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Happy Christmas

It's that time of year again to wish my reader- happy Christmas! Just time to plug a Christmas/ New Year exhibition down in Westcliff on Sea at the WOA Gallery.

http://idea13.org/event/november-preview-westcliff-art/


Some assorted work is en route. (see below- prior to boxing and sending) It's been a manic time combining teaching and getting stuff ready for exhibitions and sales. I will be glad of a rest and the chance to make some new pots again.

I wish everyone a very happy and peaceful New Year. See you next year!








Ceramic Review Gallery Jan/Feb Edition

I was really pleased to have my "Pisces" pot featured in Ceramic Review's current January/February edition.

It's in the Gallery section, and from previous experience- it's tremendously difficult to get your work submitted! I was lucky this time, a good photo helped- which seemed to capture the essence of the pot.

Anyhow- at £9.50 per copy- CR mag is not cheap- but you can subscribe to it's online edition for a lot less than the print edition. It's always a fascinating read for potters, and full of good ideas and often quite radical work. On the front cover is sculptor Kerry Jameson.




That's my pot in the bottom left corner. 

More raku tiles...

I was recently asked to make about 20 tiles all 20cm x 10cm for a customer. It really is challenging not only making them- (all the same!) but to fire them too and achieve a consistant -lasting result. Raku by it's nature is pretty randomn, and especially with copper lustre- the effects can be fleeting. I'll try and answer some of these points.

Making: 

Firstly- I made the tiles using roller guides- rolling onto a wooden board, covered with canvass or paper. They key thing is have enough space to work and not to lift or move them! They all need to be a uniform thickness so roller guides area  must. Use a template and a ruler- and a potter's knife to cut. A wooden board can be placed on top to stop warping. You will need to periodically check for this as they dry. Make more than you will need.

Firing:

Supposing you get through the bisque firing unscathed- it's the "fun" part. I place the tiles onto a pad of ceramic fibre onto the kiln shelf. This helps with lif…

A new home in Australia....for a pot!

I can't believe I forgot to blog this pot-post! After a visit last month, from a nice customer, one of my copper matte pots is currently  travelling round the world- ( in India as we speak) en -route to it's new home in Melbourne,Australia. 
It was nice to sell a work "face to face" from  a private gallery/studio visit, and to hear the customer's own interpretation of my work which was quite fascinating. I must admit, I had quite expected a different work to sell, but after much consideration, the piece pictured below was the one to go. You can never tell. 
Needless to say I am very proud that this will be taking up residence in Oz. It's getting ridiculous- France, America, Australia, India....all ticked off the "Pottery Tour Bucket List". 
 Melbourne on the map- and the pot in question- a Pisces now Australia bound. 

A Visit to Maldon with some pots

I was very lucky to have been asked to bring some work to Haylett's Fine Art Galleryin Maldon, Essex. The owner was very pleasant and requested some small items- and bowls with a view to bringing some larger pieces in the new year. I noted some ceramic work on show from PamSchomberg and Richard Baxter- two well known Essex potters!

Things have been quite lately, baring one or two very nice nice on-line commissions.  I've been using the time to make pots back in  the studio. It's been nice to do that, after all the problems I've experienced  recently, getting both my electric kiln and Raku gas kiln to work again! Therapy again....


 Flyer for Haylett's Art Gallery  Greenware pots drying out Raku bowl

Gallery round up for September

I thought I'd take stock of some of my pots at the weekend, with a view to pressing on and making some new work in the run up to .......(Christmas)-say it quietly! Summer proved a bit of a revelation sales wise- probably the best certainly since the recession kicked in - so maybe things are turning a corner.

I've been doing all my usual regular supplies of Gallery stuff to  BuckenhamGalleries (Southwold) and the Taplin Gallery (Woodbridge). I'm also stocking work at Quirky Art in Denbeighshire, Wales.

