Monday 29 August 2011

Art in the Yard

Yesterday I picked sloes, then went to the Court Cupboard. I'd brought clay and tools just in case- which was lucky as others had been unable to come, and spent the afternoon making dragons!

Today I returned and spent the morning demonstrating session throwing, then the afternoon session turning and decorating the platter above.

There was a blacksmith making ram's head toasting forks, a quilter finishing a baby quilt and a weaver spinning and plying yarn.
Then we all had a barbecue supper to celebrate a successful weekend!

Although we eat indoors- it was dry most of today, but the breeze was chilly.

Sunday 28 August 2011


I had a Day Out today, and after picking runner beans, blackberries, rasberries , cucumbers and parsley at the allotment I set off for Talgarth, at the foot of the Black Mountains, where the Black Mountains Festival is on this weekend.

I wandered round the town, to the various sounds of rock music, a silver band, a fairground ride , a stilt walker and LOTS of people! I met a few friends in the craft fair and country market and talked to a pair of large (16-17 hands) black, very smart carriage horses. I wanted to go to the newly opened water mill to have a tour and see the garden and visit the cafe and the acquaintances who run it...but, good for them, it was full! Long queues and full cafes are not my thing!!

Instead I followed the river upstream and found a tributary. I must look at an old map to see how many mills were here at one time.
This is where the mill leat runs off, to the left of where the people are standing.
I enjoyed a walk around the back lanes, seeing old houses and cottages being cared for, and orchards of fruit ready to pick.
A visit to Hay on Wye followed that, then around via Peterchurch and Pontrilas and back to The Court Cupboard Gallery for a much needed cuppa as they closed! I was lucky with the weather, only a few light showers, and only when I as in the car.

Day One of "Art in the Yard" had been a success- two days to go!

It felt odd having a day out...and odd being alone.

Friday 26 August 2011

kitchen day

Rasberry jam from Rasberries picked yesterday.
Was supposed to be Greengage and Apple Cheese, ended up more like a jam- NB, reduce pulp a bit before weighing.

A double size Vegan Chocolate worked! That is for the Black Mountain Circle party at the end of the special weekend, after we close! It is luscious without any topping, especially if made a couple of days beforehand.
Omi's Carrot Cake for us, without the frosting.

Podded all the Broad Beans and sorted the Eat Now, Save for Seed and Freeze.

Sold a small domed lid box on Etsy...thankyou Lizzie!

The weather started chilly but ok today, and spit and spatted a bit of rain about lunchtime.

Then it really got into the swing of things and rained heavily, and it is still wet as dusk is falling

Thursday 25 August 2011

a day in heaven!

I spent today fruit picking in a walled garden near Abergavenny, working hard and being pampered and generally well looked after.

Came home with fresh apple and pear juice, blackberrys, courgettes and three pounds of rasberrys ready for jam !

We had the first real thunderstorm this year, at last!!

Wednesday 24 August 2011

workshop day

Action day today! The dragons have been fitted into the spare corners around the bowls in the kiln, and the bisque was fired. It went well, no audible explosions! I took it slowly to start with, with some bigger bowls in the firing.

While kiln watching I threw small boxes and it was good to do more, as I haven't made any for a while. They'll be good corner fillers too! Everything seemed to be running late today- I got up later than normal, so everything shifted I suppose.
After a late lunch came a few more boxes as the kiln finished, and the first ones were ready to turn over on the boards already.

The Carpenter and The Oily One had been in Gloucestershire today and came back at teabreak time...only to go out again....the cat was disgusted. She'd been sulking all day already!!

Back to knead a bag of new clay, having dried it out a little, and re-bag it to rest a bit.
Then I made some bigger platters to turn and decorate next Monday. Another small cheese bell, then I started on a bigger bowl.

I've left it to stiffen a little, to finish throwing in the morning. It is a bit soft, and I'm a little tired! I'll wrap it when I check the workshop last thing tonight.

It was a little chilly, but nice and fresh first thing, then warmed up well, though you could feel dampness in the air. The rain showers started by one and carried on until teatime, off and on, as showers do!

