Magpie {54}


Soda fired, stoneware bowl by John West from the Lansdown Pottery

I really enjoyed meeting John and Penny West at Potfest Scotland at the beginning of June. I’m a sucker for soda and salt glazed pottery and their stand was full of the most sumptuous array of pieces. When you take the time to look, the subtleties of their work reveal themselves… first the tell tale orange peel glazing to the exterior highlighting the tan slip; then the ash glazed interior which has pooled and crackled beautifully in the bottom. But the thing that really completes this bowl for me is the the addition of cobalt slip to the rim, which has bleached slightly in places where it has been hit by the soda during firing. Inspired.

 

Magpie {53}


Blue Owl Bowl: hand-built, gas fired stoneware, by Chiu-i Wu

I’ve seen Chiu-i’s work on a number of occasions and have always been captivated by the whimsical imagination of her pieces. At Potfest Scotland last year I fell in love with a particular piece, but hesitated in buying it until I had reached my own sales target. Big mistake… unsurprisingly by the Sunday it had already been bought.

This year I was determined not to make the same error, so I visited her stand early last Friday to take a look. I wasn’t disappointed, and this gorgeous little bowl has come home with me.

Work space

Three years ago this summer my new shed studio was finally finished. It was two months late and I was desperate to get back to work, already having taken four months off to project manage alterations to our home. My previous work space was our tiny scullery which I shared with the boiler, sink, washing machine and fridge freezer.

I rushed moving in without paying great attention to layout, and it worked fine for a time. I bought flexible metal shelving and a table that I could move around the limited space as I needed. However, as months passed I began to realise various shortcomings… no sturdy workbench, no possibility of another wheel, the kiln taking up a huge proportion of the space. The interior is lined in very industrial orange OSB board. I painted the ceiling and one wall white a year ago and this added some much needed light, but the space still felt very functional.

     

I admit to having total studio envy when I see photographs of other people’s workshops on social media. In particular Pip Wilcox’s serene environment, and Tasja Pulowska’s multifunctional space. I knew I wanted a little of both.

Following much thought, discussion and deliberation about what improvements to make, a joiner fitted some bespoke shelving (inspired entirely by Tasja’s), and a workbench with additional storage. I then spent two weeks painting, and slowly moving everything back in a much more considered way. I now have a compact space that works better on so many levels; it’s a beautiful environment to be in, it works as a studio and gallery, and it’s flexible.

I’m glad that I took time before making the investment to upgrade. It’s good to know how you use a space, what the faults are, and how they could be improved.

So here it is… my new place of work.
I’m now really looking forward to open studios in September.


Much more storage and display space


Less cramped wheel space (spot the dog)


The kiln is now on wheels so it can be moved back when not in use


Standing height workbench to help my back, with storage for all my beach treasures