Monday, November 11, 2013


Light ones, dark ones, plain ones, lustre ones, gold ones.  Large and small mugs. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Have you seen my new scarves?

All these are new.  There are more blue scarves this time as well as a rather nice one in greys with splashes of red. 

There are new designs too:  fuchsia, small triangles and feathers, to name my favourite three.

You can find some in By Local, some in Vivant and the rest will be at Another Beastly Art Exhibition starting on Wednesday.

If you see something you like here which you would like to buy, please email me to reserve your choice.  After the exhibition the scarves that were there will be available to buy on my website.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Tiny Textiles Treats

... are here at last.  Each one is approx 4" (10cms) square and they cost between £8.50 and £14.00.  Some are silk-painted with a little stitch detail, some are machine embroidered appliqué.

The mini-pics will have their first outing next Wednesday - (gulp!) - when Another Beastly Art Exhibition opens in Cheltenham.  Exactly what other work will be ready to exhibit then remains to be seen.  I am working towards a lustre firing so hope for exciting new pots, but I also have new canvasses to frame, posters, price labels and notices to print and everything to pack up, all by Tuesday afternoon.  So what am I doing faffing about making group photos and blogging ? .......

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Well, you can't say this post doesn't do what it says on the tin.

It's remarkably warm for the time of year, so we went for a little wander by the canal.  There are things in flower but I hadn't ever noticed before that they are all white.  I know the first flowers of the year are often yellow but had never noticed before that there were so many white things.

One photo is of course not flowers, but the sunlight on the leaves seemed to go with the general theme.

This blog needs to get back to its roots, I think.  I used to post photos or general news about our lives but then the blog got rather work-oriented.  People seem interested in that but increasingly there is less to say about it.  This is partly because I'm just not able to do the work I want to do.  Sciatica took care of a large part of the year.  It's mostly gone.  However, I now have a recurring rib injury - something I did when falling over last October which has obviously not healed properly.  Not sure what yet, but that doesn't actually make any difference to the fact that I can't make pots.

Stock is low, Another Beastly Art Exhibition is coming up in a few weeks and I wanted to make new ceramic work for that.  But it can't be helped.  I know rib injuries just take time.

In the mean time there is plenty else that needs doing, finishing off, labelling and packing all the textiles work I did while we were in France. 

In other news ...

I made my Christmas cake yesterday.  Regular readers may remember last year when the mice not only ate a lot of the stored cake but made their nest in it and as a final insult, left behind some bits of mortar and an old screw.  I have bought a new plastic cake box and this year's cake is now in it.  Because of the rib injury, I thought it wise not to lift the cake-in-a-box up onto a shelf above my head, so I asked M to do it.  When I asked him to put the box on the mouse shelf, he knew exactly what I meant.  The mouse shelf it shall ever be, then.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Hidden tasks

Another Beastly Art Exhibition is on its way, but not closely enough yet for publicity images, Facebook events or web pages.  Nevertheless, much of the work I've been doing over the past couple of months is in preparation for the exhibition in the middle of November.  No pots while I'm in France, but textiles work, cards and earrings can all be made here and the work you see at an exhibition has often been made months ahead, as I think I've mentioned here before.

As I was working away yesterday, I was aware that I'd achieved quite a bit but at the same time had nothing new to show for it and began to think about how much of not only putting on an exhibition but generally running an arts/crafts business consists of hidden tasks.  I've already created a slideshow which shows many of the hidden tasks which go into making a mug.  I sometimes have it running at exhibitions but if you've never seen it, you can also see it here on my website

Recently I've been meaning to tweet more than I have been doing as I realise my focus has been much more on Facebook and that this isn't fair to those who prefer Twitter.  I announced on Twitter that I would treat the beginning of September as a new year, since it heralds a new academic year, and therefore my new year's resolution was to tweet more often and more interestingly.

Ah.  You see what I did there?  Placed my own petard roundly centre stage and hoist myself on it.

Luckily a solution sprang to mind:  tweets about individual hidden tasks.  There are so many of them.  Just today I've done about five of them already.  I shall probably select the tasks somewhat randomly although they may appear in related clutches.