The clouds are moving quite fast, and as I write, it is just after a quarter to nine in the evening and already dark.
I need a walk on the mountain, I'm feeling stretched a little thin and tired.
There is so much to do and I miss having someone who can say "Let's go up there Now!! You can do all that later!!"
Then you do it later, and you're not so tired, despite having walked for a few hours as well.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

bigger bowls and dragons

Yesterday I finished turning and decorating the bigger platters and bowls.

I like the size they are is starting to feel right. Next step, make even bigger ones to get where I want after they shrink!
I need to make some more to turn and decorate during the "Art in the Yard" at Court Cupboard Gallery on the coming Bank Holiday weekend. I'll be demonstrating on the Monday at least. So I can do both things at once.

This morning started damp, and consequently not so cold initially.

Housework wrangled , I cleaned off the boards in the workshop, kneaded a bag of clay and set to......

I never seem to make them all the same.

The sky has cleared and it has turned hot again, so they are outside drying.

Perhaps I'll do another day at the weekend as well, and do some dragon making!!

Time to go pay bills and organise collecting my next quarter ton of clay.

making the best of the weather

With rain forecast for Tuesday, loads of washing was done first thing on Monday...very traditional!
Then I went to the allotment and lifted the last of the potatoes-you can see them lined up in mushroom trays to dry, on the path. Half of the patch dug has been sown with clover as a green manure, the strips each side of the parsnips have salad crops sown there.
The squash plants in the foreground are really disappointing, but without a proper summer they just started too slow and have been left behind.
I picked and cut down the broad beans, leaving the stumps. Sometimes you'll get regrowth, but I'm not holding my breath.
The runner beans are growing well now, and the healthier plants are from our own saved seed. Hardly any beans fro the first two to three foot, but slowly coming on now, and plenty of bumble bees on the flowers.
The young apple tree "Reinette D'Orleans was quite full, despite how many fruit had dropped in May and June. I didn't expect them to be ready, but they practically all lifted off cleanly with no effort. This is an apple that needs to be stored, and eaten at the turn of the Year. I'm glad not to have lost any to marauding children too.
I went to bring my car to the allotment gate...and this here young man decided that I am Definitely His Friend!!
It was difficult to take his portrait....also difficult to leave him...but I'll be back there!!
The intention had been to finish by lunchtime.... but lunch ended up at 3pm!!
This tree was sold as a greengage...and this isn't growth from the rootstock...I quite like the look of these!!

Monday 22 August 2011


Mist flowing down the valley like a river above us this morning.
Now just a few wispy clouds above.

Time to move and make the best of today's dry weather and sunshine.

Still racking my brains about "celebration"

Sunday 21 August 2011

hot afternoon!

This weather can't make its mind up!!

I went for a short walk with The Oily One, after a cuppa, then wrangled some housework- so conscience salved before venturing to the workshop.

Where I have been working with a towel hanging over the outside of the window, just shadowing my wheel, so that I don't scorch!!

The cat is sitting at the bottom of the stairs, looking up....she reckons that it is time for The Carpenter to come down here! to 1. feed her (again!) and 2. play.
I just think that it is time he sorted himself out, and got the washing on too!!

Back to work..more turning and decorating to do, then make some small corner-filling items for this firing.

Could even be dragons....

chilly morning

I'm sitting here with a nice warm laptopn on my knees, knowing that I ought to be out in a chilly workshop, sitting turning some bowl feet and decorating platters.

In comparison to Winter it isn't cold atall, but it doesn't feel like August.

I think another cuppa is in order, then possibly a walk or some weeding.

Then it should feel better!

Saturday 20 August 2011

my day at Court Cupboard

I was all ready to go, keys!!! After 45 minutes of hunting, they turned up where I'd already looked several times, when they wanted to be found!!

I arrived to find a queue and another member just opening up. Luckily I was only ten minutes late.
The gallery had a good day, starting with one of my pint jugs. The afternoon was quiet, but I heard that the town was busy, probably as it was the first day of the Green Man Festival.

The oregano was full of honey and bumble bees (above).

The Walnuts haven't all succumbed to the ravages of the squirrels, unlike much of the unripe hazel nuts, beech mast and acorns.
and just to prove that not everyone visits by car to the gallery...
after a chilly start it must have been a beautiful ride in the sun

Thursday 18 August 2011

day of parts

See, they ARE getting bigger!!

