Saturday, 26 November 2011

light at the end of the tunnel?

I've been away for three days...they've done the washing and the shopping....think I'll have to go away some more!!

Pity it is a bit too damp for them to hang the washing out.

AND....The Carpenter has some work, using his skills part of the time too. There are possibilities of more work as's hoping.....

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

working in the dark

is no fun.

The Carpenter has made me a lamp, so that I have two to work by. Pots still don't quite look right, but better than looking flat. It gave me two more hours to handle cups and mugs, before I became too cold.
The weather isn't actually that cold, still just in double figure temperatures, but the dampness makes it feel so.
Another dozen handles still to do, and a platter and two bigger bowls to turn and decorate.
I still need to throw some salt pots, cheese bells and small boxes.

it is no fun metaphorically either. The Carpenter has just had a letter saying they've stopped his benefit from the end of October....but no reason given. He signs on, he is job-hunting, we can't work out why.....
The mortgage insurance is still dragging its heels too, asked for more details two weeks ago, still he hears nothing.....

These letters always arrive on Friday afternoon or Saturday, when you can do nothing but worry....

The Oily One helped Spannerman do a bit of welding on my should last another two years or so. It is looking a bit tatty, but so would you after well over 300,000 miles!

Sunday, 20 November 2011


I'm learning how to shop...and I can't say I enjoy it that much.

However I managed to buy a pair of boots yesterday.

Then today I went with Daughter and family and braved Cardiff!! So I couldn't chicken out without getting what I needed and we had time out together.

Result- proper sized underpinnings after being professionally measured and fitted. A pair of smart shoes that look good AND that I can walk in! Two tops and a cardigan. Also I know what style trousers I need.

I think I should get sewing again! If nothing else it saves braving the heaving hordes!!


I did a farmers' market yesterday and sometimes I wonder why I bother. At least I covered stall rent and fuel cost.
It is a job to teach people here that a farmers market means quality food and goods, not cheap rubbish. I think the organiser needs to be far more active in publicising what is going on and he said so himself. So perhaps next year we'll see an improvement!

With luck and a bit of work we may get more visits to the gallery from those who saw my stall at the market. Even if they don't end up buying my work, any sales keep the gallery going!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

a quote

from George Herbert, seen as a comment on a friend's blog.

"living well is the best revenge"


Friday, 18 November 2011

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

this day

has been occupied with helping The Carpenter de-clutter. Working together is most satisfying.

Glaze materials bought, pots collected after an exhibition (and three small pots sold) and a plasterer's Hawk purchased for The Carpenter.
He wants to learn plastering, so he can do the undercoat in the bathroom. If he is good enough he'll do the top coat too!
He is teaching himself to weld and it is coming along nicely. Still no job though.

The runner beans have been taken from their pods ready to finish drying for seed. The shallotts are sitting in the kitchen waiting to be cleaned and sorted for storing. I need to check over the apples, potatoes and onions that are on stacked trays in the cool larder.

Next door is having their render removed on much of the rear of the house...I've no objections, the job needed doing years ago.....I'll be glad when they've done, however, as you can't think or work with the racket they are makingf!!

It has been dry and sunny today, but the wind is getting colder. I actually turned the heating on tonight!

big sheds

In Abergavenny. Each side of a side road. About 100 years difference!

Monday, 14 November 2011

ginger cat

Cato. Keeps an eye on me!

Usk River walk

The river cliffs can be seen in the background and right in the foreground you can see how the river is moving its bed, more than a foot a year.

This year's calves watching the Canada Geese

new ideas

stacking cups?
Very atmospheric...also cold and damp!!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

being resolved

to carry on cooking for one.

I would love to share cooking a meal though-working together is good.

Made a risotto with onion, garlic and a little fennel last night. sprouts and squash and carrots on the side, walnuts and mixed seeds on top. A glass of red wine (Merlot) on the side and some home pressed apple juice to finish. A meal I wanted to share the making and eating.

