Pennine Landscape paperclay vessel, by Kath Bonson
At Potfest they have a lovely tradition called the Mug Swap. I’ve encountered it once before (at SPA Kindrogan) and really like the idea. All the exhibitors who want to take part donate a drinking vessel to the swap. In the case of Potfest the participants stand in a large circle holding their pot; then someone calls out a series of instructions, such as ‘keep passing to the left until I tell you to stop’ and ‘two places to the right’. Eventually – after seeing every type of conceivable pot you can imagine pass through your hands – you end up with an entirely different mug, which is yours to keep. This is the one I received and although I don’t think I’ll drink from it, it will be treasured.
During the open studios last week I did a couple of raku demonstrations using my homemade dustbin kiln and I had some lovely visitors to witness the process. Thank you to Hilary Firth from Starglazing for taking most of the following photographs…
Kiln heating up nicely, using a probe to keep an eye on the temperature.
Once the kiln reaches temperature and the glaze has matured,
the lid is removed and red hot pieces are removed with tongs.
Red hot pieces are placed into a reduction (smoking) chamber lined with sawdust.
The lid is put on and the chamber is left until it has cooled.
A blackened piece after being removed from the reduction chamber.
The blackened pieces are then scrubbed under water.
The best of the bunch with some great copper flashing.
The transformation the urchins undergo is fascinating to me. These blackened lumps are removed and are scrubbed until they reveal their true selves, just like treasure from a wreck being brought to the surface, cleaned and discovered,
Someone mentioned to me a while ago that I should try using less sawdust for the reduction and this advice worked a treat. In fact the results were the best ever. I’ve been trying to replicate one particular piece that I fired during my course at Gray’s and this was the first time I’ve managed that. So, after five raku firings I am by no means an expert, but progress is definitely being made.
A series about people that have influenced my creative path
Shoreline, abstract landscape, oil, by Margaret Fenton
Sometimes it is not only the work of an artist that inspires me but also the place in which they work. North Uist is breathtaking in its beauty and Margaret Fenton is lucky to have a studio in a particularly seductive place. It is in between Loch Eport and Loch Obisarry with fantastic views of Eaval, North Uist’s highest hill.
We are lucky to have two of her paintings.
Abstract seascape, oil, by Margaret Fenton