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!



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

Some success! Some learning opportunities..

It’s been busy here let me tell you! I’ve been building a vase inspired by the markets in Phnom Penh, Cambodia all week and then last night I got to pick up a few items and glaze some more!

This is the vase and the sketchpad drawings – you can see how the reality of putting ideas into clay changes things, but I’m happy for this process to take place. I rolled out a slab and used a cordial bottle to get the initial shape and structure. Thereafter I began rolling smaller slabs, cutting out pieces, layering, etching, shaping.. It was so much fun! It’s drying at the moment and will hopefully be fired this week. Then the next step will be glazing. I’m realising that this is an entirely different skill to hand building, and one I certainly haven’t gotten the hang of!! But I am really happy with my vase so far. I’m hoping it’ll be bright and beautiful once finished.

I got back a couple of pieces from SB last night! These were the pieces initially fired at a high temp, which limited the glazes I could use to low temp glazes. I began with this black/metallic glaze on my chess pieces and then used this for the underside of my dishes and bowls. The inside of the bowls were glazed with a clear glaze to show the internal patterning and contrast with the harsh black.

I’m really happy with how the chess pieces turned out! But the glaze on all the pieces ran. The smaller dish broke entirely and the other dishes all melted onto the sand on the shelf below, so I have had to file them down and neaten them up. The glaze also bubbled in some areas, I don’t know why. Obviously all of these are a little extra-ordinary as they are fired the ‘wrong’ way around, but its all a learning process.

Last night I glazed the other chess pieces with clear glaze for a second firing and will be applying a lacquer to make them pearly white. The lacquer will require a third firing. I also glazed the three small bowls, pen holders and my box. I really need to write down what glazes I used.

I’m pretty much out of clay too – I have been collecting my scraps and will be attempting to slake the clay down and reclaim it! But that’s a story for another post..

This week is about getting together more ideas, sketching and glazing ideas!

I’ve been using Instagram a lot and keeping that updated more quickly than the blog so feel free to follow me on that – @pmstrat

PG x



All the things…

This blog may have been quiet for a little while but that’s because this Potter Girl has been busy! Last night I went to SB’s studio to glaze some of the items I had dropped off for firing last week and to drop off a few more things for firing!

Friends are getting married so I made them three small pinch pot bowls (roughly 10cm diameter). I tried to make them as uniform as possible by weighing out the clay (300g) before hand and adding a foot – but inevitably they have slight differences.

I also rolled out a slab and cut it into a couple of different shapes to make desktop pen holders. My Dad had asked for one for Christmas, just a simple flat pen holder, but I couldn’t find one anywhere. So… I made some instead! I initially made a large triangular shape and added ‘waves’ to hold different pens, but then as I was finishing I realised that part of the utility of the pen holder is that it’s small and fits neatly on the desk. So I cut it into two parts and then used the cut off to make a third piece. We’ll see how they turn out after firing – one shape might be better than another to hold a pen!


And, the project I’ve been working on for some time… I also finished my Khmer inspired teapot! It took an awfully long time, particularly getting the handle right. I had also made a larger spout but it looked out of proportion so I trimmed it down. Before I dropped it over to SB I neatened up the handle and etched into the base a diamond-tile-like pattern, to reflect the roof tiles and adornments that inspired the piece. Getting the glazing right for this will be a challenge!


Close up of the lid…


All the items I’d dropped off last week had been fired by SB and were ready for glazing except… She had fired them on the wrong temperature. She said first biscuit firing was usually a low heat, then the items are glazed before being fired at a higher temperature. However, she had made a mistake and fired the biscuit firing too high. She seemed upset and was very apologetic, but to be honest I didn’t mind. It’s all a learning process for me! And, as SB explained, I could still glaze the items (although I was limited to low firing glazes) and actually industry does their firing this way around – high and then low. So all was not lost, not by a long way!

To be honest I was just chuffed that all my chess pieces, mugs, bowls, dishes and my box were all still in one piece!


So last night I spent almost 3hours glazing… and barely got through a third of the items! I decided on a black/metallic for one part of the chess set and then used this for the underside of my bowls and dishes. I then used a clear crackle glaze for the inside of the bowls and dishes. I want a really punchy colour for the other chess set – I had originally through black and white, but the crackle isn’t coloured and will be more beige (the colour of the clay). So I will have a little think – there is a nice green colour that might work, but I think it’s high temp firing. These are the glazes I used last night (you can see the chess set in the background):


So hopefully next week I’ll be able to see how one side of the chess set will look! As well as my bowls and small dishes. The dishes are supposed to be a present for someone, I hope they come out ok.

