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Category Archives: equipment

One of the ladies who come to the studio wanted to make a teapot. So I thought I had better make one to remind myself how it is done! I haven’t made one since college.
And as I recall that was a disaster. The pots had been unloaded and put on display with my other work, right before my critique with the tutors. I hadn’t seen them before I walked in to have my turn at the ‘end of second year’ review. They sternly told me my work was ugly, and perhaps I ought to think wether I should complete the course. It was a miserable moment.
The kiln had way over-fired and what was meant to be a brilliant blue was a sludgy green. In the extreme heat the clay had blistered and boiled. The glaze erupted to leave sharp edged craters.
Suffice it to say I didn’t leave (my lovely tutor Sean came to my defence) but I never made a teapot again. Till now. It’s blue too, I hope.

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All ok! They all survived a Cone 4 biscuit firing. That means they have undergone a change on a molecular level and can never return to mud again. Sorry world for better or for worse, that’s it these are for keeps! Aren’t they looking pretty. What clever students and my children’s half term fun survived as well.
Now I just need to find out how much this is going to set me back!

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Biscuit ware, Cone 4 fired to 1060

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Decorative Slip, red iron oxide, cobalt oxide, copper carbonate, and plain old white.

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Decorative Slipware

So I finally got a firing. Kazuri Beads let me use their kiln. Although confusingly they will not tell me how much they are going to charge me before the event. I have relayed this story to others and they tell me this is a peculiarly Kenyan approach to a transaction. We shall just have to see I guess…..how much could it be?!?
Anyway in goes 28 pieces. (Only one made by me!)
As we loaded up I am reminded how much I like technicians. The practical people that work away behind the scenes. They are the problem solvers and genuinely want things to work well for others. Lacking in the ego required to be the front man I am naturally at home with these types. And I feel confident that Nicholas is going to see us right!

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Dry clay vessels, being loaded into kiln at Kazuri Beads

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The steady hand of the technicians

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Me and the fellas at Kazuri Beads

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All loaded up and good to go….

We went for a walk in the woods this weekend and I (unknowing) stood astride a boomslang. My husband shouted ‘move’ with sufficient emphasis that I knew I was clearly in trouble, but gave me no indication as to what the trouble was. Consequently I did a little panicky jig over the snake before deciding to run, as did my youngest. The boomslang was unruffled by the dance above and slid off up the tree, to eye us from a safe distance.
I watched and cursed the fact I did not have my camera, this snake was an emerald beauty.

On returning home after this adventure I resolved to clear everything out of the studio. The class this week had been crowded and a little chaotic. My nice demo-jug had got broken. I realised I had been putting off making decisions, or rather not acknowledging how much space and time the students needed. I needed to rejig and rethink the studio, as a shared space. Not my haven alone.
We went out and bought a new table and some checkered PVC to cover the big black one. And I stopped dancing about and got on with it…..

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Clean Empty Studio

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Albert Lends a Hand

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Decorative Slips

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Students work drying in the sun

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Covering Large Table in Check PVC

Sorry been off radar for so long! I heard a radio programme recently (BBC world service), the lady (very clever business women) told me never to start with an apology. But there you go, I am regretful as much for myself as for you!

So my studio ladies are back. Today’s lesson; Jugs. And finishing techniques slips and glazes. Next week we shall attach handles and paint these with slip. I managed to find some ball clay here and can get going on a few slip recipes tomorrow.

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Jugs for the ladies, and my new tools.

In other news I have a lovely bunch of bananas which I wanted to draw whilst green. Too late already!

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My Lovely Bunch of Bananas. Already turning from green to yellow

And lastly I am volunteering at school, with year 8. Cubism. So much fun. Trying to pack it all in…..the machine age, Freud, Einstein’s theory of relativity (I struggle with), painters and their motivation. They set up this still life to draw. Next week we get all cubist.

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Still Life in Blue and Red. Yr8 Hillcrest

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Today I finished a jig/mould. My very poor carpentry skills were tested but I succeeded in casting up a block of plaster. I hope I can now recycle my clay! Great, big tick.
Then I went on to slips. All my work has used decorative slips. From college on, it has been my thing. Every piece used slip and glaze or no glaze at all. So I crack open my box of ingredients to start making a batch. As I unpack I begin to realise how little I brought. I dig out my dusty old recipe book I have kept since Brighton, and I read ball clay, china clay, zirconium silicate. The latter two I find. The ball clay I do not. Then I remember the two large buckets in the garden in London. One of which, is full of ball clay.

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My tools laid out on big new table

Out come my old friends, from their 8 years in hiding. Paint brushes, jigs, turning tools and mark makers, kidneys and needles, loop tools and callipers.

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Rayefco Wheel Maintenance

So I took apart my lovely Rayefco wheel and everything looks ship shape. Thanks to Sylvia Fitzwilliam for talking me through it from England.
Today I bought a huge table for 10,000/- that’s about £70. So I can put it off no longer. Time to get throwing. Will I still have the knack?

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So….. Found a second hand kiln. Should I get it??