If you are on Twitter but not yet following me, then this is the chance you've been waiting for.  There's a link to my Twitter page just over there on the right of this piece.

To kick things off, today's hidden task is reproduced here:

#hiddentask no 1: design sticky label for packaging for new product and print out a sheet of them.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Is it Work or is it Play?

My husband asked me this as I was working on some new silk scarves.  He's creative with words and can build stuff but isn't artistic in the visual sense and that world is often a bit of a puzzle to him.  He said he thought that when artists were working it was often the same thing as playing.  It made me think.  Is it work or is it play?.  And just in case you're of the same generation as I am and are now hearing a certain tune in your head, here it is:  "Was it Bill or is it Ben?"

It's a tricky question to answer.  I sometimes feel a bit boxed into a corner with it.  People appear to be implying that because expressing my creativity in clay, fabric, paper, or whatever is really important to me it therefore isn't work in the sense that someone doing a dull paid job means by the word.  If you enjoy it, it isn't work.  I've even heard other artists express this idea, but I don't agree with it. The line between the two is difficult to place, though.

The difficulty is compounded by the fact that we use the word "work" as a noun meaning what might be described as "product".  I'll put that aside for another time.  For now, I'm just talking about the activity.

I earn my living through my work.  My work is mostly some kind of creative output.  But here's another complication: when I'm being creative, my sense of play is often present, particularly when I'm using colour.  It was because I was about to paint a silk scarf that I could see my husband's point: I was about to play with colour combinations.  On the other hand painting a silk scarf is something that takes care and can go wrong if you don't pay attention.  I find that textiles work in general takes a lot of concentration and am often more tired after silk-painting or machine embroidery than I am after making pots.

It's true that I have chosen the work that I do.  It was a free choice.  Most of what I do is very enjoyable, some bits are routine and some either just dull or actively unpleasant, such as pugging clay in the winter when my hands turn to ice. Packing up after a market isn't much fun, particularly if it's cold, windy or raining (or all three).  My job is like any other in this regard, it comes with better bits and worse bits.

Another factor is that if you are involved in the arts at an amateur level, by and large it's up to you what you do and when.  If you want to make your living at it, your artwork is always to some extent market led.  At the basic level, this means that if I want to sell silk-painted scarves, I need to make sure that the right numbers in the right colours are available at the right outlets to sell.  To do this, I may need to make more scarves in colours that don't excite me as much as others and then I'm more conscious of the work/play divide. 

So is making silk-painting scarves, mugs, greetings cards or earrings work or play?  You've probably realised the answer I've been heading towards:  it's work.  If I don't do it, I can't pay my bills.  Work which involves being able to play.  And although this may seem strange to some, one doesn't always feel like playing!

The scarves above are of a new small triangle design that goes with the newest triangle earrings, which you may remember my posting about earlier in the year.  Look here and scroll down to the bottom of the page for the triangle design.

Monday, August 5, 2013

We like sheep

Hands up those who are now hearing Handel's Messiah?  No?  Well, here you are then.

But I digress.  Yes, already.  There hasn't been nearly enough digression in recent blog posts.  The point is that I like sheep and so, it turns out, do lots of other people.  I suppose it would be the same whichever animal I thought of but it does seem that over the years I've been representing animals, I've chosen ones which then turn out to be really popular.

I started out earlier this week intending to begin some new chicken canvasses and found myself drawing sheep, as you do.  I've never tackled them before.  Some animals I represent in a very stylised way, like the fish and lizards, and some more realistically.  It turns out that sheep are to be in the realistic category.

It's also been a while since I blogged about the progress of any one piece of work, so I thought I'd take the opportunity, following on from my last post, to show a few stages in the sheep pictures.  I don't have the stages broken up as much as I did with the lizard vase (and the colours of the photos are not entirely accurate) but you can still see something of how a piece develops.

First, following on from my last post, here's the most recent page in my sketchbook.  These sketches were made from photographs of sheep (which I didn't take, in this case.)

