Monday, 28 February 2011

loose ends

I have felt like a loose end today! I knew that I did intend to do a list.....

It was supposed to be a list of loose ends to finish and tie up.......

Eventually I have finished stamping fettling and handling, just need the pots to dry. Easier said than done at present, it being cold and damp.

Mountain Man is into the lambing season now, the first were two weeks ago and they are arriving quicker now. None in January this year, thankfully-the ones that played *that* game were sold last year!! We are praying for dry weather- cold and rain is the last thing they need.

He has found Penhwnllys Max's passport - hiding where it should have been all along, just about!!
Now I know his dam (Penhwnllys Magic) and sire (Blaenau Prosper) I have been researching his family tree!! Much of this will have been "word of mouth" recorded history, but the furthest back so far is 1601!!
I must draw out a family tree on a HUGE piece of paper!!

This evening I must list, price and label pots for The Court Cupboard Gallery near Abergavenny.
I've sorted a fair number, better than taking too few-if I've taken too many that will be extra for the Showcase in the foyer shop at Newport gallery/museum/library in John Frost Square.

So now to get on with it.....

Sunday, 27 February 2011

weekend break

It has been a weekend of sunshine and showers!
Just when the pots were ready to handle and fettle we had a call for assistance!!

I went over to Clyne in the Neath Valley with The Carpenter to help Daughter and Family repaint her husband's house. Previous tenants had painted it brown....and made a mess of the paint job as well!
Houses haven't been selling for a long time now. Even before people actually realised what was happening things had slowed down here. Then you try and rent out what you have and people don't care because they don't own it. Not that it would be better to look after what is there and respect it even if you don't own it.
On the other hand some people don't look after what they own even when they can....

I was an extra pair of hands keeping the Twins occupied. Then on Sunday I did some bramble clearing where they have encroached from neglected ground outside the garden.
It has made a good change and different views to see on the journeying.

Friday, 25 February 2011


This is the best it has been all day. Either persistent drizzle or fine rain.
The bread started yesterday was taking its no fresh bread for breakfast.
The pots were going nowhere in the workshop, so I brought them into the kitchen. If the oven is on, they should dry better.
Marginally so!! Those thrown yesterday afternoon look almost freshly thrown. (The jugs at the front) The pickle pots , downsideup at the back are handleable but still too soft to fettle.
I've started to put paperwork in order. The information has mostly been coralled, now I need to bring the main accounts book up to date.

The bread made it ready for lunch!
Still, things are looking up..the "new" engine *and* the required parts are waiting for The Oily One. In the bathroom The Carpenter has been plasterboarding the ceiling and getting the room ready to be skimmed. Progress!

The weather is going to stay changeable for a few days, with a bit of sun if we're lucky.
Then it is forecast to turn cold again...looks like we'll be getting the remnants of what is going on in Northeast USA and Canada

Thursday, 24 February 2011


Not feeling good- I think I overdid things yesterday!

Still, good news, the thing for the spinner is what is needed- she still hasn't told me what to call it!!
Could be a spindle rest. Everything is just sitting there drying VERY slowly, so nothing I can do today.

I planted shallots today! The ground was just dry enough as I'm near the top end of the allotments.
Also bought onion sets, and seed potatoes to chit ready to plant in April. The onion sets will go in pots in the greenhouse (note to self, tidy greenhouse!)

The sacks of potatoes and onions and shallots arrived yesterday, and it was a relief to get out of the wind into the Allotment Shed to clean and tidy it with Mountain Man and Big Paul. Now it looks three times as big inside!!

Over a cheese and onion butty for lunch I did more pony and stud research on the computer with Mountain Man. He needs to get one stallion registered as such (Penhwnllys Max) so that the foals he sires can be registered as Section A Welsh Mountain Ponies.

The workshop is looking a little more cluttered, but at least the good news is that I have a "new" engine for my car, thanks to the Oily One. Next step is to do as much work on it *before* putting it in my car!! That way there will be fewer bashed knuckles and cursing!!
Then I can book it into the local Citroen and Peugeot Specialist ("Bijou"-named after a Citroen2CV!) for its annual MoT test. There are some shops and galleries that I can't get to by bus or train, so I need the car going again!!

I'm feeling better for having an easier day, but I need proper Spring Weather!!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

small pots

I need small pots to fill the kiln around the bigger ware. It is good to have pots that are not too expensive to sell as well, to get the next generation of pot buyers into buying pots!

I've made more double ended eggcups and pin trays today, yesterday's pickle pots for serving pickle are downsideup.
This is a commission for a hand spinner-I must send her the image to see if this is what she means!
More little "wren" cream jugs, and trying out small candleholders. I'm not sure about these yet.