It has been an odd day today, a bit of housework to kick off, then to Abergavenny to do the gallery duty...and someone else was there....who should have been there tomorrow!!
I priced up and displayed some new stock and went to pay in my cheques- I'll be there tomorrow instead.

I checked on another gallery, not having heard of any sales made....surprisingly, none of my work was out! I know they "theme" the displays, but I think it is probably time to suggest a change of stock! Then they'll have no excuse!!

The weather was all sorts today, one minute rain, then a cold breeze and then a hint of sun and warmth!
Enough to confuse my resident dragons.....
This year's shallot crop, (there are two more mushroom trays worth in the kitchen)
I think I'll grow more next year, as they seem far more successful than the onions.
Also I don't have to buy any as I'll save these again for next year's planting!
At last, the cucumbers have got the right idea!! First one cut today.

Wednesday 17 August 2011


They are getting bigger.....I must watch that they don't get to big to fire!!

The dream of a place outside the village where I could build and fire a decent kiln and have my own garden is so tantalising.

We always talked of the ideal, being halfway up the Mountain, to accommodate both our needs!
He needed to be near his stock, I need a water supply a bit more reliable than just rainfall.

Ah well, back to working with what there is!

My late, much missed father always said, "Plan A, win the lottery, Plan B, go to work on Monday morning" !!

I can't say that I buy many lottery I'm just working on throwing better pots!! It has been such a pleasant day today, nice breeze, warm sun, working has come easier.
Think of the ponies on the Mountain,
wind blowing in their manes,
moving free where they will,
gleaming in Summer, hairy in Winter.

They still need care and attention,
to see that all is well,
to move them from harm.

See their family groups of
several generations.
caring, nurturing, bickering
as families do.

Have them come to see you
and acknowledge you as friend.
That gladdens the heart
and fills the soul.

Tuesday 16 August 2011


I managed to get to the garden rather later than planned- potters need housekeepers AND personal assistants!! At least I did get there- this morning it was raining steadily from at least 3am, and by breakfast you could only just see over the treetops. At ten o'clock you could see the base of the raggedy clouds some one hundred feet up.
Above is the Summer (?) foliage on the fence!!

Then I found that I had a young garden assistant...

batch finished

I finished the bigger berry bowls this morning, then the l.5 kg bowls after lunch.

The rims are getting interesting!!
Then it was clean the boards, get more dry pots into the kiln, knead one boardfull of reclaim and get it bagged and make the other boardfull into humpbacked bridge shapes. Then it should be dry enough to knead and bag up in the morning.

Next to plan tomorrow's throwing. I need even bigger bowls, some platters and cheese bells, plus small things to fill up those wasted spaces! That wont all get done tomorrow!

I need to think about an exhibition theme "Celebration"....It starts at the beginning of October, so the submission date needs checking too.

Monday 15 August 2011

"yer be dragons" !!

Going on steadily today, not a good day for drying as it is damp and chilly (August??!!)
The small berry bowls I finished yesterday
and I have four more larger ones to finish
One can have fun too....the dragons are back!!

Sunday 14 August 2011

busy day

I've been drilling holes in berry bowls today-I think my drill bits need sharpening by now! I use several different sizes, in making patterns of holes, and just use the bits, not the drills.
I could just use a teapot piercer, but I like the consistency of size.
Also turning a few plates and some small decorative bowls.

As I was on the way to the allotment I was stopped and asked if I was ok....they are so used to seeing me in the garden every day, people worry. That's nice.

At the moment there are so many things to do with good drying weather!...Dry pots, dry clothes, go gardening....or even go for a walk!!

More berry and decorative bowls tomorrow, a bit bigger this time. The 1.5 kg bowls have been wrapped to prevent further drying. Sometimes this seems to make the turning easier, if they have sat wrapped for a little while- but not too long!

work but not!

Pots well wrapped and wheel cleaned down ready this morning, before doing the laundry and dashing off to the Allotment Committee Meeting... meetings always take longer than you allow for!

I'd hoped to pick broad beans afterwards but it was raining.. but had finished by the time I'd arrived, I wasn't going to tempt fate and return to the garden!!

I just managed to get an ordered mug in the post, but missed the collection. It will be on its way North on Monday. First step of the journey done at least, even if it is only four doors along the street!

