Wednesday, 29 September 2010


The Oily One made supper! (with a few hints!)

I've been tidying and sorting today- I want my own room, My Space as it were, to be tidy and welcoming, even if the rest of the house isn't YET!!!!

Tomorrow after the market I head on out to Daughter's home north of Aberystwyth.
I'll be swapping twin-sitting for pot photography and website updating- even perhaps a lesson in basic website d-i-y maintenance!!

Then back at the end of the weekend via Pembrokeshire to see friends I haven't seen for too long.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The last few days

Saturday started bright and chilly, warm in the sun but a biting northerly breeze

I spotted interesting images whilst waiting for the village tyre garage
playing with silhouettes
must chose a better background- and get rid of that double chin!!
It was difficult to get a good shot of this moth, as the light was fading fast. Any ideas what it could be?
Much of the weekend and Monday was spent gardening, before the next lot of rain, tidying and starting the winter digging. Still no greenhouse action, unfortunately.
The Carpenter has gone to his sister's house to do a spot of Carpenting and being a Nuncle!
When my daughter was having her shed re-built they saved me some clay....looks and feels good-but I can't have any more....this will have to be a glaze ingredient!!

I was up at 4am Monday to start the latest bisque. I'm still having trouble firing slowly enough to start with, without having the flame go out. Realistically perhaps some more refined burners might help! It is fine with thinner pots, but yet another large bowl, plus the juicer, couldn't stand the firing.
Another problem is that now the weather is turning colder it takes a while for the flue to warm.up and begin to draw.
I shouldn't have freecycled my fan heater last year!!
Miss Piggy gave me a talkative welcome to St. Ffagans Museum this morning!
This is the sort of picture that you can lose if you hesitate for a second.
It was breathtakingly beautiful-and will be an image to keep me going through the cold wet weather that has arrived during the day.
I hope it wont be too bad tomorrow, or Mountain Man will stay on his Mountain. Talking on the phone every day is fine but doesn't beat seeing each other, even if you sit in comfortable silence.
Thursday is forecast showery too, but the market still goes on in Hay on Wye, and locals come out even when it rains!! I'm off to see Daughter and family direct from there, so hopefully we will be updating my website with some new pictures of new pots.

Friday, 24 September 2010


I now have one up and working (second season), one complete, with a few cracked panes to add on the end as an extension (collected today) as soon as possible, and another to put up separately with a bit of straightening and mending.

Should be good next year, all being well!!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Mountain road home

Today is the Autumn Equinox (at about 3am) and overnight we had suitable weather! Followed by a showery and sunny day.
After the market at Hay (better than last week-but not by much) I took the road south-eastwards and headed for the "hills". This is where you come out on the common.
Then you go up.....
and the Gospel Pass
Looking back down towards Hay on Wye
and looking ahead towards Capel y Ffin and Llanthony down the Vale of Ewyas.

I couldn't stop and take pictures after this, as the lane goes twisting down through the valley, in parts looking just like a metalled "Green Lane".

It is a breathtaking journey through somewhere I could feel at ease, with many points in common with Mountain Man's mountain.
Remote enough, hard in the winter, but a place that is a joy to be if you are willing to accept what Nature gives you and work with it.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


The kiln is almost packed for a bisque firing, with two one-third shelves to fill.

I am trying to model small animals, with some leading off into chess pieces.

Deer will do for christmas! (red noses obligatory of course!)

Yesterday we measured my spare Woodleys made Leach Kickwheel that I am bartering for a batch of small sheep. Somehow it needs to fit into the back of my car......
In 1983 at the first North/South Wales Potters' Camp at Tredegar House in Newport I sold a Leach Wheel.
It went off to London packed in the boot of a Citroen 2CV. Completely dismantled!

Anyone know how the wheelhead fits on, so that we can remove it?

I was told yesterday that I was pushing myself too hard. Must be right as I didn't even wake until 7am today.
When I got to the garden, Mountain Man suggested that I stay on his and do some light weeding instead of heading off to mine for some digging.

There is so much to do!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Pottery in Progress

two sconces
waste not.... The cut out parts make good implements!!
very small jugs


juicer (it now has a handle opposite the lip, as well)

Whilst finishing those off this morning I got rather chilly. Standing around in a cool workshop is not good.

I warmed up by going digging! I have started the bean trench for next year's runner beans.
Then I attacked the garden architecture problem....I am combining some pairs of beds, which will give a more flexible planting area. Also it will keep Mountain Man paths are a waste of growing space, apparently!!

This morning's drizzle has given way to a light warmer breeze and a little sun.

The Carpenter has ridden over to Cardiff to play Bicycle Polo.

The Oily One is having short bursts of bedroom cleaning (shock!!!!- even the vacuum cleaner!!) interspersed with more computer time!! Methinks the washing machine will be on overtime any minute!!

I need to throw some more pots, and I have two batches of small sheep heads to make. (300 each) One batch I am going to barter for a secondhand Leach Kickwheel!

Near the top

Near Mountain Man's home.

It is so beautiful, even when the weather is foul!

Friday, 17 September 2010


Yesterday I went to Wobage straight after doing the market at Hay (lots of queries, "am I here every week?", people looking around for presents but not buying yet....two pots sold....)

