Etsy page!

PS X

Botz Glaze Review

Bots glazes! Thick brush on glaze that can give a punchy colour, but that can also be sensitive and shift around or not come out as expected. Botz were the first glazes I used because these were the glazes SB had in her studio and they are affordable at around £5-13 depending on the supplier and size of pot.

I began by buying ‘Black Blue Speckle’ and ‘Ice Crystal’. However I used them on two pieces that had quite a lot of detail and these were ultimately swamped I felt and the overall effect did not bring out the detail in a way I had hoped. The Black Blue colour had been as expected but the Ice Crystal had given a more sandy, beige effect rather than the white/blue speckle I had been hoping for. These items were made at home and fired at SB’s studio.

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When I fired the Ice Crystal at home however, it gave a dramatically different effect! This is exactly the same glaze as the top white pot, but fired by myself to cone 9 (1260 oC).

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I used the Black Blue again on a coffee jar with a white from SB’s studio and this was much more successful I felt.

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With my confidence restored a little, I decided to buy a couple more Botz glazes from Bath Potters as they were offering 10% off for first time customers. So, I decided to buy a Basalt Grey and a satin matt white called Creme. I didn’t have time to do testers and so used the glazes on some thrown pieces I did recently, and a couple of left over stars from Christmas to be used as testers.

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Overall I was reasonably happy with out the pieces came out, however the Basalt Grey was really more brown. I was surprised as I painted it on quite thickly for two coats. I didn’t think I would be able to get a third coat on without it pulling away, however perhaps that’s just what it needed to reach that deep stoney grey colour.

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Overall I find the Botz glazes to give good coverage and depth of colour (holding judgement on Basalt Grey), however they are far less predictable than say the Mayco and you use up much more glaze per coat than the thinner applying Mayco. For example air bubbles appeared in the white and in one area it completely shifted away from the ceramic underneath – there must have been grease or something on the clay, as I’ve no idea why this would have happened. The white also showed brush strokes in some areas, which I found with the Ice Crystal and grey as well, wheres this was not the case with the Black Blue. I had hoped the colours would interact between the gray/blue and white more, but this didn’t really happen.

Overall I like Botz glazes, however I think to get the desired effect I need to spend more time with testers and experimenting with firing at different temperatures. I would definitely buy them again but they are less versatile in terms of mixing and layering. (Perhaps they aren’t, if you have a different experience please let me know!). They also obscure surface texture quite a lot due to the thick layering required, but the colours can be striking and have a depth and quality to them that I really love.

Mayco Glaze Review

I said a few months ago I would review the glazes I bought before Christmas and despite having used them and put a few posts up, I haven’t given my opinion on how they work, their colour, their versatility, or overall effect.

So this is what I am hoping to get across now! Of course these are just my opinions and I hope I have explained them properly but please feel free to comment and agree or disagree! And obviously with all ceramics, so much with the glaze depends on the application, layering and how long they are fired to and what temperature. I will explain these as I go along, in order to give you the clearest idea of my making process!

So. Where to begin. Well, before Christmas I was looking to build up a glaze collection (formerly only owning two Botz glazes – review here) with glazes that were versatile and reliable. I took to Twitter and Mayco glazes were recommended as reliable, even in coverage, less-drippy and forgiving for want of a better word.

I decided to go for the Mayco Foundations glazes, Sheer. I hoped with these glazes I would be able to intermix the colours and any stamp/texture decoration would come through. My experience from the Botz glazes, which are heavier, thicker glazes, was that the decoration was often lost. I bought 5 tubs:

  1. Milk Glass White
  2. Clearly Jade
  3. Blue Diamond
  4. Sooty Grey
  5. Crystal Coral

I also bought three ‘Designer Liners’, white, red and green.

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In one of my first firings at home I did some colour testers and following the recommendations on the bottles, did a gradient of 1-3 layers. All the colours were a little less bold than expected despite the recommended 3 layers, but overall I was happy with them apart from the Crystal Coral. The first picture here shows the Blue Diamond tester with 1-3 layers of glaze and the one below in my hand shows 4 colours (except Milk Glass White) in 4 layer stripes. The second image shows Crystal Coral on my tester and the third square image shows how Crystal Coral looks online. As you can see, it is much more pink and vibrant. In reality, the Crystal Coral even with 4 layers, was no where near this colour. In hindsight if I had wanted a more vibrant pink, perhaps I should have gone for Floral Pink. In these instances the glazes were fired to cone 04 so perhaps 06 would have made a difference, I don’t know.

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Despite being a little more ‘sheer’ than I anticipated and the coral colour being more clear/white than pink, the glazes behaved really well in the kiln! They were easy to apply, they give a thin layer which can be built up to the desired thickness which as I have said, can significantly change the depth and boldness of the colour. They are a really steady glaze to work with and were great for my Christmas decorations!

