October 31, 2011 § 5 Comments
This week I hit a little milestone with the blog, which has been going since March: 1000 page views. It’s a small but perfectly formed number and so I thought I’d have a giveaway as a thank you to all of you who’ve taken the time and trouble to read the blog.
Above is a picture of the beaker I’m giving away; if you’d like to receive it, please let me know by leaving a comment – and if there is more than one, I’ll pick a recipient out of a hat on Sunday 20th November.
Thank you again for all your support and for continuing to read my blog!
October 26, 2011 § 1 Comment
I followed a link today on Twitter from @NickAldridge at TateShots, part of the Tate Channel. The link was to a short film of Grayson Perry in his studio. The Tate Channel is a fantastic resource with artist interviews, talks and symposiums, films and exhibitions.
On the channel is a film of Callum Innes in his studio. In the film, Innes paints the most beautiful watercolour. I have loved his work since I saw an exhibition of his paintings at the Frith Street Gallery, in London, 15 years ago.
October 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
I’ll be selling my pots at the Peace and Craft Fair on Saturday 19th November. It’s a very well established event, so I’m delighted to be participating. Victoria Hall is a fantastic location, too. If you haven’t been to Saltaire, it’s well worth a visit. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with an impressive mill at its heart, which now houses the largest permanent collection of the work of David Hockney in the world. The mill is currently displaying a new exhibition of Hockney’s work, including three 27 foot-long paintings.
October 17, 2011 § Leave a comment
I have been having a dialogue with myself all week about the nature of ‘handmade’ and ‘mass produced’. It began with watching Steve Booton’s video, which you can also watch in the post below (27.09.11), then became more urgent when I came across Eric Soulé’s blog and this fantastic video of Paul Davis demonstrating throwing.
I love the freedom with which both Paul Davis and Steve Booton approach the clay; the way they use the clay as a material, play with it, manipulate it; in Steve’s case, cut it, poke it, slice it… There are few objects that I use or have used that are treated in this way. Generally, mass produced products are hard-edged, cold, emotionless and made in multiples that look identical. This is my experience of objects as I have grown up, that I have owned, held and used; and I’m sure the experience of many others. I have little experience of using objects that have been made by hand and, therefore, have little understanding of how to read their language, their individuality, their imprecision. So, I am now wanting to make things, pots, that are handmade and I have few reference points. I am wanting to make multiples and am trying desperately to make each one identical to the next because that is what I know. And, necessarily, I fail, which is frustrating.
So, it is a revelation to watch the way Steve and Paul approach the clay. I don’t want to make one-off pots or single tea bowls but I’ve been thinking about how to incorporate that approach within the domain of domestic repeat ware. I want to encourage people to buy a set of bowls or beakers but for the pots they buy to stand out as ‘handmade’, to speak of being made by the hand.
I had my first attempt at this this morning, at thinking differently about the clay, at trying to free myself up and open my mind. Previously, I had been trying to get the body of the beaker to be as straight in outline as I could get it to be and as smooth, and I realise how tentatively I had been approaching the clay. I can still produce multiples of the same size and shape but within that each one can be alive and have vitality.
This thinking coincides with re-reading David Pye and his excellent ‘The Nature and Art of Workmanship’. He is precise in his definitions but in a simplified form he talks about the ‘workmanship of certainty’ (mass production) and the ‘workmanship of risk’ (handmade). I also like his concept of ‘free workmanship’, workmanship that is done at speed but that remains alive and loses none of its quality.
October 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
What a busy day it was on Saturday at The Shipley Alternative. The Kirkgate Centre, where it was held, had clearly done their marketing well because it was buzzing all day. There was a nice mix of stalls and some lovely homemade food.
There is a strong craft scene here and a supportive and friendly environment. It was particularly fruitful talking with people and hearing what they had to say about my pots. Simple, functional, domestic ware for people to use everyday without being precious about it is what I want to make and I was encouraged to see that people responded well. And I had some sales, which is always bolstering. As it was my first event, I had intentionally limited what I produced, so that it was achievable, and I’m pleased that I did.
But I realized that if I want people to buy multiples – sets of bowls, sets of beakers – I will need to produce much more stock. I’m excited to be having a table at the CND Peace and Crafts Fair, in Saltaire, on November 19th, and I am bearing this very much in mind. I am also intending to extend my range by adding three more items: a milk jug, a larger ‘noodle’ bowl and a small mixing bowl with a spout.
I am in the process of writing down my stock needs for November and transferring this into a throwing, glazing and firing schedule; and I’m looking forward to getting into the workshop on Wednesday to get back at my wheel.
October 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
Packing up my pots for The Shipley Alternative tomorrow. I’m excited about it and looking forward to seeing whether I sell anything and how the pots are received. If you’re in the area, why not come along. Amongst other things, there’ll be clothes, books, jewellery, and art and craft for sale, and plenty of food and refreshments – a nice day out.