Welcome to my blog. I will attempt to make it much more than just a pitiful list of the relentlessly mundane minutiae of my daily existence but if you feel that I have failed try to imagine all the stuff that I haven't posted.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

The big idea

Here's a vid interview....

...me talking about the idea behind my new work.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Two posts in two days!

What's going on? must be the warm weather giving me a new energy.
The gas kiln is packed and ready to go - for a biscuit firing. the bottom shelf is full of rocks that I collected from Galloway.

Quiet a variety of rocks I collected from that quick trip. It'll be interesting to see how they react in a glaze firing.
This second photo is of crushed and sieved secondary kaolin that I'm making into grog. It is an attempt to stop these highly kaolinitic clays from firecracking so much. I will biscuit fire 3 of these dish fulls then assess the hardness + maybe stoneware fire it.

Definitely the hard + slow way of making clay!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Back from the North

The weekend at Kindrogan with the Scottish Potters was great fun. Absolutely beautiful place, seemingly miles from anywhere, and the weather was fantastic. Such a relief to feel some warm sun on my skin. The demonstrations went well - no major collapsing disasters and I didn't embarrass myself at the Ceilidh (I don't think).
Back home and it's straight into clay body preparation for my next firing. This is clay making the hard and slow way.

The clay I'm preparing today is a carbonaceous clay from Devon that is like a rock. I have to crush it first, then slake it with water. This softens it but fails to make it plastic, so I have to re-crush it later. It is too coarse to go through the pugmill - and I am making relatively small batches as I don't have that much of it. I'm not blunging and sieving it as I want the variation in the clay that its unground texture gives in the firing.

Sitting here after a few days of this I can hardly move my right hand (left hand typing!)

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Way up north....

I'm on my way to Kindrogan to do a demonstration weekend for the Scottish Potters + stopped off for a couple of days with Hannah Macandrew to explore + collect new samples

It really is an absolutely beautiful area, plus incredibly geologically varied. There are some extremely old Silurian sedimentary rocks and igneous intrusions of granite, then various other increasingly basic volcanic intrusions. There are miles and miles of rugged mountains and a stunning coastline as varied as the geology: sandy stretches of beaches, rocky cliffs and desolate mudflats.

Pretty amazing lichen too.

It's great to stay with Hannah too + see her wood kiln + lovely pots.
Next stop Kindrogan....

Friday, 9 March 2012

Smashing fossils!

Working on my own it's a bit difficult to get some video or more informative photos done - but hopefully next week....
Taking advantage of the milder weather I've been outside getting various clays prepared for the next wood firing. It's certainly not as easy as opening a bag of readymix and slapping it on the wheel. Most of the clays I have collected are highly compressed, one is literally a rock and needs ball milling. Most need persistant repeated crushing and slaking, such as this one here.

This I collected from Devon and is essentially a secondary kaolin derived from the Dartmoor granite. The black marking in it is a fossilised plant that was trapped in the clay deposits about 30 million years ago in the Oligocene period of the Tertiary.
The clay is highly kaolinitic, with chunks of coal and quartz in it, with yellow strata of iron in it as you can see here. Interestingly for me it is highly refractory, unlike many of the Devon ball clays. Nothing is easy in ceramics though, and after all the crushing, slaking, pounding and making, it is extremely prone to firecracks. If it survives it is beautiful in the wood kiln though.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Ceramic Art London

It's a bit late this, but as soon as I got back from the show, sank my feet into my slippers and reached for my pipe I was viciously assaulted by a bout of flu and am just able to clamber out of my sweaty pit to turn on my computer....
It was a great show! Packed with people and I spent the three days (plus private view) talking almost incessantly about my new work to lots of (hopefully) interested people.

I put photos up on the back wall to illustrate some of the places I have been to to collect materials and included information and samples of the rocks I've used to make the pots. This was to invite questions and certainly worked.

It's always quite stressful presenting new work - never being sure how public an peers will react. Was all that time alone in my workshop focusing on a specific idea REALLY worthwhile and valid or......
Anyway, I am very happy with the response I got. sales were excellent and I got a couple of exhibitions and invitations to lecture about my new work, which is just what I need.
Overall I think the event was the best yet, with very good attendance and a fantastic variety and quality of work on display.