Thursday, 27 February 2014

How knitting has kept me sane

Since I graduated I've really struggled to figure out what to do with the dreggs of creativity left over from a glass and ceramics degree. To say I was burnt out would be  huge understatement. In my final weeks of the degree I hated my work and developed an abscess that would have me on bed rest for a little under a month. I managed to drag myself to London for New Designers, but let's be honest, that was my Northern miserly-ness making sure I didn't waste all the money I'd put into getting there. I mostly trundled back and forth from a drop-in centre and battled a couple of new, and unnecessary, infections.

I then had to start paying a mortage. So I got a job in a restaurant and worked on DIY-ing the heck out of my house. I don't remember why, but it was around this time I started to knit again. I'd gone to a couple of knitting nights and picked up some skills whilst I was in my third year, and had tried to learn by myself since coming back from Africa. But knitting seemed like a good way of making things but not stretching myself too thin.

I got a different job in a cafe and knitted my colleagues hideous scarves for Christmas. From then on I'd occasionally pick up some knitting, learn a new skill like knitting on the round, I made an ill-fitting cushion cover, more hideous scarves (my mother called me on Christmas day to ask if the snood I'd made her was a mini-skirt).  Then I called on Lydia Wysocki to teach me how to sew a cushion for the hiddeous cushion I'd made and she did a bang up job of teaching me. But now I had a load of wool that was doing nothing so I decided I'd knit a jumper. And I knit a bloody jumper. Addmitedly, I ran out of wool and one of the sleeves was the wrong colour, but it was a jumper! I'd made clothes! I decided it would be yet another Christmas present. I quickly knitted another. And started on a cardigan and slipper socks. 

I'm now knitting herrings for Follow the Herring and going to knitting school on Saturday to learn about cables.

This thing, with the needles and the wool has lead me back to being someone who liked making things. Thanks to the support of people like Stacey Whittle, Robyn Townsend, Megan Randall and all the old ladies who saw me struggling with dpn's on the bus or in cafe's I've managed to figure out how to make something out of a tangled ball of nothing. It's made me feel like I can make things, anything. And that they don't have to have a grand purpose, I just need to make them. It's lead me to accepting a workshop making buttons with a knitting group, starting a sketchbook project and feeling like a real craftswoman again.

If you're a knitter I'm on ravelry as terracottalily.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Drawing to tell the Tale

I'm drawing in a book. I'm worried it's a little twee or hip, but honestly, I wanted to start drawing in January and I knew that the obstacle of going out and buying a sketchbook could derail this fragile little yearning for creativity. So instead of risk it, I took out the copy of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Living to Tell the Tale that I'd finally finished after dragging it around for the last three years. I'd made notes in it to keep myself engaged whilst I read so I knew no one else would be able to enjoy it so I didn't feel too bad.

I started with little doodles that related to the book, the idea of belonging, family and coffee. But after a while I realised I didn't want to be drawing about anything prescriptive so I went more free form. This pencil sketch came from my love of all things folk art and Marquez's No One Writes to the Colonel in which the titular Colonel feels like lillies are growing in his guts. Well, that's too good an image to leave alone, right?

Someone on Radio 2 (I suspect it was some sort of famous reverend) said the phrase "searching for our calm circle". I don't know if it was a reference or even a mistake but it stirred something.

Then I wanted to get less abstract so played with a figure who was trying to claw her way out of her "calm circle". Somewhere along the way I lost her momentum. I think it has something to do with  trying to learn how to cable knit whilst drawing this and therefore her jumper got a lot more attention than I had originally planned.

I painted a page to go behind my escaping woman but decided I'd like to add another layer behind that so created a doorway. Behind it was supposed to be a monster, but it became someone sad, twisted and alone. There's a bible in her room, I'm not sure why.

In retrospect I can see that after my woman trying to escape and my lonely trapped woman I must have been feeling the need for something lighter, so here we have Red Riding Hood looking into a mirror and finding the big bad wolf. There's nothing deep about this, I wanted more layers so used a mirror. And then I got to play with embroidery. Which, I quickly learnt, is very difficult. Still not happy with this wolf.

Something totally different. Cutting, collage, watercolours and a printout of a map of the world with a church mistakenly printed on it that I found at work. It's an exercise in composition I think and I'm sure in the hands of someone else could have been pushed more but I just wanted something faster than embroidery.

