Middleport Pottery 

Well! A few weeks ago   I ticked an item off my bucket list – a trip to Middleport Pottery! The home of Burleigh ware.

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Sadly, it was supposed to be for a porcelain class but a mix up meant that I did not attend (we were fully refunded and the staff were very apologetic – giving me a beautiful book to compensate!) but rather than waste the journey we went for a walk around the estate. Again unfortunately it was a weekend and so their official tours were not running but we were nonetheless able to walk around most of the exhibits and grounds and the representative Liz was extremely knowledgeable and helpful.

The beautiful Burleigh transfers

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The three stages of a teapot!

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Middleport has been producing wares since the mid 1800s non stop to present day. This is an incredible feat in of itself! The factory was the first to consider the different stages of creating ceramics and accordingly planned the building and layout to create a production line with seven bottle kilns and their own seggars on site. The site is perfectly placed next to a canal for transport of the products.

We also stopped for a spot of lunch in the cafe which was very reasonable and absolutely delicious. And then even more time taking in the beautiful show rooms!

I’d highly recommend a visit to the pottery, particularly if you are a Throw Down fan as they have a current exhibition displaying some of the most memorable pieces from the show!

P Stratford xx

 

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Throw Down is over.. But clay lives on!

The Great Pottery Throw Down is over… What is there to look forward too on TV each week now? Will they make us wait another 12-18months for the next series (assuming there is a next series). I’m not going to lie, Robot Wars keeps me happy on a Sunday night (yes, I admitted it. I like Robot Wars) but it’s nothing compared to the delights of clay!

And as anyone reading this blog, probably also follows The Great Pottery Throw Down, what did you think of Ryan winning? I guess he was pretty much up there from the first episode, it was nice to have Clover come into her own by the end of the series. I had a bit of a marmite relationship with Richard, I’m not going to lie. He made me roll my eyes probably 5-8 times an episode, with his 17th century flower pattern and subtle homophobia/misogyny (‘eww a kiss from KBJ… Throwing is mens work…!!?) but he was a big softy really.

I think from the beginning people would probably have put Elaine, Freya and Ryan (and Nam if there was a 4th space) up for the final. Their skills were clearly superior, but then it comes down to design fluency and the luck of the kiln firing. Some people were shocked Cait made it so far, but then she held her own, stuck to brief and was realistic about her abilities (although clearly needed bit of help with timing).

Overall I really enjoyed the series and it’s great to have more people talking about clay and ceramics! When we visited Godshill Pottery they commented how much more business and inquiries they had for classes and pots since the series had been on TV, which can only be a positive thing.

Over at SB’s studio we’ve all agreed to have a go at some of the main makes from the show. The first one we’ve tried is from an early episode, where the contestants made clocks. I decided to go for an art deco mantle clock and although the construction changed a little when I saw the depth of the clock mechanism, I was able to stick to my design and I’m generally really happy with it!

I rolled out two slabs, one I kept smooth and one I rolled with my wave pattern. I used various measuring devices and card templates to get the proportions right and then cut the pieces, let them dry a little, scored and slipped them together, let them dry a little more, and then it was fired facing down in order to keep the face as flat as possible. I also have a little support at the back that you can’t see. The lower semi circle projects back about 5cm and creates a sturdy base. I used my Mayco grey and green glazes for the colours, although in SB’s kiln she fired them high (at my request) and so the colour is less animated and deeper. The mechanism is gold and black, which doesn’t come across in the photo so well.

I can honestly say I’m really happy with my clock! It actually came out as I had imagined. Which is often not the case with ceramics..

Onto the next task! I’d love to make something for the garden (I’ve been playing with the idea of making a large rabbit, as Little One loves rabbits, although she loves pigs and frogs too…), a dinner set I might skip as we don’t have the space, and we have no need for an extra toilet… Perhaps we can do some raku and pit firing over the summer!!

So there you have it. The series may have finished, but the love for clay lives on.

Happy potting

PS xx

 

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

Godshill Pottery

This past weekend Beloved, Little One and I took a break from the Big Smoke and headed to the New Forest for the weekend. It was great to get out of the city, spend some time together and some time in the great outdoors! We stayed in a little lodge in between Fordingbridge and Godshill. On Sunday afternoon we were out walking and came across Godshill Pottery – a pottery!! What luck! (Cue rolled eyes from beloved).

Godshill Pottery is home to Chris and Kate Charmin. They open their gallery up Monday to Saturday and have been making pots since the 1960s! We met Kate and chatted about her husbands pots, mostly earthenware these days, and of course The Great Pottery Throw Down! I couldn’t leave without buying a beautiful green and red mug.

It was really great to see a well established pottery and the range of work both Kate and Chris produce. If you find yourselves in the New Forest I’d highly recommend it!

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!

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