Monthly Archives: March 2010

Simnel Cake

Made a Simnel Cake for Easter…..like we need excuse to bake a cake.  A fruit cake, with layer of almond paste baked into the middle of the cake, then decorated with eleven marzipan balls, representing Jesus’ disciples (minus Judas the traitor).

My theory is that Judas was represented…..but then squashed flat and baked in the middle of the cake as punishment…that will teach him!  Will enjoy eating nonetheless…

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Lamp Stand??

Straight home from work and dived into the potting shed to open the biscuit kiln…and to shelter from a massive downpour, thunder and lightning.  Almost went to bed and forgot it was on last night.  Julian does have his uses!  Despite squashing it all in there were no breakages.  All the glaze tests are biscuit fired now…and Desmond does have plenty of Dolomite….so absolutely no excuses now.

Have all this mad biscuit ware now…….and tiptoeing into the new wilderness of glazing…….

I found one of those light fitting that goes into the top of bottle. Thought I could make this into a lamp base with it.....can you see it?....Vision!!

Growing pile of biscuit ware.....Need to get on with those glazes or gonna run out of shelf space.

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Love Mondays….

I used to be a big fan of Garfield, and I’m sure I used to hate Mondays too…..but not any more…Mondays are Potting days and I’ve been in my potting shed sanctury most of the day.  Cunningly planned to fire the biscuit kiln today too so it was moderately warm in there, despite the miserable rainly weather outside the window.

Throwing practice yielded the usual array of results….biggest problem today was centring, which is annoying because I thought I’d cracked it last week.  If you get frustrated and start off with the clay even slightly off centre, you’re going to end up with a wonky pot, no matter what you do. So, I have a lot of wonky pots today….rustic?

Finally got round to mixing some glazes too.  Made a volcanic glaze, a recipe found in a lovely book, ‘Ceramic Surfaces by Jo Connell’ lent to me by a friend.  I am going to mix in different grades of Silicon Carbide to see what different effects can be achieved.  I am looking for ‘big’ craters.  Also gathered the ingredients ready for the next few glaze trials only to find I was missing Dolomite.  Picking up the rest of Desmond’s glaze chemicals on Thursday afternoon, so as long as he has some, I will be able to get them mixed and sieved ready for firing after that.

Selection of random thrown efforts today

Kiln...not very exciting to look at, but hopefully a successful biscuit firing inside. Fingers crossed because really had to squeeze the lid down....it was a bit full.

Glaze Mixing

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British Summer Time

Ooopss, totally forgot we lost an hour today.  It was 11 o clock before I realised that it was actually almost lunch time.  Decided to go out for a walk from home as already running well behind time.  Down to the canal, over Broad Oak bridge and then into a quagmire of mud, up to our knees, smelling of a farmyard.  Julian in a mood…clearly in the wrong shoes, me smug….in my wellies.

Saw some fabulous gnarled oak trees.  The bark is amazing and the trees are so majestic, solid, wise and honest. Wondering how I can incorporate that texture into some pots.  Brought back some bark to attempt some imprints, but it maybe more effective if I make some plastercast moulds.  Need to find a source of plaster of paris.

Got back just in time to turn the bottoms of the pots I threw last weekend, may have to bring them inside to dry as the temperature of the potting shed is still chilly.  Hope it warms up in there soon.  Need to get them biscuit fired ready for the inaugural firing of the gas kiln at Easter.

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Sandpapered Hands

More throwing practice today.  Made 6 tea bowls which will be raku fired.  Raku was invented by the Japanese for firing the vessels used in their tea ceremony, so if I am going to raku, it only seems right I should attempt some tea bowls.  It has been on my mind to make tea bowls for….hummm…well over a year, but with my new wheel and time to practice today was the day to get started.  After all, they are supposed to be simple, humble vessels….how hard can that be…yeah right!!

I used Doble’s Raku clay, which is heavily grogged and to be honest is not really soft enough for throwing…yet once I started, I was determined to get through all the balls of clay…..I now have the smoothest hands ever – they have been finely sandpapered.  I would make a great burglar today….I think I’ve worn all my fingerprints off!

Tea Bowls

If these work out, maybe I will host a ceremony to celebrate….PG Tips anyone??

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Plants have brains too….

Lovely walk around Rotherwick on Sunday afternoon.  Plenty of mud for big hairy doggie, it won’t matter next week after she’s had a spring hair cut.  Julian collecting holly for his lessons today.  Did you know that holly only has spiky leaves at the height it could be eaten by deer?  Further up the tree the leaves are smooth…no spikes!  Amazing, who says plants don’t have brains!

Why does the moss in this wood only grow a foot high I wonder?

This sawn trunk would make a fabulous bowl. Smooth on the inside, great chunky texural rim.

Great rip and texture down the trunk of this tree

Lovely texture. From reading up this weekend, I think the best way of trying to achieve this texture is multiple slip and glaze applications and multiple firings too.

Looks like a slug, or that funny creature from 'Willow the Wisp'....but I'm thinking rim for bowl

Oh...don't leave me.....As if!

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Throwing Practice

After a disasterous reaquaintance with Desmond’s (mine now) kick wheel on Wednesday, I was propelled to keep trying after the talk on Thursday night, where it was made clear that there really is no substitute for pratice, practice, practice.  And it is all well and good being a ‘potter’, but I do believe that a level of technical skill is required to display proficiency at your craft.  After all, if you tell someone you are a potter….they will always ask “do you have a wheel?” Throwing is synonomous with pottery…..I will conquor it!

Spending two hours in a cold, damp shed is definitley more appealing now I don’t also have to stand on one leg to use the wheel…..I have a seat and everything…….

Quite pleased with results, or quite pleased that every ball of clay generated a pot (none ended up in the sloppy bucket).  Tried a range of shapes to experiement with how the clay feels and performs.  They are ideal for glaze practice if nothing else.

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