And then I went back to embroidery. Just because you don't know how to do something, doesn't mean you shouldn't, right? I was inspired after seeing a twitter exchange (that I now can't find) about how exciting sketching dancers is. It's a lot more muddled than originally planned but I like it.

Then the same thing happened, the embroidered piece took me hours so I wanted something fast, and we'd just been to see James Wilton at the Customs House and felt that I wanted to play with rhythm.

Then collage with a face, lots of it. A little reference to Marquez's Love and other Demons and Sierva Maria's ever-growing hair.

A reference to The Saint in Strange Pilgrims and the flowers that remain preserved in her coffin.

This page was all about how much Marquez's parents loved each other, but his father was incapable of fidelity.

I found one of my little faces and wanted to use it, so made a witch doctor of unknown origins.

I'll keep drawing until I run out of pages.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

We have a winner!

Below is a report from the wonderful Philippa Abbott of Phileigh's Cakes. Phil is the best friend a gal could have, she sent me this knowing that I would be going crazy not knowing what was happening at the degree show. Enjoy her account of the night, I know I did.

Hi Lil!
Well we arrived to find a mass of people in the foyer of the Glass
Centre which was not what we were expecting. It was jam packed!
Unfortunately we missed all of the talk about how amazing you all are
and missed you getting your prize. But Daniel told us all about it and
I have to say that I was not at all surprised! You deserve it! We
walked through the glass history exhibition not really knowning where
we were being taken but were amazed when we saw the room! It was
beautiful, and full of amazing art.
I told my Mam to "Look out for terracotta" to which she immediately
responded "There!" and there were your lovely little men on the floor
sitting in their circle. We were totally amazed at them and spent so
much time looking at all their faces. We wondered what was going
through your mind when you did them but as soon as we read the little
blurb about it in the catalogue we totally understood it! It wasn't
long before I saw people pointing and commenting and taking loads of
photos! My Mam was a little worried about them getting hurt because
they were quite vulnerable on the floor, but her threat to kill anyone
who knocked them didn't have to become reality! We met your Mam who we
chatted to, and as usual my Mam told her how lovely you are and how
much we loved your piece. Then we saw Daniel who told me all about how
poorly sick you are, which made me sad. But I was plesantly surprised
to hear that he seemed to be taking very good care of you which made me
a lot more settled.
I recognised some of the names on the pieces and some of the faces I
saw around and about. Some of our other favourite pieces were Alice's
birds, Helen's wall piece with the black pictures on clear glass, Emma
Hollin's piece, Emma Evett's piece which we decided we would like as an
ornament and Julie's pots and jars were also lovely. However, all of
you clearly put a lot of work into your pieces and each was fantastic
in their own right.

It is safe to say that all your efforts and hard work paid off and
everyone was amazed at the work you guys had produced and were
thoroughly enjoying themselves. You did yourself and everyone else
proud! I appologise for not being the best photographer on planet earth
but I hope you can see that your piece looked amazing and that there
were a lot of people there to see it. Well done Lil! Love you! xxxxx

I think it's only fair to say that Philippa obviously wins one of my little men for her sheer awesomeness. Today and tomorrow are the last days you can see the show, get on down to the National Glass Centre!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Big day

Tomorrow is the big day; my degree show. Under ordinary circumstances I'd be excited. I'd have an outfit picked out and I'd have my magic clipboard with all the jobs I need to do outlined on it.
All that changed on Sunday. I had to go to hospital because a pilonidal abscess I was diagnosed with last Thursday started giving me far more pain than it should have. Hours of discomfort later I was admitted over night and expecting surgery in the morning. Everything went well and I came back to Daniel's on Tuesday ready to recover.
Part of the healing process is that everyday the packing in the wound has to be changed. This mostly leaves me a quivering wreck for the rest of the day.
I'm only really comfortable lying down. But mostly I'm upset that I won't be able to go to the opening. I worked hard for this show, I helped raise the money, choose the invites, publicise it and put my work in it. And tomorrow I won't be able to celebrate all that work. We had a little party on Friday when all the work was installed but I was in too much pain then to really join in. I can't imagine being in better shape tomorrow.
So- I need photojournalists. I need bloggers. I need tweeters. I need anyone with a smart phone or a good memory to go to the opening night tomorrow at the National Glass Centre from 6 o'clock and tell me what happened. Best tweet, facebook status or blog about the event wins one of my little men. If you tweet it use the hashtag #gac2012, if you're facebooking it pop a link on the event page and if you're blogging it send me a link through the comments or to .
Have a look at our facebook event or check out our website.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Meet and Greet- Amy Edmondson

This weeks Meet and Greet is Amy Edmondson, Amy is new to our class and has flung herself into it, she's a considerate little soul and (I think) that's what makes her work so haunting.

