Sunday, 16 December 2012

Almost there

This last few months have been very frustrating. We've been having a fair bit of work done to our house, with the result that the studio has become a temporary storage area (junk room). It's nigh on impossible to get in there to work at the moment. Most of my free time I've been using to decorate / fit bathrooms etc. When I have had the odd half hour free, I've been looking at other peoples work online. I've been thinking of getting back into painting again and so, have been looking at several artists blogs. Here are two of my favourites:

I break for Christmas on Thursday and have planned to get the studio ready for work in the new year.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Nothing to report...yet

Just a quick update.

I've not been able to get in the studio for a few months, as we're in the process of extending our house. The studio has become a temporary storage area, so not pottery production has been possible. I have however bought a wood burning stove that'll hopefully keep me warm once I've freed up the space. We're almost at the stage where i can clear out the studio and get in again - just need the electrician to finish off.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Experiments in paint and glaze

Firing this weekend! It's been a while as I've just not produced enough work over the past few months (see previous post). However, I do now have enough work to fill the kiln and so feel full of anticipation as to what surprises I'm going to have in a few days time. I say surprises because I've tried a few experiments with the decorations. I've included pictures below of the glaze and oxide decorations before the firing, and I hope to show them after firing too. I tried using lots of wax on the designs as well as spattering cold wax and then adding oxides over the top. On the flower design I then scraped away the oxide carefully trying not to remove any of the galze beneath. You can actually see on the flower pot a patch where some of the glaze beneath did flake off - we'll see in the finished pot if this makes a huge impact on the final effect. The salt pig is my first attempt at one of these. I've had a few friends saying that they want one having seen this, so hopefully it'll fire well.

I've also tried to get a bit of painting done recently. I do love apinting, but the limiting factor is always good lighting. I have to paint in daylight to get the colours right. Painting under artificial light, even with daylight bulbs , is never ideal. Anyway I've added some photos of the paintings, so you can comment (bear in mond the photos were also taken under artificial lighting and so tend to be a bit yellow.

Hope you enjoy the work!

(flower design in wax - oxide spattered then scraped back to glaze - see theglaze falked off)

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


Patience, that's what's needed in this game. Making pottery just can't be rushed and when you're limited to an hour a night it really does become a test of endurance. I managed to get an hours bike ride in tonight before an hours glazing and then an hours planning for tomorrow's day at work. It would be easy to resent either one of these activities (particularly the planning!), but in truth they all have their place in my life and all need a certain degree of commitment. So I've come to accept that the production of my pottery is a slow process and in that acceptance I hope to enjoy the time I have, just like I enjoy my time given to cycling or to family or to work. There's no point in resenting any of it, it's just life.

So, my pottery production progresses at a speed akin to continental drift. With that in mind I have to think about where I want to be in several months time. On Sunday we visited Tissington and during this trip we got talking to the owner of a farm tea room. We had quite a positive chat about possibly running a demo day sometime around Easter, where visitors can watch me make pottery and also have the chance of buying it. This means I have to start making the work now. I do have a batch of work which will be ready to be fired on Sunday, but much of that has been made for individuals.
In addition to the work that needs to be made I really want to make more Youtube videos as my previous film has been well received. So, patience is my new mantra!

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Studio, garden and enjoying my art

I have finished two paintings in the past couple of days, as well as throwing several bowls, a salt pig and a teapot. It's been so good to get into the studio and I'm hoping to make a concerted effort to keep the momentum going. At the moment the studio is packed with things that don't really belong there, as we're in the process of converting our garage into a study / lounge. At the moment the main obstacle in the studio is our chest freezer which I have to work around. I'm looking forward to getting this moved as I've bought a small wood stove which I want to get fitted before the weather turns cold. Last winter wasn't that pleasant in the studio. I did have a small gas heater, but it wasn't really good enough.
I put this video together to try and show some examples of work and the studio / garden. I'd like to do more of these, but as always it's time! I struggled to insert the video, but you can follow the link to youtube:

Wednesday, 22 August 2012


A clip of today's activity. I managed to paint another picture while Anna enjoyed playing on the wheel. I did make some pots myself, but never managed to get a clip of them. I'll try to make another film tomorrow showing the latest pots. I need to iron out some of the technical aspects of making film clips. Anyway this is a start!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Back on track

Firstly, can I apologise for my lack of posts over the last few months. I have been busy making and occasionally selling my work, but just haven't seemed to find the time to write about any of this. My online shops haven't been particularly successful and I'm reluctant to keep relisting items due to the costs. I closed the Ebay shop as it didn't generate any sales and was costing too much. I clearly need to look at my marketing!
However, on the plus side we held a garage sale to try and raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis resource centre as Jen is running the London Marathon next year on their behalf. Our greatest sales came from my pottery, and even those that didn't buy any were complimentary.
I've also been trying to make improvements to my studio. I will be posting some videos in the forthcoming days showing some of the things that I've been up to.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Time to start working again!


Two weeks with my lovely girls has spoiled me; it'll be hard getting back to work next week. The April showers have disrupted some of our gardening plans. One minute we're basking in sunshine getting stuck into the weeding,m the next we're running for cover as we're under fire from high powered hail stones! The hens have settled in well and have started laying; kids adore them!

  I still have a huge amount of pottery in stock and I'm struggling to find outlets for it. The Ebay shop wasn't very successful as it cost more than I made. I'm not getting much luck on Folksy or etsy either. The trouble is paying for adverts does generate sales, but not enough to make it worthwhile. I'm beginning to think that I need to look for a shop that'll exhibit my work without wanting to take a huge cut - easier said than done!
   It's definitely time to start pushing things forward dilemma is which direction to push!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

spinning plates!

Sorry for the lack of updates recently, we've been really busy having holidays in Wales! Oh, and organising some work to the house and garden. I still have quite a bit of stock that I need to sell to make room for more work. I'm hoping to try my hand at making some slipware soon. I often wonder whether I've got too many irons in the fire. As well as the pottery I'm trying to keep fit by cycling. I also teach guitar once a week, as well as squeezing in my own practise. I love working in the garden too and now we're planning to do some work on the house! I'm the proverbial Jack of all trades and master of none. The thing is I love all of these things and enjoy them all in different ways. I wish that I was better at most of them and realise that to become better then I should really focus on just one and perfect it. Trouble is this would involve abandoning the others and if I did this I think my life wouldn't be as rich.

Oh just to add to  our commitments, we've now got hens!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Testing the camcorder.

I've put together a quick video of a typical evening after work - sorry it's very amatuerish!

Get in, sort tea, help with homework and piano practise and if I'm lucky get out into a cold dark studio.

Well, that's how the studio appears in the clip - it actually seems much lighter when I'm in there. I think if I'm going to make video clips in there I'm going to need better lights. I also think it needs decorating!

I seem to be fussing a bit over this bowl - maybe it's the pressure of being on film!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

On the up!

Well I definitely feel like last weeks glitch is behind me and I'm really looking forward to what the next few weeks hold. It's all thanks to a dose of good spring weather and some new blogging friends!

I've been able to get out into my garden and me and Anna (daughter) spent a few hours planting a variety of veg seeds. We then went to a local farm and got some advice on keeping hens, which we'll be getting in the next few weeks. Anna's beside herself with excitement about this!
I've also started to get my head around this blogging lark and have to say a big thanks to the people who've been in touch and shared their experience of making and selling pottery.

Today I also managed to get my video camcorder working, so tomorrow I hope to get a clip of my studio and veg patch and maybe get back to throwing something.

Here's some photos of the last few days. Come on spring!


Monday, 27 February 2012

Gutted! Guts and heroes!

Well I made my FIRST sale via my new ebay shop - woohoo!

