Tuesday, 14 December 2010


Found a fuzzy-ass picture of some raku I did last year, it's the only thing intact from the now long deceased camera, Sandy (so named because sand was almost definitely the cause of death). I like raku, it's a really instant way of glazing something in a truly beautiful way. You get imperfections, shiney bits where you never intended to get shiny bits and lovely textures all through using the kiln as a tool rather than a process. As a fan of salt-glazing and wood firing kilns I totally get this, fire shouldn't be seen as something we've already mastered. It's elemental. Thus it is an element, aint it?

I'm doing some more raku of thrown things this Thursday, if they're any good I might put em on the next stall we have if not, my gran will love them.

One of my lecturers is giving a talk on Korean and Chinese hand-building techniques so since the wheel has left me cold and bitter I might get my slab-builing on.x

Like a reindeer without a bicycle

It's Christmas time! My to do list is so long it's making me feel like Santa. Today I'm turning the vases I made yesterday but I've already mashed two up so I think it's time to give it a rest. When the going gets tough the tough check their emails and all that. I made some really lovely reindeers to sell at the stalls we've been having to raise money for our end of year show, the idea (an inspired one) was to glue twigs to their heads for antlers, cute, no? But they keep snapping off before anyone can buy one. I'm thinking of using copper wire instead though it might not be as festive as I'd like.
I'm off to Broomhill this weekend as is dictated by tradition. Last year it was all frosty, maybe this year it'll snow. I snapped this photo last year when it was all crisp and lovely.

My Grandparents house was my first home, so just thinking about being there makes me feel cozy. We'll have the dog this year, which means no loafing around after the Queens Speech but long wintery country walks followed by mugs (not tea cups, no matter how much I love em) of hot milky tea. Cannot wait.

Maybe I'll get a camera for Christmas if I'm really really good and take more ceramics photos, you'd never know I have a desk full of clay-y goodness to look at this blog.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Africa on demand

Young Ian Mayor demands an explanation to my through away comment about being in Tanzania.
In 2007 (I think that's when it was) I went to Tanzania for 5 months to teach in a tea-farm school in the mountains of Iringa. Whilst there I would teach English, Maths, Science, Music and Art to primary school kids.
My mother went to Sudan after she graduated, she taught in and around Sudan for about 5 years, she met my Dad in Turkey. My father is one of 14 children from my Yemeni/Tanzanian grandparents, he escaped Tanzania out of boredom by flying to Uganda and then working his way around the southern hemisphere of the world (more or less).
I always wanted to see the place my dad was from, I suppose that's a combination of never meeting him and hearing my mother tell stories about souks and alligators. I decided that post A-Level I'd give it a go, teach so I had some purpose and hopefully friends.
As it turned out, I met Daniel about a year and a half before I left, for a long while we planned to break up rather than do the whole long distance thing but stuff changes.
In preparation for the trip I'd sent letters to all of the addresses my dad had written from over the years, this includes Denmark, Tanzania, Yemen and a whole host of other places. In September I was leaving, in April I heard from my dad, he was in Denmark with his new wife and four kids. We developed a bit of a relationship with his trying to teach me Swahili and me trying to fill him in on the last 18 years.
These are my brothers and sisters in Denmark.

The plan was to be one of two girls in Muffindi but the other girl decided to go with a larger group to a town about 5 hours away from where I was so I was basically all alone. There was the promise of ex-pats and I was pretty confident (read- naive).

And so I whiled away some time with marginally racist ex-pats and some friendly Tanzanians. Getting a little homesick and looking forward to seeing Daniel in Prague at Christmas.

One day I'm teaching in the pre-school, when the school secretary comes in and says I have a visitor. Outside is a man in a thawb with a big bushy beard, beaming at me.
My dad had moved his entire family to Tanzania, they were waiting in Dar-es-Salaam because Mia (my youngest sister) had malaria. We sat on the ex-pats golf course and talked for hours (it didn't occur to me that it would seriously worry the other teachers and managers to hear I'd wandered off with an unidentified Muslim man). He stayed the night and I said I'd come visit him.
In due order I did, not until Janet could warn me that men claim custody of their children after the age of 7 in seperated marriages by law, that woman have no rights and that if I see my father pay anyone large amounts of money that I should take the $50 she's loaned me and run for the Kenyan border.
Time passes, I meet my granmother who looks a bit like a prune and can't understand a word I say. More cousins than I can count. Aunties who press the hijab on me. My brothers and sisters and eventually it's time for me to come home.

I have a thousand stories about Tz but I don't like to sound too poncy, or use the word experience. As in "Yah, it was such a great experience".

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Potter's nod

I have decided to go to Keswick to do some wood-firing, I understand that to many, this means nothing so i shall explain, very quickly.

