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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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Porcelain, wood fired bowl with lithium glaze liner, by Patricia Shone

I saw a photograph of this beautiful piece on Patricia’s Instagram feed just over a month ago when she was exhibiting at Earth and Fire. I’ve admired her new porcelain work for a while now, and what with a rather large birthday coming up at the end of the year it didn’t take much to convince me to treat myself to an early present.

Patricia’s work is inspired by the landscape of the Isle of Skye – one of my favorite places in the world, and where I spent many summer holidays growing up. She creates pieces by either throwing or cutting into solid lumps of clay, and then texturing and stretching to make the finished forms. I had the pleasure of watching Patricia demonstrate some of her process a few years ago at the Scottish Potters Association spring workshop.

See also:
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Surface

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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.

Capital

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A while ago I mentioned that I had received an artist’s bursary from Aberdeen City Council. The first installment allowed me to go to Copenhagen to participate in a week’s workshop with Eric Landon, and the second was to fund my application to a London Craft and Design fair called Made London. The application was successful, and after spending over a month in busy preparation, I set off the week before last on a thousand-mile round trip to the South, with my car laden with pots and a display stand.

Over the last three years of being in business I have exhibited at a few fairs, but limited to Scotland and the borders. I found the prospect of such a prestigious event very unnerving, and having a mishap with my kiln the week before didn’t help my nerves. However, any anxiety was quickly dissipated when I arrived at the stunning One Marylebone and found Jon and Anne Marie from Tutton and Young, and an army of porters to help me unload and find my stand.

One Marylebone is a grade one listed de-consecrated church in the centre of the capital, designed by Sir John Soane and built in the early 19th Century. It is packed with beautiful design features including endless chandeliers, floor to ceiling arched windows, winding staircases, mosaics and stained glass. I was lucky to have my spot in the first floor Galleries with a wonderful tree top view across to the new Regents Place development.

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Setting up was a bit frantic. I had needed to incorporate a lot of storage into my stand and there was a fair amount of building to be done in the allotted four hours. Luckily we were allowed early entry the following morning, before opening, to make final adjustments etc.

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With over 120 selected exhibitors the quality of work on show was simply spectacular… from ceramics, jewellery and textiles, to glass, furniture and leatherwork. I’m amazed I came away with any money left at all as there was temptation everywhere.

I only photographed the ceramics on show, purely because of time restraints. It is difficult when you are exhibiting on your own to even get to the bathroom, let alone take time out to peruse everyone else’s glorious wares. Luckily I had some very kind neighbours who watched my stand during a couple of quieter moments to allow me to take a few shots.

The fair ran from Thursday 20, with a packed private view during the evening, to Sunday 23 October. Then after a hasty take down and a delicious Sunday dinner at my friend’s house I set off the Monday morning for the long drive home to Aberdeen. All in all it was a tremendous experience, and I loved meeting new customers, catching up with old and making new friends. It’s a big distance for me to travel, but so many things made it worth it.

Very many thanks to Aberdeen City Council for making this possible and giving me the opportunity to get my work seen by a wider audience. Huge thanks also to all my friends and family who seized this chance and came to visit me during one of my rare trips south of the border.

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Spontaneous throwing lines by Kirsty Adams

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Exquisite, fine porcelain by Justine Allison

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Hand-painted mark-making by Tamsin Arrowsmith-Brown

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Charming illustrations by Helen Beard

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Stunning glazes by Linda Bloomfield

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Landscape inspired porcelain by Candice Coetser

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Microscopic translucency by Amy Cooper

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Nostalgic slipware by Victoria Claire Dawes

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Pieces with inlaid jewels by Tamara Gomez

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Intricately patterned porcelain by Ikuko Iwamoto

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Hypnotic illusions by Jin Eui Kim

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Graphic mark-making by Katharina Klug

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One hundred cups by Emma Lacey

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Layered textures by Hilary Mayo

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Lively layered slipware by RAMP – Roop and Al Make Pots

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Contemporary tableware by Elizabeth Renton

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Japanese miniatures by Yuta Segawa

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Marks, lines and texture by Ali Tomlin

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Artisan craftsmanship by Jeannine Vrins

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Complex glazed landscapes by Paul Wearing

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Pared down forms by Pottery West

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Calm patterns by Mizuyo Yamashita
(image by Mizuyo Yamashita)

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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.

London calling

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This time last year I was awarded a bursary from Made in Aberdeen to help progress my business. The first part allowed me to participate in an amazing workshop in Copenhagen, and the second part was to help fund an application to a London show later this year.

I’m delighted to announce that I’ve been selected for Made London this Autumn. This wonderful design and craft fair takes place at One Marylebone on 20-23 October 2016. Maybe I’ll see you there.

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Show up 2

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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…