Saturday 22 November 2014

Becoming Festive Later

The Dorset Pottery Group annual show went fairly well, some potters (me included) did OK, some thrived less well. I'm glad to think I'll not have to organise the event again, having retired!

Locally in Upwey we are staging our annual potters' festive offering on 6th & 7th of December, unfortunately the actual potters will be a bit thin on the ground due to a variety of good and bad excuses, like being out of the country or recovering from surgery. However a few of my friends have agreed to boost the items on display by joining in, so it is becoming an Ancient Wessex Network festive event!

I've been working with Mark Vyvyan-Penney over the last few weeks using our bronze casting furnace to experiment with more modern techniques than our usual ones to create some bronze castings. I've enjoyed the opportunity to do something a bit different, although I have also set myself the task of experimenting with different blends of materials to make the cruicibles and lost wax molds.

Friday 7 November 2014

Pots in the Gallery

I've been displaying my pots at Bridport Art Centre for the last couple of weeks, in the Dorset Pottery Group's annual exhibition.

The feedback has been good, both for the show as a whole and my personal display.

We've been doing this show for a couple of decades now, it still appeals to the visitors.
More details at the group's website :-

This will be the last show that I organise for the group, having announced that a new team needs to take over the management of it. Why should I have all the fun?!

I need to do some careful thinking about what to do with my pottery in the future, starting with better and more ways of selling it!

January will see my ancient pots featured in The Creative Gallery in Wareham, run by Fiona Kelly and her team. See the website for details :-

Now back to doing my accounts for the Tax Man! A task I save for damp autumn days.

Monday 20 October 2014

All Fired Up Again

We unloaded the wood fuelled kiln today, a splendid batch of pots emerged after a well behaved firing over the weekend.
It was the hotest firing we've done so far, so the glazes were more mature than ever. Unfortunately a few pots cracked in the heat - mainly the thinner ones which distorted and broke.
The whole story can be seen at the archive webpage :-

So now on with sorting out the Dorset Pottery Group's annual exhibition at the Bridport Arts Centre, which opens this weekend. I hope it all comes together well, it seems a lot of effort at times!
Details at :-

Monday 13 October 2014

Broken Promises

I have recently got into the "mail order" business, sending replica pots via Parcel Force to far flung places. However as most of them arrived broken, I am ceasing that sort of activity, which I always knew was a silly idea! Shame because there is a demand for ancient replicas thanks to the change in the school curriculum. I will still do commissions for larger quantities that I can deliver myself, or can be collected by the client - from my studio or an event.

I have started loading the wood fired kiln again, with pots made during my recent open studio event.
I hope I can avoid the rain showers and get finished by Friday evening, when we aim to start firing.

The beakers shown have been biscuit fired and glazed with my standard Cornish Stone and Iron Oxide brown glaze, they filled the bottom layer.
Then came the bowls inspired by the local iron age pottery, these have been raw glazed with "Gunmetal" glaze, that will hopefully mimic the Black Burnished Ware appearance of the originals.

A batch of jugs almost filled the back section, with some space at the top for a few larger urns made at Corfe Castle in July. 

The front section will be loaded with pots made by Laurence Eastwood, my class students and some friendly potters.

I've been getting ready for the Dorset Pottery Group's annual exhibition at Bridport Arts Centre, which I also help to manage. We are featuring pieces by "famous" potters - on loan from members that have inspired them. I wonder how that will go down?!

Saturday 27 September 2014

A Round Trip

Neolithic Maggot Decorated Bowl
I had an interesting day on Thursday, visiting the Salisbury Museum, Wessex Archaeology, the Stonehenge Visitor Centre and the Somerset Heritage Centre.
I was delivering some commissioned replica pots, like the one pictured - which is a neolithic "maggot" decorated bowl, one of 5 that went to Somerset. More at this link.
I was very impressed with the new Archaeology Gallery at Salisbury Museum, which has a magnificent display of ancient pots, some in tall glass cases which makes examining them closely very much easier than usual. See the Museum website at this link.
Interesting chat with the folk at Wessex Archaeology, catching up on their activities and getting their thoughts about some of the experiments I have been doing or planning.

Neolithic beaker
I have also just sent off a couple of batches of replica pots for use in handling boxes, I hope Parcel Force is kind when handling them.
I was very happy with a pair of neolithic beakers, with impressed zig-zag decoration and small lug handles.

