Monday, 19 December 2011

Round Up of 2011 and Big Thanks!

2011, has very much been about getting pottery things in place and learning as much as i can about the pots i want to make... most of it from the incredible potter's blogs out there. Thank you all for regularly posting about your methods, processes and thoughts, they have been invaluable... and i know I have some folk to go to in my times of pottery need. Biggest thanks go to Matt  (that's Grimmitt for those of you not up to speed!), for both just being there whenever i have a question and also giving me so much information so freely, when i know he's had to figure a lot of it out for himself! A top man and great potter... "thanks Matt!". Also Ron and Tracey, Stateside, for always checking in and supporting, no matter how amateur my piece!.. and not forgetting Doug Fitch for helping kick off my pot making by stumbling upon his blog and following it for a year (and working back through his entire blog history... every post.), before thinking pottery was something i should actually do. Doug if you happen to see this, don't stop blogging and thanks for all your shared pots and knowledge.
Anyway, It will be interesting to see what 2012 brings (well, we host the Olympics for one, so expect some Olympic pots!.. not your traditional souvenir junk i'm guessing.)
Thanks to everyone who has ever commented or continues to do so... you folks know who you are.
I'm very fortunate to have you all hovering behind me.

If it seems like i hardly mention Illustration on this blog it's because i don't! I've explained why in previous posts.... not wishing to upset clients, waiting until work has been published, not being able to give too much away etc. Also I'm living it all the time and so this blog gives me some space for my pottery thoughts. Don't get me wrong, i could write some epic posts on the good and the bad of this industry... but why would i do that?... and who would want to read it?? I did have a thought of eventually splitting off into a purely pottery blog, but this one seems to be doing a pretty good job!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Sussex Inlaid Slip

I was in the Hastings Museum with my boys last weekend and managed a minute or two amongst the pots. They have a decent collection of Slipware and due to our location there's lots of Sussex pottery with its inlaid slip decoration. Very beautiful. For the non-potters out there, you press the printers type into the damp clay and the fill the impressions with the white slip coating (obviously it doesn't have to be just printers type, you could even carve a design into the clay surface). You then scrape back the surface slip, so that it only remains in the impressed letters. I think it's about time i followed my local tradition and tried one out and updated the designs for 2011. Not sure what to do yet, but the bottle/flask based on the leather one might be a good place to start. I need to ask a couple of friends if they have suitable printers type i can borrow for the job. It's hard to find much info on these pots out there on the net... or I'm looking in the wrong place! We'll just have to see where it leads me. Anyway, here are a few pictures and if you live in Hastings or nearby, i suggest a visit to the Museum and reconnect with your town and it's history... it's a lovely little place to spend an hour.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Slipware Piggy Bank

Just a quick one to fill in the gaps. The pig money box has been sgraffito'd for a while now, but thought I'd stick a picture up as a record. Hopefully I'll figure out what the hell I'm doing with this kiln and get some fired in the New Year. I'm dealing mainly with my illustration work now and sorting Christmas and kid's school plays etc. I hope to make a few bits, try a few things out... and if i get the new wheel up in place i'll be making and trashing as many wobbly pots as i can! Hopefully 2012 will be the year when it can all come together and i can get some actual pots out there into the World.

As you may also see i made a fatal sgraffito mistake on the EE's, thought i was scraping away the slip outside the letters and then... oops! That's why i like working on the computer.... apple z every time.
Still, now it 'adds to the character'!!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Snowman Boiler

What do you do when your boiler's old, dated, on it's last legs, practically an antique?.... well, it just needs cheering up!... I'll get another 10 years of service out of it now.
I saw the kids paint and a paint sponge/brush sitting there winking at me and the round pilot light window the same size... and well, now it's festive (luckily for Jakki it will just wipe off). Shame, I'm getting used to the happy chap. My boys loved it, they couldn't get their heads around how it wasn't a whole new thing I'd installed, just a few dabs of paint.

