Saturday, 23 March 2019

Large textured vase

A few more shots of the large textured vase, height 16 inches:

I've kept the wadding underneath this piece (it was welded to flashing from shells anyway) to allow for the drip of glaze which touched the shelf. I like the way it looks as though it's hovering slightly..

Thanks for your visit.


Monday, 18 March 2019

Back to saggar firing

Recently I designed a new single-piece saggar to use in the electric kiln. It doesn't require kiln fibre to seal the top so is much easier and less messy to use and seems to be airtight in use. This shino-glazed guinomi was fired twice, once in the saggar (with charcoal) to reduce the surface and once in oxidation to bring the colour back to the iron. The glaze was applied fairly thin and the iron-rich slip (china clay/ball clay plus 50% red iron oxide) has burned through, creating very dark colours and an unusual, wrinkled surface. It's still surprisingly pleasant to drink from!

And here are a few closeups of a large, heavily textured vase I have fired three times with different dolomite glazes added. This time I'm pretty happy with the glaze surface, especially the drips which contain some lovely colours. I'll post a shot of the full piece soon..

Also fired last week, another textured vase with some pleasant crawling going on:

Yesterday I tried out some carving on the outside of these small hand-pinched bowls. I've done this on sculptures before but not on a functional piece. This is in its raw clay (a smooth crank) state with slip added to the surface, and I plan to just glaze the inside:

Thanks for reading!


Never give up, the best is yet to come

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Some recent work

I'm sorry it's been such a long time since I posted here. That's mainly because the last fourteen months have been the hardest and saddest of my life. I'm doing my best not to dwell on past events and am hoping that 2019 will be a better year, both personally and creatively. Having said that, I doubt I'll have alot of spare time this year for writing lengthy blog posts, so I thought I'd just focus on posting images of recent pieces with a few explanatory notes.

The following are some of the more unusual pots I made in 2018:

Vase, height approx 10 inches
Vase, height approx 9 inches
The two vases above were experiments which worked surprisingly well. I discovered that pre-fired pieces of broken clay can be pushed through the soft walls of the piece and that they stay firmly in place when fired. Even more remarkable that as the pieces dried, no cracks appeared around the inclusions, neither did they appear after firing to stoneware temperature, cone 6-8. Both these pieces were built  up from thrown sections, hence the somewhat asymmetrical profiles. 

Large, handbuilt vase, height 15 ins
This large, square vase was handbuilt using small, irregular slabs of clay squeezed together and a deep texture added at leatherhard. This is a technique I would like to develop more in future as it allows a huge amount of freedom in the forms you can create.

Textured bottle vase, height approx 5 inches
Above is another handbuilt piece formed from hand-pinched slabs. White and black slips were brushed on and a dry, ochre ash glaze poured over. I like the effect and colours produced where the ochre glaze has accidentally strayed over the inner dolomite glaze, so I plan to layer these glazes on some future work.
Small bud vase
I've included this little vase as I thought the shape was quite interesting.. it went slightly off centre on the hump and I liked the way the rim dips at one point..

Small, carved vase
The matt ochre ash glaze on this carved piece came out darker than I expected as it was a new batch and went on very thick. It contains about 40% raw wood ash so tends to deflocculate hugely after a few days..  I still like it alot, but I do find that brown pots aren't the easiest to sell these days!

Textured vase, approx 6 ins height

This textured vase was fired twice and the second time (after adding more glaze), it came out exactly as I had hoped. I deliberately left alot of the deep texture with black slip showing, and it is quite difficult to judge how the piece is going to look as the glaze runs a great deal. 

Textured salt pig
This piece was also hand built using small slabs. A thick texture was applied plus black slip and a dolomite and wood ash glaze.

Lidded jar, height approx 6 inches

Textured vase, height approx 6 inchews
 Another textured vase, this time slips and glazes were applied in bands before a final layer of dolomite and wood ash glaze.

Textured vase, height approx 3.5 inches

Pressed dish, approx 7 ins width

This dish was made by pressing a slab of clay over a bisqued former. the edges of the clay were left deliberately irregular. Decoration was wax resist with black slip brushed on before a second bisque firing. A small foot was also added at the leather hard stage which just gives the form a bit of a lift and stability.

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my work, thanks for your visit!


Never give up, the best is yet to come.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Further developments with texture

Here are some recent results from my on-going experiments with surface texture.

These two vases had a layer of texture and a layer of slip added before the bisc .. six or seven different glazes were then applied before the final firing. The marks underneath the globular vase are from clam shells which act as supports and help to catch and absorb any excess glaze as it runs under the pot!

Depending on how thick the walls are after throwing, I may carve the surface of the piece using a loop tool .. this is because the textural slip plus a thick glaze will add considerably to the final weight. But you need to be careful not to go too thin or the wet slip can make the piece collapse, as I have found to my cost!