Next, I painted the basic colour areas of the picture onto silk habutai.  After the paint was fixed and the outliner removed, the silk was mounted onto muslin (for some strength) and then the detail of the sheep was worked in machine embroidery.

Once I'd got the essential subject of the picture worked, I added some background.  The silk panel was then ready to be mounted onto silk dupion.  Here it is pinned on, ready for hand stitching.

After that, I added some more machine embroidery was added and now the piece is ready to be mounted on a frame and backed and prepared so it can be hung.

This is as far as you get now with the photos, though.  You'll have to wait to see the completely finished piece until Another Beastly Art Exhibition in November. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

From there to here

I first learnt about the design process at college. For each fashion or textiles project we had not only to produce the finished item (garment or length of printed fabric or constructed textile) but the artwork that led up to our finished design.  Well, that was the theory, anyway.  Anyone who has recently completed a course in art or design (or whose children have done so) will now be familiar with this as these days it is common practice.  In the early seventies, though, it was my first experience of this.  And it really wasn't how I worked.  So,  like others who worked as I did, having had the idea of what I was going to make soon after receiving the brief, I then worked on my 'design' folder, doing the sort of sketches, colour swatches, tests, etc that a person might have done to get the idea I ended up with.

This method never stopped me getting A grades, so it has a lot to recommend it.  Indeed, I used to teach it to GCSE students who found themselves knowing what they wanted to make at the beginning of the project and not having the first clue what was supposed to go in their design folder.  It seems to me that if you're lucky enough (and I am lucky in this) to get the best ideas just like that, you should go with them.  Not using those ideas and working painfully through the design process to arrive at something less pleasing would be silly.  This is not to say that if you find a better idea during the backwards design process you shouldn't go with it;  you should.  It's just that it never happened to me.

These days I do some preparatory sketches now and then.  I have a sketchbook for my textiles ideas.  My current one is about half full.  I began it in 1999

I know these were ideas for wallhanging borders.  I also know they were never used.

In those days I used to set aside a bit of time for some background work during the year, so the theory was that I had some designs I could call on later, but after a few years of not using most of the ideas I had sketched, I moved on to sketching things that I knew I was going to need and that's the way I've worked ever since.  Some years I haven't even added to the book at all.

At the end of my last blog post I included a photo of a black and white butterfly on a thistle.  A friend suggested that this would make a lovely scarf design.  I wasn't sure I was up to it as it's quite a different idea from the designs I've made so far, however it felt a little like a gauntlet being thrown down so naturally ....

And I'm really rather pleased with it. The design process in action. From there to here.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


One of the great things about the internet is how easy it is to see other people's work.  One of the drawbacks is how easy it is to see other people's work that is much better than one's own!  Or maybe that's a good thing too.

I've always enjoyed photography and within the family have been the best photographer.  Along the way I acquired a few friends who were very good indeed, but that was ok because they were still in the minority as the majority of people either didn't have cameras or didn't take many photos apart from at weddings and along with my other artwork.  Knowing people who took better photos gave me something to aim at.  I continued to develop my photography with a view to one day perhaps being able to exhibit some photos. 

With the arrival of digital photography and related technology came an explosion in the popularity of photography and with social media everyone's efforts can be readily available for admiration. I now have several friends whose photos are of such a high standard that I don't expect mine will ever reach those heights!  I've also seen thousands of photos taken by people I don't know, which just take your breath away with their precision and composition.  The place of photography in my artwork has been diminishing for the past five years or so and I think this is part of the explanation.

On the other hand, put me in a location with plenty of wildlife and a little more time than usual, and I get the bug again.  I love digital cameras.  It's normal for me to take 50 or more shots to get just one that I like.  I think I took 62 shots of the little lizard at the top.  (He's only about 15cms long, including tail) though a very modest 30 or so of the deer.

There were certainly more than 50 pics taken of goldfinches.  I took one batch the first day I found several feeding away at the thistles and the second day, having got at least some halfway decent shots, was braver with the noise I made and opened a window perhaps 5 metres away from them.  They didn't interrupt their feeding so I was able to snap away and out of the second batch got this one, which I'm really pleased with.