Friday, 2 December 2011

You Know The Economy Is Bad

... When you see this great offer! I had been wondering when they'd get some more in.
You have to wonder what goes through the mind of someone that thinks this sign was worth the effort.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Hands and Tools

I came across this and thought I'd share it. It warms my heart to see such stuff. It's nice to know there's still people using tools. Hope for humanity! Now, I'm pretty useless at DIY, it has to be said. I like to think I can make most things in a creative way, chisel and wood, clay and hands, wire and pliers.... as long they don't need to be of use to anyone or serve a function!.. doesn't hold out much hope for functional pots does it?? I would love to be able to use all these tools though, i really would.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Creative Kids

.... and is that such a good thing???
Yep, this is what i came downstairs to last week. Tennessee really went to town with the green, it was thick behind his ears and on his head, at least Texas was a bit more restrained. It came off eventually... though I'm sure there's still some tinges of green!

Friday, 25 November 2011

Art in Clay

... I nearly forgot. I made the trip to Art in Clay, Farnham, last Sunday. I managed to have a chat with fellow blogger Margaret Brampton and it's always great to see pots in the flesh rather than photo's on computer screens (and potters in the flesh, though wearing more than just a fine glaze). Margaret had a fine selection of pots, great sgraffito and Margaret was very generous with her working ways, which we beginners always appreciate! I came away with a great mug, "thanks Margaret". It was also so nice to hear that she had taught herself, figuring it out as she went along. To begin with, i thought i might be making a slightly mad leap into clay, but reassuringly I've discovered several who just got the clay bug later on and got on with it. I guess Mary Wondrausch is about as good an example as you can get for a late starter potter!!

I learnt something else on Sunday... don't take 5 and 3 year old boys to ceramic shows!! I can't say it was the most relaxing way to spend a Sunday... "ARMS AND ELBOWS IN!!".... "IMAGINE THERE'S AN INVISIBLE LINE.. WAY BACK HERE!!".... "JESUS!!'..."DADDY CAN'T AFFORD IT IF YOU BREAK IT!"... "IF YOU BREAK IT, AT LEAST MAKE SURE IT'S SOMETHING I LIKE!!'.... sorry for shouting, you get the drift. Tense. Jakki did take the pressure off and took them to the cafe, but that only lasts so long.
Still, glad i went though. Any time spent with potters is a good way to learn.. and save myself a few extra heartaches along the way.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Illustration/Pottery, balancing act

I'm not making anything in clay this week, just getting on with my illustration work.
It's a really nice set of book covers, but as usual can't really tell you anything about them. I'm working through the first cover and once i get that right, it will set the tone for the others... well, hopefully! Look forward to sharing them with you, eventually.
I still need to sgraffito that pig/money box, but my time is being spent reorganising my workspace, so i can get the kiln and new wheel in and also give me a space for more shelves. I've pulled all the stuff out and somehow managed to fill the room! it's funny how you squirrel stuff away and drift up the walls!! Anyway, I've now got to make it all disappear around the walls again... but in a different order.

I always like to have a picture in my post, so here are a couple of things from Hastings (Old Town) Museum. I always love to see this big pot. The leather bottles are inspiring me to try some in clay. I think the small one, will be perfect for a slab of clay. I'm going to give inlaid slip a try to, just a little drawing on each side of the 'bottle'. We'll have to see how they turn out.... but first i need to sort that workspace out!!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Clay Connections- a look inside my mind

Somewhere amongst this fantastic combination is where I hope to 'find' myself. Looking forward to the trip!

Remembering to throw in a face jug, of course!.... this one will do just fine, a beautifully simple Burlon Craig creation.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Slipware Lamp Base- Part Two

Here it is all slipped and scratched. The erratic bold stabs that I'd wanted, ended up much more controlled and uniform than I'd envisaged, but i guess you can't make yourself do something you're not!
Now, how long is it going to take me to fire them?? Going to have to deal with glaze next, the next part of my learning curve! Matt's helped me out with that thankfully, i just need to buy some supplies and mix it up.

