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Showing posts from 2013

Nearly's some exciting news!

I  had to share some exciting news about a future exhibition in Japan, which I 've alluded to over recent months.The finer details have now all been confirmed.   In March I'm exhibiting work in the home of "Raku"itself....Kyoto. A beautiful city- where the Raku family dynasty first began making those humble little teabowls centuries ago.

Humbling an experience  it is for me, I must say!  To think that my "Western style" slab constructed Raku  ware is going back to the land of it's origin- is pretty incredible. I think for Potters- that must rank as one to cross off  the "bucket-list!" 

This time they will be exhibited at Gallery Jarfo in Kyoto city during March 2014 as part of the EWAACUK JAPAN  cultural exchange. I feel very honoured and excited to have been selected.

More on this next year! But in the meantime-a very Merry Christmas and thanks for reading!

 Gallery Jarfo- Kyoto, Japan

Beautiful Kyoto City - mixing the ancient and the modern 

Raku-ing in December...

It's been unseasonably mild in the UK, whilst everyone else shivers- there's been wind and rain...storms for Christmas day...Well never mind, in between dodging the rain, I've been busy firing dishes and bowls.

The first couple of firings I stupidly re used an  old glaze batch- and the colours didn't really work that well. So here's a tip- always label up your glaze or mix up a fresh batch every time. You think that your going to save money by re -using old glaze mixtures- - but believe me- it pays dividends to know that the glaze actually works!

I often get asked will the copper lustres fade? Well, yes- some do- especially if they don't get a good reduction in the smoking bins- the kind that gives off a lot of green smoke. Green smoke is a good sign! Equally,I have had some pots which are 10 years old- and given a polish with a soft cloth- the Copper lustres come up like new.

Some of these pots went straight to the Taplin Gallery in Woodbridge, Suffolk. Some …
November November....

I have been busy making and throwing bowls for Raku firing over the Christmas period, and toying with the idea of making a little wood fired Raku kiln. This would be based upon Nesrin During's example in Ceramic Arts Daily. I think though in all honestly- this might have to wait until Spring!

In the meantime- I am going through some of my older stock- shipping work to a few galleries- and hopefully re opening my Etsy web shop soon- so I can ship Internationally. 

I still let a few pieces go at lower prices on eBay- I get lots of seconds as you can imagine- through Raku firing...anyway here's a lot from my current ebay auction. See you soon...

Auction Listing:
Totem II

October updates...

I was really pleased to receive  a 2nd place at the EWAAC awards last week in London. This was an exhibition and awards for UK and Japanese artists and craftspeople. I submitted  a  copper matte Raku "Jug". (Pictured in an earlier post.) I think it made  a fitting end to my  association with the awards- and trumps my first year "runner up". But, time to move on - although there is talk of some of the artists exhibiting in Kyoto, (the home of Raku pottery) now that would be nice.
Anyway, I haven't had much time to make new work recently, so I hope this week I can find time to restart again. I've got plans to make lots of smaller work, in the vein of the "Menhirs"- which seem to be selling well. Long may it continue is all I can say....
What's on...
Looking ahead- I'm resupplying Haddenham Galleries in Ely later this week .  I also got my entry off for the Vasefinder2014 competition, which is an American ju…

The EWAAC 2013 UK JAPAN exhibition and awards

For about the past 3 years I have been lucky enough to get selected for the annual EWAAC exhibition and awards. The EWAAC society  is primarily about  promoting  new talent and emerging artists in all mediums, and helps to foster artistic connections between the UK and Japan.
This will probably be my last entry this year, as I feel I have been very lucky so far to get shortlisted 3 years running! Creatively I could also do with a bit of time and space to try out new directions too.  I felt it good to bow out on a high with this Raku Nuclear Jug piece- which is the sister piece to my Chelmsford Museum Jug. I am very fond of this piece- and it was a tremendous effort to get 2 large sized copper matte works  to fire successfully without breaking! 
The exhibition is free to enter and takes place in London at La Galeria, Pall Mall during the last week of October. 
For more info

A recent commissioned Urn...

Urn-est work....

I was recently commissioned to make a Raku Urn for a customer in Essex. Several were thrown and turned and then Raku fired- yielding extremely differing results. The nice part of a commissioned work is that the customer gets to choose their own particular favourite and more often than not- they invariably choose the stand out piece with no  hesitation.

