Monday, 31 October 2016

One Year On

I was moved to write about the 'Great Pottery Throw-down' (blog number 66). Beware, it is about to be thrust upon us again, filming was completed some time ago, so stand by for more tears. I received repeated invitations by email. I don't know, once you get on these mailing lists there is no escape. The dead line for submissions was extended a couple of times, call me cynical, but this is television and maybe the right kind of amateur could not be found in sufficient numbers.
I could not bring myself to view any of the programs past the second instalment last time. I found it highly edited, making a pot is a longer process than the telly can accommodate, I certainly don't have someone shouting out "Ten minutes left" every so often putting me in a tail spin and almost certainly inviting a major cock up. I found myself shouting and hurling abuse at the poor defenceless T.V. as minor disasters in clay unfurled. I was not moved to tears by any of the work that survived. Having failed to blub, I got on with making pots and listened to the on going debate amongst others.
The watching public seemed generally interested, they say they found it informative, exciting and it reminded some of something tried at school, they dismissed it then, but now realised they should have given it a chance. I thought the same about Chemistry and Latin, but I don't think I would enrol for courses, classes or workshops as droves of people have with pottery with such a frenzy.

On a positive note, we were deluged with enquiries for potter's aprons in the run up to Christmas. Who would have thought a pottery class and an apron were the 'Must Have' Christmas present?
Orders for potter's aprons are still trickling in, but I can't report on a massive increase in sales of pots. Instead hordes of fledgling potters have plonked themselves firmly in front of my stall at almost every event in the UK this year and asked endless questions, " What clay do you use". "What glaze do you use". "How do long does it take"? and other stupid questions which makes one wonder who is taking their money and teaching these guys? They almost never buy pots of course, so I don't expect they think about the implications of that. It costs money to apply and exhibit at a Ceramic Market. They get ever more expensive, then there is the cost of accommodation, fuel and 3 or 4 days away from the workshop. If we sell nothing, we can't afford to come back again, so no more free tuition. Nearly all the potters we know have amazing collections of ceramics, so why don't these new converts buy some inspiration too? You can learn a lot by handling and studying a fine piece of work.

May be I should have watched the rest of the programs to try and reach an understanding of what it is that makes us want to express ourselves in clay, try to create something only to fail, pick ourselves up, try again only to fail once more, yet still persist. My blood pressure would not stand another round of telly abuse, so I'll  save my angst for my own personal fight with clay. However one thing is certain, sales of kilns, wheels and pottery kit shows no abate. I'll bide my time for a new kiln, Ebay will be flooded soon and I can take my pick and save a bob or two.

Everything you need to make a pot...

and a good apron of course.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Dear Amanda

Dear Amanda,
Yes I am a numpty, I don't know what marking up a GIF file for a downloadable email is. I am sorry but I live in the sticks 'Up North', we don't have super-fast broadband, we hardly get broadband at all even in Mrs May's Brexit Britain. The mobile phone signal isn't that great either, it dips out unless I sit on the roof with the pigeons. There is electricity of course, but it comes in overhead by wire from a rickety pole covered with Ivy, so that when its windy the lights flicker and quite often the power cuts out and trips the kiln, cooker and broadband booster for the Wi-fi. Western Power have sent several men to look at it and scratch their heads and they have all gone away to get a more clever person to advise them what to do,  or maybe it's something to do with returning a dividend to the shareholders
We do have running water though and the 'Poo man' stopped coming to empty the dry toilet a few years ago. I am a Potter, I can make a decent pot, make glazes, design and build kilns, although I do  still fire with wood, but that's by choice not because we are still living under Roman rule.
I do all my own advertising, marketing and website, take photographs and have been known to write for International Ceramics magazines occasionally. I somehow manage to find my way to destinations all over Europe using only a thing called a map. Yes I can use a compass and I know which way North is.
I make things in clay, wood and metal, can weld, lay bricks and mend the electrics and plumbing when required. So reflect for a moment or two over your iced mocha-chino with Soya milk and quinoa muffin and please send your messages in plain English (or French if you prefer). My computing knowledge is not up to NASA standards...  ... yet.

Yours faithfully,


Sunday, 9 October 2016

Back to the Blog

It's been a while since I wrote a blog; a long while. Not a case of writers' block, more a case of writers' cramp.
First there was an email interview with Klei Magazine, lots of back and forth emails. I'm told it was a good article, my Dutch isn't too strong so I will go with that.
Then I was invited to write a profile for New Ceramics (Neue Keramik). That was a bit of a challenge, I thought that it ought to take a different slant and introduce another perspective from the stuff I wrote for Klei and another batch of photographs. It was a tight deadline, but I got no response or acknowledgement of receipt, so it sat on the editors desk in Germany. Having got revved up to writing, I decided to submit a draft to The Log Book. That was in March. Purely about my journey to wood firing my work.
After some time a favourable response came through from the editors, with apologies for the delay, they had been away at a wood fire conference. The draft was returned full of editorial corrections, suggestions and anything approaching light humour was red lined. This obviously was serious stuff and called for a bit of head scratching and a while to think about it.
I made corrections, wrote new stuff, did some research, took some new images and sent it off again. It was a while before it all came back with a few more 'suggestions' and a demand for images at high resolution. Really? I shoot all my pictures at high resolution, it has not been a problem before.
Sorry David we have been away at another confe
rence and we would like your material back straight away. Plainly picky people, The Log Book is an A5 quarterly aimed at wood firing folk, probably all those sitting in wood fire conferences.
Meanwhile, out of the blue my profile appears in the May issue of New Ceramics, it drops onto the doormat only seven months after writing it. Elated, it looks great, I am chuffed.
Our Broadband is the pits, so I send my retaken, high resolution pictures and revised text off on a CD to Ireland, emailing to say that I have done so.
The editors are off again on another jolly. It's now urgent, they want to publish in the August issue, please send straight away so we can pick it up on our travels.
I tried Dropbox, but it compresses the images, I tried MailBigfile, eventually I got them off.

Well into August an email pops up. "We are dropping your article - too close to the article published in New Ceramics".
Not so chuffed and not elated, so much time and effort, it may get published at a future date with some further alterations and some new pictures. We will see.

So you can understand why I haven't written for a while, apart from an artist statement for an exhibition at the Ropewalk, I'm fed up writing about me and have concentrated on making pots and firing kilns, but there is loads of stuff that I'm itching to write about, so here goes.