Blackberry Bonanza

Picked nearly 3kg of blackberries on Sunday.  Poor Flo thought she was going for a walk, but instead stood bemused as we kept stopping to delve into the thorny undergrowth to retrieve juicy berries.  A successful walk if measured on fullness of bucket, but not if scoring on miles travelled.  She doesn’t seem to like blackberries either, so not much to interest her at all.

What delectations can be produced with such a mass of free fruit…..well stand aside Paul Hollywood from the Great British Bake Off, who said blackberries are not ideal in cakes.  This blackberry and apple cake……oh yes…with crumble topping would give you a run for your money.   With the rest we have a bounty of blackberry jam and in time for Christmas, a little tipple of blackberry vodka….. and there was still some left to put in the freezer for a blackberry and apple pie treat sometime soon.

It is apparently a bumper year for Autumn fruits due to the late Spring and early heat wave.  We’ve certainly been making the most of the harvest.  Julian was also relishing in the prospect of ‘puffball on toast’ for Sunday lunch, having foraged a few from the common on the way home…….luckily he thought he would check first in the fungus book before smothering them in butter and garlic and was disappointed to find out that what he collected were in fact the far less palatable and indeed poisonous Earthballs.  Identifiable by their black insides.  He had to plump for a ham and cheese toasty instead, but at least he was rewarded with blackberry cake for afternoon tea…..

Colander No. 1

Jam Making

Quickest and easiest jam ever. 30 mins - all done.

Blackberry and Apple to lock the door and eat in private!

Blackberry Vodka



Filed under Baking, Cooking

Potters Block…..?

After a pot free month, a few disasters in the kiln, some glimmers of hope, but mostly pots worthy of the bin, I have diagnosed myself with ‘Potters Block’.  I am also shocked to see that my last blog post was a month ago.  It’s not that there has been no activity, just that it has not been pottery related.  I will share my pickling and preserving delights with you later…..

One person has described it as a ‘Creative Slump’……a term I can relate to, but reassuringly goes on to say he came out the other side of it a better painter (maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel?)

Some research puts forward the following (non-exhaustive) suggestions as offerings of help:

  • Do something entirely different for a while (doesn’t say how long!….there is only so much jam one can make….)
  • Try to remember that it’s just a pot and nothing more. The world will not end if your pot comes out badly….am used to this…..
  • Whisky?  (again doesn’t say how long for…..)
  • Doodle….
  • Imagine the pot in your mind without touching a piece of clay.
  • Start with something small and simple
  • Work in a group (tried this, but ended up chatting and eating cake….made nothing! – (had nice time though)
  • Be reassured that it is normal and the drought will come to an end
  • Clean up your studio…..(not that desperate yet!)
  • Copy the work of someone you like….tried this….funnily enough…did not end up with a replica Picasso : (
  • Indulge yourself in other work that appeals to you

I particularly like this website which gives tips for helping with creative block.  Press F5 each time for a new tip.

Someone else suggest that his creative blocks usually occur when there is “nothing to feel down about or he feels happy with life”. Well maybe this is true, where does that leave you when the only thing that is getting you down….is the lack of pot production……


Filed under Inspiration, Pots

Maryport Docks Turquoise

Loved the colour of this boat moored at Maryport docks.  Mixed a turquoise, barium based glaze, which is opaque.  It worked particularly well over the iron rich slip, which emulated the rust leaching through on the hull.

Turquoise Barium Glaze with the iron rich Maryport slag slip underneath

Turquoise is good, but vessels is too plain and needs more work (a second firing I think at least)

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Filed under Experiments, Glazes, Inspiration

Crater Glaze

I’ve been interested in and trying to make a successful volcanic glaze for a while.  I found this fabulous crater glaze recipe in an old copy of Ceramic Review 141 May/June 1993.  It was described in a feature on James Lovera – ‘About the Individual’.

Lovera was an American Potter, best know for his bowls.  His glazes interpret nature, ‘lichen series’, ‘sky series’, ‘willow bark series’ or ‘molten lava and crater series’.  He was also fascinated by Japanese people and culture.  In the CR  article, he described the followed philosophy……

“I am trying to make a complete a statement as I can, as simply as I can.  Form, line, space, surface.  When you stop and think about it, it’s all there.  I feel that when an object is broken down into its basic elements and still leave its observer in awe, the underlying principles are at one with the universe.  The unknown is the element of the individual, the mystery”

Crater Glaze – Cone 10 (I fired to cone 9 oxidation)

China Clay     42 parts

Silica     43 parts

Potash Feldspar     159 parts

Calcium Carbonate (Lime)     78 parts

Titanium Dioxide     36 grams

Silicon Carbide     21 grams

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Filed under Glazes

Errmm….Hi Al, have you got an angle grinder?

Luckily he did, since all but two pots in yesterdays firing had welded themselves to the kiln shelves.  For some reason (this is a glaze I have used before and it didn’t happen last time!) the glaze ran off the pots during the firing and when I opened the kiln this morning, they were certainly not for budging.  After a severe beating with a wooden stick, some came free willingly, others came free leaving large chunks of the foot-ring still stuck to the shelf and one poor soul is not going anywhere…he is now part of the shelf…no amount of beating or grinding is going to set him free.

By some twist of fate, the only pot in the kiln that mattered came out unstuck and unscathed. A lily bowl commission for a friend’s wedding gift, I don’t actually know the bride Janet…..but I feel like I do… I very much hope she likes it…when she finally get’s it.

Am pleased with the results of some of the slips, especially the Maryport slag.  This may need a second firing, but the iron in the slag has done magical things with the turquoise glaze.

The crater glaze is amazing… it….will be brilliant over black slip.  I have been carrying the bowl around with me all day….I can’t believe it, something that came out of the kiln like it was supposed to…in fact much better than I had thought….may even tuck it under my pillow tonight…or is that taking things a bit too far?

"Help....I'm Stuck!!"......" ain't going nowhere!"

ha ha...I'm free, but oh no...I have shelf stuck to my bottom....

That's it....get to work on my bottom with the angle grinder...gently now!

Lunar Bowl. Love this crater glaze (more on this later)

Maryport Slag pot

Lily Bowl commission for Janet's wedding pressie

Vase with Stoneycroft Ghyll Slip

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Filed under Glazes, Kiln Firings, Pots

Green Fingers

Everything is busting into life in the greenhouse.  The chillies look amazing and I am really pleased with the butternut squash as these started as dried seeds from a shop bought squash.

Just need a bit more sunshine now so that everything ripens…..forecast not looking good for tomorrow.

Chilli Peppers

Sweet Peppers

Birds Eye Chillies

Butternut Squash



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Filed under Garden

Food For Free

Food for free always tastes better. Apple and Blackberry Pie for tea – Yum!

Ok had to pay for pastry, but got recipe for the shortcrust from new Be-Ro cookery book that arrived free from Grandma in the post yesterday…..So that counts!

In fact, I learnt to bake using the Be-Ro Cook Book, so I think it deserves a link.  Thanks Be-Ro for some great, timeless and faithful cake recipes.

Blackberries from Ellisfield

Apples from garden

Yummy Apple and Blackberry Pie

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Filed under Cooking