June 24, 2013 § 1 Comment

Well, I’ve done a week as a full-time potter and the novelty hasn’t worn off yet… I’ve had a number of people ask me how it is going and the word that keeps coming back to me is ‘transformative’. To be honest, this post is going to be rather obvious. For those reading this who are already full-time potters, you will know what it is like to spend each day (most days) in the workshop. For those not (yet) in that position, it is exactly as you might imagine it to be.


Time: that is the crucial element. Having that extra time works in a number of ways. The most striking way last week was that my fingers had time to connect with the clay; they had the time to investigate, to learn, to work out, to work with the clay. Previously, I had one afternoon (plus one evening at a push) each week to throw. I had to accept whatever was made in that session as the pots I was going to take to fairs or trade shows, good or bad. At each throwing session, it takes time for your fingers to feel the clay, so, if you only have one session a week, you just start to get that feel and then you have to stop – and that is it until the next week. Then the next week, it takes longer to connect with the clay and the next week longer still… So, to get to the end of a day’s throwing and realise that I can do it again tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after is a total revelation. It is transformative. I can see the results in what I have made this week already – I (my fingers) have learnt so much.


Time. I am working completely for myself. There is nothing, work-wise, between me and the workshop. It is up to me whether the business succeeds or fails. Paul and Lidia, from zincwhite, said to me that the crucial thing for them when they took the step to being full-time makers was that it made them take themselves seriously. It was not a hobby anymore – they had a business and they had to make it work, which they have done in spades. This excites me – the fact that I have to make it work. If I put the hours and the effort in, I am giving myself every possibility.


Time. I have so much more time to do things. This last week, on top of spending time at the wheel, I have photographed my pots. I have three online selling ‘outlets’: my own Big Cartel shop, Seek and Adore and Craft Finder. Because I haven’t had the time to photograph my pots properly, all three have been virtually redundant as streams of income. Seek and Adore specifically require pieces to be photographed on white backgrounds. Finally, I have had the time to take those photographs (85% anyway). I feel this is a major breakthrough, as I need all avenues open to me to make a living. It has been very frustrating not being able to update these sites. The job for next week is to actually update the sites and to begin to push sales.


Time. And I now have the time to start to deliver orders. Last week, I sent some samples off to London to a company called Albam, who were happy with what I sent them and said they will be placing an order this week. This week, I will be sending two orders off, one here in Saltaire, to the lovely ArtParade, the other to a fantastic gallery in Chester, called The Arc. Then I’ve got four more that I am going to try to deliver before the end of the month. This is also a major breakthrough, to be finally starting to deliver orders.

You can see what a difference time makes. It is transformative. I feel very fortunate to be in this position and I will do all that I can to remain here.

Just to let you know that I have started to post on Instagram a daily (hopefully) workshop photograph documenting some part of the working day. If you are interested, you can find them here.



June 17, 2013 § 7 Comments

So, the recipient is…



Yesterday morning, my assistant (my beautiful daughter, Scout, who has to be the best helper that ever there was!) and I put all the names into the mug and drew one out. That name was:


Yazury, I will put the mug in the post to you this week. Please can you send me an email that includes where to send it.

Thank you, again, to all those who wrote a comment – I shall have to think of a reason for another giveaway…


June 10, 2013 § 2 Comments

I got back from the Contemporary Craft Festival late last night, tired but happy. Having experienced it now, I can totally see why so many makers say that it is the fair they enjoy most in the year. We were extremely lucky with the weather, scorching – by all accounts, it flooded last year. The event is a country craft fair of the highest calibre, so there are exhibitions from the local craft guilds and associations; workshop demonstrations; talks; lovely children’s activities, including an amazing Punch and Judy show. One of the strengths, I think, is that all these activities take place in a relatively small, confined area, which means that there is a constant audible hum of appreciation. One visitor likened it to the sound of the hum at Lords’s cricket ground on a hot summer’s afternoon.


The event is extremely well supported. Above is a picture of the queue at opening time on the Saturday morning. The Sunday was the quietest day but the other two, and the Private View evening, were packed pretty much all day.


This was the view from my stand.


Clive Bowen was demonstrating just outside my tent. You can see his wheel with a large jug that he has thrown. He is standing behind it in overalls and hat. He was charm personified, a lovely man, and I bought one of his jugs as an inspiration piece. I will post a picture of it another time.


This was the children’s area.


You could have a go yourself.


The TALKtipi, I think it was called.

It’s a great show for makers. The organisers looked after us extremely well. They put on a cheap campsite, which was great because that was where most of the makers stayed. So, rather than at most fairs where makers go their separate ways at night, we all went to the chip shop together, sat around the camp fire, and enjoyed a wonderful ceilidh. We also went up onto Dartmoor for some stunning views and a peak at the sea in the distance.

I shall definitely be applying again and hoping very much that I am selected.

Just to say, thank you so much to all those that left comments for the giveaway, which is now closed. The contributions were fantastic, people are making such wonderful things. I will draw out a recipient this week. 


June 3, 2013 § 2 Comments

Firstly, thank you for the wonderful array of comments from the last blog post. People are making myriad things from ware-shelves and wedging tables in preparation for making to jelly fish made from umbrellas and memory quilts. It all sounds fascinating and it’s lovely hearing about all the incredible work going on.

I’ve learnt a lesson over these last few weeks. I’ve been glazing a lot of pots in preparation for the shows I have been doing recently and have been using a bowl that I tested a green glaze out on what seems like ages ago.

Green bowl

Initially, I had wanted to have four glazes for the British Craft Trade Fair – blue, black, old white and green – but at the last minute decided that I didn’t like the green and didn’t take any green pots with me. The glaze is the same base glaze as my other glazes with 3% Copper Oxide Black added. The week before the BCTF, I was frantically trying to think how I could use it and randomly added 1% nickel to the large bucket I had already made up to see if that made it any better. It didn’t – it just made it dirtier.

But now, having had the bowl sitting on my shelf and then using it, I love it.


It breaks in that wonderful rich way the other three glazes do and is full of depth and interest, ranging from really quite bright grassy green spots to dark forest green.


I think the problem I had with the glaze was that on the outsides of the pots it lay very thin and, consequently, looked insipid and didn’t feel good to the fingers. So, instead of looking at the wonderful insides of the pots I saw the rather pathetic outsides. I was in a rush trying to get everything right for BCTF and felt the pressure was on.


You can see what I mean on the bottom of this jug.

What I’d really like to do now, though, is go back to this glaze and try to make it work. I am happy with how it functions on the insides of the pots, therefore I don’t think I want the glaze to be any thicker, as that would alter dramatically what happens in the hollows. So, that means doing some tests to see how long to dip the outsides. If only I hadn’t added that 1% nickel! But maybe the answer is to try the nickel version first in case that comes up with some unexpectedly beautiful results – and I wouldn’t want to miss out on those by having my eye taken by a different prize.

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