The builders had finished by 4pm, so although it meant finishing after sunset, I threw a dozen smaller mugs. Trying the belly shape on a smaller mug. Not as easy as you think, you have to balance what looks good with what will be easy to drink from. You don't want a mug you have to tip uncomfortably far to empty the 'belly' or that flares too much so that you spill liquid past your mouth as you drink!!

More mugs to throw for another order this morning, so that hopefully I can do impressed decoration and handling on Monday or Tuesday.

I need to get up and get on with it now, there's a bike ride planned for this afternoon and it looks set fair again!!

Saturday, 12 November 2011


Drying more apple rings to make Apple Crisps and dried apple for Apple and Ginger drink.
Cleared the bean haulms and planted garlic this morning, after the allotment committee meeting.
The air is still damp, but it has turned warmer again and there is no rain forecast this weekend.

Washing done and out, not that it will dry much.
Doing my own washing and cooking FOR ME!!!! Wondering when they’ll realise that I meant it when I said they’d have to do their own….

Builders in next door stripping off render today so I can’t think!! Making pots with that racket six feet away? No thanks.
Wishing that more people would buy my pots on Etsy, although it is nice to be Favourited!!

Thankyou to the Oily One and the Carpenter for doing some little jobs on my car.
Arranged for the welding to be done on the car too-it has managed to pass the yearly test for three years but it wont next March. So I'm getting it done before the worst of the weather.

Now to find how much more noisy work the builders have to do....

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

getting bigger...

The ruler is a 12"/30cm measure. I can't really go over 15 inches dried in this kiln, so I must work out the plastic to ready to fire shrinkage!!

They were quite heavily thrown, as the clay is fairly soft , to support the shape. I think I need the clay a little less soft! Even though it is now ten months old it isn't the easiest to throw with, but it is improving slowly. I reckon it will be fine by the time I've worked through this ton!!
I'm planning a change of clay and having over half a ton left means I have the time to find a clay that suits me better!
I threw these with 4.5 kg each, starting with 1.5kg, centering, adding the next, centering each third is centered and compressed and hopefully I wont have the cracks in the base that appear in the glaze firing. The bowl is still useable as they don't go all the way through, but don't look good.
These are some of yesterday's small pots (250gm)
It has been raining fine steady rain most of today..just the sort of rain you need to replenish the groundwater....just not during the day!!

I did my usual token housework before work- sorting my own things in the kitchen and ironing and drying my own clothes. After working this afternoon I made a large bean and pepper curry, and an almond and carrot nut roast..good freezer food!!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


Thirty small pots made today ( I know, not a lot!) but a delayed start due to housework.

When "bad light stopped play" it was 4.30pm, a quarter hour to pack up and leave everything clean then back to the house.
Both The Carpenter and The Oily One were computer I tidied the kitchen, kept the clean dishes and pans and put another batch of apple rings on to dry.

We now have no Oily One and a disgruntled Carpenter who has no wish to make supper on his own.

I thought they'd grown up....toddlers have "strops" about eating food, but enjoy making it. Seems like it turns the other way round after a few years and preparing and cooking it "too much of a faff" to quote The Oily One when asked to deal with some potatoes.

People say I shouldn't be doing all the housework and cooking.

Someone has to do it and I'm still living here most of the time so why should I suffer it not being done? Asking, saying or telling them what needs doing doesn't seem to work. Making a rota doesn't work when people don't say when they'll be here or not, which I always try to do.

Rant, Rant!! Well, ranting at them wont work, so I suppose it is better to let off steam here!!

Off to make supper........

cold and damp

Well, it is November...

The heater came back into the workshop for the first time in months, as I started this batch of throwing.

It may be that the last (now deceased) scales were inaccurate, but the throwing weights seem wrong.
Perhaps I weighed out then, with stiffer clay? I don't know, but so far I've needed to add about ten per cent extra weight to get the right dimensions . I've checked that I'm not throwing thicker as well.

My hands are still achey but they are better for being back in use.

Back to the wheel now that lunch is over.

Sunday, 6 November 2011


Two hours on the bike today, a nice little potter down to the Velodrome...again!!!