Use five words to describe your work


How do you make your pieces?

In autumn I collect the fallen sycamore seeds like a crazy woman, scratching around in the leaves. Once they're dry I systematically hang each one up and coat it with my own blend of porcelain paper clay slip. I then remove the seed pod from the bulb and place it on a tile to be fired. If they're going to be glazed I drop very watery glaze inside them and put them in sand to stop the glaze sticking to anything. 

What makes your work different from everybody else’s?

This work has really gotten to the heart of a lot of things in my life. While I've been working on it, a lot of things have changed but it couldn't be more current or appropriate. I never wanted to make a piece of work which was personal but that is definitely what makes the work different from everybody elses. Rightly or wrongly, I've put 22 years worth of feelings into it meaning it has more aspects to it than I care to remember! It deals with issues from when I was much younger to things which bother me daily. I hope when the work is complete and constructed I can accept the inspiration  behind it.

 If you had to work in any other medium, what would it be?

Pen and paper. No question. Although not in terms of writing but drawing. I love how permanent a drawing in ink is. When you put pen to paper you and truely committing your vision to paper without being able to easily alter it like pencil allows.  Drawing is so portable, it's a beautiful tool, allowing you to record places and events in a completely unique and deeply personal way. 

What is the biggest challenge you face with your work?

I had the idea of porcelain sycamore seeds long before I knew whether it was possible. I spent months figuring out that porcelain paper clay was the best medium to cover them, then started making my own ratios of porcelain to paper pulp.  Once I'd deduced the best ratio I experimented with the number of layers and application method. I tried different firing temperatures and positions in the kiln; small changes here made all the difference. Finally I needed to engineer a way of getting the glaze inside the seed and preventing it from sticking to the shelf during firing. Although the early stages of the work were by far my biggest challenge I preservered and either over came or found ways to work around all the teething problems. Although frustrating at the time I am incredibly greatful for them. I have an appreciation for the tiny seeds I don't think I would have gained any other way.  To many people this might sound like the most dull process but I work in quite a scientific, structured way and it couldn't have been better suited to that.

The personal aspect to my work is something I'm not used to and as such I've found it quite hard to deal with. I've shyed away from talking about the real meaning behind my work and in a lot of ways I still am. I know very shortly I'm going to have to put it out there to either be accepted or over looked as another bit of conceptual rubbish. 

 How do you want people to react to your work?

I suppose it's the obvious thing to say but I really want people to consider the work in order to deduce its meaning (in that case maybe I should've made it more clear). I whole-heartedly believe everyone could take something from the concept behind the work. Although its very personal its important people look beyond that at how it can affect and hopefully improve their life rather then how it fits into mine. 

Check Amy's work out at our degree show site and visit her blog for more info. Don't forget to see her work in person at our degree show from the 15th of June at the National Glass Centre.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Going, going, gone!

The silent auction is over, if you won, someone will contact you to let you know. Thanks for all your bids and support, we all appreciate it. We raised enough to make sure all the students fundraising can pay the stand fee so everyone will be at New Designers with bells on.

Thanks to everyone who bidded and everyone who donated pieces, we're very thankful and very lucky.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Lot 31- Mike Holden

This piece was donated by Mike Holden a level three student who (although fundraising for New Designers by himself) kindly donated this blown bowl to our silent auction. Ta Mike!

Mike is an amazing hot glass artist, whether he's working in the hot shop or in lamp-working his work is full of thoughtfulness and awareness of design principals. He'll be exhibiting at New Designers so if you don't get a chance to snap up this lovely bowl check out his work then.

If you're interested in this piece either comment below with your contact details and your bid or email the same info to
 Like all the work on sale, the proceeds all go to getting level three students to New Designers in London. Happy Bidding!