And finally, butterflies.  I'm still busy taking them.  If you've followed my blog over the years you'll have seen pics of butterflies before.  These are  three of my favourites from the past two weeks.  I love the sweet pea pic because there's a little bug in there as well as the butterfly.  I never tire of the black and white butterflies, and the last shot is one I'm really pleased with because of the overall composition of the picture.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Something old, something new

At a really stretchy stretch, you could say there is something borrowed about this and if you're feeling really elastic about it then the pink is a bluish pink.  And relax.  It really is just something old and something new.

I did a couple of these pieces about 4 years ago, this one and a landscape, using layers of organza and machine and hand embroidery.  They were fairly small and I had the idea of perhaps going back to an old style of work and putting them inside a mount and frame.  I had a bit of a play with the landscape one and realised the format just wasn't doing what I wanted and then there they both sat.  That's the old part.

Recently asked if I could provide something four inches square to promote the fourth birthday of By Local, I thought of this little chicken and found that with a bit of trimming it would be just the job.  Mounted over hardboard, backed and ready to hang, this is a format that really works. 

I'm hoping to go on to work on a lot of little mini-pics, in a variety of techniques, some maybe silk-painted images, some machine embroidered and perhaps some appliqued like this one.  There's a big gap between ideas and reality, of course, and I don't know when they'll actually happen, but I'm hoping that mini-pics can be made at a really affordable price - difficult to achieve in hand-made work, particularly textiles.

Mini-pics: tiny textiles treats.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dolly and Holly and Molly

This is Dolly.  My mum made Dolly when I was probably a little less than two years old. Apparently mum propped her up on the sofa and when I came in I went straight up to her and said "Jane's dolly!" so it's just as well she was. Her dress and hat (a little moth-eaten now, I see) were made from remnants of Mum's coat material. Mum always made her own and my clothes and I'm sure I get my connection to textiles from her.  She says now she doesn't think Dolly was ever washed, so she's done pretty well.  The greyish patch on the forehead is as much worn as grubby.  


I wouldn't go anywhere without Dolly for many years.  I suppose she was in effect my teddy or comfort blanket.  Later I had first a baby doll and then a girl doll, both of whom I liked to dress in different outfits but Dolly is stitched into her clothes like rag dolls often are.

I wanted to make a rag doll for Holly, our granddaughter, but when I looked for patterns I came across one for a proper doll that really appealed to me, not least because the website told me that clothes for an 18" "American Girl" doll would fit her.  It seemed a little early for a proper doll for Holly but I thought I could make the doll while off work and then she would be ready for when she was needed.  In the mean time, though, Holly took a fancy to another child's doll's pram and now has one of her own and her mum decided she might well be ready for the doll earlier than we'd thought.

So I made Molly.  It was a really therapeutic project, something I really wanted to do and had plenty of time to spare for because I couldn't work.  I love miniaturised things anyway so had great fun making the clothes and eventually the shoes.  To my great surprise, Molly stands up on her own in her shoes.  And here she is:

And here are Holly and Molly meeting for the first time. 

I am so pleased to learn that Holly and Molly are already getting on really well.  Holly can do her own shoes up now so she also takes Molly's shoes off and puts them back on.  She wheels her round and round the garden in her pram and goes and holds her hand when she is standing up. 

I had such fun being inventive about the clothes - did you know that one pair of adult socks makes one pair of tights or one t-shirt for an 18" doll?  Or that a child's vest is exactly right to make proper pants for a doll?  No, I thought not.  Here is Molly in her authentic-fabric pants and the rest of her outfit laid out in front of her.  You can imagine that I am already planning her next outfit.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

And now for something completely different ....

Just in case you feel disappointed that the title of this blog does mean just that - that I'm writing about something completely different from my usual subject matter - here is a gratuitous link: And now for something completely different

However, the real point is that this piece of writing came out of doing a survey for a friend's research.   As I've mentioned, I do like to write but have to have something to write about, so I really enjoyed the exercise because the topic came from someone else.  I hope some of you may enjoy reading this too and if you would like to take part in the research yourself, I'm sure Sean would be grateful.

