Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Grand Opening

It takes a couple of days for the kiln to cool down. It was still a 100 degrees when we checked, but by slowly taking down the wicket door, it is sufficiently cool to pick out the first pot. It looked like an OK firing, cooler at the bottom than usual, but the big bowl at the top had not slumped as we feared.

It is a strange sensation opening the kiln. You have an idea what the pots might look like, but they never fully match up to expectation and it can feel a bit of an anticlimax. The more interesting pieces are put to one side and sit on the dining table for a couple of days as I get to know them and usually the 'Black dogs' disappear and it is maybe an acceptable firing after all.
There were one or two real goodies and all the little pots for an order were all ok too.

Now I have to clean them up, get the wadding off the bottoms and grind off the bits of glaze that has run into the wadding. An unpleasant job and I leave it as long as possible.

The last couple of days has been fully occupied with making wooden lids for the boxes. It is really nice to work with a different material and finding the right bit of wood for each box is a challenge. My Dad left me a box full of offcuts from his stick making, I don't know what some of it is, it is very dark and extremely hard, possibly Laburnum. Takes ages to polish, but the effort is well worth while. Once they are done I will take some photos and update the website.

Last couple of days a Pigeon has appeared, very tame. It allowed me to pick it up, it's very young, possibly someones lost racing Pigeon. It has no leg ring, so I've christened him Bob. He was back again today, pecking the seeds from the Valerian while I had a bit of death and destruction with some pallets.

Starting the work for the next firing already!

Monday, 18 July 2011

How big is yours!

People ask all the time "how big is your kiln?" I could never do the maths. Cubic capacity is not my strong point. Anyway the kiln holds enough pots, about two months worth of work!

Well we measured it and with the aid of one of the children's calculators, and can quite truthfully say that my kiln is 0.3358 cubic metres or (in old money) 12 cubic feet. Here is a picture.

Here it is loaded. There are about 70 pots in there of varying sizes. We fired the kiln today. The firing took about eleven and a half hours. Cone eleven down at the top. (that is about 1300 degrees centigrade)
We will open the kiln in a couple of days time when it is cool enough to open. Just the long anxious wait to see if it was all worth while.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Critical Acclaim

"Wright's pots have a fruitfulness, a fecundity that gets close to the essentials of form and forcefully evokes the complexities and volatility of fire. Their very materiality takes us by the hand and leads us to the essential".

" I have no idea what that means Maud, you are wasted pecking around the garden. You should be writing stuff for Ceramic Review".

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Still trying to catch up.

Four events almost back to back have left the stocks a little depleted. I need to fire up the kiln before Art in Clay at Hatfield, so that means I need to make enough work to fill the kiln.
Also mix new glaze, which also means washing wood ash and take advantage of the recent sun to dry it out.

I was never much good at chemistry at school, my glazes are very simple. I use Bernard Leach's basic 4 4 2 formula. (not a starting line up for England's football team !) But wood ash, feldspar and china clay. The ash varies, friends save it from their wood burners and stoves and bags of it lie around waiting to be washed and sieved. It gets labelled, there is Bob's Blue, nothing to do with the colour. It just happens to come from Bob at the Blue Lion. He said it was quality hard wood, but there were lots of screws, nails and MDF fittings mixed in. Mmmm should be interesting.
Then there is Sue's sludge from Sue Mulroy's wood kiln and Shirley's Sycamore, logs from the tree in her garden, which makes a very beautiful pale blue glaze. JT is John Turners hard wood ash, which he saves every winter and next winter we will burn Eucalyptus from Patricks dead tree, which died after the severe cold last winter. Need to think of a name for that. Last firing we used Wussy Willow, a pale insipid green, but good over dark clay. I don't keep meticulous records like Katherine Pleydell-Bouverie, the ash varies too much and I only mix small batches each time. It's more interesting that way and some times the slops from several batches make interesting results. Occasionally the results are a complete surprise and can't be repeated. Like the dark brown that goes grey when applied thickly. It must have been because the wood was full of rusty nails.
Jayne's ash produced a blue with brown speckles. It must have been all the sweety wrappers that were burnt and mixed with the ash.
Here is a picture of Laura's garden. It has looked lovely for the last few months. It's a kind of semi controlled, wild self set style, but today the sound of bees and the many butterflies flitting about made it a real pleasure just to stand and enjoy. It's aromatic too, walk through it and the scent of Marjoram, Sage and Thyme is quite heady.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Back to work.

This is the first weekend for ages that we have been at home. Lots of events and lots to talk about.
At the end of May we were at Clay2day at Keukenhof Castle, trying to display and sell pots. It was really cold with very strong winds, several potters stalls were blown over and several had work blown off their stalls and broken. The public stayed away which was a shame as the event was really well organised, with lots to engage and entertain, set in the beautiful grounds of the castle.
There was a Japanese theme to the event this year, with money being raised for the Tsunami appeal. One of my pots was chosen as the flower vessel for the tea ceremony and Iesaka Ruriko made this wonderful Ikebana display. 
We tried to recreate it when we got back home, like making pots, it takes more than a couple of hours to master.

Two weeks after Clay2day we were at Potfest Scotland, along with a few others that had made the trek to Holland, also set in beautiful gardens, this time Scone Palace near Perth. It rained, but it was very busy, The Scots not put off by a wee drop of rain, and we had a great show and managed to explore Perth as well.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

One of life's simple pleasures

Tomatoes picked straight from the vine in a simple wood fired bowl. Tomatoes by David Wright, bowl by Richard Batterham