Monday, 31 January 2011

worth waiting for?

Finished finials!! Lets hope they survive drying and firing.
Icy fountains by Craft in the Bay in Cardiff. I delivered my exhibition application today in person!
Two weeks until the next deadline which is for the Visual Arts Exhibition at the National Eisteddfod which is in Wrecsam this year.

Then went to Herb and Ellie's Deli- the best coffee in the Bay! and managed to catch a friend who works there-haven't seen each other for six years!! We both moved at about the same time and lost addresses. So her shift coinciding with my visiting Cardiff was a lottery!
Inspiring mouldings
National Museum of Wales HQ, Cathays Park in Cardiff. I think I must have walked between seven and eight miles today! Two of those were between home and the train station, there and back.
The air was bitterly cold this morning, turned warmer but damp after lunch in Cardiff, but as dusk fell became even colder than this morning.
Teigar, posing. The Carpenter, hiding from the camera as usual.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

job done!

Mugs handled, salt pots be-knobbed!

The latter have been wrapped up again, to ensure that the knobs don't crack off as they dry.
You can see them soon!

The weather has been chill all day, the workshop frozen inside, so I handled in the kitchen and modelled the knobs whilst wrapped up warm on the sofa!

It was a beautiful sight across the valley as the morning sun shone on the larch trees, turning them orange, beneath an icy blue sky.

day off

Friday car working and The Carpenter off to help Daughter and family mend the damage past tenant has done to a house. Phone to apologize that I can't get to my usual Friday meeting at the velodrome with the club...and get a call from the Carpenter...they are ALL coming back to stay, as there is no heating!!

Madly tidy the house-there were drying pots and reclaim clay on boards in the kitchen and living room!! There was no way they could return to the workshop as it was below freezing out there! Plastic stacking mushroom trays to the rescue!!
Make a quick supper for five..noodles, mixed veg and mixed beans. I don't usually cook on Friday nights off! Then sort beds and bedding.

I had a good night's sleep on the sofa...The Twins shared The Carpenter's room with him and woke him at 4am, wanting to play! I reckon he was glad to be back off to their house for a bit of peace and painting with his brother in law!!

So instead of a day mainly finishing pots I had a day mainly with Daughter and Twins. Very nice!
With an Allotment Gardens committee meeting and lunch with Mountain Man thrown in for good measure.

The Oily One just spent the day....being oily! (changing the beam on a Peugeot 306 for someone)

Back together for supper before Daughter and family headed home-a two and a half hour drive.

Mugs well wrapped to handle in the morning.

A day well spent

Friday, 28 January 2011


Yesterday's eight mini salt kits have been turned, and are now seven-one was a little too finely potted!
This afternoon I threw a dozen mugs at one sitting. I suppose I should have stopped at ten, couldn't feel the last two properly, but by then I had patterned my hands enough to the shape again.
Eight have been ordered (with a milk jug). I'm awaiting confirmation, but even if she changes her mind on how many she'll have, these go well, as does the colour she has requested (dark blue)
Just the shape to keep hands and drink nice and warm!!

The wind has has a cutting edge to it today.

Mountain Man walked down just to have lunch with me. A simple meal together, sit and talk, discuss what we will be growing on our allotment gardens this season. He makes me feel braver and more confident to do what I want to do. I just wish he'd let me go up the hill to save him the walk sometimes.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

car!!!! again

Now the head gasket has gone.
I could do without this, but I suppose it is a better time than when I'm busy in the summer.

It has almost done 300,000 miles, it was due a timing belt (and water pump) then anyway, and there a couple of other things that can be done (and I have the parts already) that weren't worth doing on their own.

More original bits wearing out. It will be like my Grandfather's axe.

It had a new handle. Then it had a new blade.
But it is still my Grandfather's axe!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

having fun AND working hard!

Only a few handles to go, and possibly a coffee pot.

The promised cold weather is rolling in, so I've come in to get warm!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

more paperwork

I can't put it off any longer!!

I threw one wareboard of pots, put two jugs in the reclaim clay. Even with a heater and throwing slip and clay stored in the least that gets me one board at a time!
It is actually warmer here, as it is raining.....but inside the air is chill.
I think I have just about enough for a bisque firing, then I can sort what gets reserved for the next saltglaze firing and glaze and fire the rest.

Prices done for the website pots and those on flickr.

Pricelist done as best I can.

Now for the CV and Artist Statement.


is something I loathe!!
I'm getting my price list sorted slowly. I need to go over my cv and artist statement too, ready for exhibition submissions, and work out how to get photos on a cd and what to do with them first. I'm afraid of messing things up, and I seem to find that too easy where computers are concerned.

I need someone else to do all this, so that I can just get on with making better and better pots!!

Meanwhile my feet are cold, I've been sitting too long.

Time for a cup of coffee and making pots!

Monday, 24 January 2011

some of the new pots

today's batch. Even with the heater on in the workshop, throwing was slow and I could only throw one boardfull at a time.
It isn't really that cold outside, but the workshop holds the cold as well as it holds the heat!