"Dingly-dong, dingly-dong, dingly-dong, dingly-dong, dingly-dong, dingly-dong, Ding! Ding!"  I only need to hear or even imagine hearing these glockenspiel chimes again and I follow automatically with "Are you sitting comfortably?  Then we'll begin." and I'm back in a certain room with certain memories.  Being a child of a family who moved about every couple of years, I must have heard the introduction in at least two other places but this is the one which is instantly conjured up by the sound memory.

It is about 1959 and I'm five.  We live in an army 'married quarter' in Germany.   Lunch is of course finished, always being at one o-clock.  We had it in the kitchen as usual.  Dad has gone back to work and it's just Mum and me, or maybe a friend has come round to play.   It's nearly quarter to two.   I've been playing with my electric train set on the dining room table.  When you switch the dial on to start the train you have to do it slowly and carefully, not suddenly, and there's always a buzz at the beginning before it moves to the quieter sound made as the train gets going. If you don't do it right with the buzz at the beginning and it's too fast, the train can derail straight away and you have to balance it back again onto the tracks.  I'm not always good at that and have to wait till an adult has time to come and fix it so it's important to get it right so play isn't interrupted.  The buzz before it starts is a good sign.  But once Mum comes in to the room I know it's time to stop.  I want to go on playing but at the same time it's important to be sitting down before the dingly-dongs begin.  It's a ritual, a sort of good luck thing, though I don't actually think of it in those terms.  But I have to be sitting cross-legged on the carpet before the dingly-dongs. I sit staring at the huge Grundig radiogram in the corner of the room.  You have to sit there looking at it to listen.  You always have to look at the thing you're listening to.

I hope Mum has remembered in time because sometimes she's a bit late. I always try not to be.  I won't know until it's warmed up.  When she switches it on its window lights up with a warm yellow glow and you have to wait for the sound to gradually build up.

Then the programme begins.  It's always in the same format, songs, stories and poems for small children.  Mum does't always stay in the room but the programme is called (as those of you of a 'certain age' will by now have realised) "Listen With Mother.  And for those of you who are of that certain age, here's a little reminder:  What memories does this bring back for you? 


Monday, April 15, 2013

By popular request

I don't normally do by popular request.  There are all sorts of things I could make that people would buy but generally I try to stick to making what I want to make.  Here's an example of how you can do both!

Some people had commented that my earrings were too long and dangly for them, and didn't I make any smaller ones.  Well, these aren't really what you'd call small, but they are smaller than the others, at just 3cms from the end of the ear wire to the tip of the earring.  Once I had the idea for the shape, I could see that it lent itself to being slightly smaller than some of the others.  All my earlier designs are 4.5, 5 or 5.5cms long, so this does go some way to please those with shorter necks (as I understand that's the reason people want shorter earrings.)

The next idea I had worked out shorter than I expected, too.  These are certainly not as delicate as the kite-shaped earrings, but they're still only 3.5cms long.

Finally, some that are similar to the above (also about 3.5cms), which are really delicate and pretty and then some that are completely different (3.2cms.).

I like all of the new designs but the orange ones here at the bottom are possibly my favourites.  I'd keep them, except I can't wear orange.

Monday, March 11, 2013

What price experience?

On Saturday I put the wrong set of pyrometric cones in the kiln when I packed it.  The ones that went in were for my high-temperature firing.  The kiln was loaded with pots glazed in oatmeal, which is fired to a lower temperature.

I only realised my mistake when I was wondering why the kiln was taking so long to come to temperature and I suddenly remembered what I'd done.  Cones are how I know what heat-work has been done to the pots, so they are of vital importance.  I rely on them.  The pyrometer shows climb and fall and what it shows is roughly related to the temperature inside the chamber but recently the figures had been changing dramatically and after a repair to the pyrometer I didn't know whether it would behave as it had recently or before it started to go wrong.