I threw these in five throwing sessions, two yesterday and three today. It pays to keep them shorter so that I can concentrate fully each time. I start each time fresher and make fewer mistakes, and ache less at the end of the day than if I'd just done it in one.

Ready for tomorrow.
I wish I had the money and space to buy clay and store it, just as you do firewood.
Fresh clay is not so easy to throw, but one works with what one has to!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


Interesting reading Peter's Pottery blogpost

Cats Know.

When The Carpenter goes out, even if he himself doesn't know when he'll be back, Teigar does. AND she'll be at the right door, waiting, not necessarily the one he went out.

If she's having a day on the cushion on the windowsill, within five minutes before he arrives, she'll turn to face the window instead of warming her back in the sun.

When The Oily One returns from work, which is not a regular time, she is there to greet him and to tell him off for not being here!

Monday, 21 February 2011

canal update

I went on the bike today, despite the cold and wet. It was enjoyable however and saved me £3 on fuel or about £5+ in bus fare!
Remember this blogpost?
I went past again, and it was good to see progress. It will be a couple of years yet until we see boats, but it is getting nearer!
So working upwards:- dammed so that clearing (above) can take place, using ex-offenders as a workforce...and they are enjoying themselves despite the cold, wet and stinky mud!

New lock gates
Arch cleared and mended that goes to..

A filler pond, almost cleared
Yes I DID walk over this!!!! Getting better!!
Next pond up, now full
next lock up
next pond up
Top pond and the Fourteen Locks Visitor Centre and Cafe ( very nice!)
The top lock
My transport!
Much of the towpath down as far as the woodyard by The Welsh Oak pub (see your Chartist history) has been given a tarmac surface and is getting more commuter use, but further down (in Newport County) the money is going towards canal maintenance. There the surface is muddy and compacted gravel, so bike, feet and legs and the bailey (yard) were hosed down after the ride.

more salt pots!

This weekend was full of good intentions, but at least I cracked the job of making a snail and a pig handle. Also, the serpent has returned!!

I managed to dry washing somehow, AND do a batch of baking- including a MARVELLOUS new chocolate cake recipe...vegan, and can be made gluten free if you wish too.

The weather is going colder and damper, with clouds hanging onto the mountains most of the day.

Friday, 18 February 2011

facebook problem solved

log off....log on....and hope you are one of those for whom it works!

Thankyou, Daughter for the advice! It seems that many were having similar problems- I just mis-clicked at the wrong time, indeed losing the pages and/or content could have happened anyway.

Facebook changes continually, before you can get used to one thing it has changed- and not always for the better. They seem to live for change itself, which is not good for man or machine.

Evaluate what you have, deliberate, cogitate. Test the change you want properly, make sure that where you wish to apply it will work well. *Then* do it well and efficiently.

facebook problem

I have a Page!!! great- but then I accidently switched it (the mousepad is a bit too sensitive at times) to having that showing as my main page (as I was passing that place to click, on my way to log off)

Ok, there is a place to switch back......that doesn't work.

So I can't access my messages, my home page or my profile.

Neither can I do any thing with the new page except post, can't comment or see my profile there.

I've posted questions, buyt it looks as if I'm not the only one having problems like this.

That little place to click and switch wasn't there an hour before... and I'm not the best with IT

Just when I was getting orders from friends of friends too.

IT for me stands for Intermediate Technology...but that is something completely different to this!!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

kiln firing

Started at 6am and I checked it mostly every 15 or 30 minutes until done!

It has been chilly but bright most of the day-good firing weather! (and good for drying the washing too!)

I used the damper today! I don't think I reduced fired it atall-hopefully not as I want my green glaze green!! We'll see tomorrow.

The first bag of the new batch of clay has been dried out and hand wedged before re-bagging ready to use. Bag number two is sitting on a wareboard as a row of a dozen lumpy humpbacked bridge shapes! Oh for clay that arrives ready to use!!

It is dusk now,and getting chilly after a clear aftermnoon.

Twelve more hours until I crack open the kiln...time for a night off! Handles can wait until tomorrow

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


Teigar, in her favourite place
The cat equivalent of a greenhouse!

Looking at this angle you miss the back yard, the main road, the factory....and you see the mountain over the other side and the sky.

getting noticed

One of my milk jugs has been chosen as part of a feature on Etsy- Welsh Treasury-

one step at a time!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011


Why does it have to be wet AND cold??!! At least Mountain Man managed to do the morning feed round and get home before it rained!! (and rained, and rained!!)

Another order for a salt pot!! All packed and waiting for a cheque to arrive. A dark blue one with a chicken on top this time!!

