Opening soon

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It’s been a busy few weeks preparing for NEOS 2014. Just a few more things to finish and another couple of firings then I hope to be ready. I’m really looking forward to it and I’m hoping to sneak a little time out to go and see some other exhibitors too. If you’re in the area please do pop in.

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If you’re not local then I’m hoping to add a gallery of some of my newest work shortly so you can see what I’ve been up to. Just need to get past the next fortnight first.

 

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Thrown porcelain dish with volcanic glaze and inscribed text, by Carys Davies

This beautiful sample arrived in yesterday’s post.

I’ve been following Carys’ blog for some time and particularly admire her ‘on the horizon’ pots… beautiful combinations of smooth and rough glazes, meeting and merging along a horizon line and often accompanied with words from the Shipping Forecast. I was interested to read that she is progressing some new work inspired by thorn trees in grassland, but has been having a few glaze issues with some pieces sticking to the kiln shelves. I left a comment and because of that she sent me one of the ‘faulty’ pots. It may not be perfect, but it’s still truly beautiful. Lucky me!

Spark: twenty three

A series about people that have influenced my creative path

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Hand-bound book with handprinted cover paper by Corinna Krause

Each summer in the Outer Hebrides there is a fortnight of open studios called Art on the Map. Corrina Krause from Solas Bookbinding is one of the participants whose work I really admire. This particular book sits beside my wheel every day. It’s now a little clay streaked but it is truly treasured, not only for it’s beauty, but also because it holds all the measurements for every shape of piece I have made.

For the non-potters amongst you: it is critical to keep a detailed log of everything. This includes: type of clay used, weight of clay, diameter and height of thrown item, sketch of shape etc. This means that remaking a particular piece becomes more simple. This is important particularly because clay shrinks significantly as it dries and is fired, making it difficult to work from finished measurements.

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Woodfired stoneware jug, by Andrew Pentland

This summer I visited Potfest in the Palace again, mostly as a precursor to my first show at Potfest in the Pens. I wanted to have a look at how people set up and exhibited their work and hoped to glean a little advice at the same time. There were a few people I particularly wanted to meet if I had the chance, and Andrew was one of them. Not only did we have a lovely chat, but also I just had to buy this beautiful jug.

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Reduction fired stoneware bowl, by Miranda Forrest

I’ve picked up a few wonderful things from the Outer Isles on my yearly visits there and I will show you some more of them over the coming weeks. I’ve been hoping to meet Miranda Forrest ever since I read her book, Natural Glazes, but circumstances played against me again this year. However I did have the chance to visit the Uist Craft Producers’ shop at the Kildonan Centre on South Uist and buy this lovely pot made by her. It is a thing of beauty only increased by the fact that the glaze is made from locally sourced Angelica and Dock plants.

Show and tell

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The farmers’ market and my empty cattle pen

I got back from Penrith late on Sunday night after an amazing experience. It was a weekend filled with firsts… most notably my first show and my first sales.

On Thursday afternoon, after weeks of making and days of organising, I loaded the campervan full of my things and set off. I was excited at the prospect but horribly nervous too. After a five-hour drive I arrived at Skirsgill farmers’ market, registered and was given my pen number. I walked into the hall and, after being greeted by the lingering smell of cow, discovered my space – which was much larger than I had expected.

I spent the next three hours setting up and meeting my neighbours. I had been told that Potfest was a great event on many levels; the first of which being that you meet so many like-minded individuals. I was struck by how generous people were – lending me things I had forgotten; giving helpful advice; offering to mind things if I needed a break and so on. By ten o’clock my stand was pretty much complete and I headed off for a well earned night’s rest.

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The next three days were a wonderful mix of hard work, happiness at making sales, delight in meeting and talking to customers, and enjoyment in discussing a shared passion with other potters.

As I drove home again on Sunday evening I had time to reflect on the previous three days. I came away feeling elated at having made my first sales and I think I did alright in comparison to most others. It was fascinating to see the range of work on sale which comes with an unselected, clay-only event and it was interesting to think about where my work fitted in amongst the rest. I received some kind and supportive comments both about my work and the way I had displayed it. I’m now sure that I’ll will do more shows, but try to space them evenly throughout the year.

So now, after a couple of days rest, it’s nose back to the grindstone in preparation for North East Open Studios (NEOS) in just over a month’s time.

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