So I had to make a judgement about when to stop the firing, based entirely on my own experience of the kiln, together with some guesswork about the pyrometer.  Too hot and the colour would be wrong.  Underfired and the pots would be unusable.  One can refire but that has its own risks.  There are a lot of pots in a kilnful.

Front shelves

This is what greeted me when I opened the kiln this morning.  These pots look exactly as they should.  The kiln has been fired to the optimum temperature.  Right on the button!

I am, of course, mightily relieved.  But I'm also really proud of myself.  This is the best result I could have hoped for and it comes as a result of my own judgement.  I have a lot more useful experience as a potter than I sometimes think I do.  What price experience?  Several hundred pounds worth of pots in this case. 

As self-employed, sole trading artists I think we often forget the value of experience.  "I could do that" is often heard from visitors to craft markets and the like when looking at handmade products and then looking at the price.  And it's possibly quite true.  However, my experience means I can more or less reliably produce the items I'm asked for, time after time.  It also means I work much more quickly than someone who is not working full time at it and what price experience in this case means that I'm able to charge a lower rate than otherwise for my products because I'm reasonably fast at making them.  And it means that if things go wrong I stand a good chance of being able to fix them!

I run occasional workshops in silk-painting, free machine embroidery and other textiles skills and recently have been doing some tuition sessions on a one-to-one basis and as it happens, I've been thinking about place of experience in this work too.  The fact that even people who have a flair for the work (which my students do) sometimes need tuition is not because I'm better at it (I'm not sure I am) but because of what I have learned in my many years of experience, both of the materials and skills themselves and about how people learn to use them. Experience is what I am being paid for as a teacher.

What price experience?  Possibly more than I'm asking!

Back shelves

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

J is for Juggler

Look carefully and you'll see a letter J bottom left of the mug, blue on green.  Then even more carefully and you'll see a silhouette of a juggling figure and three juggling clubs.

Well, I did say you had to look carefully.  I made this mug many, many years ago, at a guess probably about thirty years ago.  At the time I was attending pottery summer schools each year at Ridge Pottery.  I spent my weeks there each summer trying out different decorating styles as my skills increased.  This one uses slip.  The juggler and clubs are made by wetting newspaper cutouts of the shapes, attaching them to the pot before dipping in blue slip  The newspaper peels off when the slip dries out.  The letter is painted on through a newspaper stencil.

I might have got into more slip decoration eventually but the particular clay, glazes and firing method I use don't respond well to dipping in slip, so this was one idea which fell by the wayside.  I have a feeling that that particular year I made three or four others of these for friends as presents.  But it's a long, long time ago. 

In the mean time, though, J is for juggler in the sort of working life I've built up.  I like all the different components and mostly do manage the juggling well.  Today, though, is one of those rare days when the clubs all fall to the ground.

What with making the Hen Portraits, putting on Another Beastly Art Exhibition and a week of tidying loose ended jobs along with fitting in a number of teaching sessions, I haven't been in the pottery for several weeks.  The situation is becoming more pressing as pots are needed that will take a few weeks to produce.  So the week ahead was well planned.  Two teaching slots on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the pottery all day, Thursday cooking and arranging the house for a bring and share, Friday teaching first thing and handles on mugs made on Tuesday and on Saturday I'm going to be attending my first ever school reunion.

The clubs all fell to the ground when I found that the clay I thought was kept just right in an old fridge had gone hard.  New clay much too soft and will take a day sat out in a heated pottery. 

Not enough raw materials for a spontaneous glaze mixing sessions.

Sewing machine booked in for servicing today so couldn't finish a couple of projects which would have been usefully tidied out of the way.

So, failed juggling.  I'm finding useful things to do, of course.  Putting together an order of glaze materials, for one!  Another couple of orders for silk-painting supplies.  Packaging up an order to go in the post.  It's not the same, though.  I really, really wanted to be making mugs today.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Hen Portraits

Well, ok, just one Hen Portrait.  There are seven of them, though, and you'll have to come to Another Beastly Art Exhibition to see the rest.  I'm rather pleased with them.  They were somewhat fiddly - the white section in the middle is 6cms square - and done by silk painting and free machine embroidery.  But they're rather fun, I think.

