Sorry, late post this week. I couldn’t find the camera charger so no photographing until this evening. We’re all getting back into a rhythm now that it’s a fortnight into the new school term. It’s been a good week, and I feel like I’ve made progress. I’ve managed to throw some larger pieces using between 1.5 and 2.5 kilos of clay; I’ve been trying out a refined series of sgraffito designs; and the shelves in the studio are filling up. I’ve also done my first batch of clay reclamation. I’m just waiting for it to dry out a little more before the wedging begins – that’s when my arms will really feel it.
Wood fired stoneware teapot by Julie McWhirter, Edinbane Pottery
I can’t remember when I bought this teapot, but I’ve had it for well over ten years. It was bought on one of my many trips to the Isle of Skye which (as I have mentioned previously) always included a visit to Edinbane for a pottery fix. It was made by the then Julie McWhirter who joined Edinbane in 1998. She is now married to Stuart Whatley, the pottery’s owner.
It’s been busy here today but I’ve managed to squeeze in a good bit of time in the studio.
I’ve pulled handles for the cups I threw on Wednesday;
Applied slip decoration;
Fixed handles to the cups;
Drawn sgraffito patterns to insides;
Made ceramic buttons for the raku kiln that I’m about to build.
I’ve managed to do a lot but there’s still a long task list.
That’s how long it’s been since I had wet clay in my hands. We’ve had an amazing summer, and it’s not that I haven’t been working… I’ve spent many fantastic days sketching and gleaning inspiration from some of the most beautiful parts of the Scottish coastline and mountains – I’m now brimming with ideas as a result. I’ve also been writing my regular posts and enjoying the feedback and support that you have given in return. However, today was the day to get back in front of the wheel. My youngest has just started her first year of pre-school, so that now gives me at least three hours every day in the studio. Like everyone says, it took a while to get back into the rhythm of throwing, but once I’d got going it was truly great. It’s days like these that make me realise why I’m doing this – it’s not only that I’m hoping to earn a living, but because this is something I really love.
Moulded and glazed earthenware coffee cup by Susan Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion Pottery, 1963
Last weekend I went on a jaunt around a few places in Aberdeenshire. One of these was Nina’s Apartment, a small retro shop that I’ve been meaning to visit for months. I came away with this little coffee cup. To be honest it’s wasn’t the colour that caught my eye, but the quirkiness of the shape and pattern. It’s not valuable but I did a little research to discover more about it, as curiosity got the better of me. It’s strange how the smallest of things can have such fascinating history caught up in them…
I already knew that it was designed by Susan Williams-Ellis (1918-2007), and that it would have been part of a set with coffee pot, milk jug, sugar bowl, cups and saucers. It was manufactured in Stoke-on-Trent, the heart of the pottery industry in England. Susan was the eldest daughter of Clough Williams-Ellis, the architect who created the extraordinary village of Portmeirion in North Wales. She studied ceramics with Bernard Leach; was taught painting by Graham Sutherland, and sculpture by Henry Moore.
A series about people that have influenced my creative path
Angie Lewin, Meadow II, lithograph
Just over six years ago, on a trip to Honiton with my parents, we ended up visiting the Hybrid Gallery. Part of their exhibition included a series of prints by Angie Lewin. At that time I had not heard of her, but I immediately fell in love with her work as it reminds me of the 1950’s design style that I have always admired. As a significant birthday was soon approaching my parents very generously bought me this lithograph which now hangs on our sitting room wall. I also have her beautifully illustrated book Garden Wisdom, a collection of garden advice compiled by Leslie Geddes-Brown.