Wednesday 29 May 2013

The Joy of Raku Firing

I am all set up to do my Raku Firing demonstration this weekend at the Dorset Art Fair.
There is always something exciting and wonderful about this method of creating special glazes. Very Zen!
Each firing is different and each pot is unique. There is the fine line between brilliance and disaster, which we dance along - attempting to manage the chaos amid all the variable factors.

Sunday 26 May 2013

Throwing Up

I've been demonstrating throwing these replica mortaria at the Upwey Potters' annual exhibition, which started this weekend. It is part of the Artwey Open Studio event for the next two weeks.
A great chance to make some more stock - ready for the next wood firing.
Plus I am selling some wares to all the lovely visitors.
There are some more photos on the Upwey Potters' website at this link

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Urning a place in prehistory

This is a hand-built attempt at making a Glastonbury Ware urn. A reasonable copy that should look good when cleaned up a bit and fired.
This and other replicas are being made for the project at Hengistbury Head, more can be seen at the webpage devoted to it.
I had a great weekend at "Spring Tide", the event staged by the National Trust at Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock. Not as many sales as previous years, but much interest in what we were doing and a chance to make a couple more large urns.
The Launch of the Artwey Open Studios at the NAtional Sailing Academy went very well, together with the unveiling of the Giant Wall, Arwey's 2012 project.
Tomorrow we start setting up for the Upwey Potters' annual exhibition. My yurt will go up in the Village Hall's playground, as a display space for my ancient pots.
Also looking forward to the Dorset Art Fair on 1st & 2nd June at Kingston Maurward.
A busy time ahead!

Thursday 16 May 2013

Blending In

I've been blending up another batch of clay for making ancient pottery replicas, this one is a mixture of some old recycled clay, some found locally in Upwey and a bit of new commercial earthenware clay - with added special ingredients of some sand from Hengistbury Head, some fairly coarse hand crushed fired clay (grog), some crushed flint and a pinch or two of iron oxide. I have used it to construct by hand some replica Glastonbury Ware bowls, which I hope will come out looking OK.
I had a shock to find that the test pot that I made using the clay dug in Coombe Valley Road - which I'd fired in my electric kiln - had started to disintegrate because I had not removed all the small chunks of flint and they had taken a few days to take in some water from the air resulting in an expansion and conversion to a powdery nodule. I just hope that the seiving I did with the next batch of clay removed all of that troublesome stuff, otherwise I have waste a good few hours recently! The next batch is currently swinging in a farmers shop bag drying out in the breeze.

I am getting ready for next weekend - I am making pots as part of the Ancient Wessex Network team at "Spring Tide", run by the National Trust at Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock. It looks like the weather may be better than forecast a few days ago.

Last Saturday I went to a meeting of the Prehistoric Ceramics Research Group, hosted by Wessex Archaeology at Salisbury - it was a fantastic opportuinity to handle some real pieces of ancient pottery and talk to the archaeologists about it. They were also very kind about the pots of mine I took along - although, as expected, they prefered the slight seconds and firing rejects to the glazed pots I shown them.

Saturday 4 May 2013

Glastonbury Wares

I've been experimenting recently with the shapes and decorations of "Glastonbury Ware" - an Iron Age pottery type that has a distinctive shape and incised decoration, which has an echo of the swirling "Celtic" designs. This one may well be a design inspired by gold neck rings made of twisted metal strands with large globular ends.
This was thrown on the wheel, but I will also try making some by hand out of rings of clay joined together.

I have also been playing mud pies again, the local farmer dug some trial trenches next to my father-in-laws house, I guess to explore putting in some drainage. That threw up a load of fairly good clay which I selected some from. I have broken it up and left it to soak, then thinned it down to a slip which passed though a kitchen seive to remove the small flint grains. Now it is being dried out in plaster molds ready to be blended with sand and used to make more ancient replicas.
Take a look at the webpage to see some more details.