Birds are singing, and we are forecast a couple of wet days before more cold comes back again.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

day off?

No making today, all the clay is too soft. The new bag and the throwing slops have been drying all day on ware boards, the new clay in little "hump backed bridge" shapes, the slop in sloppy heaps.
The new clay has now been wedged (mixed by kneading) and is nearly all back in its bag.
The slops are, well, a bit less sloppy! With this weather they were not drying atall in the workshop.

I have sorted a little paperwork, into different mushroom trays- to be sorted and not mixed up!

I have done three loads of washing, and with today's breeze it has nearly all dried, even though it was still cold.

I looked at the bookshelves-and they looked back. Hello, friends!

Most of the afternoon has been taken up with trying to rationalise my price list. Are my pots the right price? I have looked at pots on Etsy and other potters' websites, trying to avoid the highly priced (but very nice!) ones. It is all very well working out "this pot costs me x to make"...what you need to know as well is what is the price that a pot will sell for, even if it cost more to make?

Some pots you make because you love making that shape. An indulgence, perhaps. On the other hand we have to pay the household bills.


I'd love to be able to live without one!

Friday saw me heading off to Radstock to collect materials for a friend from Bath Potters Supplies.
I also collected their last bag of the clay I use. I can see why it was the last is rather soft!! My local supplier can't get any yet, none in the factory!
Continuity comes at a cost. £9 for one bag. I will be paying £6 per bag when I get the next batch of 20 bags locally.

Yesterday I delivered my friend's clay, only just over thirtyfive miles altogether, but it was enough for the car. The longstanding air in the radiator has been diagnosed, and now must be sorted...after the parts arrive (hopefully) on Wednesday.

I spent a few hours helping Mountain Man and other allotmenteers. They were building a new door for the Allotment Gardens' Garage. I held this, passed that and swept out as best as I could!! Now we can have our compost and fertilizer deliveries without having to carry each bag down a sloping concrete slabbed path to the Allotment Shed-not very safe in damp weather.
We will still have to stack them ourselves, but carrying a bag less than ten feet on the level is no chore!!
Not having a working car, I couldn't give Mountain Man a lift back to the house for a late lunch alone.

Good News for today..I've managed to sort my paypal account!

I'm still feeling subdued. I feel so nearly "there", but not quite. Always having to scrimp on things, always worrying if we can afford anything, dreading another round of paperwork to claim a few pounds.

The weather is not helping either. At least we don't have the low temperatures of the USA or other places, but it is colder than usual, so no help! The assumption is that everything carries on as usual, but it shouldn't. There should be a time when you can sit back a little-not exactly hibernate, but do Winter things.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

coooooold and frosty

So much for an early start this morning...the car was well and truly frosted!

It was a long cold day, but beautiful. I watched the full moon set as I drove to Hay on Wye, disappearing behind a hill just before I reached somewhere that I could have stopped and photographed it.
An icy blue sky, with a pale apricot coloured horizon.

Breathtaking, and not fair when you have to concentrate on driving!

The market is suffering from the recession. People have to eat, so the food stalls carry on, even if trade is reduced. The rest of us are facing grim times and many had no sales or few sales.

Having to grin and bear it while someone praises your work but says that they are just getting inspiration is getting more difficult for all of us.

I'm not doing the market again until March, now. There is no point standing in the cold all day and paying for the privilege!!

I arrived home to good news- I've been accepted by the Black Mountains Craft Circle, so can have my work in the Court Cupboard Gallery at Llantilio Pertholey near Abergavenny.
Definitely a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

sunset on Cefn Rhyswg

This still doesn't do justice to the colours, but it gives an idea how breathtaking sunsets are from where Mountain Man lives.

Looking over to the highest point of the mountain, pink in the sunset.
Clear felling. I don't know if this is where the crop has matured, or where larches have caught Sudden Oak Death. Unfortunately Bilberries get it too, so hopefully this is being done in time.
In the foreground you can see where the frost has stayed all day, on the Northern side of Cefn Rhyswg.

We went to buy dogfood, sugarbeet and two small bales of hay. Keeping the stock fed! Hopefully no lambs before March, but you never know, despite all the calculations.

Leaving this to come back down to the village is never easy.

more ice in the sky

I saw these two as I put the washing out this morning...
crossing over
starting to accelerate
full burn upwards
and over. Either that was a near miss (which are surprisingly far apart to be called that) or somebody was playing stupid games above us.....

frosty day

I woke to the sight of the workshop roof (and everthing else I could see from the kitchen window) well be-rimed! Then I realised that the clean overalls were neatly folded and sitting in said cold workshop....
I chose to tidy and sort in the slightly warmer house!

Lunch is ready, Green Cheese Soup!! (Broccoli soup....I suppose you could make it with a Blue Cheese, but that might be a bit strong!) Washing done and on the line now that the sun has arrived at our side of the valley. Sunday's mountain of washing has been aired and kept.