The last pot was glazed and placed in the kiln, before it was "clear the decks" time, ready to start throwing again. I only managed six belly mugs and five salt pots- and six failures.

This is not good, as I don't like wasting time. I'm not precious about every pot, if it isn't good enough, thats it, back in the reclaim ready to throw again. I need to throw more often, but in a limited space it is not easy to do more than one process at a time.

Six o clock and I was cleaned and tidied-ready to make supper and start bread.

No wonder I'm tired!!

Monday, 14 February 2011

kiln packing again

The kiln is packed again, after a bit of maintenance- scraping the cracks a bit deeper and spraying with water then filling with kiln cement. As soon as it has dried I can fire again.
I've done a couple more glaze tests and mixed a bigger batch of "Old Yeller" glaze-which often gives me a nice optical blue!!

I've put bits if brick as baffles to make sure that the pots there don't get over toasted. Also I've left a little more room for the flames to get behind the stack of pots-not too much I hope!

We had showers all day, and on the mountain (400metres or thereabouts-1200 feet) Mountain Man was being snowed on as he walked- but all the snow melted as soon as it hit the ground.
He walked down to work in his garden then came here for lunch just in time as the mountain across the valley disappeared from view behind an "almost hail" shower!
The Carpenter arrived home( from helping The Wizzard mend his house over the weekend) at the same time!
Of course, as I could give my Man a lift back up the Mountain it stopped raining and hailing!

practice pig!

I didn't glaze the practice pig!

Today is crack filling day. I'm wondering if the cold weather affected the kiln, but as far as I know it didn't get below freezing inside.
Reading about kiln building, the advice is to use higher temperature rated bricks in the fireboxes and flue. That hasn't been done with this one, hence the toasted fireboxes. (plus I'm still very much learning). However it IS a kiln, and I AM producing pots!!

This one must have been on the way for a while-it explains the crack in the bottom shelf.
I think I need different bricks for the bagwall, and bigger props to spread the load too.

Just ordered gas....for a 47kg bottle (100 pound? not sure how many gallons) it has gone from £45 to £50. Could be worse. If nothing else it is incentive to fire more efficiently!!

It seems to want to add more labels to this post, so I'll go along with what the blog wants!!

It is still showery and a little colder-snow is getting nearer, but mainly on the mountains.

I've beaten the housework into submission, and cleaned a few windows before the showers- that has brightened things up in every way!!

Sunday, 13 February 2011


Rain and low cloud, so the plan of getting into the workshop to decorate pots first thing disappeared. Housework filled the time until 10.30, then I worked on the pots in the kitchen.

I have an order to do a pair of mugs with a pig and a sheep on both. The pig drawing came easily enough, I just had to get the breed (Middle White) right. The sheep proved more of a challenge!
I can model sheep easily enough... forgot to take photos, and now they are glazed, along with hopefully enough to fill the kiln. I've done a re-mix of one of the glaze tests, I wasn't sure if the scales worked properly last time, plus another colour variation on the same Cornish Stone base.

The kiln is looking a bit cracked on the brick front. I'm wondering if it has really ever been used before! I'm the third owner, and I know the last person never fired it....
I'm beginning to visualize what the next kiln will be....but I'd have to find somewhere out of the village methinks!!

The rain fell steadily for much of the day, by five I'd finished in the workshop and the rain stopped. I had enough time before dark to plant some cuttings from Daughter's Jostaberry bush.
They've been in the kitchen since December, with their bases wrapped in damp newspaper, then double wrapped in plastic bags. They were just beginning to root so I've planted them just in time!

Saturday, 12 February 2011


Never mind what time you think it is, it is too late...or too early...for Cat Time!!

The day started with baking the sourdough bread I started yesterday evening. I think the ferment is happier with the warmer weather we have been getting as the bread was quicker than I expected.

It has been a beautiful day today, so I've caught up on the washing (four loads!!!) and dried most of it on the line outside.

I've had a visit from another potter, always something to look forward to, swapping notes and having another pair of eyes that sees the work from a potter's view.

Lunch with Mountain Man, a nice surprise, as I thought he'd be too busy getting ready for lambing.

Then the first proper digging and sorting of the year, moving the last two year's fruit cuttings and taking a few more at the last minute!

We have to remove all the tin sheeting from the Allotment Gardens by April. Up to now it has been too wet, or frozen solid! I need to find more wood to build a retaining wall in its place, this bed has a three inch edge on the right hand side and needs nearly a foot on the left!
The dreaded Cattail (Equisetum) growing strongly whatever the weather
Home to find that the people clearing land behind the garages over the back lane are burning rubbish...again. Mad dash to get the clothes off the line!!
Rain is forecast for tomorrow, I'll be back in the workshop!