This one pictured below was my own favourite and was duly dispatched to the customer.

White Colne Neolithic Replica coil pot

Well as promised I thought I'd post my replica pot on the blog. It's bound for a friend to use as resource material for a schools project which she's planning. It is based on Neolithic coil pots found at White Colne in Essex. 

Some September Raku results...

In between a spot of experimental archaeology over the summer I found time to get some Raku firings done.
I've been taking the temperature up higher for the copper matte's - between 1050/1070 degrees c.
Generally this means with some controlled timings of at least 2 "burps" of letting oxygen into the reduction bin- that results and colours are more stable and uniform.

As a consequence of firing at hotter temperatures- the colour palette is also somewhat different. I can get blues,  reds and greens- but gold and pink is now harder to come by! These tend to occur at lower temperatures- around the 1000-1040 mark- and are more fleeting. They are often superb- but can easily result in drab mottled browns and olive greens. Not what you want. They are sometimes redeemable by twice firing- but that's a risky business.

Oh well I'm quite happy with these new results anyway- and percentage wise- it's better to fire hotter- with 2 time controlled bursts of air (burp…

Experimental archaeology-sort of!

A good friend and colleague set me a challenge recently to make a series of Neolithic bucket pots for a Primary school teaching initiative which she is setting up. She is collating some resource materials to send to schools- and asked for a replica pot based on the finds from White Colne in Essex. Not too far away from here I live in Halstead, interestingly. 
With nothing but a jpeg drawing to go on, I have imagined this replica pot- constructed from coils. This was a good laugh to do as I 'm not normally known for my coiling technique. In fact I'm pretty awful so I have a lot of respect for these Neolithic Essex potters. 
Anyway, because I live in a built up area I am going to saggar fire them in my Raku kiln with wood shavings and straw to try and replicate the wood fired finish of the originals. Albeit in a more modern manner!

Some more Crater glaze test results

I've been blathering on about Crater and Lava Glaze recipes here and on Facebook too. I suddenly "got the bug" as well as a commission- (more on this later) so hence the rather manic activity testing out glazes and destroying kiln shelves in the process with runny, bubbling glazes.

I tested 2 recipes- after first trying the usual recipes from the internet and in various books. As I suspected - few of them gave satisfactory results- either it was "pilot error" or the glaze authors just happen to neglect to tell you that vital missing  ingredient, kiln temperature or soak time etc! (Know the type of thing?)

Anyway I resorted to testing 2 standard glaze recipes which I've had for years. A turquoise matte and a Lucy Rie white stoneware. The jury is still out on the turquoise variant- but the white is rather nice. A little suggestion from Potter Jan Lewin Cadogan
put me right by suggesting to mix the glaze …
July updates....
Well I had a very nice trip back up to Southwold over the weekend to resupply Buckenham Gallery manager, Becky Munting- with some small sculptures and lots of lovely new Raku bowls!  It was very hot at Southwold beach- too hot for me- and you'd think by now I'd be used to "frying" over a hot kiln...So  after visiting the Gallery I cooled off with a pint of Adnams real ale up at the Pier! Well someone's got to....and after all it is brewed in Southwold. 
Have a look at Buckenham Galleries web page for more details
Ok- I've also been busy restocking my Folksy Gallery on the internet with some little nice pieces- going quite a bit cheaper than normal. The main reason is to clear some studio space and yes - buy some some more clay with the proceeds.(You read my mind again...) This time there's sculptures I want to work on- and there's that Crater glaze to experiment with....

You can browse my latest sale…

Investigations into the Crater......

Lava, Crater and Froth Glazes Investigating unknown territory!

As  you probably are aware by now- this is a blog all about my Raku work. Well, a long time ago -when starting out at Uni,  I first began my work in clay using  stoneware electric kiln firing. This was way before "getting the bug" for Raku in my final year.

I've dabbled a bit with lava glaze effects in the  Raku kiln more recently, and that went fairly well- so I've been doing a spot of research into higher temperature firing with lava glazes and slips.

No harm in that I thought. About 30 glaze tests later and umpteen fired test bowls, it's been "Interesting" to say the least. I quite like the fact that the results are so tactile and yes just like Raku- so unpredictable. The silicon carbide in the glaze and slip- also add a slight element of Reduction-very subtly -albeit nothing like working with Raku. Some of the crater glazes produce huge bubbles which can be rubbed down with a pestle to p…

Fire in June....