I also slipped my tall, top hatted money box man last night... he was a slumped heap this morning!! weirdly, I'm pretty cool about it. I learnt a lot constructing him and making decisions along the way. I do need to figure out why though ( I'm guessing it was not dry enough when i slipped it?) the key is to not keep making the same mistake! Anyway, it's time to focus on the kiln now, sorting glaze and then firing it. Might make a few mugs along the way. Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

My Morning Jacket-Live at De La Warr

Following on from Tracey's post about the fantastic Tinariwen gig she went to at the weekend, I went to my own fantastic gig last week. My Morning Jacket played at the De La Warr Pavilion, just down the road in Bexhill. It was a great gig and they are an amazing live band. Jim James has such an amazing voice! love it!! Here's a sample, you need to give the first one at least 4 minutes of your time... and I'm sorry it cuts off abruptly at the end, but it was the best live clip i could find. I do love a good long track, i'm not a 3 minute pop song guy, over 10 minutes and I'm happy. On The Beach- Neil Young, Listen To The Lion- Van Morrison, Love From Room 109 At The Islander(ON Pacific Coast Highway)- Tim Buckley, all some of my favourite tracks. If you don't know them it's time to go and find out! Life's better with them.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

My Pottery God

What was i saying just the other day about the madness of making pottery without the 'kiln bit' being sorted?.... well look what i picked up yesterday for FREE!!! I don't know if it works yet, but I've been given no reason to believe it won't. A friend was doing some work for someone and they had a small kiln and a sit-down kick wheel and they were about a week from taking them to the tip!.. what kind of madness is that??? I picked the wheel up today too, so I'll clean it up and see how it runs. They had been given them about 4 years ago, but never got around to using them.
I'm so excited to have a kiln of my own. It's only small, but it should be fine for me at the moment as I'm not making large quantities. It gives me the chance to learn about firing (and make mistakes without losing lots of work!!) . Perfect. Now to swot up a bit and ask a favour, so i can be assisted initially, without making any obvious mistakes. Hooray, a happy day!!!!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Slipware Money Boxes- Man and Pig

Here are a couple of poor quality phone pics of the two pots on the go. The coin slots are in the top of the hats (if you couldn't guess) and the man has a cork sized hole at the bottom of his back. The pig will be slipped white and the band on his hat cleaned up with some lettering on it. I had fun building this man. In the end he was just slab and pinched, no coil, no thrown ( I'd love to have been able to throw the bits!) I'm now thinking how best to slip this sucker, both in terms of design and practicality! I might just dip his head and scratch back to the clay hat, leaving a band, leave his body raw and then blob some slip on his hands and buttons. Think i may also slip around the base, so i can write something. I was going to write it on his back, but i don't fancy the practicalities of a beginner slipping the whole thing!!... and don't ask if it will fit in a small kiln (that i don't even have!)... what kind of madness is this?... what am i doing?????...( i only bought some clay for the first time ever in April) I just figure make it and the rest will come!!.... you proper potters out there must be rolling your eyes... "...and he hasn't even got a kiln!!"... tut tut. ;-)..... i hope you like them.

English Country Pottery... Bargain!

Found this last week in a charity shop... what are the odds?? not even a couple of quid.
It's a really good read for someone like me, who finds Slipware and Country Pottery so vibrant and alive. ...very real history. It's another ticked of the list of pottery books i'd like to own.

I'm in the middle of my pottery making at the minute, should have my lamp base all scratched out by Monday and a little piggy bank... and a full figure, epi de faitage inspired, top hatted money box (waiting to be slipped). there'll be lots to show next week hopefully. I've been crazy busy all week, working on some advertising work... the shame of which is that i can't go putting any info or pics on here, until they've been used/printed etc. By that time it's old news! The nice thing about the blogs are you get to see work as it's happening, but with most illustration, there will always be that delay until it has been put in use. Don't need to go upsetting any clients on here!!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Visual Feasts

Just a quick couple of things to direct you to.

Firstly, my good friend and amazing collage illustrator/artist Martin O'Neill, has this beautifully crafted word search available for only £20, limited to 100 prints, a bargain... and a great Christmas present. Make sure to keep checking in on his blog too, so many interesting bits and amazing craft in action.
Secondly, I strongly advise anyone with a human heart beating inside of them to go and watch the film about Grayson Perry and his Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman. I've not enjoyed a show more for a long time. Brilliant work, amazing custom motor bike, brilliant insights and a lot of fun. Just watch it.... all of it!
Every time i see Grayson on something, i warm to him more and more.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Never play with balloons..

... caught indecently in the park in the summer, playing balloons with my little boy, Tennessee. Someone had just pointed out the error of my arrangement!... i was just trying to keep them together, so we wouldn't lose them.
Don't expect to see many photos of this blogger on this blog!

