Tuesday, 26 April 2011


Today I had a disposable camera that I'd forgotten the contents of developed, more proof that I need a digital camera. Last year I went to a wonderful place called Soloway Ceramics Centre and wood-fired some pots. There was salt-glazing and ash-glazing and all forms of fun to be had.
The two kilns Ray keeps are lovely, when I'd been with the college there had been teams of people working on them, but this time, there were two of us, and the in-exhaustable Ray so lil' old Lil got to fire a wood firing kiln all by herself.
Observe, that's what inordinate amounts of pride and soot look like. It puts programming an electric kiln in perspective, who's afraid to play with fire? Not me!
In fact, this is me, kinda sorta breaking the kiln, I got overexcited and fired it too high with not enough time in between so that the embers built up too much and didn't get enough...oh, that's too much science for me. It went well then it went bad but then it made pots.

The pots I brought were beyond a bit rubbish, I think that unless I can get a job working a million hours a day as a production potter I'll never be sufficient on the wheel, but I'd love to see some babies salt-glazed and baptised with fire.

Monday, 25 April 2011

One Does

So this Friday is the Royal Wedding, huzzah! Nothing wrong with a bit of royalism from time to time, as long as it's put into context with some 'Off with their heads!' type thinking. As someone who hasn't lived through a royal wedding, I admit it, I'm intrigued.

Why am I supposed to watch it? How am I supposed to watch it? Am I supposed to wear a hat?

One thing's for sure, there's a range of things I could buy to get in the mood. Ceramics and the monarchy have a strange symbiotic relationship. Some big thing comes along, there's nothing we Brits like more than to slap it on a mug, and the royals like to say 'I buy such and such' which makes more people buy it too. Almost win-win. Here's some of the best commemorative tat I've seen.

The mysterious 'Loving Cup' (available from all good royal merchandisers) Linda Hancox, the creator from Stoke-on-Trent is very proud but I can't find any other work of her's so will have to judge her on the 'Loving Cup'. Feel free to research what on earth a Loving Cup is, I think it has something to do with having two handles but I'd rather keep it vague and imagine it's for pagan fertility rites.

This James Brown poster brings a bit of Vegas pizzazz to our patriotism, spangling up our Union Jack seems an odd idea, but I kinda dig it here. Plus it makes the royal wedding seem like what it is, a big show, a carnival and a circus all rolled into one massive hodge-podge of Britannia.

Of course if you wanted to go all subversive on their arses then you could get yourself an anarchists mug from Baroness Carrie von Reichardt and swig tea out of anarchist statements.

Or if you're thinking of shopping local, have a gander at work in Made in Newcastle's range of royal fancies, sugary sweet and just around the corner and buying British means your being proper patriotic.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Easter Sundae

Daniel and I have managed to wake up on Easter Sunday without any easter eggs and the prospect of having to leave the house to get some. But before we do that I thought I'd share a yummy recipe for ice cream I found in Delicious Magazine. I wish I had a camera, it's a beeyootiful colour. It's sort of an italian colour, if you get what I mean? Or a 1950's colour, like the car on the left.
Can you taste it? Ooh it's lovely. And all you need is to blitz together natural yoghurt, frozen raspberries and icing sugar to taste. You could use double cream if you wanted to be overly decadent but the yoghurt version is just as yummy. And then you can practically eat it out of the blender. Chocolate brownies are good with it, sometimes a brownie is really cloggy and makes you feel greasy, this ice cream cuts through it and lets it sing. Try to eat it all fresh rather than having to go back to the freezer and whip it, it's a dull task but otherwise it turns into a big old frozen block. So eat it fast, you have a legitimate reason.

But seeing as we don't have any left, any ingredients or easter eggs it looks like I'm gonna have to make myself presentable and buy some goodies from the corner shop.

Oh- and if you're gonna make that ice cream, eat it out of something blue, like these beautiful Latte Bowls from Anthropologie it just works.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Britain's Next Big Thing

I (like an army of artists I imagine) am watching 'Britain's Next Big Thing' and if you're not, I urge you to check it out. It covers an area of fear for me. The Pitch. Pitching your work seems like an inhuman thing to ask an artist. That's why they're in the visual arts, they can't talk. Or maybe I'm projecting...

Things to keep in mind when pitching? Don't pitch to someone who doesn't sell what you make. So for me that means, don't try and sell mugs to clothes stores.

Give room for people to ask questions was a criticism of one judgey panel member but I think MORE important would be- know the answers to those questions.

I learnt more lessons than that but lets just revel in the loveliness of Thomas Hopkins Gibson wood-grained porcelain for a minute.

He was successfully chosen by Liberty and Daniel and I saw his work when we popped in to London for Eileen's mother's day present. She got a candle, not one of these lovely delicate things. I didn't buy any ceramics in London after having a hideous bus ride home from Stoke with bags full of lovely Wedgwood and palpitations at every jolt on the road.

If I'm honest, Gibson's work isn't really chunky enough for me. If you forced me to buy some clay at the moment it would be from Jonathan Adler, his gorgeous figurative vessels and sculptures make me happy. I've spent a while in my work trying to make things that are all about being calm and subtle and I've learned that a bit of humour and 'maixmilism' has it's place.

Hope I never have to explain that in a pitch though...

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Makin' Babies

So in March I wrote a brief to do with tea and rebellion. The only idea I came up with was to host a tea festival, with an actor playing guide. I wanted to (tenuously) play on the aspect of giving people tea as nurturing and mothering so the guide would be preggo. She would have a ceramic baby up her jumper than would fall out and smash.

This is that baby.

I named her Diana, after Wonder Woman, a famous mud baby. I got carried away with her, I’ve never modelled a person before so lots of lessons got learned. Like, let them dry out massively or they will explode in the kiln. Sad face.

So before I knew it, I was making baby number two. Lilith. Not an homage to me, but to the Jewish first woman. The myth of Lilith came about through a desire to unite some disagreements in the story of creation. In story number one, Ev

e was made of dust, i.e. she was Adam’s equal. But by story number three Eve was made of Adam’s rib i.e. she was his leftovers. So the obvious thing to do is make Adam another wife, so Lilith was believed to be Adam’s first wife made, like him, from dust, with whom he did not get along with for a number of reasons, one of them being that she wouldn’t take the submissive position in sex. Lilith spoke the name of God and there are arguments about what happened after that. Either she spawns thousands of demons, preys on young boys before they’ve been circumcised or becomes the paramour of God. Either way, she’s pretty kick ass, no? Here she is.

On her side...sorry bout that. So, needless to say, I’m no longer looking at the tea ceremony.