After lunch I had an afternoon out with The Oily One. Not really an afternoon off, more leisurely work. We collected a small rubber car part, then headed for Craft in the Bay sales yet, so we had a wander round to Herb and Ellie's Deli for a coffee and to see a friend.

That lifted the spirits, so we ventured to Cowbridge to see if there might be a shop that I could get my work into.....nothing as far as I could see. There is The Old Barn in Verity Street, a lovely building but unfortunately (for me) workshops for local makers and the local bike shop. I must ask someone living locally, but there was nothing obvious.

Home for supper as it started raining after a fine afternoon and posting more on Etsy.

Friday 12 August 2011

speeding up!

This week so far!
The middle board has finished items on it, the rest are from the past two days.

I started yesterday with turning and cutting feet
with knobs on!!
Just blue slip inside this 2kg bowl. I didn't think that it needed any image inside.
Dried pots in the kiln, out of the way and out of harm's way!
One builder's bucket of recycling! I don't usually let it build up this much. The next bucketful is on its way already as I had a plastic clay bag of dried trimmings ready to slake down.
It was fine until 3pm today and pots were drying well, now it is giving very fine rain showers. So no gardening yet.
If it is raining tomorrow morning I'll do some light turning, to give my hands a rest.

Thursday 11 August 2011

getting going

Getting going takes an age, doesn't matter at what time I start! It is improving thankfully.

Seven demijohns were freegled (freecycled) on Wednesday, the table is still a bit cluttered, but is now more organised! Half is full of some of the latest pots, so I'm living with the new shapes.

Then I set to trying out different ways of doing the logo on the mugs. I haven't done inlay since just under thirty years, so the technique is a tad rusty! I've tried several ways on two mugs, and they'll be mugs for the house when fired!

I finished cutting the holes in two small berry bowls too, only just in time as they are drying fast. Despite the chilly wind and not a lot of cloudfree sun, it is quite warm.

Today it has been rainy and sunny, so no outside jobs to use as an excuse! I turned, cut and finished five small bowls before a friend came to visit and buy three bowls!

She runs Monnow Valley Arts, a beautiful place with a gallery and sculpture garden in a breathtaking and inspiring setting.

After she went I got inspired and threw a dozen more bowls..then checked my "post" on the computer and found I had sold more on Etsy, from being mentioned on another friend's blog.

Networks and Webs! Every little helps, and keeps me going, for which blessings be thankful!!

Tuesday 9 August 2011

a query

So which side of a mug do you put a logo/decoration on?

mountain walk

Today, thanks to The Carpenter, I started from the teashop by the canal on the Darran

and headed up to Pegwn y Bwlch, meeting a man who was born in Madryn street in Crosskeys (about 87 years ago), lived in New Zealand for most of his life, and now lives opposite where he was born! Then I accompanied three generations of one family up Twmbarlwm. (mother, daughters and granddaughter).

I'd come this way because I dowsed the map for the ponies...why hadn't I thought of that earlier! (probably wouldn't have been balanced enough to do it earlier ) They were here- relief! They are elusive, and do move about a lot...and there is a lot of ground- and trees- they can disappear into!!
Good to be welcomed
He is shaping up
No wonder pony feet are difficult to draw...they are always in the undergrowth!!
Twenty years or so ago this was not much more than six feet wide.
Looking back towards Cardiff
I met another walker and dog, had another nice talk, but this meant time was slipping by. I'd seen possibly another three ponies in the distance, ones that always kept together, but I wasn't going across that way now.
I cut down the path by the old quarry workings, you can see the different colour growth on them.
and down paths where I'd been shown the way before, where we'd smelt the reek of fox in the beechwoods. I came out on the Forest Drive by the first car park and barbecue site, where there is a chainsaw sculpture
Then tarmac and verge for a while
The stream which is fed from the North facing slope of the valley has just sunlight flowing. Some of the water does end up underground in the old pit workings, I was told and it will take two rainy days to get it flowing again.
That which is fed from the South facing slopes still runs, but is reduced due to low rainfall.
The old road from Nantcarn down towards Cwmcarn, with the undergrowth gradually encroaching across its path.
It was a fine day for walking, not too warm and with a light breeze.