Have a good weekend folks.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Slipware Lamp Base- part one

Not much to show for it yet. I slipped it yesterday and am looking forward to going at it once it's dry. I'm going quite bold on this one, i think. I plan to scrape away the face area and leave a white beard and hair, with white eyes. I'm not planning on intricate hair, just lots of quite bold little stabs of dashes. I want something that will really fizz when the light sits above it.

I'm thinking i might also illustrate the lampshade to fit on it. Just pick up a large charity shop shade and go to work on it with some pens, a bit like this little lamp shade below (which i still need to finish off). This little shade has a face jug on one side and a harvest jug on the other side and the paths and connections fill in between. I'll finish it off and put pictures up of both sides, you might recognise a few bloggers on it!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Clay Mojo & Epi De Faitage

I've been finding it a real struggle lately. Daily stresses and demands of my illustration work, not feeling the urge to make anything once i finally get the kids in bed at night (also the restrictive working window that leaves me). Then i have the decision between actually making something interesting that i like, or just surrendering that precious time to practice throwing and ending up with nothing much... except more frustration! I know it's a pain barrier i have to go through if i want to end up making what i ultimately want. Being able to throw good pots is a very important part of that. Jakki had some good advice yesterday, she suggested using some of my actual working day, in between jobs or whenever, to put aside for using the wheel. A time when I'm not exhausted and can actually focus, move things on rather than grabbing an hour or two here and there. I think this is good advice, i need to do it if this pottery is going to move forward.
Anyway, my pottery mojo... i started coiling a pot last night and it felt good to actually start making something. I didn't have a strong idea of what it would be, until it started rising. It is now going to get a function, a lamp base (i know, not very exciting... well, it is to me). I've wanted to make my own for a while and this will be my first. Now i need to find some nice words on enlightenment/illumination to put on it... I'm guessing a face will feature heavily somewhere!
I also have a slightly more ambitious pot in mind, using coil, slab and possibly pinched elements. It's inspiration comes from those magnificent French roof finials, or 'epi de faitage'. These will feature in my own work eventually... and this is why i need to throw well... and soon (I'm very impatient.. but also very determined!) I have lots of ideas involving stacking individually thrown pieces, some slip trailed, some sgraffito, some combed etc etc. I'm a very long way from having the skills i will need to pull that off though. Still dreaming is part of what it's all about. Aim high, no point planning on being mediocre!!
Anyway, it's good to feel a bit of a surge and hopefully it will translate to my early attempts at throwing...i need to take the wheel head of and have a look first. I'm not liking the noises that weren't there before! Below the video are a few examples of the epi de faitage that i like, the simple figures, but if you want to see some of the epic stacked kind, i suggest you look further at Tony Mauger's site and look at the 'catalogue et tarifs'. It's interesting to see the various pieces broken down into separate costs, then you can mix and match to your budget. All very interesting. I'm not mad about his actual forms and the coloured glazes he uses, but i am fascinated by the process, the history, the objects themselves... and the future potential of it all. Watch the video, I know it's in French, but all you need are your eyes!.. if you can understand it, then it's a bonus! If you get bored, skip to 8 mins in, where you can see a guy installing one on a roof.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Classic Comedy

Classic sketch, so i thought I'd let let you watch it again! brilliant.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Salton Sea, Illustrated Map

... coming soon.
I'm going to make a map, an illustrated map. My great friend and studio buddy Tim has suggested for ages that i should tackle a map... and finally it clicked... i had a reason... the Salton Sea, California! Now i won't get into all the technical stuff, how it was created back in1905, or even how it became "The French Riviera of California", you can read all that here. What i can tell you is it's a magical place. Not your conventional magical place, I'll grant you, but when we took a detour on our way from Vegas to LA back in 2005 we were hooked. It now has a special place in our hearts.