Ok celebration over - I just received an email with pictures attached from my one and only, not so happy customer, showing my beautiful biscuit barrel in about 200 pieces. The pot was wrapped in more than an inch thick layer of bubble wrap inside a double walled corrugated box, with no room for movement. It had at least 10 fragile stickers all over it and yet it still looks like someone has taken a sledge hammer to it! From the damage it looks like something very heavy was dropped on top of it. What kind of idiot would drop something heavy onto a box clearly marked fragile?

I feel very demoralised! It's not easy trying to make your way forward with a small business like this when you're working full time and have two small kids. It makes me even more in awe of the people who've actually done it. It must take some guts to embark on a venture such as a pottery business. To actually leap off that precipice and flap like mad in the hope that you're going to fly - them folks have got guts! You must have to put to one side thoughts of what you might lose and think just about what you might gain. That's my trouble I think - I tend to worry about losing my footing on life's cliff face and go slipping back down to some lowlier position where I'll have to try twice as hard to get half as much.

I'm a gloomy sod aren't I?

Monday, 20 February 2012

Ebay shop opening

I've opened an Ebay shop see:

It's not the most user friendly platform, I have to say. Maybe it's me being a bit technically challenged. Well I'd better get ready for a rush of customers, so more making, photographing to be done this week.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Our first Craft Fayre

Sunday was a first for me and Jen. We had expected everything and nothing from the craft fayre before we arrived. Part of me hoped that we'd be innundated with customers clammering for our pots, but my cynical brain didn't expect any interest. For the first two hours it appeared that the cynic in me was right, we didn't even get a hint of interest from the handful of people who were passing our stand. However, as the day wore on we gradually began to attract more interest and eventually some sales. By the end of the day we had done reasonably well and went home satisfied.
We did learn a lot during the day. Firstly, I was immediately struck by how unobservant most people are! I couldn't believe how folks were just walking around the room not actually looking at anything. People would walk past our stand without the slightest awareness that we were there. Next time I think the arrangement of the shelving needs to be such that the passers by are facing it as they walk along the corridor of stands, as people only seem to look directly in front of themselves. Secondly, I think I need to have fewer products on display, but displayed much more artistically. If you look at our stall it looks as though we've just tipped everything we have onto the table (believe it or not we had as much again hidden beneth the table - always the optimist!).
By all accounts it was a very quite day. It was cold and rainy, the middle of the month and the town was very quiet. Some of the other stall holders didn't make a single sale all day, so we should be pleased that we covered all of our costs and made a small profit. I think in future we'll be much more selective about which date we choose to exhibit on.
I had thought that bird feeders would sell out, but as it was I've now got one to add to my bird feeder. Come and get it my feathered friends!

Monday, 6 February 2012

Glaze firing results

Here are some pictures of yesterday's glaze firing. There were only a couple of pieces that will need re-firing due to the glaze not maturing enough, plus one piece cracked during the firing.

Cones 8 and 9 gone cone 10 giving a hint of a bend.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Cone 10 just out of reach.

I don't quite know what's going on with today's glaze firing. I had to change gas bottles at 600 degrees to the smaller bottle(21kg). At 1190 degrees the kiln seemed to stall - I thought it was due to a lack of pressure, but the bottle still seemed almost half full. At 8pm cone 9 started to bend (how?) but only slightly and then the pyrometer started to show a slight drop in temp - the cone didn't continue to bend but also stalled semi bent. I thought I'd have to accept an underfired glaze and so put the kiln into reduction. Unusually, in reduction the temp didn't drop, but remained at 1180 degrees. When the reduction was finished cone 9 had gone. I've just taken another look after 15 minutes of oxidation and the kiln seems to have stalled again at just shy of 2000 degrees. all these temperatures are taken from the pyrometer, which is clearly misreading at these higher temps, as cone 9 has gone but apparantly we never got to that temp?
Kiln in reduction
35 minute soak after cone 9 went, but never reached cone 10. Oh well, more research needed!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Defrosting and glazing

I spent a good couple of hours waiting for the glaze to defrost this morning before I could actually start to dip the bisque ware. I did eventually manage to get everything glazed ready for tomorrow's firing and by the time I'd finished four hours after starting the studio was actually beginning to get warm!
Here are some of the preglazed pots. I'll upload a pic of them when they're fired.

