Tuesday, 30 November 2010


At last the car has defrosted. Antifreeze topped up.

Unfortunately the garage car lift is stuck down, with a car on it.

My car is stuck behind it..........

and it is snowing again.

Monday, 29 November 2010


Can't live with them....can't live without them....not if you are a potter.
I have been requesting The Oily One to service my car for a month.....the result was that when I went to start the car yesterday I decided that discretion was the best route of action. I decided to heed the warning light on a radiator that I knew wasn't short on fluid.

We have been having -12 degrees and lower over the past couple of days. Therefore I guessed that I have a frozen car and didn't want to kill the water pump.
Luckily Daughter lives over the road from a garage.

So I've been sitting here for nearly four hours, granted in the warm and dry, wondering when they will get around to mine and what the damage will be- actual and financial.

I suppose it would have been too cold to fire the kiln today anyway (gas bottles outside) but I need to get that kilnfull bisqued and glazed.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

kiln opening

The opening today was a little of an anticlimax.
The kiln hadn't reduced as much as usual, although the pots were still good, just quieter.
I didn't have much in this kiln. A couple of porcelain shallow bowls with blue slip inside, tests for the new mix of the shino ( it does need to be applied thinly) and a retest of the last batch as slip.(ok)
A small box came out nicely despite having been waiting around for eighteen months!!
A large alphabet platter wasn't so lucky. The writing was in black slip. I'd never taken this over cone 9 and I reckon this went to a GOOD cone 10 as it was on the top shelf at the back of the kiln.....and the letters have started to melt!!
The celadon in the middle carbon trapped as well, which would have looked interesting with a plain rim.
Due to two of us (not me unfortunately) going to France in December and another doing a collaboration with a textile artist not to forget the weather, the next salt firing wont be until the New Year at least.
I'm having a weekend away so The Carpenter and The Oily One can look after the housework (!) while I get work photographed for my website and gallery submissions and design work with my Daughter .
Other bits of Britain seem to be about to get snowed on, it is just getting colder here.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


We have found that the boiler is a later version...and possibly never had the correct part in.....

Get that fitted and we'll see if all the other bits are ok.

Ho hum.....

It has been a nice day once the clouds lifted, going chilly now.

Off to put handles on jugs.....


Damp weather and damp pots.
Not a happy combination, especially when it is cold and damp.

The jugs to finish off the bisque kiln are drying SLOWLY!! I suppose they are drying and it is better than too fast....
I just need to handle them then add slip to some. Should get done today.

This morning the Plumber should be here with the part for the boiler that controls its max temperature cutoff. Hopefully it can then be serviced and used. At least the hot water has been working!

This should be just in time as the weather is gradually cooling.

When the Plumber has been I can clear the last of the hard white cabbage from the garden and store them with roots, in the shed.
Oh for a home with a proper pantry and larder.

Monday, 22 November 2010

waiting again

The dogs and cats found the best place...in front of the kitchen Rayburn stove!!

The kiln fired well last Saturday despite the gloomy damp weather. I didn't even take a break to go to the opening of Christmas at CRiC in Crickhowell!
I hate the waiting part!! Kiln opening will be Wednesday morning, as usual.

I have enquired about the application pack for the Craft Potters' Association.

Which gives me time to ponder. Is my work good enough? Even if it is, what design work do they expect? (As I tend to design on the wheel)
Add to that, why should I join, what will I bring to the CPA and what will I get from it?

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Hay Today

Yet again Hay had better weather than those parts from the Brecon Beacons southwards!

It drizzled a bit after lunch, and didn't turn chilly until 2pm!

Pots delivered to CRiC today in Crickhowell and the show starts on Saturday.
Hopefully we can take a break during firing the kiln to go and have a look as it is only about five miles down the road.

Meanwhile back tomorrow to finish packing (only two shelves) and to brick up.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

day off! (sort of...)

Last night I gently cooked 4 pounds of sloes with 6 ponds of apples with just enough water to cover. That sat in a jellybag and dripped overnight, so while the plumber investigated the boiler and rads, I made a dozen pots of jelly, sieved a mound of pulp then seven pots of apple and sloe cheese!