These were taken around Bombay Beach. Lots of trailers and buildings that got flooded and then left to decay. Below is the very special Salvation Mountain. I love this place, all the work of one highly motivated man, Leonard Knight. It so happens that Leonard's motivation is God, but he doesn't push that on you, it's just his thing. I like that. It's an amazing thing, built on a natural embankment and using straw bales and lots of adobe.... oh, and a LOT of old household paint. We even got to freshen up some of the paintwork. We spent a couple of hours in the midday heat painting the waterfall at the side of the 'yellow brick road'. We also had a jar of crushed glass, or 'sparkles' to Leonard, to sprinkle onto the fresh paint.
See that canteen of water in the group photo.. well, it wasn't very refreshing! A couple of hours out in this heat will do that. the bottom photo of me is about as close as i've come to kneeling before God! Everyone should see this work of art and what one man can do when he puts his mind to it. There were so many more things i could go on about ( a great bar called the Ski Inn, for one... maybe Jakki will write a piece on it all) but i'll just leave you with the pics and a little video i found. If you like it, then hopefully you can go and find out all about it yourselves.... or better still, go and visit. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Halloween Print in Shop!

I'm putting this A3 print up in my shop for a limited period of one month, for the grand price of £35 + shipping ( I should have been on this a bit quicker!)

It's a Halloween favourite of mine and has even been a large papercut silhouette, filling our front window (I backed them with orange tissue paper, to let the house light through). These two sketches have also had the same treatment.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Sgraffito Urn for Hank

I've been meaning to get around to making this for a while... since July!
Anyway, finally a sgraffito slipware pottery pet urn fit for Hank. He was a distinctive cat, with his black nose and black goatee. Jakki wrote a piece about him back then, beautifully written. Hopefully i'll get it glazed and fired soon and find a nice little spot for him to continue his life amongst us.

I was giving the whole 'Urn' thing, some more thought too. Why is it that urns are so...well, death like? Why? They don't need to be, shouldn't they be more celebratory?... a life well lived. Shouldn't the Urn reflect this and have a little life and vitality? It could be anything, any shape size or form. Why should it look like an 'urn'?... and why can't we celebrate life. Death, just seems a bit like the thing people just want to skip over... well, in our culture. Why not give a round of applause as the casket disappears behind the curtain?... bit un-British i guess!!... 3 cheers for a life well lived? Something similar has been happening in recent years at sportsgrounds. It used to be a minute silence before a match, now it's a minutes applause ( partly to drown out any opposition boo'ing).. but i like it, it feels better. When i do finally go remember to give me a good round of applause and send me on my way.
A nice bit of gloom on a Friday, that's what you all needed!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

More Music...Lazy Blogging

Just wanted to put this Tinariwen track on here, as every time i hear it i just want to get my groove on!... find me a dance floor someone!! In fact the whole album, Amassakoul, is fantastic. Arawan, is another great track.
Enjoy!... and try to sit still!!!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Soundtrack to my Summer

I've played this clip so many times over the summer, mainly those evenings spent sorting out my website. it kept me sane, whilst itself being insanely catchy. I would often find myself walking around singing "...just remember how we shook...shook.." etc. I say play it 3 times and tell me you're not addicted! I love it when the bass comes in. This live version is superior to the album version. Love it.
Pottery coming at the end of the week. Well, you know when i say pottery i just mean scratched clay!!

Friday, 30 September 2011


I saw this ages ago, but watched it again the other day, so i thought i'd share it with you. It's worth making the time and watching it through. There are so many interesting points, including ADHD and the drugs given to our kids. Food for thought.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Pictures on Walls

My friend John sent me this quick snap of my work on his wall (in a lovely old frame i found months ago). The window, just out of shot, looks straight out to sea...and i'm very envious. I'd love to look out to sea and watch storms build and pass... much more than sunsets... maybe i wouldn't if i actually owned the place about to be battered by the storm. Though our storms aren't quite the same as those Stateside! Anyway, It's always nice to see a piece of my work out there in the real world, doing what it should do. Pictures in frames, on walls, in homes, always look so much nicer than just an image on a website... or in an online shop.. hint, hint.
Maybe it's about time i had a small exhibition and let a few of these pieces breathe? Get them out there to mingle with real people (real people with a drink in them... much more purchase friendly!)

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

From My Desk

I'm always happy with charity shop figurines.... and googly eyes!
I've got some fresh pots on the go at home so there will be some new pottery coming soon. I just stuck this up as i always mean to put a few more of the objects around me up on here.