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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.

 

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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.

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High-fired, medium stoneware bowl, by Susan Duncan

I mentioned a while ago that I bought two things from Susan Duncan last summer when I visited her studio in Lochcarron, on the west coast of Scotland. This is the second bowl, and it is difficult to do it justice in a photograph. The way the deep blue glaze breaks to black over the rim and throwing lines is spectacular. I’m now wishing I bought two of them.

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High-fired, small porcelain bowl, by
Susan Duncan

In May 2013 we visited Wester Ross to stay in a friend’s cottage. It was a landmark time for me… Earlier that spring I had finished a short course of evening classes in ceramics at Gray’s School of Art, and had taken the decision to invest in my first wheel. It was also when I started writing this blog.

During our week’s stay I met Susan Duncan, a potter who lives in Lochcarron. We had a wonderful chat about me starting out as a potter and I got to look over her work and studio. She was generous with her time and advice, and last week I had the chance to visit her again and thank her. I bought two bowls… one porcelain and one stoneware. I’ll post about the second one another time.

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Little wood fired stoneware bowl with celadon glaze, by Carl Gray

Here is another piece that I brought home from Potfest in the Pens. I really love Carl’s work. Like a lot of wood fired pots at first it appears so straightforward and simple. However there are additional layers of surface texture and glaze that take it to another level entirely. I meant to ask Carl for more detail about the bowl, but time slipped away so I emailed him instead. This is his reply after I described the marks it has on the base:

“The clay body is a general mix of my little bits of left over clay tests (the LB bit means it has a little La Borne clay in it). So, it will be a mix of various white stoneware clays (probably at least a third being Potclays New White Crank) and porcelains. The La Borne clay comes from France and has some iron it it. The bowl has has Limoges porcelain slip to the outside (there may be a pink blush on one side of the outside). The glaze is a blue celadon one but due to the iron in the clay body it will have lost much of its blue tinge and is probably a pale green. Wood fired for 13 hours to cone 12 in the Thoresby tunnel kiln.”

So… not simple at all… but effortlessly beautiful.

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Glazed stoneware moon bowl, by
Pottery West

I’ve been using Instagram regularly for over two years now. I use other social media too but Instagram suits my visual nature the best – I enjoy seeing other artists work and process. Recently, during my daily perusal, I came across Pottery West’s feed. They are Catherine and Matt West, both Goldsmiths graduates, based in Sheffield. They had just posted some lovely images of these beautiful little bowls and I couldn’t resist… so now I have one happily sitting on a shelf in between two other pots made by Carys Davies and Miranda Forrest.

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Terracotta bowl with glaze and sponged decoration, by Bärbel Dister, Cromarty Pottery

I was beginning to think that the pot from my earlier post would remain unidentified, but my trip to Kindrogan last weekend has changed that… I was busy looking at the wide range of work on show from many of the potters at the workshop, when I turned over a bowl to take a look at the foot – us potters can’t help it. (It’s rather like graphic designers smelling a freshly printed document.) Anyway I immediately recognised the maker’s mark on the bottom to be the same as on my bowl. Bärbel emailed me today to confirm that she is the maker. Now I just wish I could remember who gave it to me.