Magpie {56}


Slip cast parian cup by Natalie Wood, with illustration by Kirsti Beautyman

I met Natalie a couple of years ago at her Gray’s School of Art degree show. She was showcasing her range of Japanese inspired Detsu ware and I was captivated by the pared back forms and pastel colours. Our paths have crossed a number of times over the past two years, but somehow I never managed to buy a piece of hers.

Recently Natalie has been collaborating with a number of illustrators who have decorated a series of her pieces. I saw this piece, the ‘Serpent King’ described on her Instagram feed earlier this month and snapped it up. It reminds me of the imagery I used to see in the children’s books I was brought up on.

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Magpie {50}

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Porcelain wheel-thrown cup with matt white glaze and oxide rim, by Yumiko Iihoshi

A short while ago I spent an action packed weekend in London. I asked friends on Instagram where I should visit during my stay and I managed to fit in some fantastic things following their advice.

One particular highlight was discovering Gallery Eclectic, which houses a wonderfully curated selection of Japanese pottery by makers such as Shinobu Hashimoto and Makoto Kagoshima. I could have bought so many things *if only* but I finally selected this understated beauty made by Kyoto Saga University of Arts graduate Yumiko Iihoshi. This was one of her series of ‘Hand Works’, each with a slightly different profile… some straighter and some more curved. It is lovely to drink from.

Magpie {43}

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Small glazed beaker, wheel thrown rough red stoneware, by Eric Landon, Tortus Copenhagen

This is the last of the three pieces I bought whist on my trip to Denmark in November. Eric Landon was my teacher during a workshop at his studio in Copenhagen. He is normally associated with tall, vase-like forms but he also occasionally makes domestic pieces. It is difficult to take a photograph that does the glazing justice.

Associated posts:
Magpie {42}
Magpie {41}
Good return #2
Good return

Making of a mug: Day twelve

Part one
This was the view through the peephole this morning. The firing cycle had completed before I woke up and the kiln was already cooling. I then had to wait (not very patiently) until it got below 200˚c so that I could open it up. If you open the lid too early the rush of cold air can cause pieces to crack. So another couple of hours should do it…

12.1

Part two
I opened the kiln about an hour ago… and this is what greeted me.

12.2

Part three
So here it is… the finished mug.
Thank you for following me through its journey.

12.3

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Making of a mug: Day eleven

Part one

 

Part two
After dipping the mug was set aside to dry for a while. I check each piece thoroughly before putting it in the kiln. Often there are a few drips that need scraping off carefully with a knife (fettling). The bases are also given a final check and wiped if any glaze has stuck to the wax.

11.2

Part three
Once again the mug is put into the kiln, this time for its glaze firing. With the biscuit firing it doesn’t matter if pieces touch each other, but with this firing it is very important that the mug has space around it. The mug will expand considerably as it heats up, and then shrink as it cools. If pieces are too close the glaze will cause them to stick together.

11.3

Part four
Normally I would leave the mug overnight to dry before firing, but I’m trying to get the firing completed for the North East Open Studios (NEOS) which start on Saturday. To help dry it thoroughly I have added a preheat to the firing cycle. The mug will then be fired to cone 7 (1239˚c). This will take roughly 14 hours to reach temperature and once again a similar amount of time to cool. I hope to be able to open the kiln tomorrow night…

11.4

This series of posts are also running on my Facebook page and Instagram feed. Apologies if you have already seen them there. If you would prefer to view them in one of these ways please click on the relevant icon in the right hand column.

Making of a mug: Day ten

Part one
So here is the mug after the first firing. It is still warm from the kiln. Note the change of colour from the grey of the unfired clay to white, which is pretty close to how it will be once it is glazed. The glaze firing will warm the colour slightly and deepen the blue of the interior.

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Part two
Next the mug needs to be sanded to remove any rough spots, especially around the foot and rim. I use wet and dry sanding pads which are flexible so make it easy to follow the contours of the piece.

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Part three
Then the mug is washed thoroughly. Some potters prefer to use a damp sponge or skip this step entirely, and just give each pot a quick brush before glazing. Biscuit firing produces a large amount of dust, and the sgraffito process exacerbates this. I have found if I don’t wash my pieces I have real problems with my glaze not adhering properly.

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Part four
This is the final stage for today… waxing. Again there are many different approaches to the glazing stages, many potters prefer not to wax and just wipe any excess glaze from the foot of their pieces. It is imperative that no glaze comes in contact with a kiln shelf as they will cement together, damaging both the pot and the shelf. I prefer to apply wax resist to any areas where I do not require glaze. The glaze does not adhere to the waxed areas and the wax burns off in the firing leaving a crisp line where the glaze finishes. If any wax goes in the wrong place the pot will need to be biscuit fired again to remove it before glazing.

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This series of posts are also running on my Facebook page and Instagram feed. Apologies if you have already seen them there. If you would prefer to view them in one of these ways please click on the relevant icon in the right hand column.

Making of a mug: Day nine

Part one
Very late last night, as I checked on the kiln, I mixed some clear glaze so that it will be ready for dipping tomorrow. The glaze ingredients were added to a measured amount of water. They were then left to slake overnight.

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Part two
This morning I passed the mixed glaze twice through a sieve. Each time a quantity is poured into the sieve and then pushed through with a brush into a clean bucket below… this process can be quite time consuming, but it is critical as it removes any large particles that may spoil the finish I am hoping for.

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Part three
Finally I check the density of the glaze by using a hydrometer. This helps me ensure that I get consistent results. For this particular glaze it should read 47, so I need to add a little more water.

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This series of posts are also running on my Facebook page and Instagram feed. Apologies if you have already seen them there. If you would prefer to view them in one of these ways please click on the relevant icon in the right hand column.