A reasonable cup of real coffee, say hello to friends and pootle back home...and no hills walked!!

The weather is beautiful, clear sky, sun and enough breeze to dry the washing without making it to hard on the bike!!

No pictures until I work out how to get them onto the laptop- the usb thing on the Carpenter's computer is playing up.

farmers' market day

Friday afternoon and night was very wet, with a lot of standing water on the roads. The drains have blocked quickly. My regular Friday night journey to the Velodrome was...interesting!
Our club session has been pushed back an hour, so is now 8pm to 10pm. So we've lost half an hour of time, and lost regular attendees as it is too late, even if you don't have to travel a hundred miles or more to get home.

Even after leaving before the end of the session (I do the paperwork and help when needed) it was a late night before an early start! At least Usk isn't too far to drive and you only need to be setting up by nine for a ten o'clock start.

This Saturday was different, Usk Farmers' Market bustled from nine o'clock, the hall was full and there were ten stalls outside..lucky the sun shone too!

I didn't sell much this time, but it was good to see many regular market shoppers and be welcomed back. I'll do the next one in two week's time, and possibly a month after that too.
We'll is a dilemma. You need to keep going to get established in peoples' minds....but after a while you've saturated your market.

Straight back to the velodrome from the market to work as a commissaire (official) at the Welsh Youth Track Championships. I just work at the signing on table. Even though the signing on doesn't last long you need someone there all day to field queries and direct people .
You need two or three on the table as you are posting results as they come through for the riders and team helpers to read as well. Then you have to get all the numbers and pins back in exchange for their racing licences!

The velodrome link is with Olympian Geraint Thomas, a previous member of C.C. (Cycling Club) Cardiff.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

a good start

First firing this year, and it went well all considering the cold and damp start! Once the flue warmed up, it started drawing air through and I could relax. Until then it can overheat at the top, and fill the workshop with fumes! Needless to say the door and windows are open to start with!!
I missed the first gas bottle running low, so it spent half an hour gaining three degrees, but after changing over to the other bottle all went well. I have enough gas for the next bisque firing, I wouldn't risk another glaze firing from it as I wouldn't like to run out mid firing!

This firing's Menagerie!!
My Best Black Glaze- almost finished now, and I haven't been able to replicate it with commercial oxides. A good reason for a visit to North Wales!!
I may have glazed this a little too thick- this glaze always needed to be thickly applied. It could also be that it is the end of the glaze bucket...
I'm still trying to learn how to work with this kiln, to regulate the atmosphere- there is evidence of reduction throughout the kiln. Here the inside of the green jug is pink!!
This glaze has a tiny bit of copper as well as cobalt, giving pink flashes on the blue glaze.

Always learning, never stop!

I feel I have to master working with this kiln before I move to another. It is teaching me much, not just about the basic firing, but also about how the weather affects how I have to adjust damper and gas pressure .

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Lemon Yoghurt Cake

I found this on a blog a while ago.....

Oven to 350 degrees F
grease and line 8" square cake tin

5 Tbsp softened butter

1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup lemon yoghurt
2 cups flour (nicest with 1 each white/wholemeal)
1 tsp baking powder
half tsp bicarb
half tsp salt

Beat together the wet ingredients, I use a slotted serving spoon. Add the dry ingredients. Mix well. Place in the tin, smooth thetop and if you like, sprinkle granulated or demerara sugar on the top

Bake until a knife comes out clean. This is an hour in my oven, could be less in other ovens, will be less in a fan oven.

I left it to cool in the tin, I'd say leave it in the tin until it is at least lukewarm.

forgive me for not writing the link down too.
Whosever it is, many thanks as it works!!

You could add lemon zest for that extra bite, or use different flavour yoghurt...go on, experiment!!

New Year

After a soaking night, the low clouds are lifting and the sun is shining through.
I'm risking the showers and am getting on with a mountain of washing!

The kiln took a while to draw properly, with the flue chilly and damp. Now it is gaining temperature nicely, so hopefully it will be not too late reaching temperature (cone 9 to 10)(1280-1300 C )