These days I get as many enquiries from online galleries as I do from "physical" galleries. The most notable that I sell on are Studio Pottery.co.uk and for me, at any rate- Rippingham Art. It's the way of things I suppose these days. It is sad not to exhibit in a real space for sure and to get to know the owners and proprietors- but there you go. Both Stephen Dee of Studio Pottery and Jan Rippingham though, have been really friendly, helpful and supportive of …

Kiln problems and RCD circuits

I've just had the scare of my working life! Last weekend I made some repairs to the firebricks in my electric top-loading kiln. The fire-cement was quite wet, but I 've done these repairs before.... however not with a new RCD circuit and trip switch fitted onto the house.

The problem started on Sunday- I dried the cement out on Saturday- or so I thought- by placing an electric heater inside the kiln. Sunday- the kiln clicked once- then tripped off all the power. And kept doing it- OVER AND OVER AGAIN!  Disaster!

I got Essex Kilns in, they asked if the fire cement was still wet. No I replied it's all dry. And yes it was touch dry- or so it seemed. 

Out they come- "Nothing wrong with the kiln mate-there's a small leak of  electricity onto the casing- makes it trip. Up the millampage from 30-100 that'll sort it and get it put on a separate RCD circuit.Bob's yer uncle."   Well with the prospect of hundreds of pounds of work looming, it made me shudder. A…

Going for Gold....

I 've been busy editing photos of some of the pots from my last firing batch. I tend to mull over  the fired pots  for a couple of days then bubble-wrap them and carefully store them away. I tend to divide them into quality bands- the best -medium grade- and seconds (ebayers etc).

Anyway I just edited up this little gem. It has no buyers yet- nor an exhibition as yet to make an appearance in. He's quite happy in my small display case at home! Gold copper mattes are pretty rare in my experience - I used to get a lot in my early days- when I fired to a lower temperature. This was an attempt to try and re- achieve gold and it worked It also developed vivid copper red/pink/blue tones. It's a pretty rare piece.Take a good look - I doubt I'll get another one like it  - probably for another ten years!












British Studio Potter's Marks-New Edition edited by James Hazelwood
James Hazelwood -a passionate UK collector of Studio Ceramics has taken on the monumental challenge of re editing Robert Fornier's and Eric Yates Owen's massive tome- chronicling Potter's marks, signs and symbols.  This must have been a nightmare job- so on my small part of the web- comes a "big" thankyou for that hard work seeking out all those potters!
The new volume will be published in February 2015 by Bloomsbury. I can't wait to get a copy to find my stamp!

http://www.amazon.co.uk/British-Studio-Potters-Marks-Yates-Owen/dp/1408183501

Day 3's firing highlights...

I got up relatively early again today to get the kiln lit, and pushed through another batch of copper matte pots and assorted raku glazed dishes. It's quite tiring firing in hot weather, and it does seem to affect the cooling process and therefore the colour development of the pots. Timing is everything!

However 1 or 2 pieces worked really well, interestingly I seem to be getting a lot more reds than I ever used to. Oh well- just 1 more day's firings to go- probably in the next week or so. Here are some of the fired pots from  earlier today- fresh from the kiln.






Day 2 of 3...Raku firing in June

I'm busy firing copper mattes at the moment- the first batch in a long while. I'm about half way through the cycle- and so far as usual it's a mixed affair. However, there is this beaut- which photographed pretty well- even in a quick "just out of the kiln" snap. So here it is.

Off to visit Art in Clay at Hatfield next weekend- I am sure that I will report back. Hopefully with lots of new ideas and pots seen!



Raku day in June

I've had a new batch of work sitting around in the studio waiting to get fired, so at long last I found time to fire up the kiln.  Yesterday was probably the hottest day of the year so far.... maybe not such a great idea after all!

The hot weather does seem to play a part with the cooling process with copper matte slips. On a really hot day, pots  don't cool down as fast during the  reduction, and that can affect the spread of colour development.

Yesterday, I let the work  cool under a sealed tin for at least another 10-15 minutes. You can "feel" the heat coming off the top of the tin- so that's how I gauge whether they're  ready or not. On a cold day- reduction takes on average- 15 minutes ( 1 x10 - then 1 x 5)- yesterday the pots were getting 25 minutes in total. (1x10, 1x10, 1x5) Each reduction is punctuated by a "burp"- that is lifting the tin to allow in air and re-oxidation.

There were some fair to good results- hoping for even better in tomo…

Selected for a forthcoming book.....

