Sunday, 29 April 2012

Meet Muriel!!!

Great excitement – I did it – got a Maggie (Thompson) Mobile!! A Citroen Romahome – aged 21years – not quite all in working order but fixable. In really good nick inside – barring not being able to work fridge and cooker and electric points!! Engine runs well (touch wood) said to do 45-50 to the gallon, can go up to 70 without exploding or imploding but prefers 50-60mph.

I picked her up on the 11th July and had her in the garage by the afternoon as she has a driver side window that keels over like a drunk when opened, a petrol cap that does not lock relying instead on luck to keep the diesel in the tank and a windscreen washing system that makes noise but little else. NB none of these additional features were in the Ebay advert. I think I was a bit done over but she was remarkably well priced and turned her puppy / orphan eyes on me and I couldn’t leave her behind to suffer possible further neglect!

The garage were happy to service her and generally check the ‘found’ faults and try to find the unfound…… including the wrong light-bulb, both front lights independently mobile and in need of replacement – at some time – not possible to mend errant window as parts no longer made – only solution replacement door! and dire warnings of imminent spontaneous combustion of engine if the timer belt had not been replaced. The petro cap had to be a ‘special order’ which can’t be picked up until the weekend.

Maiden voyage began 19th July traveling to York via Sunderland then off to Oxford Art in Action at Waterperry Gardens on 20th.

Sent pictures of Muriel to my kids and Bella (graphic designer) sent them to colleague and college /flat mate, Nicky, who has created the GI Jan Mobile! I think I will stick with Muriel as befits my aspiration to be calm and sedate (OK I only said it was aspiration!! We can all dream….)

What happened to Muriel subsequently???

2 lovely nights, sleeping in my little Muriel bed, at Oxford Art in Action followed by journey back to Newcastle for Becky Nicklin’s wedding on a beautiful hot day terminating (literally!!) after an hour in a traffic jam with Muriel’s engine blowing up!!
Returned to Newcastle, thanks to the RAC, to a garage that quoted £1,500 to £2,000 – nearly as much as poor Muriel cost me! Thankfully rescued by the very lovely Peter who resuscitated her for about £500!

Very hot day, lots of traffic as Black Saturday - all France on the road!!
Next voyage - France – managed over 8oo miles and a very pleasant night near Rouen – when, after half an hour in a hot traffic jam, Muriel died again!! 
Parked at Aire - managed to get her started......
.... but not for long!

We were rescued by the gendarmerie – who peered under the bonnet and inhaled deeply and shrugged their gallic shoulders and shook their Gitane smoking heads, as did the guy who picked Muriel up – diagnosis of dead engine predictions of 2 – 3000€ to repair. 
Thanks to RAC we were taxied for a night (back northwards 90km!!) as there were no hire cars available (it was black Saturday – everyone in France was on the road!) to a very nice hotel thanks to RAC – next day we were given a hire car for the whole of our holiday and Muriel was transported back – thanks to RAC (again!!!) – a few weeks later. The French prognosis was considered a little inaccurate by the very lovely Peter who tended towards a poorly radiator and suddenly Muriel – a rather feline Citroen (in terms of number of lives) – was revived!
She now awaits some new panels from a younger model that hasn’t fared quite as well and – with luck it will be Scotland for the Scone Castle Show.....

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Garden a la Med en Lodeve.........

 Visit to Notre Niveau, Lodeve ......

....looking north

...looking south

Had a lovely couple of  10 days over in Lodeve with Coralin Pearson - artist and garden designer, and Sue Crame - Potter and florist! We.spent the time gardening - preparing the lower terrace at Notre Niveau. The weather was fabulous - even the rain cam at the right time to soften the ground for planting. 

Lower terrace before....

.... during...

... at end of visit - still needing but there are plants!!!

The big bad news was that my terrace wall that had collapsed over a 2 metre stretch had not been fixed - instead another 5 metres had fallen - a very expensive piece of reparation to be carried out!

Quelle Horreur!!!

Doesn't time fly......