I have been finishing off the pots made during my recent open studio event, I think I now have enough to fill the wood fuelled kiln again, in time to fire before the Dorset Pottery Group's exhibition, which opens in less than a month!

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Almost Ready to Go

I'm just about ready at my home studio for the masses of visitors expected during the Artwey Art Trail on Saturday for a couple of weeks.
The displays of pots look great - as in nice to look at and large in number!
40 years of pottery making has produced a veritable feast for the eyes! I have enjoyed handling some of my less recent pots, seeing them afresh and appreciating where I have been and perhaps where I am going.
Now trying to drum up some interest, ah the joys of promotional activity.

Thursday 28 August 2014

Much more in Store

My daughter, Lottie, and I just about finished setting out my studio store today, sorting all my pottery and putting it out on the racks and temporary tables. As a graphic designer, Lottie has a great sense of space and colour, so her help has been really important to make "The Old Slaughterhouse" look impressive, not a white cube, but not a shambles like it usually is. So bring on the crowds of fans on the 6th September until 21st.
I am being left to sort out all my prehistoric pottery replica wares, which will be taking over the kiln room.
Meanwhile some of my pots are appearing at the Upwey Old School Village Hall, alongside the art of Mark and Jennie Vyvyan-Penney.

Thursday 21 August 2014


I've been busy re-organising my studio/shed ready for opening for the local Artwey Art Trail in mid September. It has been an interesting journey through my past - finding old pots hidden away, that will now see the light of day again and might even get sold!
I've also been active doing the graphic design for the Artwey printed map, now at the printers. Also doing the Artwey website and other promotional stuff.
I'm looking forward to the Art Trail, a chance to dedicate some time to pottery and hopefully meet up with some old friends and make some new ones. I just hope we raise enough interest to get the visitors to come along.
Meanwhile I am off to the Oak Fair at Stock Gaylard with the Ancient Wessex Network this weekend, hopefully another pleasant gig, doing ancient pottery bonfire demonstration, talking to the visitors and selling some wares. Also the social side is important - a chance to chill with friends in the evenings.

Saturday 2 August 2014

Working Holidays

Apologies for a lack of blogging recently - I've been away from interweb connections! And very nice it was too!
 We did another great wood fuelled kiln firing, quickest one yet with some good results.

I've been on a working holiday at Corfe Castle with other members of the Ancient Wessex Network, see details at this link :-
We had an interesting time, the weather was almost too good and I am still recovering from mild heat exhaustion, coupled with a summer dose of man-flu!
I've been hiding from the sun since my return - preparing the design for map of the Artwey September Art Trail which is coming along nicely now.
I have to bite the bullet very soon and start the massive re-organisation of my studio and stores to enable me to open to the public in September, for the first time ever. The aim is to stage a retrospective display of my pottery to celebrate my 60th Birthday and sell some of my back catalogue of pieces that have sat around too long, but are actually some the best pots I have ever made! Also some of the lesser pots to people with no appreciation of quality and no money!! Perhaps I should not say that?! My daughter, Lottie, has agreed to curate it for me, to add some style and thought to what might otherwise end up as a pile of crocks! Watch this space as the show comes together!

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Dorset Art Weeks seems almost over

I been very busy keeping up with the Upwey Potters' activities during the Dorset Art Weeks. This is a full-on time, preparing for it and then stewarding, selling and demonstrating during the two weeks.
We had a very successful time so far, with good visitor numbers, favourable comments and reasonable sales of our wares.
I ran my normal pottery classes during the show with the chance for my students to experience the delights of Raku glazing. The image shows that magic moment when the red hot pot hits the sawdust and gets a sprinkle of pixie dust to ignite the flame and suck out the oxygen to reduce the glaze and produce a lustre and create a crackle. We had some really great results.
Today Laurence and I took to the road and visited some other creative folk, always an inspiring activity - to see what others get up to and how they share the same issues.
Now for the last few days, enjoying the friendly atmosphere and helping people enjoy themselves.

Sunday 4 May 2014

More Maggots and Jugs

This is one of the bowls inspired by Neolithic maggot decorated wares, this was thrown using stoneware clay, it has been raw glazed internally and is drying out ready for firing in the wood fired kiln. This is one of a couple of dozen. I am very happy with how they turned out, with almost rounded bases and a distinctive repeated motif, made by impressing the clay with coiled rope.