Next, a lidded jar, thrown as a closed form and the lid cut out. The texture was added using fingers at the leather hard stage and a crackle ash glaze brushed on after the bisc firing:

Both of these sculptural pieces were carved at the leatherhard stage and dipped in the same copper glaze (as above) once bisqued:

The following pieces have burnout materials (in this case wood chippings) incorporated into the clay body. I use a very groggy clay to help the extra moisture from the wood escape from the body during the bisc firing:

Here is another more sculptural work, made by folding and pinching small slabs of clay together, then cut in half and carefully hollowed out once leatherhard. The inside has been coated with an iron rich slip plus a dolomite and ash glaze, whilst the outside is simply a high-firing black slip brushed on after the bisc. The nice thing about this slip is that it allows the details of the clay body to shine whilst brush marks are left practically invisible:

And lastly, a couple of vases, both have layers of texture and reactive slip, but with the glaze applied a little thinner which allows the clay surface to show through more:

With the globular vase, the dolomite and ash glaze was brushed on and gaps deliberately left to reveal the dark, textural slip below .. I call that piece, "Melting Snow".

 I hope you enjoyed your visit, thanks for reading.


Never give up, the best is yet to come

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Artfest 15th to 17th April 2017

Just a quick post to say that I will be displaying and selling my ceramic work at ArtFest, part of the Chester, Food Drink and Lifestyle Festival which is being held at Chester Racecourse between the 15th and 17th April 2017. Thirty five members of Chester's Grosvenor Art Society will be there, showing and sharing their skills.

My stand will be there only on the Sunday and Monday, 16th and 17th of April. If you're in the area why not have a look round the Festival, visit the Artfest marquee and say hello.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Latest results from the electric kiln

Well, all too soon we're back to freezing temperatures here in the UK, which I have to say does make life in the workshop somewhat less enjoyable. I always know winter has properly arrived when my fingers go completely numb after washing my throwing tools in a bucket of water.

On the plus side, I was happy with most of the pieces that came out of last week's electric firing. The dolomite and wood ash glaze on the textured, globular vase crawled alot but I think in an attractive way, to reveal the first layer of glaze. The crawling wasn't a big surprise as two layers of different glazes were applied without bisquing on the first layer ..  and it already had a layer of textured slip and a layer of grey slip underneath those!

This time the kiln was fired to cone 8 with a half hour soak, slightly lower than normal, aiming to get more and deeper pinholing on some of the dolomite pieces. It worked to some extent on the vases, although on the globular one, the high level of metal oxides in the first layer of glaze made the final coating of dolomite glaze flux and become quite glassy in places. This variation in texture and opacity actually appeals to me, so I plan to do more of this kind of thing in future.

I don't normally make plates, partly because they take up such alot of space in the kiln, unless you're able to stack them of course. With this one, I placed the seven-inch bowl (shown below) on top of it with clam shells in between. There were also shells supporting the plate so they've left their outlines fused into the glaze on both sides. I especially like the different ways the shells have interacted with the painted slip decoration on the top side, creating something which vaguely resembles a face. I usually buy frozen clams from the fishmongers in large bags, which is probably not the cheapest way to source shells for pottery, but it does mean I get to treat myself to spaghetti ala vongole from time to time!

Plate (front)

Plate (back)

Bottle vase, height approx 6.5 inches

Vase, diameter approx. 6.5 inches

Coffee cup

Bowl, diameter approx 7 inches

Bowl (underside)

Bowl closeup

Textured vase, dolomite and wood ash glaze, height 4 inches

Coffee mug

Carved sake cup

I'll be making some of these pieces available on my website over the coming days.

Thanks for reading!


Never give up, the best is yet to come.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Successful experiments with dolomite glazes!

I'm really growing to love the tactile, satin-smooth surfaces that dolomite glazes produce. When used over other glaze recipes and textures, they can also create interesting rivulets, pinholes and craters. Here are a few pieces from the last couple of electric firings, which on the whole were very successful:

Large vase, height 9 inches
Vase, close up
Hand-pinched dish
Hand-pinched dish interior
Hand-pinched, oval dish, approx. 5 inches long
Bowl, height approx. 3.5 inches
Bowl, height approx. 3.5 inches
One-pint tankard
Bowl, approx 7 inches wide
Bottle vase, height approx. 6 inches
Small coffee cup
Hand-built vase, height approx 7 inches
Carved sake cup
Vase, height approx. 8.5 inches

I'll be bringing these and many other pieces to the Olive and Stitch, artisan fair at the Civic Centre, Alsager, Cheshire this Saturday, 19th of November and the 17th of December:

If you happen to live locally or are passing through the area, why not drop by and say hello?

Thanks for reading!


Never give up the best is yet to come