Sunday, 22 January 2012

12.The Pot Book, the iPad & La Gomera.

Hello potters and friends,

Let me show you Alan's Christmas present to me this year.

'The Pot Book' by Edmund de Waal.

Fantastic! Emanuel Cooper wrote glowingly about it in one of last year's Ceramic Review Magazines, and he didn't exaggerate, it really is good. There are excellent pictures on every page giving us as good a view of each piece as it's possible to get from a photograph. And below each picture he gives some info about the potter, along with some technical information that is so often missing from other books or magazines.
It's a big, big book and I definitely recommend it.

But now, let me move from book to...  iPad. 
You may already know that British artist David Hockney has a new exhibition at the Royal Academy in London. Nothing unusual about that, except, it includes pictures he has created, first, on the iPhone in 2008, then he graduated to the iPad, when it became available in 2010. After reading about it, and because Alan has just bought an iPad, I got straight onto Google, looked at the pictures, and began searching for the App that Hockney used.

A David Hockney iPad Pic'

The App he uses is called BRUSHES, and it costs about £2.50 or around $3.

......and I've only had it a couple of days.

And I expect you'd like to see my efforts so far?  Now, don't expect too much. You need longer than a couple of days to get to grips with this. I do paint, and I do draw but, up to now, I've always used some kind of implement.  Like a brush. The tip of my forefinger is a whole new ball game. But anyway.... here goes....

Effort No' 1

Mixing the colours was a bit tricky, as you can see.
So then....

Effort No' 2
Tree in La Gomera.

This is a copy of a sketch I made in La Gomera in the Canary Isles just over a week ago. That's why I've been out of communication with you all for most of this month. 
The trip was a treat to mark Alan's retirement; or rather the beginning of it, and it was great fun.

Tourists haven't yet discovered La Gomera, unlike Tenerife that you can see in the mist across the water. 

The Banana Plantations. 
Their bananas can't be exported to the EU because they're told that they are not big enough nor straight enough, would you believe!

Me, looking back to Santiago. 

I wish I could say that I discovered some La Gomeran pottery, but as it is entirely a volcanic island, there is no clay to be dug. There must be a few potters there but I suspect that they make functional pots that are not sold to visitors. Not yet, that is.

So my first advice for 2012 is; buy The Pot Book,  and have a go with Brushes on an iPad. 
In the meantime I'll be warming up the basement for some new work.

Happy Potting Folks

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

11. Happy New Year 2012

Hello potters and friends,
Big news.......Alan is now officially retired from his work at the Open University.

Alan and I hosting lunch for his colleagues in a lovely, typically English country pub.

But he won't be kicking his heels. He has lots of plans for new maths writing, photography and a bit more travelling. We'll also see more of our 5 children and grandchildren who all descended on us, all at the same time, over the Christmas holidays.

Ralph with hand down Lonny's throat. Marlo and Gil on lead guitars and Raily on fiddle.

Somewhat exhausting but tremendous fun. Rosie took a break from silversmithing and threw herself into her other love - knitting. 

Her new baby nephew, Connor, got a knitted animal mobile for Christmas.

And here are two new faces that haven't been on my blog before.

My son, Leo, and his partner, Sinead.

They are both actors, like myself, and were passing through from their home in London to their new job at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. They both open in 'The Way of The World' in February.

So, as you can imagine, I downed tools and (as Alan would say) I cleaned my spade and took a break for a while. At our Open Studio sale (see video in previous post) I gave some clay to our neighbours' children and they made horses, a turtle and T-light holders while parents played safe with round ball hedgehogs. It all went really well and we had lots of people visit us and pick up a few Christmas presents.

So, what's my plan for this year?
I have two big sales events coming up. First is in May in the Glasshouse Studio in Jephson Gardens, in the centre of town, and the second is the Warwickshire Open Studio event in my home for two weeks in July. 
What has been going round my head is finding a different way to present my work, and this will determine what I make. My ideas have been centred on laying out my table as if laid for tea or dinner. So, my large bowls would hold fruit and table centrepieces would hold flowers. Then I would place cups, jugs, sugar bowls, spoon rests, olive dishes etc around the perimeter.  It's all about finding ways of catching the eye of the customer. 

Before Christmas I did a good clean up of my workshop in the basement ready for the new year and here are just a few tips that helped me while working last autumn.
  • If you only have small amounts of glaze, clean up containers with a rubber kidney. You don't waste any glaze at all this way as it wipes your containers absolutely clean.
  • I have a large but cheap lidded plastic box (the type for under bed storage). This works brilliantly as a damp cupboard for small shallow bowls, cups or jugs. Mine will stay damp for over a week without any added water spray. 
  • I buy in pots of wax resist which ruins all your brushes as it's difficult to wash off. However, if you rub a small amount of washing-up liquid into the brush then dip into the wax, you will be able to easily clean the brush and not do it any damage.  
  • A friend of mine just bought her first kiln and did not know about batt wash. At college a technician was there to load and fire the kiln so it's not surprising that firing a kiln was a mystery to her. So for any first time kiln owners, buy some powdered batt wash, mix a cupful or so with water to a cream consistency and paint a couple of coats onto your kiln shelves. If any of your glazes run in the firing the batt wash will protect your shelves. Without it your pots will stick to the shelf and only a hammer and chisel will remove them.
  • And finally, if buying-in powdered glazes, after adding water (a little at a time) always sieve the liquid in order to make sure that all the powder is well distributed. I use an 80 mesh sieve, bought from any pottery suppliers. If you don't sieve it, you could ruin a very good pot with a streaky glaze.
I hope you all have a very productive and creative year and I look forward to sharing my ideas with everyone in 2012.