Long time since I posted and several attempts have disappeared into the ether ....
However, I aim to get this one published!
So much happened - now approaching final hand-in - 5 weeks to go and I have decided not to do the 2 years to full degree but rather get on with it! So much to do in ceramics and in exploration of the world!
Will try to do a blog at least once a week and put in some 'catch-ups' of big events.

For today I'm off to the gym as part of the get fit campaign to do the Great North Run in September - and of I can do that without causing major harm - maybe the Berlin marathon.....
Then to College to see the results of latest testing for final work - of which more at a later date... in the meantime here's a taster

Just  managed to loose the lot again - this time I'd copied it!!!!

Going to cut losses and leave the conversation in the air and anyone who wishes to find out the metaphor within the work - pray I get back to the site within your lifetime!!!!!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Cleaning kilns!

  I spent two interesting days at Jim Malone's pottery in North Cumbria cleaning his two chamber kiln in preparation for firing. You can find out more at Jim's site at

Info taken from Site:
My kiln is an Oriental climbing kiln of two
chambers, This is the fourth I have built,
each kiln I have constructed has been
modified according to my experiences with
the preceding kilns, hopefully retaining the
virtues of the earlier one's whilst eliminating
some of the faults.
My latest kiln is fired using a combination
of oil and wood. The first chamber (around
50 cubic foot) is fired with two oil burners up
to 1000° C at which point I may finish off with
wood or oil (depends on the glazes) on
reaching cone 11 in chamber 1, chamber 2
is around 1000° C from the exhaust heat alone.
Chamber 2 is finished off with wood only.

Jim's Gallery

The yard
Barn at Jim's housing the kiln
Oriental climbing two chamber kiln
Kiln shelves in chamber
Close up of wall
Pointing first chamber 
The first step was to remove, clean and stack the kiln furniture and the next was to clean the loose mortar from the walls. I then had to fill all the deficits and repoint the walls. It was fun - and very hot!!

Pots outside the kiln

Chimney of kiln

The weather was fabulous - outside the kilns - but the bonus was coffee, tea and lunch times with Jim and his partner Janice in their lovely garden.

How lovely - a lot of hard work but it is a beautiful! 

I also got to look at Jim's studio and his latest work that he is preparing for Goldmark - 200 exhibition standard pots!

Wheel for turning

Jim's wheel 

Glazed and patterned bowls ready to fire

BIG vases
Beautiful bottles!

I hope to be able to get to Jim's for the firing and will - of course - blog! 

Ooooops!! Been AWOL!!!

How time does fly so much to blog about so little time to blog it! Where to start!

A quick summary:

Course modules this year started problematic and finished on a bit of a roll!

Surprisingly my research essay (Module AD210) was pretty well received - I will try to add it as a blog later - tried and couldn't get pics in.

Sadly, I didn't do as much as I had hoped for the practical but was quite pleased with what I did do and I passed and that is all that is required! The theme was the Male and Female Torso, I wanted to see how minimal a form I could create that would be recognised as male / female - well that's what the aim in the end was - I went through a very long journey to simplify the project to a manageable size.
I started with pieces hand modeled and hollowed.

Hand sculpted porcelain pieces - male and female

I then looked at thrown and altered creating a 'spine' and considered following the route of looking at the spine - an essential but neglected area of our body along with feet!

 I first created a healthy figure and then looked at the effect of deforming the spine

This started to get a bit complex when assistance came in the guise of Manga - I found a book in a wonderful bookshop in Bowness - OK I was slacking and had a wonderful week there in December with friends. It was freezing but sooooo lovely!


Walking down from Wansfell...

 to Windermere with amazing.... inversion.

 I digress ....... Manga.... there was the answer - very simple, basic body shapes from which my final pieces emerged.

Final pieces thrown and altered superwhite

Work placements were great and I will blog on the placement with Jim Robison and Christine Hester-Smith. Helped to build kiln at Ray Pearsons and helped Jim Malone clean up his kiln pre-firing. Adele Davison has a lovely blog on the kiln building with Ray ( - I will try to do one to complement hers.