At school we have gas and electric kilns This is fine, but if I wanted to salt glaze something I wouldn't be able to. In order to salt glaze something you fire it in a kiln and add salt when it's really hot so the salt decomposes and forms silica on the pot. If you've ever seen an old clay bottle that looks a bit like it has orange peel for skin, that's salt glaze. If I were to put salt into any kiln, it would not only glaze the pots, but the kiln, making every pot that was fired afterwards salt-glazed.

The course I'm going on in August has a specific salt-glazing kiln so I can finally do it again. Not only that, but I'm going to be using ash glazes with someone who has been doing it for years and so can help me understand the mysteries behind it.

Because the department I use only has gas and electric kilns playing with fire is something I don't get to do. It's sort of magical and earthy and exciting, as most of you are makers I'm sure you can understand my excitement.

When I was in Tanzania I didn't have a cooker, I had a fire and a hot plate. This meant that when I made a custard tart I had to use the fire, and in honesty, nothing I cook will ever make me as proud as that custard tart that I made on a harth, it's just like that.

Here's a photo of the wonderful Lois Maude Blacklock last time we were there (she has black hair now but is still a pyromaniac).

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Plaster Turning

Plaster can be a bitch. It sticks right into your skin so you're dry and horrid for days, it sticks to itself and it either falls apart or forms massive slabs that have no relation to what you wanted.
I made a big chunk o' plaster, put it on a laithe, formed a nice tapered shape and made a mould in plaster of that shape. It's massive. It took about 24 lbs of plaster to make so I have to call reinforcements whenever I want to move it and it won't come out of the sodding mould.
I get that none of you will be able to help with this conundrum and also know I probably didn't lube the original plaster shape up enough but basically I now want to run and hide. Think I might just do that.
In other news- comics are still mint and make me excited and hopefully I don't have glandular fever.
That is all.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Birthday greetings

Happy Birthday to me, unfortunatley my birthday this year is inbetween about a gajillion deadlines so if I do see fun it'll be from behind a book of some sort.
I could make a list of all I have to do but that sounds dull and long and only really interesting to fans of lists. It's been a lovely birthday so far, Daniel and my mam are taking me to dinner tonight, going for a film with Emma tomorrow and people are coming for breakfast on Saturday morning, an event my mother mysteriously wanted to buy beer for.
'Transamerica' came through Love Film yesterday and I'm fighting the urge to watch it. I have to promise myself that I should do work rather than sit here because everythings SO close to being finished surely it'll all wrap itself up. Surely.

Monday, 8 March 2010

May contain Japanese words

I know most of the people who subscribe to this are comics people and not ceramics but what the hey? I'm sure you love me broadening your horizons and all that. In comics related news Daniel and I seem to be making headway with the podcast and the comic and aren't ripping each other to shreds which is reassuring. I'm trying to find a demo I bought ages ago at a Pelle Carlberg gig for the music and that anthology so I can facebook the songstress before the deadline, fingers WELL crossed on that.
I've been doing something totally out of my comfort zone at the moment, hot glass is grueling and incredibly demanding, but ridiculously satisfying. I'll lug out some photos of my 'wool' that I took in the Lake District, the brief was to make something based on objects made by roatations, head against desk moments ensued.
Illustration has been a real let-down. I'm used to going to class and learning skills, I'm pretty sure that's not a misnomer. Apparently in illustration it is, I'll leave with a little more confidence and a chip on my shoulder which wasn't the aim at all.
I'm looking for a summer project in ceramics at the moment. Daniel vetoed a month in New Jersey with Takeshi Yasuda and an anagama kiln so I'm looking for something else, no success yet but I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Glitter and glue

I haven't updated for a while, haven't had any of the things necessary really. News, photos, time. Now I'm waiting for my news to print off so I have a little time. I'm away from the glass centre at the moment, doing work for my illustration elective, I'm enjoying the nauseating sweat of a deadline on flip-books as I type. I've managed to wangle stop-animation in to my project so I can try loads of different stuff, here's a still I took today.
She's meant to be at the circus, fairly tenuous connection really. I've started hot glass and kiln glass, if anyone wants to see me blow bubbles then come by the glass centre on a Tuesday morning and watch in terror as I play with hot molten glass. Kiln glass is being slow and dull and I hate the brief, it's very high concept for something I've only ever done once. Missing ceramics like a pouty child, was supposed to go on a field trip to the lake district and do some wood firing (doesn't sound exciting but it really and truly is) but there weren't enough people. Pouty pouty pouty.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

New 'Lily and Danel'

The next edition of our wonderful webcomic is up now, and I'm pretty sure I'm getting better at this mallarky. Pretty soon I'll glow with pride.

Go to http://lilyanddaneladventurers.blogspot.com

Read it now, post us a comment, and follow us like lovely nerdy disciples.

Issues will come out every Thursday now, that's our little promise, so you can log on and get your fix even if Newcastle gets snowed-in. Enjoy!