It was a beautiful sunny day down here and up there...but down here couldn't be seen from up there as the mountain was wearing a scarf of misty cloud!

Lunch with Mountain Man, (takeaway chips!!!!) followed by the council inspection of the allotments. I think we passed muster!

By four o'clock the sun had gone behind the mountain and mist was rising above the allotments, so it was time to take my man home to feed his dogs then himself.

Driving back down that road by myself is so hard to do.

Baked potatoes for supper (I know, potatoes again- but they are of my own growing)

Then more knitting for the Twins

Monday, 15 November 2010

recession (3)

Today I have been reducing my outgoings even further, realizing that I was paying for a breakdown service in with my ordinary car insurance! I topped it up to the get-you-home variety for an extra £19 a year.
So the insurance that saved me £8 a month, has now saved me another £10 a month as I have just cancelled my other breakdown service! Thankyou NFU!!

Now to think what to cut next. I buy the weekend papers (on subscription, so saving about 20%) but I could read them online....not the same though.

I threw ten eggcups this afternoon. Even with added sand, Potclays 1142 feels a bit gloopy. I throw with slip not water, but I still had them rippling and collapsing in no time. I cut one in half, and it wasn't any thinner than I usually throw.

I don't think the cold workshop helps!! We had a fairly hard frost last night, and after a clear sunny day the temperature is dropping fast again.

Sunday, 14 November 2010


Yesterday's sunset. I didn't see today's sunrise, as the valleys were full of flowing mist as Mountain Man checked his stock in the sun!

The allotments are to wet to do anything much, so I collected a carload (in bags!) of Pony Poo!!
Just think of next year's onions!!!! I'll be collecting a few more loads to spread and to stack for next year.
I took Mountain Man back home after lunch. Too wet to garden, too cold and wet underfoot to walk miles checking ponies, plus the breeze on the mountain is decidedly chill.

Then what to do? The heater The Carpenter bought yesterday has only two bulbs working so has to go back. So no warm workshop today. The central heating has an airlock, so the house is cold too (but not icy!)

Turn the oven on low, warm the kitchen and.....
Have fun!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

recession. (2)

Few sales today, and cold everything, despite wearing all the right stuff AND standing on my carpet offcuts.

The mood was as chill as the weather. People were walking past, when you would usually get appreciative comments even if you made no sale. It wasn't a positive ignoring, the mood was of distraction and thinking of lack of money. There was some talk of christmas shopping, but none done.

At least Form in Blaenafon has opened its Christmas Showcase, so lets hope for sales there and Cric in Crickhowell from next week.

Thursday, 11 November 2010


I have worked out why my shino glaze went wrong- I put China Clay in, instead of Potash Feldspar.
Partly following the wrong recipe, partly being overtired and needing the job done yesterday in a cramped workshop.

The good news is that now I know that I have a tub of orange slip!! -Which explains why it crawled so well, having been put on bisque pots. It should work beautifully on fresh pots!

Glaze mixing first thing tomorrow, ready for next Wednesday's kiln packing

Guerilla knitting

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

not entirely a bad day

Saw these little ponies on the way to Abergavenny!
Wicket open...
My pots from the front stack
and those from the rear stack, with some cracking bowls and good glaze tests.
I need to re mix the shino that crawled, and check which tests to do bigger batches.
The blue glaze on the porcelain beaker on the right of the first photo definitely deserves a bigger batch. The colanders could easily go with no glaze atall and just rely on the salt. Less work too!!
I checked a few of Mountain Man's ponies on the way home.

They put a few spoilt pots into perspective! At least I can sell them from a "Bargains" box!!

The weather has been beautiful today, warm and sunny although still freezing in the shadows.
Three days of cold ,wet and windy weather are forecast.

Glaze disaster

Just the usual Shino...AT Ball Clay 1 : China Clay 1: Nepheline Syenite 1

Someone suggested it was the NS that did it...is there any way I can add something to the glaze to get it to behave? Or do I have to chuck out this batch and start again?

That'll teach me a lesson about testing new batches.....

drying pots

What would we do without mushroom trays?? Even better....they are free!!