I have almost run out of clay! I've arranged a good deal with our local potters'supplies firm-they buy a ton of what I use. I buy 250kg from them at a time as that is affordable and less than I'd pay direct for 250kg. They can sell it by the bag from their showroom.

One problem....the clay company has run out! I've located a bag sixty miles away!! Friday's trip will be to fetch that, and supplies for another potter....and a day out too!

Pots made from now until the supplies arrive wil be small pots.

Back to tidying now. It may be bright sunshine out there, but it is still cold.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

walk in the wood

Had enough of being indoors. I went up to the Graig, up to Cnwc (sorry for the sideways pic!) where someone has been camping in the old house (last lived in in about 1960?) then around Cwm Gofapi past where they are felling trees planted fifty years ago. (called locally The Lappy)
Some that Mountain Man helped plant when he was fresh out of school.
Then back down past where he grew up, where this fence is!


down here, whilst Daughter is at her home 100 miles away, with a pair of screaming babes.

The usual has happened, you get dropped by your childless friends, and worse some of them hint that they think you are useless as a parent. The local toddlers group is cliquey, The Twins Club have got their hands full already!

She has twins almost seven months old, that are highly active . They have got interested in food other than breastmilk, which is taking some hard work off her body. She is doing a marvellous job, but that is hard to realize when they cry, and less so when it is a duet!
She wants to get this "right" as she wants no more children and doesn't, understandably, want to miss any of their development.

Going back to work will give them a change and her a break in routine that they both need, so how do you tell her that doing this is not failure?

The Oily One has borrowed The Carpenter's car, so the latter has borrowed mine to go and help Daughter's husband mend a house.

Otherwise I could go and help.

Friday, 14 January 2011

making bowls

A soup bowl from yesterday
These are on one foot diameter batts. Pity pots have to shrink so much!

Handles done too.
Everything is drying so slowly, the air is cold and damp. The slurry I'm reclaiming is only being dried out by the water going into the wareboard it is sitting on.
At last I received an email from paypal, asking me to phone them....dreading the callcentre again, I did....

and instead of being told to go away and do something, which process had previously failed...

I was talked through the process as I did it! No, it wouldn't have been clear and simple without help. Even if I wasn't atall dyslexic!!

Now the wait again, to see if it has all gone well.

That deserved a god cup of coffee for recovery purposes!

Next job, to work out the cheapest way to get more clay. I've used practically all I had.
If I go and get it myself there are suppliers sixty miles away. On the other hand the clay ex-works is half the price but the factory is 142 miles away.

Goes off to do some calculations........

Thursday, 13 January 2011

a rainy Hay day

It was wet and windy all last night, and with luck eased off for the journey today.

We only had a few fine showers, but the air was thoroughly damp. Market sales were down all round, but we all want to keep this market going-it has lasted at least seven hundred years so far!!

I sold a bag of books that I had weeded out from my shelves at home, to a secondhand bookshop (there are plenty in Hay!!). That netted nearly twice as much as I expected....that is incentive to do a bit more weeding!!

On the way home I detoured to deliver a box of work to The Court Cupboard near Abergavenny.
Selection for the Black Mountain Circle is on Monday....looks hopeful. I think I'd fit in here, and could sell well too. I'll have to do one day per month in the shop/cafe, but it is a nice place to be, so no complaints!

Heavier rain again on the way home. Weather warnings for more rain and flood warnings on some rivers all over Wales.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

One of those days

Lots of rain.

Went to the jobcentre to peruse their jobsearch machine while The Carpenter had an appointment there.

Frustrating....for both of us.

He isn't happy and it is unsettling me.

Clutter makes it worse. I have a small heap of books to go.

Trying to choose pots to go for selection for the Black Mountain Circle, who run the Court Cupboard Gallery near Abergavenny. I've managed a 'short list', but I'm not 100% happy with it. Pots that I'd like in it are in Ebbw Vale or sold!

Tried to sort out why paypal hasn't paid the first two test payments in to my bank, despite emailing to say that they had- I would love to be able to deal with them one to one, face to face!!

Eventually managed to throw seven small bowls and three bigger (soup) bowls.

Still feeling dissatisfied and ruffled.

And it is STILL raining.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

making more pots again

I saved two of the last batch. I think I've just about "patterned" to this shape after a dozen.
I made seven, then stopped for lunch, went over to Cwmbran to retrieve a jug from a gallery- they hadn't even put it out!- I've sold it via facebook to a friend.
At least they think I've sold some other work, should have the cheque next week.

Then we checked that the ponies hadn't returned to the spot we'd moved them away from...relief! No ponies and no fresh evidence- one good thing about the rain we have had.
Then I delivered Mountain Man to his Mountain and returned to throw five more.

I'm trying a new jug shape too. I want "elegant" but also "practical". You must be able to clean them after use!

The clay is still a little gloopy at times. I think reclaim needs a little more time to rest before use.
Halo round the moon. Looks like the forecast of rain will be fulfilled.