The girls had a great time in the garden while I was glazing - we have a lawn covered in snow angels now!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Throwing stoneware mugs

10:00pm Blimey it's cold. Just come in from the studio after throwing half a dozen mugs. I've tried to change the shape slightly by having them narrower at the foot. The foot will have to be turned on these mugs and I'll try to add a more elaborate handle - (pictures to follow). my next job is to compile a video that shows the process of amking a pot. I'm hoping to have this playing throughout the craft fayre at Bakewell in just over a week. Tomorrow's job is to glaze the interior of the bisque ware.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Chinese New Year and hot bisque

Enjoyed watching the celebrations in Manchester today. Amazing collage of colour and sound.

Last nights bisque firing went a bit pear shaped. The gas bottle I was using was getting low and temp began to drop when I was about 100 degrees from cone 06. I changed bottles and turned up the pressure. i gave it about 20 minutes - my mistake was to go and watch tv, as when I went out to check the kiln I'd over shot my firing temp by about 60 degrees. I just hope that the pots are still porous enough to take the glaze well - I have found in previous firings to 04 that they're not porous enough - we'll seenext wekend!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Inane rambling

9:51pm and I've just come in from the studio - Yey! I overcame the odds tonight, warmed the water, lit the heater, cut and weighed the clay, turned the radio on and really enjoyed throwing a couple of storage jars and lids.
So now, what to do next? Well I'm aware that at the moment no one is reading this blog, so my aim for the next half hour is to finish writing this and then do a bit of research on how to find subscribers. Interesting content is what it's all about I'm sure. Now there's a challenge! It's the white canvas in front of the artist situation - writer's block! So what do you do if you're an artist or a writer with no idea where to start? Well you take an idea and you work on it and you watch it grow. So what's my idea?'s growing this germ of a business idea. there are so many little steps to take in so many different areas. There's maintaining the website - still needs lots of work. There's developing a range of ware - still needs work. There's marketing - needs starting. There's finding outlets for my work - guess what? Needs work. There's maintaining an interesting blog - aaagh! At least no one's reading this waffle yet! :-)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

One step back :-(

9:30pm. I finished my planning for tomorrow's school day about 15 minutes ago and then talked myself out of going into the studio, lighting the gas heater, warming some water, kneading the cold clay, weighing it out and throwing a handfull of mugs. And now, as you can see I'm trying to justify my weak, lazy attitude!
I'd love to become a professional potter, I really would, but is it ever going to happen with my current lifestyle? Fortunately I have quite a bit of stock from the past couple of weeks so, I feel I can justify a night off.
I'd love to hear from any other potters on how they made the transition into pottery. Is it possible when you have a demanding career, two young children, a huge mortgage and very limited time? I'm sure that we all go through these moments of self pity. Thinking about it now, being a full time potter must be a life that's littered with moments of doubt and uncertainty. I suppose that I need to learn to deal with the lows; use them as something to learn from, turn the problem on it's head and use it to fuel progress toward my goal.

I'll bounce back tomorrow!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Glaze firing results

I'm quite pleased with the results of this firing. Just a bunch of mugs bowls and hearts to pad out the stock for the upcoming Bakewell craft fayre, but even so the glaze effects were good.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


I've started to dig the foundations of my new veg patch behind the studio.
I read in Monty Donn's 'The complete gardener', that digging can be completely satisfying. I tend to agree with him. It's hard work, but when you've finished you can rest and actually see the results of your efforts. I'm sure that it's a similar reason why I enjoy making pottery so much. In fact digging and pottery have so much in common. The rhythmical, repetitive proces; the close contact with the earth and the sense of achievement. Hopefully, in spring I'll be able to look out of the studio window and watch my dinner growing!

23:02 and I've just come in from 3 hours of glazing and kiln loading all ready to be lit in the morning! It's been a really full day of work and now that I'm finally sat down with a beer in hand I can really feel that sense of satisfaction that comes from hard work and a job finished