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 ......