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A week ago was the twentieth Potfest Scotland, and my second time at this wonderful event, held in the beautiful grounds of Scone Palace, Perth.

Last year I had an amazing time, but I was nervous. I had already done a couple of shows but each new location brings its own challenges and learning curve. It was great to return knowing what to expect, and therefore have a clearer idea of what I needed to bring with me – both in terms of work and stand.

Here’s a journal of the week…

Tuesday 7 June
I unloaded the kiln – the final one of a series of three sets of biscuit and glaze firings. I have been trying to build up as large a body of work as I can this spring as my summer is going to be busy with a significant amount of time away from the studio. As well as making pieces for Potfest I am working concurrently on orders that need to be finished in the next month. As the work is removed from the kiln I check each piece individually, remove any seconds or breakages and sand the bases to remove any roughness.

Wednesday 8 June
First I select the work that I want to take with me – laying it all out on the kitchen table gives me a good overview. Each piece is individually priced and a stock list taken – I find this very useful as I can note down items as they sell and then easily review which pots are doing well. Then starts the laborious job of packing everything into boxes so that it doesn’t break in transit. At the moment I use bubble wrap, but I’m in the process of changing over to a more eco friendly approach of newsprint and corrugated card.

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All the stand items are brought down from the loft; tablecloths ironed, and shelves and boards given a fresh coat of paint. I have a checklist to make sure I don’t forget anything – from a float of change, my sales book, business cards, down to safety pins and the crucial roll of duct tape.

Thursday 9 June
The morning is spent loading the van – similar to a game of Tetris. I leave home in the sunshine and make the two hour drive to Perth arriving just before 2pm. As one of the early ones to arrive I manage to get a parking place quickly and set about unloading the van before moving it to the campsite.

Each stand area is marked out clearly on the grass inside the marquees and comes with two trestle tables. The first task is to set up the basic stand using tables, boards, cloths and shelving. This year I made two backing boards to clamp to tables in an attempt to make a cleaner looking stand by screening out my neighbours’ work. Once this is done the pots are carefully unpacked and I set about creating a display. I’m always slow at this and I’m easily sidetracked by catching up with friends. Finally I head to my bed at 10pm.

Friday 10 June
Unfortunately after a glorious day yesterday the weather takes a turn for the worse and the dreich and damp set in for the entire weekend. I learned last year to bring every sort of clothing imaginable and I head to the marquees resembling the Michelin man in wellies and endless layers.

I find the first day exciting and nerve wracking in equal measure… will people come, will they like my work? It turns out to be busy despite the weather and an enjoyable day, filled with interesting conversations and meeting old and new customers and friends.

Saturday 11 June
Another surprisingly large number of visitors considering the rain. It’s hard work manning a stall, even though apparently there is a lot of standing around and chatting… you are constantly on tenterhooks, and although I try to remain relaxed in the end it all comes down to the importance of making sales and earning a living.

Last year another potter invited me to join a group going into Perth for the evening. We did the same this year – starting with a very welcome trip to the leisure pool for a thaw out in the sauna, jacuzzi and steam room. We came out glowing. Then on for some supper before heading back to the campsite.

Sunday 12 June
The rain never seems to let up and although it’s a warmer day the damp seems to be getting into my bones. Hardy visitors still seem to come however, although not as many as the previous day for me. Come 5 o’clock I’m actually relieved that the show is over and that I can start the long process of rewrapping and loading everything into the van. At 7.30pm I make my goodbyes and head home.

Monday 13 June
It’s not finished yet as the van still needs to be unpacked – the stand and work put away. I check my sales book against the cash and card transactions taken to make sure that they correspond, and enter the whole lot into my accounts. Phew.

I had hoped to photograph all the exhibitors’ stands but I never seemed to have enough time – one of the challenges of attending a fair single-handed. Here’s a gallery of the ones I managed to get round. Apologies to those I missed – there was some stunning work on show…

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Week end

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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…

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Thank you Claudia – I love her!

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

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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!

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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.

Out of hand

A while ago I promised to show you the results of my latest glaze firing. I’ve been so frantic preparing for Potfest that I’ve been somewhat sidetracked, trying to get as much made in the short amount of time I have before my first show. I’ve surprised myself in how much I have enjoyed the pressure and I feel my work is improving daily – possibly as a result. I’ve a lot to learn still but it’s a relief to know that I am continuing to love every minute of it. I’m just in the middle of a family holiday on the Outer Isles and my sketchbooks are brimming with new ideas… designs… decorations… shapes… I can’t wait to get back to the wheel. But first, more glazing and firings will need to be done in an attempt to finish a few last pieces before a week on Thursday when I head off to Penrith. Here are a few of my favorites from the last two firings…


Utensil jars


Dipping bowls and salt pot


Tea bowls

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Tea bowls with new design

Silence is golden?

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I’m sorry for the lack of posts recently. The building work on our house has just finished its twelfth week and there’s still a great deal to be done. I’ve been caught up with it, which I am enjoying, but it is all consuming. As a result I’ve not been making for the same length of time, which concerns me. And my new studio, which was due to arrive this week, is now not coming for another three weeks. Hmmm.

There are positives though… The house is really coming along; we’re now in the school holidays; we’ve just taken our new camper van (Daisy) on her maiden voyage; and I’ve just signed up for North East Open Studios 2014 which is in September (for details see Events). I really enjoyed visiting other people’s studios last year, so I’m hoping that some folk will visit me this time around. Now I just desperately need my studio so that I can get making…

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See other articles about NEOS 2013:
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Slip cast porcelain mug with translucent diamond lathe cut surface, by Gavin Burnett

I snuck out from painting walls and sanding window frames yesterday to go to Glasshouse. It is a new two-day art, craft and design fair held in a large greenhouse not far from where we live in Aberdeen. There was a wonderful collection of things on show, but I was particularly pleased to see Gavin. He is the ceramics technician at Gray’s School of Art, and we met when I was doing my short course there. I’ve always liked his work so was glad of the chance to buy one of his lovely mugs from his ‘Make Tea’ range.

PS When adding the link for Gray’s I was surprised and chuffed to find a picture of some of my urchins on their website. I first made them when I was on my course there.