Good return

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Me finishing the rim of a tall piece (photo by Line Klein)

In the summer I was delighted to find out that I had received an artist’s bursary from Made in Aberdeen. The award was to help me with two things, the first of which was to get some much needed tuition. I’m mostly self taught, which brings its own unique challenges. There are some things that I can work out for myself… rightly or wrongly. There are others for which the internet is an invaluable resource, but there are certain issues which can only be solved by talking to, and working with a potter with more experience.

My main obstacle has always been throwing tall pieces. This takes a combination of skill and confidence that I just don’t seem to have. The maximum height I can throw is about 20 centimetres, and the pot is always wide and heavy.

About a year ago I started following the Instagram feed of Eric Landon from Tortus Copenhagen. He is a master potter, with 25 years experience and specialises in tall decorative pieces. So last month, using some of my bursary money I boarded a plane to Denmark to take part in a week-long workshop at his studio in the centre of Copenhagen.

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Nyhavn, in the centre of Copenhagen, touristy but beautiful

It was an wonderful week on many levels. There’s something about being in a different studio, away from the usual day-to-day which I found invigorating. There were times of affirmation where I discovered I hadn’t been doing things incorrectly… however it was amazing how seemingly small adjustments to do with clay preparation; hand and body position; and wheel speed resulted in significant improvement. Thanks to Eric’s help by the end of the week I was making pots that were much taller, and were narrow and shapely. Now I am back home with a head full of ideas for new work. I still need to work on getting the walls thinner, but that will come with practise and I have set aside the next few weeks for just that. As I write this my finished pots are on their way to me from Copenhagen. I’ll post a picture if they arrive safely.

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Day one: Progress from right to left, getting taller but a bit clunky
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Day two: Eureka! The tallest piece I had thrown to date – 30cm
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Day three: Trying to go out as well as up
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Day four: Something a little more shapely, as well as 32cm high
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Day five: Taking stock of the week’s progress
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Day six: Glazing, using Eric’s particular process of layering different recipes

Copenhagen is a breathtakingly beautiful city, and I was lucky to find a place to stay that was so central. I walked everywhere, however the days were short so I didn’t get to see as much of the city as I would have liked. A good excuse to visit again! The other participants in the workshop were wonderful – from Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK and Australia! Thanks to you all and to Eric and Tasja for making my week away such a memorable and rewarding one.

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From left to right: Line Klein (Denmark), Eric’s assistant Tasja Pulawska (Poland), Silvia Woudt (Netherlands), Ashley Feijoo (Australia), Katherine Lees (UK) and me.

Earlier I mentioned that my bursary was to help me with two things. The second is to fund my application for a London show in 2016, something that would normally be beyond my means. I’ll let you know if I succeed.

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Yearling

I spent last weekend at Potfest in the Pens. This was my second time at this wonderful show and marked the end of my first year of trading. It was a real pleasure to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. It’s been a great year with some real highlights…

SHOWS
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I’m slowly increasing the number of fairs I do. The year has seen two Potfests (Scotland and Pens) and my first NEOS (North East Open Studios). I’ll be taking part in NEOS again this autumn and hopefully some local events nearer Christmas.

SALES
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I’m delighted to have received some direct sales and gallery orders throughout the year, and I’m becoming good friends with our local postmaster! I’m looking forward to increasing my production levels once my youngest heads to school later this month.

SUPPORT
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At the beginning of June I discovered that I’d been awarded a Made In Aberdeen artists’ bursary. This brilliant award will help me get some much needed tuition, and apply for a London show next year.

PROGRESS
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Over the last six months I have been testing some new colours and shapes. The feedback so far has been really positive and having the chance to experiment has been very enjoyable.

INSPIRATION
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We are just back from our annual fortnight in the Western Isles. My husband’s family come from North Uist and it is a treat to visit this breathtakingly beautiful place. We had mixed weather this year but we still had time for beaching, fishing, rock pooling, sketching, walking, camping and the highland games.

TUITION
Thanks to the Made in Aberdeen bursary I will be visiting Tortus Copenhagen for a week’s workshop this November. I am beyond excited. Eric Landon is a master potter with over 25 years experience. He is renowned for throwing large and tall pieces – something that I need help with.

And finally there is a new addition…
Mij the Border Terrier puppy now keeps me company in the studio.

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