Friday, February 1, 2013

It's a funny time of year ...

... to be preparing for a big exhibition, but I am.  Followers will be familiar with Another Beastly Art Exhibition but I should probably explain briefly to new readers (hoping there are some!) that Another Beastly Art Exhibition has been a group event running first annually and now occasionally since 1999 involving me, jeweller Hazel Morris (Arkane Jewellery) and painter and printmaker Nat Morley.  We used to exhibit in Painswick but for various reasons (including the obvious one of venues becoming unavailable) we won't be there again. 

This year we're really excited to be exhibiting at Nature In Art, a fabulous museum and art gallery dedicated entirely to ... well, work it out.  They have permanent exhibits, big touring exhibitions and other events, of which Another Beastly Art Exhibition  is one, setting up on Monday, open from Tuesday.  Since we will be taking it in turns to be sitting in the exhibition we're also billed as being artists in residence.  (Follow the link to see full details of our exhibition, including which days each of us will be there.) I've been artist in residence at Nature In Art a few times and people do like to come and chat to find out about the person behind the artwork.  We're hoping there will be lots of visitors because the touring exhibition which will be there at the same time is the Wildlife Photographer of the Year. 

So, as I say, it's a funny time of year.  Generally at this point I'm recovering from autumn markets, collecting what I laughingly call my wits and pondering on new ideas.  This year, though, I was straight back into the pottery making beastly dishes and firing them and the vases that I've been making on and off for a year or more.  My showroom is now full to bursting with fish and lizards.  You can have a sneak preview of one of the vases now, but you'll have to wait for the exhibition to see the rest:

Back and front views, obviously.

Then, as heralded by my last blog post, I had planned to work on new canvasses.  Unfortunately, the ideas I'd had last summer were just too far away and I couldn't get back to them in a hurry.  I thought if I spent an afternoon tidying my studio it might help.  This turned into an entire week of tidying, cleaning, throwing out masses of rubbish and freecycling a lot of other things and moving things round a bit.   This was much more the sort of thing I would expect to be doing at this time of year and in fact it really did free me up so that this week I have been working on a group of new, tiny canvasses.  I've finished the creative part.  Now I just need to attach them to their stretchers, saw up backing board, attach it and hanging hooks.  That shouldn't take too long.  However, I also need to finish re-painting my display kit (shelves, boards, blocks, etc), make a few greetings cards to top up the most popular ones, make sure I've got all my publicity literature printed out, make labels for all the textiles pieces and pack everything up.  I've got three days, including today.  I think it should be possible so long as I stop writing this and go and get on with it ......

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Blank canvasses

In a way I see every new year as a blank canvas.  I've written before about how I love the structure of times and seasons and a new year always looks like an opportunity to me.  Of late new years have been opportunities to catch up with work which then haven't turned out as I'd hoped.  In 2012, though, I got my general health back.  I hadn't really realised how much of it I'd lost until it returned!  Almost immediately after I was recovered from surgery I fell over hard on the pavement, sustaining an injured tendon in one place, cartilege in another and ligament in a third.  These injuries haven't really healed much, to be honest,  but I'm still well.  Well, but injured.  There's a huge difference.

During the autumn we worked really hard at doing lots more markets, since the permanent outlets I'd been selling in started closing.  I say we because I'd find it really hard going without the work done by M as roadie and pot shifter.  My showroom is upstairs so for any event the work has to be packed up, boxes brought downstairs and into the car and then afterwards carried upstairs again.  It's heavy work and I'm so grateful that I don't have to do it all myself.  Anyway, amongst the markets I also just ploughed on making pots and although I haven't caught up, I have done reasonably well and for the first time in ages I don't need to concentrate on catching up.

So - a blank canvas.  And the photo shows eight new pieces of dupion silk which arrived this morning, ready for some new embroidered canvasses.  Another Beastly Art Exhibition opens at Nature in Art on 5th February and there is new work to make for it.  More about the exhibition, and the new work, anon.

Happy New Year.