Monday, 8 November 2010

A walk by Twmbarlwm

Yesterday we made the best of the late afternoon sun and went for a pony checking walk.
I always go up Twmbarlwn first to check the far side and to have an overview of where Mountain Man will be walking.
It has rained a bit!
This young madam wouldn't stay and have her photo taken! She was intent on greeting me and checking my pockets and trousers-I'd been peeling and chopping apples.....

just there....
tea time
Looking over Newport to the Severn Estuary and rain on the way.

Rain fell heavily last night, apparently Snowdon was snowed on.....cold weather on the way

Sunday, 7 November 2010


It is time to reduce the apple mountain, as some are beginning to rot!

Apple butter, cheese, juice, jam.......perhaps cake too!!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Hot Pots!!!

Today's firing went well, lets hope for a good opening on Wednesday.

I did paperwork first, before getting to the kiln...delivering money and form for the Blaenafon Christmas fair. Then on to Crickhowell, delivering my list of pots and prices for the November to end of January exhibition. Last of all I went to the Court Cupboard in Llantilio Pertholey just outside Abergavenny. I put my name down for membership of the Black Mountain Craft Circle.

Going in the right direction, hopefully.

I was teaching again today, down to basics....centreing!

Friday, 5 November 2010


Today I have been helping a potter's mum decorate and glaze her work.
She is very self deprecating and lacks confidence. She makes her pots at an evening class and turns them at home, which is a couple of hundred miles away.

She is a marvellous mark maker once she just goes for it!! (and she is only 83 or 84!!)

Then we finished packing the kiln and bricked up the wicket as it gently steamed away.

Kiln back on early tomorrow. It should be better weather too, good for firing before another low pressure system rolls in on Sunday night.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Hay Today

Today we were lucky being north of the Brecon Beacons. I left just before dawn and it was breezy and wet and got wetter until I dropped down off Llangynidr Mountain out of the clouds.

It was warm and dampish and breezy in Hay, but we were relatively snug in the Butter Market!

I met a friend that I hadn't seen since about 1982!!!

I didn't sell a lot, but I did sell enough.

The wind blew chill after lunch so we were all glad to be packing up by 2.30pm.

After checking clay sheep stock in Beacons Crafts I headed for home and the rain increased as I went back over the mountain.

I arrived home at dusk and phoned Mountain Man to see what kind of day he had had....rain and blowing a gale all day!!

Autumn Colours

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


Packing continued this morning, in beautiful sunny cloudy weather.

As soon as we finished for lunch the clouds hid the mountain tops and started oozing down.

This afternoon saw the shop/gallery/business centre of Taste for Enterprise open officially in Ebbw Vale. You could say it was a waste of time...but it could be useful, making onesself known, showing one's face et cetera.

Back home in the dark and wet with people not dipping headlights and others with too bright headlights...aaargh!!

I have no inspiration for supper , but need to eat.

Then I can make some more clay animals and knit a bit for the Twins(if I can stay awake....it is worse than reading- you drop off and stab yourself with a needle!!)

Monday, 1 November 2010

making more pots

Three and a half boards worth made now.

Half a dozen small beakers, three tankards, half a dozen plates that will hopefully be turned into graters, a couple of small cheese plates with lids, and a larger one too.

The clay (Potclays 1142) is just not drying, and is getting very difficult to throw. It is reclaim, possibly it needs a longer rest before being used again.

So I have opened a fresh bag of what I ordered as 1142/30 (the same but grogged) but has different numbers- White Special Stoneware 157-1142, 157-4230 I think they have changed their numbering system since I bought the last batch nearly ten years ago!!

The idea of getting a sanded body is to get improved thermal shock resistance. We'll see if it takes to a salt firing better too!

I made a bowl to be turned and pierced as a colander too. Perhaps it will be easier to stick with ungrogged clay for that, but we will see how it cuts and how fast it wears out my tools.

New Year

Samhain, Halloween.....hope you had a good one.

Now we start on the dark days with today's New Year.

Mountain Man dreads this time of year, especially when the clouds wreathe the mountain top and he is stuck inside getting even less daylight.

Only seven weeks to Solstice.

Sown seeds start with a time of darkness as does the Celtic Year.

We must hope together.