Last but not least I got one of my little Khmer jugs back! I’m pretty happy with it actually. I need to write down the colours I used on it for future reference, and the green dripped a little, but over all I think it looks pretty good!
Busy girl.

PG x


Ideas, doodles & drawings

I have a few projects I would very much like to begin, but from experience, I now know it is worth waiting for the rolling sticks to arrive before I try to hand roll out big slabs of clay.

So, dear internet, I thought I’d share with you some sketches from my book.

This is a selection of photos I’ve taken from Cambodia and I’ve been using these as initial ideas for shapes and colours.


As I’ve mentioned, I want to make a Khmer inspired tea set and for this I’ve been thinking a lot about the shape of the body of the pot. Spherical or more cubic.. I would very much like it to have an ‘edge’ connecting the handle to the spout. Although in sketches this looks great on the spherical pot, I think practically speaking a more square pot might be in order – or not square, but cube… four sided, but two sides much thinner than the two main walls. I don’t really intend this set to be used (it would be great if it could) but really it’s the aesthetic that I’m interested in and capturing the essence and the colours.

This is the page in my sketch book of the first two jugs I made. They’re with SB at the moment so hopefully when I go back they’ll be biscuit fired and ready for glazing! But of course, the adornment broke when I took them with me to the studio in the car. Gah. But if they work out, I’ll make another.


I’ve also been thinking about the markets in Phnom Penh and how wonderfully full and seemingly chaotic they are to initial observation, but upon closer look the stalls selling cloth, trinkets, bowls, cups and saucers etc. are actually highly organised. Some images from can give you a good idea of what I mean, if you haven’t experienced markets in SE Asia yourself! A few from the sit are below.

I have tried to capture the fullness and variety of shapes and textures. (I really need to learn which way to hold my camera – wordpress edit doesn’t let me rotate the image, but just to be clear, it’s a vase…)


Part of the inspiration for this drawing came from looking at Kate Malone’s recent work for Waddesdon Mannor. Her pieces made specifically for this event but as always, are incredibly vibrant and sumptuous. At times her pieces are sparse in detail and therefore allowing the colour to trigger the imagination and at other times, her pots and vessels are visual feasts, every inch of surface covered! The intricacy of her work genuinely astounds me. As a home potter, I am in awe of the detail and skill that goes in to her work. I really hope we get up to Waddesdon Mannor to see the exhibition – hopefully beloved, little one and I can make a weekend of it.

In my mind, but not yet sketched out, is a similar pot but one depicting the overcrowded, informal housing (I wont call them slums, if you want to read my doctoral thesis you can find out why) but the infamous White Building in Phnom Penh and the areas around Boeung Tra Bek etc. would make for a fascinating project.

And finally, a project I’ve had in mind for probably 9 months or more – is to make a chess set! I have a particular recipient in mind, but I have put it off for now, as I want to have a really beautiful finish on the pieces. But hopefully with my new rolling guides etc. I will be able to create a set I’m happy with. I have gone for minimal, simple shapes, as this I think, would be what the person receiving it would like. The glaze for this will be important too. And I’ll have to think of a way to store them delicately enough so they don’t chip. My sewing machine will no doubt be coming out for that!


So, Ta Dah! It’s certainly a little intimidating sharing a sketch book. I have no idea if my ideas will work well in clay, they will no doubt change and be modified as pratical necessity dictates. But it’s exciting nonetheless!

PG x

Dr Potter Girl: Cambodia

Throughout my journey of learning and experimentation with clay, my love of Cambodia, Khmer culture, language, art and architecture will be an ever present influence.

This is because I recently completed my doctorate in Development Studies for which I spent a lot of time in Cambodia. My research focused on urban poverty, urban poor livelihoods and urban poor housing issues in Phnom Penh. (Hence my Khmer inspired tea set!)

I didn’t want to simply make my own tacky Khmer souvenir, one I could have bought in the Russian Market for 400KHR! Nor am I trying to appropriate Khmer culture, that isn’t my intention at all. My Khmer tea set will show a very clear connection to Khmer colours and shapes whereas future projects will be more subtle and abstract. Hopefully it demonstrates my genuine love and awe of Khmer history and culture in a sensitive way. Whilst the tea set is my first project taking inspiration from Cambodia, I hope to create many more projects drawing from my experiences of Cambodia, Cambodia’s stunning environment, Khmer history, art and architecture as well as contemporary urbanisation and urban development.

I don’t intend to draw only from my love of all things Khmer, not at all, but I thought I’d explain why Cambodia in particular is important to me.

Dr PGx