I have also made a batch of jugs and "costrels" for wood firing. The costrels are inspired by the Verwood Pottery versions, also known as Owls because of the ear-like lugs. They were all purpose storage vessels, taken to the fields with small beer during harvest time. I prefer peddling them as jars that wise old women (witches) used to store their potions!
I like to think I am getting better at handles these days, but the jugs are still a bit on the heavy side, although I like that in a functional jug. These I think will be sold as cider jugs, (or for a couple of extra quid as a "Cyder Flagon"!), some of the shapes are also copied from the Verwood Potteries, although country potteries everywhere tended to produce this sort of jug, with a fat belly and narrow neck. They are nice and stable and easy to carry around because the centre of gravity can be almost below the point of lifting on the handle close to the top of the pot.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Maggot Decoration

I am currently working on a commission for some replicas of Neolithic bowls, which are coming together fairly well now. They are about 20cm diameter.
I have to do some experimenting to get the "Maggot" decoration to look right. This is made by impressing a cord into the softish clay to leave a short twisted mark. But to get the twist into a tight spiral the cord is wrapped round a thin central core.
There is also a knack to getting the clay soft enough to take the impression, but stiff enough to hold its shape while decorating it.

Watch this space for some images when done!

I have not really appreciated the beauty of most Neolithic pots before, I've made some "Grooved Ware" which tend to be buckets with scratches and dents on, but these are rounded bottom bowls with an interesting rim and the lines of vertical maggot decoration.
I think I may try throwing some modern versions for the next wood firing, which is coming up soon.

I have enjoyed my holiday from pottery over the Easter break, spending time with family and the snails in my vegetable patch!

We went to the opening of the Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre recently, a chance for my wife to see the "piles of rubbish or" display of my replica pots. All very good for the ego of a struggling experimental potter!

Thursday 13 March 2014

Making Light Work

So, I've been playing with a new bit of software "Lightworks" to edit video, here is my first rough of me throwing a pasta bowl. There is no soundtrack yet and it might be a bit speeded up (to minimise the boredom factor!). We will see if this is worth developing!
Meanwhile the Dorset Art Weeks proof for the Upwey Potters entry has arrived, much less text than we had submitted, but perhaps all the better for having bigger images. If you click on the image below it should pop up a larger version.

Friday 21 February 2014

Off To Wales

These black burnished wares are due to head for a Welsh museum - as soon as I can get them blackened. That is a task I have been putting off because of the stormy weather.
Planning still proceeding for this year's activities. Several interesting gigs are coming along.

Still not tackled the studio clearing up (see above excuse!)

Thursday 23 January 2014

50 Shades of Brown

Taking some time to plan ahead for 2014's activities - trying to sort out what is worth putting some effort into and what I should back away from.
The factors are sometimes a bit hidden, but enjoyment of doing the task has to be high on the priority list.
I've had a few interesting enquiries recently about my replicas of ancient pottery, that is certainly one avenue that I will be striding confidently along!
My studio store needs an overdue clean out - to remove some of the accumulated junk. Then a sort out of the remaining pottery stocks. A chance to reappraise my life's work! An opportunity to get rid of all the things that I should never have kept!
Some of the pottery will feature in my installation in April's "Could Have Fooled Me V", with a subtitle of "50 shades of Brown". This is our collective take on Contemporary Art, an enjoyable sideways look at how art is produced, described and perceived.

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Resolved and resolute

And so 2014 begins....
A few days are needed to do some planning for the year's activities, if I had a resolution it would be to be better prepared and ready for action as the events come around.
The Ancient Wessex Network should be going from strength to strength, we are starting to get more invitations to events and people are valuing our services.
The Dorset Pottery Group is undergoing a make-over - hopefully some more members will get involved in managing the activities.
The Upwey Potters are doing Dorset Art Weeks again, the image is the one I selected for the DAW guide, I hope that draws folk in!
My pottery classes are fully booked, with a few new faces and still a waiting list, which is healthy for me. I am looking forward to stretching some of the class members a bit more, getting them to learn a few more techniques.
I spent some of yesterday covering "Woden" with a large plastic sheet, securely tied down to keep the rain off it - we will not be firing this wood fuelled kiln for a couple of months.