I've been firing up some raku bowls to send out to my local Gallery stockists. It's nice to return to throwing now and again, and anyway it's very therapeutic and I don't have to think about it too much!
It's also equally nice to get to play with fire again!

These are some of the early results- I'm about halfway through this current batch of firing.
There's some nice crackle going on and copper lustres. It was a good day for Raku-ing- calm and still-  so good conditions for the burn!

June ramblings....

Venue Magazine

Pottery is a precarious way to earn a living even in "good times", but these are difficult conditions in which to operate a small business. Suffice to say, it's been  hard going  to make a profit from my work. Rather than get too depressed about it, I've hunkered down in the studio. It's a actually a good time to take stock- see what's not working and try out something new. There's nothing to lose!
Consequently  I've fired up the kiln a few times and been busy testing out some stoneware lava glaze recipes, which I hope will be be used in conjunction with some outside - sculptural pieces. (For which Raku is less durable) I see them as very much a bridgehead between my Raku work and firing in an electric kiln- indoors.  More on this I am sure as it progresses. 
I was quite pleased though with this little feature in the current issue of Venue Magazine.  It's primarily circulated in the East of England and profiles the Arts. A nice writ…


All about Urns....

Whilst I probably focus more on sculptural work and hand built forms these days, I do like to return to the wheel "to brush up" occasionally. And whilst I am no great shakes as a traditional Potter- I find it immensely enjoyable and theraputic. 
I throw on an old fashioned style kick wheel, it's not particularly old in that sense, but was handed down by my Mother and Brother who both started Pottery making back in the '70s. It lay Mothballed- along with an old Olympic kiln until I got the Pottery bug in the '90's. 
Anyway, I mainly throw bowls and dishes, but occasionally I take the plunge and attempt something different. I especially like making Urns- or "Churns" - little angular pots with coiled attached lugs. They have  a vaguely ancient feel- being loosely based on Bronze and Iron  age vessels.
Ok- here a few of my old favourites anyway...

20th Century British Studio Potters Marks (new edition- forthcoming)
One for the Pottery Nerds....
A nice chap called James Hazelwood got in touch a while ago to ask me to submit my very own stamp for consideration for the new updated version of the much respected-  above tome.

I hasten to add I am still under consideration at this point, and with many varied talented fellow potters out there- there's only room for so its not a "shoo-in"...But I was very pleased to be asked to send in my own "marks" and "stamps".

I guess I started by not signing any of my works- (not a good start really!) whilst at Uni- then progressed to using an old cylinder head block stamp set (courtesy of my Dad from his motor works- they still appear occasionally) then onto a variety carved plaster stamps. These are applied onto a small pad of clay- or impressed into the clay directly.  I also use an old co axial cable to impress a round ring mark- more a decorative touc…

Rippingham Art Gallery

New work on show....
I've got  some new work on show at Rippingham Art Online. One of my personal favourites is the Pisces  but  there's  also some of the new range of Menhirs, small sculptures in Raku copper glaze. This is the second batch of work I've shown through the gallery.

I seem to be doing a lot more stuff  online these days whilst supplying my regular galleries and of course quite a bit of ebay too! I guess online is the just the way things are done these days and a sign of the times. Anyway check out Rippingham Art - there's an eclectic range of  ceramics on show and some really good paintings too.

     Rippingham Art Online


  Pisces III

                            Menhir  II
Some new smaller scale work....

Well its been cold enough to freeze a brass monkey's nuts off as they say (or dont) in this part of the UK! It's been so cold that the clay has regularly frozen in my shed. With more snow forecast for the Uk in February it's really tough to go and make work in my shed-cum-studio space. It has a little radiator and when the kiln's going it's toasty enough but....brrrrrrrrrr!

Ok, well I've been making 1 or 2 smaller pieces with an aim to scale up at a later date. I'm probably known best for doing copper mattes, but I enjoy textural and copper glazed Raku too. Well these new little forms are based on prehistoric flint tools, of the leaf shape variety. They're purely decorative and a move away from the vessel which I predominantly concentrate on- however dysfunctional!

I've enjoyed making these small pieces- and have tried a variety of finishes- here's a little peek of the new range- a Menhir.....