A while ago I was asked to apply for a spot in a book- snappily entitled "The State of Art vol 2-3d and sculpture"   by Bare Hill  Publishing.  Their website can be found here-

 http://www.barehillpublishing.com/wp/books/

As you've guessed it's an "Art book". Not a craft book or a pottery book- an "Art book" with lots of "funny" and odd sculpture in it- oh yes and my stuff too!

Anyway  you will probably hear me going on and on about this book in many more posts to come! Well, suffice to say, I'm really pleased to have been selected- it seems like a strong series of books- and other "potters" have featured too- including leading Ceramicist Richard Slee among other..



VOLUME 1- I 'm going to be in Volume 2.....


One of the Menhirs entered for the new volume -see above

An early piece turns up at auction...

I first started making pots in the mid 90's- through college and then University. I wouldn't say I had the greatest pot making talent quite honestly, but what I lacked in skill- I felt I have always made up for in terms of originality and being slightly "off beat"! Through time I think the skill part develops- if you have the luxury of time that is.

Anyway I saw an early Ceramic piece of mine- a form which I can barely remember having made- but which must have sold at some gallery exhibition which I've forgotten about.Its clearly a transition piece- still fairly crude- with a bronze sort of raku glaze and an oxidised spot.

Still, this humble little piece has now  turned up with a starting bid of £85! So if you want a rare early work- you know where to look!:)

Early slab built vase



A view inside my workshop

Well it's been a while since I've had time to make some of  my sculptures, but I am slowly building up a new body of work.  Pictured here  are some "Pisces" and "Neptune" pieces. It's slow going and a bit of a methodical process. I can only really make about 2 pots a  day, so it's not like throwing where you can reel off a whole batch in an afternoon. (If you're  lucky!)

 Despite the time it takes- I do enjoy hand-building, and especially slab work- as it allows me to mentally "switch off". I suppose really it becomes almost a  subliminal process in itself. In large parts it's a waiting game. You have to let the clay dry to exactly the right  "leather hard" condition before you can  even start building. Then it's joining-sculpting angles- cutting edges- adding details-  refining- and  refining again. It's enough  to drive you  beserk! :)


Below: Greenware "pots" waiting to be "fettled" and bisqu…

A Pot Postcard from Nevada....

Just arrived in Nevada, USA - at Charles Blim Jnr's new ceramics' gallery -post unwrapping! My well travelled "Pisces" pot in it's new home.



Making and firing Raku tiles

I have just had in one or two orders and enquiries concerning Raku tiles.

Making them  can drive you to despair- what with their tendancy to warp, crack and shrink! It's amazing how something so simple is in actual fact so hard to make.  It's also very difficult to  lift a flat object out of the kiln with tongs from a red hot kiln. Well, with some prior experience,  I've developed a firing system for tiles now which is now working pretty well. Quite simply, I lay each tile on a flat bed of ceramic fibre. That way each tile is raised slightly off the kiln shelf- and it's then easy to grasp the tile with tongs and drop into your reduction chamber/smoking bin.

I stack  two or three kiln shelves and can pack in  about 20 tiles in one batch - depending on size. I do let the kiln cool slightly before carefully removing each shelf of tiles. I back off the gas- get each shelf of tiles out- then power back up to temperature and repeat till they're all safely out of the k…

End of the exhibition...

Last  month was a frenetic one of  sorting, packaging and shipping out work. I don't think I have ever had to send out so much work in 1 month, and most of it abroad. Nice though it was to exhibit in 3 big exhibitions at once, it was rather stress inducing!

All the work  arrived safely, and I think, to fair appreciation.  It's always nerve wracking sending out your most cherished work. Will it arrive in time - and all in one piece? Will anyone like it? I've become pretty philosophical about these things- and I guess I do create work which tends to divide opinion.  At least I gave it my best shot and I can't do any more than that. I think that even if you don't sell terribly well, having work overseas does raise your profile and does no harm at all for your CV.

Having said that, I have had some nice feedback from the galleries and exhibition organisers involved.  My Japan work although well received, is coming home. (See below) The work at Manchester City Art Galle…