The exhibition in the great barn at Wobage ( ) is of Mick Casson's pots that his widow Sheila happened to have in store and around the house, from over fifty years of making.

Pots have not been displayed chronologically, however this lets you see how his work developed over the decades whilst the vitality of the making shines throughout.

I first met Mick Casson in late 1973 or early 1974. He was a visiting lecturer for a few days at the Ceramics department of Cardiff College of Art. I was on the Foundation Course at the time and they sent me to the Ceramics department, saying "we don't want to see you back here this week"!
Since then, I have met him over the ensuing years, as a member of the North Wales Potters Guild whilst working for David and Margaret Frith, as Treasurer of North Wales Potters and at the International Potters' Festival where MC was the MC for five festivals after its move to Aberystwyth.

Every time he encouraged and inspired me, as he did many others.

This time his pots did the same.

Many thanks to Sheila Casson for letting us see the pots and pictures, and for the welcoming cuppa!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

making more pots

So far so good!
Bowls next

Sunday, 12 September 2010

wandering ponies

This one is cast, in iron I think. Seen at the National Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale
Not sure what colour this foal will turn out. She is with her dam here, and the sire is grey
Looking from the foot of Twmbarlwm towards Cardiff and the approaching rain shower
On Twmbarlwm, looking towards Cefn Rhyswg. You can only just see a little of Mountain Man's fields right in the middle of the bit of ridge in the picture-and it isn't one of the obvious bits!

Weather permitting we should be going to the far end of the mountain this afternoon.
What is the betting that they have come back down this end??!!
The weather is fine today with only a small possibility of showers. Twenty degrees C is forecast, but it will be cooler on the mountain, especially as it is breezy.

Meanwhile, washing proceeds apace and I have to throw saucers to go with yesterday's espresso cups, bowls to make into colanders and some mini jugs too.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

A better day

These are Rosemary Cochrane's bowls from our salt firing, showing the results of the bottom of a kiln shelf spalling
An overview (!) of my pots from the kiln
My workshop view has improved! (until the frosts come)
New espresso cup shape on the way.
This is the way I design, by making. It creates problems when I've tried to apply for membership of certain ceramics associations. They expect design work on paper and in words too. I do use drawing books, but mainly as an ideas jotter wherever I am so that I don't lose inspiration!
Without that, even if the pots are good enough to stand by themselves, one is considered to be weak on design. When you consider how many makers are dyslexic......
After a bad start this morning, with a total of forty wasted miles and no craft fair, success!!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

salt kiln firing

Yesterday we fired the salt kiln
and in between kiln checking we helped to harvest

we picked rasberries, blackberries and mulberries too.
All supervised by several cats
We had a beautiful day on the whole. This was taken just before a rain shower
Sunset over the Blorenge Mountain, as we salted the kiln
going well! It has a 12 cubic foot packing capacity and we fire with propane gas
crash cooling to 1000 centigrade.

The kiln went on at 7.30 am (after being gently fired until it stopped steaming the previous night) and was at 550 degrees by 10 am. We finished salting at 7.20 pm, then it has a clean burn for a while after all the reduction. After a good soak at temperature, just under 1300, it is crash cooled to just over 1000.
Then we brick up all the spyholes and burner ports and clam up all the cracks with a fireclay mix to cool gently from there down.

Now roll on Tuesday evening, the first time when we can all be there to unpack!!

Friday, 3 September 2010


At last I've lifted the last (of four) bed of potatoes. Six mushroom traysful, now neatly stacked in the shed, making a total haul of about twenty to twentytwo! (plenty already devoured!!)
The earlies (Red Duke of York) don't crop so heavily, but both them and the next one, Charlotte were bigger than expected. Estima was ok if a little scabby (dry weather). These last are Red Baron that I grew from the last of last year's crop, which is something I would normally only do if I was trying a different variety for taste.
I tried some Rooster this year that way- they sprouted in the larder so got planted! I'll be ordering seed of those this year!
I couldn't find Red Baron to buy which is why I planted my own. However they have turned out to be the healthiest of this year's potatoes!!

I lifted the potatoes, swept the slab path (the top half) and gave the rest a"short back and sides" with garden shears...on top of this mornings housework and yesterday's long day, by one o'clock I'd had enough!!

The nights are turning chilly, but now the schools are re-opening for the Autumn Term, the days are hot and sunny!! (for now!!)

Thursday, 2 September 2010

"season of mists...."

From Llangynidr Mountain this morning (about 7.20 a.m.) looking towards Abergavenny

then looking down into the valley.

Today turned out warm and fine. I didn't sell a lot in the market, we have hit the post-holiday and pre-christmas lull.
At least I spoke to many more local people today. Quite a few have started eyeing things up for gifts, but just not buying yet. Ho Hum!!

I did sell a porcelain dish with sgraffito decoration of a running pony. That made it worthwhile today!

Then delivering sheep to a crafts co-operative shop on Brecon (Beacons Crafts) and on to the far side of Abergavenny via the smaller roads. It may be three miles further, but it was worth it for a hassle free drive!

There I helped brick up the kiln we will be salt firing on Saturday. After supper there, finished off with a fresh fig from the tree in their garden, I came home as dusk fell.

A good day in all.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

New pots

christmas decorations....pots for tealights- well it is a festival of light!!

Now I need to make enough to fire the kiln in time.....