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I also used the designer liners one a few items. These are clay based glazes (or does that make them slips?) that you can use to add fine detail to something. I found that without adding a clear glaze on top (for which I just used a single layer of Milk Bottle White) they flattened and were matt against an otherwise shiny background. The flow of the green was much better than the white for some reason, but the green smudged with a thin layer of white on top – or perhaps the white did too but it wasn’t visible. Regardless you certainly need a steady hand as they don’t budge an inch! I found the green to be more successful than the white overall. The white looked a little like Tippex in my opinion… But they are definitely useful for accentuating detail.

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Finally I tried to use the glaze for the bubble effect, (inside the grey cup with the green detail). I knew it was a long shot and I was right – it didn’t really have the desired effect, but it is certainly a technique I’ll try again in the future.

Overall these glazes, for the most part, do what they say on the tin. They don’t shift or move when firing, they can be layered, are easy to apply and accentuate detail nicely. They are very much a safe option and a little goes a long way. For me, I was hoping they would be a little bolder and the colours as strong as their depictions online, but then that’s always the trouble with buying something you haven’t seen or used before online!

In terms of value for money, I bought 1 pint (472ml) pots for roughly £15 including VAT from PotClays which was pretty much a standard price across the different sites. PotClays are expensive for delivery however, starting at just under £10 (whereas Scarva for example, adjust to the weight of the item and can be as little as £2) which is a shame. The PotClays people are really lovely to deal with and quick to communicate. If their postage was cheaper I would buy more from them as their website and range is pretty great compared to other sites, but I know they are also a family business and need support and so I try to buy from them when I seem them at events.

Overall, I’d definitely buy Mayco again, but I’d explore their other glaze options before buying more of the Foundations Sheer range.

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

Merry Mayco Christmas!

Ho Ho Ho! Meeeeeeerry Christmas!

I spent a good few hours last week making Christmas decorations and mugs in preparation for my first biscuit firing at home – and I’m happy to say it worked great! The kiln fired perfectly at home and the results were fab.

With a loads of Christmas tree decorations, trinket boxes and mugs to glaze, I got going with my new Mayco foundation glazes. It recommended 2-3 coats, so I applied 3 on pretty much everything. I also did a few testers indicating 1, 2 and 3 coats. The blue, grey, green and white came out well with 3 coats, although I’d go as far as to say go for 4 coats if you wanted a more bold colour. The ‘coral’ pink colour was quite washed out at 3 coats, so I’d definitely do 4 coats or even more if possible to try and get a bolder colour.

Having biscuit fired one day I was able to get the items glazed and fully dry by the weekend and fire for glazing! This was really exciting as I’d pack the kiln to the absolute brim, balancing stars on kiln accessories just to try and squeeze everything into the one firing. I even use the bottom of the kiln and tripods to add an extra layer. I don’t know if you should use the bottom of a kiln, but I did and it worked out fine. This isa  photo of the kiln lid being opened after my first low temp glaze firing!

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And here are a few more pictures of what came out. You can see I used a designer liner to highlight some of the snow flake pattern and on one of the stars I used a blue glaze over a white glaze, which gave a nice effect for the snowflake.

And here they are hanging in the tree! Lots of friends and family will be getting these little stars for Christmas!

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And then mid-week I was able to get back to SB’s to pick up some things that had been glazed a few weeks ago! She’s shut for Christmas now, but I was happy to pick up a few items as they were made as presents for people as well.

First is a little cup I threw on the wheel and added a pulled handle. I twisted it slightly and then glazed on an angle too – I really love this little mug, although if the twist had gone the other way, it would be comfier to hold. But it isn’t bad! And the new glazes SB has got are great – the colours are vibrant and overlap really well!

These were a pair of mugs I made, using lace to add detail to the clay and then highlighting the lace area with the pink/purple glaze and the rest of the mug with the blue/brown and a white glaze inside. I really like them and I know they’ve gone to a great home!

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And finally a tea jar to go with my coffee jar and two little vases I made! The tea jar came out great, although the lid slightly curled up.

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And the two vases were inspired by my Phnom Penh vase – I used the techniques from the larger vase to develop these little pieces – there is a 3rd but it needs more work so these were glazed in anticipation first!!

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It was my birthday recently and beloved got me a spot on a glaze making class in the spring, which is so exciting! Didn’t he do well? And I got a few ceramics books and bits and pieces from friends and family. I’m one lucky Potter Girl.

So there we are! Christmas eve is a week away and I can’t wait for some time off work to spend with loved ones! Clay is all wrapped up for now but no doubt I’ll be back on it again over the Christmas holidays – much remains to be made.

Wishing everyone a fantastic festive period and a happy and healthy 2017! Take care of yourselves

PG X

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