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.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

A bit of a quickie - 10th Annual York Open Studios

I'm not sure I am yet capable of a 'blog quickie' but I'll have a go....

I am down in York at the home and studio of my friend and ceramic artist Trudy Weir who has opened both to the public with two fellow artists - ceramicist and silver jewellry maker, Ann Decker and printmaker, Rebecca Wright.

The YOS ( is celebrating it's 10 year by opening this weekend (2,3,4th April) and next (9,10,11th) - quite a burden for the participants and maybe a bit of a risk in these cash strapped times. There are also more artists too (well over 100) showing this year although some are choosing to do one weekend only.

The preview night on the 2nd was fairly quiet but things busied up on Saturday and today, Sunday, morning has brought out the sunshine and the public!

Ann and Trudy finished their mixed media degree from York in fine style bit gaining first class honours in 2009. Both mainly concentrate on hand building but Ann does some thrown and altered pieces and has recently started to make silver jewellry.

Ann's silver jewellry.....

                                               Ann's ceramic pieces - coiled and altered pots

Ann's little creatures!

You can find Ann at

Trudy's Ceramics

Trudy's work is made from overlaying clays and slips and stretching into slabs and made into sculptural pieces, trompe l'oeil . She works on a regular basis with Ben Arnup who took her on for a week as a student and they developed a mutual addiction! It has proved a useful ceramic collaboration and an even more valued friendship. I have been fortunate enough to have a 'placement' with Trudy which I will blog about later and had a day working with Ben and Trudy in Ben's basement studio - I even got to make a pot! So exciting!

More recently I met up with Ben and Trudy at the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle when they brought up their work for the Spring collection and attended the open evening which was really well attended and showcased a lot of artists new to the gallery.

Ben is an amazing ceramicist and a lovely person - check him out at:

On a walk around Open studio's I discovered 'micro-concrete ' which makes great outdoor  pieces

The micro concrete can be mixed with materials such as shells and really looks good. These are made by Richard Macknesss of urbis design (

Back to Trudy's and Rebecca Wright who makes intaglio prints - her etching are really lovely - her sketch books are amazing - pieces of art in themselves - check her out and

Sketch books

Ooops clockwise 90 degrees!

I treated myself to Jo Bagshaw jewellry ( a lovely book by Amy Husband, collage maker ( and a book about Glasgow School of Art at Janette Ray Booksellers  - just seemed right after my recent visit to the college.

Freya Horsley's landscapes are stunning with new paintings from her visit to the Himalaya's. ( as are Simon Palmour's photo's (www, Andrea Cundall has some really nice new ceramic pieces based on sound waves

I'll be back at YOS next week for more