Reflecting

SHELFIEjulietmacleod2014

After yesterday’s biscuit firing I washed everything today, ready for glazing*. During this process I had a chance for a moment’s contemplation as this is the first time in a while that I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my throwing. The pieces feel lighter and more consistent in thickness… some real progress. Recently someone gave me some advice about throwing with softer clay for wider pieces such as plates and this has been really helpful.

As I have mentioned before, with potting there always seems to some kind of humbling element just to keep you in check. With this firing I have been reminded that rushing things is never a good idea… We will be without electricity early next week so I knew I needed to get a biscuit firing and one glaze firing done before then. I over packed the kiln and some pieces were not as dry as they should have been. I thought I had allowed for this by adding some preheat time to the already slow firing schedule… well I suppose that two breakages out of a total 77 pots isn’t too bad. Here’s hoping the survivors make it through their glaze firings ready for Ministry of Craft on 6 December.

CRACKjulietmacleod2014

I must say that although I am really enjoying progressing my existing work I sometimes find it difficult to resist the urge to develop new ideas. I’ve got page after page of sketches that I’m itching to try out… I’m looking forward to experimenting in the New Year, when hopefully things will be a little quieter.

*It is important to brush, sponge or wash off of any dust from the first firing to ensure glaze adheres well. Also before washing I like to sand the bases and rims to remove any rough spots.

Advertisements

Giveaway #2

Wow what a fantastic response to the giveaway.

My littlest helper and I put all the names in the bowl…

GIVEAWAY1julietmacleod2014

She drew one out this morning…

GIVEAWAY2julietmacleod2014

And the winner is…

GIVEAWAY3julietmacleod2014

…Roberta Hopkins Jewellery (who entered via my Facebook page). Could you please message me with your address details and the bowl will be on its way to you.

Thank you to everyone for taking part, and for supporting my blog. It is much appreciated.

Blog hopping

My friend David Worsley has asked me to take part in a blog hop – a way of linking artists and makers across the world. I have known him for about a year and a half… ever since I stumbled upon his blog when I was setting up mine. David makes the most beautiful, understated, and finely thrown stoneware pottery. He has been very generous with help and advice whilst I have been starting to establish The Cloud Pottery.

dovestreetpottery
Large bowl by David Worsley, Dove Street Pottery

The hop consists of answering four questions and then linking to two new artists/makers to continue the hop…

WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

I am just beginning to experiment with ideas to expand my range.

Once I have finished my final show for the year I will be testing new colours. My work is mostly inspired by North Uist’s beaches in summertime, but I’m planning to add some greys and greens to reflect more wintry and stormy seas.

Over the short time that I have been selling people have requested both beakers and plates so I’m hoping to develop both of these. Plates require a new level of skill. I have made a start and I’m looking forward to improving my throwing ability over the coming months.

HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

It’s still early days and I’m slowly building my style. I hope to create pots that are well thrown and simply decorated with patterns that evoke the marine environment that I have grown up with and admire so much. I suppose I could be classed as a slipware potter as I use liquid clays with added pigment to give colour rather than different glazes, but not in the traditional sense… I am experimenting with contemporary ways of mark making whilst using time-honoured techniques such as slip trailing, sgraffito and mishima.

WHY DO I DO WHAT I DO?

I think I was always been destined to be a maker. Following 20 years as a graphic designer I accidentally rediscovered my love of pottery. To me this change in direction seems to be an instinctive progression of my creative journey. I feel that I have finally found the perfect combination of expression, creativity and connection. It satisfies me on so many levels: working with my hands; being in control of how a piece looks and feels; creating something useful that might also be treasured; continually discovering and hopefully improving; not to mention just playing with mud!

It has, so far, been a tremendous journey with a steep learning curve, but I am enjoying every experiment, disaster, lesson, setback and success along the way.

HOW DOES MY PROCESS WORK?

Pottery is not a quick process. There are many stages and many opportunities for mishap. My starting point for all new pieces are my sketchbooks. They contain all manner of scribbles; from landscapes to ideas for shape and pattern.

BOOKSjulietmacleod2014  SKETCH2julietmacleod2014

I use two clays to throw with. One is a smooth white stoneware with which I make my domestic ware. The other is a buff stoneware with added molochite. This makes it rougher to throw with, but more resistant to thermal shock and therefore suitable for the extremes of the raku firing process.

Both domestic and decorative pieces are thrown on a wheel. Once they are dry enough to hold their shape they are tidied, burnished and finished. Colour and extra form is added at this stage, and then decoration.

After their first firing, to 1000˚C, the pots are then stable enough to be glazed. First they are sanded and washed. Then they take one of two routes…My domestic pieces are dipped in a clear glaze and then fired for a final time to 1240˚C. This is done slowly, over about 14 hours, in my electric kiln. This reveals their true colour and makes them vitrified and very strong.

SKETCH9julietmacleod2014  SIDEjulietmacleod2014

The raku pieces take a very different journey. Once glazed, they are fired extremely quickly in a gas fired kiln. When red hot (1000˚C) they are quickly removed from the kiln, and placed into a smoking chamber. After a time the pieces are taken out and quenched in water before cleaning to reveal their finished glaze.

SKETCH6julietmacleod2014  URCHINjulietmacleod2014

Either way each finished pot is a unique testament to the process of its creation.

Next week the two artists I have chosen will be answering the same questions. By chance they are both called Alison…

Alison Sye is an extraordinary upcyclist. To use her own words ‘part womble, part emergency service’ and creator of the most beautiful and intriguing work.

alisonsye6
Red Shirt, Seven Years by Alison Sye

Alison Macleod is a relation by marriage but I haven’t chosen her out of nepotism. She is a phenomenally talented jeweller and I am lucky to own a number of her beautiful creations including both my wedding and engagement rings.

alisonmacleod3
Fragments necklace by Alison Macleod

I look forward to reading their stories.

Week end

WURCHINCOLLECTION3julietmacleod2014

It’s been another busy one… but really enjoyable. It started with a day of raku firing with some good results. I’ve not done any throwing this week – that starts again with a vengeance tomorrow. Mostly I have been sorting and cataloguing finished work, then packing up and shipping out my first orders. This has required organisational skills that have lain dormant for some time, but I have found the whole experience strangely satisfying. I’ve also been updating, adding and tinkering with the website… a series of group images; a link to my instagram feed (top right); a list of stockists and so on.

Undoubtably the best bit was when a mystery parcel appeared at the beginning of the week.
I opened it up and found the following…

MCGILLNOTEjulietmacleod2014  MCGILLLADYjulietmacleod2014

Thank you Claudia – I love her!

I’ve also been asked to take part in a Blog Hop… more on that next week.