Friday, 11 February 2011


Lizard skin effect handles!
New shape mugs
"Wren" small jug
and a nice red bowl!
The butter dish has worked well- must make more
Two of these salt pots have sold already, and I have one with a snail ordered too!!

I might put three small feet on these to make them a bit more stable.

Today has been a good day- two exhibition submissions posted, two pots paid for, and The Carpenter is sorting his finances (and has more savings than he thought-relief!!)
The weather has had some sunny patches, but has settled back to rain tonight.

The Oily One mended the washing machine yesterday and I used it today...relief....and a grand total of £109 saved.

Other momentous things are happening round the world too.

11.02.2011 .....a palindromic day!! (well- over here it is :-) ) must be something in it

Blessings Be indeed.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

packing pots

Today's first job ( after the@@**##!!! Housework!) was photographing pots, ready to go on Flickr.

The Carpenter has put the images chosen on a cd for the Eisteddfod. Fill the form in tonight, and off First Class Post in the morning.

I have a deep (but not large) porcelain bowl, cut foot, impressed decoration on the outside, highlighted with oxide, blue slip inside. Saltglazed.

Do I have the cheek to enter it (and me ) for the Welsh Artist of the Year competition?
I doubt that I would win...but it might get me noticed....yet another form to fill in.

Three orders have been boxed ready to go, another I can't send as I'm not happy with the pots. They are ok....but not good.

Most of this afternoon has been spent on this laptop computer, googling how to use the damper.
I think I understand a little more. A potting friend is calling past on Saturday and I shall pick her brains too!.

I'd love to put some pictures on here, but until The Carpenter lets me onto His computer, we will have to wait!!

At least I haven't wasted a good weather day on inside work! It is a cold, wet and windy day and has been all day, with the mountains being shrouded in cloud half the time.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

kiln opening

Yesterday was a good day for firing, high pressure and dry, but cold. Can't have everything.

The kiln seemed to stick at 1230 degrees, but then cone 9 was well down and cone 10 softening, so I supposed it done.

Opening it today, the back right hand side (I initially fire with one burner- on the right side) was a tad overfired and bubbly. More soaking needed, indeed more learning how to work with the kiln.

I wouldn't say control.

I'm pleased with most of the pots from the kiln, but I'm feeling "could do better", even "have done better before" with some. I'm not happy with the grogged body, the rough feel is not attractive.

I went with The Carpenter today to collect 250kg of clay, then to three galleries to pick up pots.
CRiC had sold three salt glazed cut-foot cups ( can't enter them all for the Eisteddfod now!) and a small porcelain dish.

Coffee time.

Decisions. I don't like the pressure of deadlines, but things always end up at the last minute.

Monday, 7 February 2011

glazing day

Today was spent in alchemy!
Mixing glaze tests, and doing a small tile test of three tubs of the same glaze, that are slightly this should confirm what they are!!

For some unknown reason I have six various tubs, all about a gallon/5kg size....and all with the lids missing! Just when I need a couple...

The Carpenter has started sorting his finances.

The Oily One has taken the washing machine motor apart, slightly....the incentive of having to do washing by hand!! The very small part has been ordered, and its arrival greatly anticipated!

It was definitely wet and unfriendly weather this morning. As the low pressure lifted, it has dried and cooled again, but at least the higher pressure should give a better firing.

hard times

They say things get worse before they get better.

The car nearly reached 300,000 miles, now it will be cheaper to get a new engine than to replace the head gasket and have the head skimmed.

The washing machine is not working- probably the bushes (again, a known fault) but I can't afford £85 for the callout fee.

The Carpenter still isn't getting enough work to pay the mortgage, and any benefits are slow in coming. The System makes no allowance if being dyslexic makes dealing with it difficult.

Any work on the house, however necessary, has just had to be suspended, we have got as far as possible on our own.


I am selling some pots, I have been accepted into the Black Mountains Craft Circle, one exhibition submission made and Etsy shop launched.
Next exhibition submissoion is due in at the end of this week.

Getting near...!!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

kiln packing

Despite the pyro reading and the cone evidence, the pots looked ok
One bisque load!
I glazed a mixture from the last two bisque firings, and all took the glaze well enough- only the results of the glaze firing will show properly
All packed, except that I haven't got any glaze tests in
Then work suspended- Daughter arrived and The Carpenter brought Number One Grumpy Bear to see what was going on!

The weather is still wet and windy, and forecast to stay so for Sunday and Monday..better firing weather on Tuesday I hope!