Tuesday, 31 January 2012

new beginnings

It is that time of year, The small beginning of the coming of Spring, with increasing light and things starting to grow..so the weather has decided to present us with snow and frost!! The snow has retreated to above 600 to 700 feet above sea level, and is heavier as you go north and west of here.

I've thrown two dozen small mugs yesterday, and opened two bags of clay to dry them to throwing consistency. Today (in the living room!) they were dry enough...just...to turn upsidedown. The clay is back in its bags, ready to be kneaded tomorrow.

It was bitterly cold in the workshop this morning and stayed like that all day. I cleaned and tidied instead and even started painting the walls of the front room (The Room of Doom, thankyou Ally for the name!!) white. That should make it easier to sort the mess!!
The Wizzard is down from Manchester this weekend, so now he has a sofa to sleep on without dodging boxes of this and that!!

Good News on the North Wales Front..I've been accepted to put stock into the shop at the Royal Cambrian Academy Gallery at Plas Mawr in Conwy, and also in the Christmas exhibition too!

Deadline March 20th..all being well...

Sunday, 29 January 2012

a week away

I've had nearly a week away, staying with Daughter and Family.
Then having a long day heading Northwards for the first time since 1998, reclaiming my routes, renewing old friendships, but also finding I'd missed a friend by four months. At least I could give his son and widow the gift of a small bowl.
I felt at home. This probably explains why I'm drawn to the higher places around where I live, why being with Mountain Man was right. My first memory is of travelling from Capel Curig along the A5 road with Tryfan on the left, towards Idwal Cottage youth hostel where we lived in 1954/5.

I had a wander round Machynlleth as it was market day.
and delivered a box of work to Crochendy Twrog in Maentwrog. Trefor Owen always sold my work well, and had two jars left, a small one and this one.....
I must make some more of these!
It was good to see Trefor looking well at 75 and planning to do some throwing.

Then further North where I left more work...and I'm hoping to hear in a few days whether I'll have work in a gallery shop here.....
I had a day's "officialling" work at Newport Velodrome yesterday, today's work is tidying the allotment a little (weather permitting- we have a snow warning) and preparing the workshop for throwing.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Friday, 27 January 2012

Blorenge Mountain

For Janet...this is the mountain beginning with"B" near Abergavenny....today, with snow!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Court Cupboard Gallery. pictures

Ysgyryd Fawr (Big Skirrid) behind the gallery
Some work from courses run here (sugarcraft, painting,ceramics,basketmaking....)
Daffodils from the garden at Sioni Rhys Textiles
ceramics- Gwynneth Rixon . painting - David Haswell
Sioni Rhys Textiles from Pandy (which means fulling mill in Welsh) just north of the gallery
Y Fal (the Sugar Loaf) peeping over the top
looking down the lane towards Blorenge mountain

Friday, 20 January 2012

cat in a hazel tree

Court Cupboard Gallery

Duty day in the gallery today, 10.30 am to 4pm (Winter hours)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

gardening escape!

from sorting and de-cluttering!!

We now have a large heap of brambles and buddleia in the Walled Garden, ready to be turned into potash!! I started, and now finished removing brambles from a huge forsythia bush. The buds are just showing on it and soon there will be flowers. Now it will look good and be safe to prune after flowering!

The New Mugs and New Handles have been unwrapped, and just loosely covered with one sheet of plastic. They should be dry enough to lightly fettle on Sunday.

On my way home I came over the mountain (surprise!) to avoid the traffic, and drove behind a young farmer (in his twenties-we need more of his generation to carry on, when the average age is 58) on a quad bike as he moved sheep to a field half a mile up the road.
I didn't mind waiting, and it would have helped if someone impatient had come up behind. Two large lambs got a ride on his lap, and the two dogs hopped up behind him for breaks! It was good to be thanked and pass the time of day (and to be recognised...he keeps an eye out for me on my mountain walks.)

We are back to Spring weather again, with light showers. The forecast is to stay much the same, getting a bit breezy on Saturday and colder on Sunday, although still above freezing point.

We do need a dose of Winter. Just please can it wait until I'm back from North Wales!!

Ray Finch. RIP

Glad to have met him first in 1982/3, he carried on the impetus and inspiration that Michael Cardew gave me in 1976.

He inspired so many and made beautiful, honest pots.

We are fortunate that his sons carry on the tradition, both of making and inspiring.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

final selection

Thanks to The Carpenter for his well thought out comments, the selection has been made and packed.......The red/brown bowl, the blue jug, the salt glazed box, the fishy sgraffito platter, the cookie jar and the green bowl with the pie crust rim.
Any more would have been too heavy!

Now to pack a selection to show to two other galleries who used to sell my work well...that should be far easier!

I've photographed pots to put on Etsy, just need to weigh them and set the postage and packing charges.

That should keep me busy today! It is still cold out there, although the temperature is rising again- it is playing "yo-yo" so you can't get acclimatised to any level. So staying in and getting on with it is not a bad deal!!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


It is cold today (ok, it may have been the coldest so far this year, and it is still warmer than many of you out there have it, BUT!!!!) so no digging or getting hands in cold water and clay!!

I've weeded out a huge bagful of dead clothes-about time too! Now I'm thinking, where to attack next!! Every time I look at something it says Hang On, You Never Know, Just In Case......

This is all putting off The Decision....exactly which pots do I choose to submit to the gallery? It has to be representative, but not look a random mix. I just don't know what they are looking for. Years ago they only had paintings and some sculpture, now it appears they are expanding their range.

The shortlist so far....
It has taken a week to get this far and I think The Carpenter would like the living room back!!

Monday, 16 January 2012


After housework wrangling and bill paying I spent a few hours with a friend, learning a different method of making mug handles.

It has been such a beautiful day, albeit cold. I really enjoyed myself, and the first two hours just disappeared!
Then one pot delivered to finish an order already paid for, and home as the traffic began to build up. A good reason to finish the journey by coming over the end of the mountain!! It is good to be up there, however briefly.

After all that,
tired !!!!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

roamin' in the gloamin' !!

A good walk to get up from the traffic noise, taking an old road up from the canal bridge, although not much of the surface is left. Coming home along the fire road following a route we'd done before. Just by myself this time. I'm not sure if that was a planet or a space station I saw to finish with, looking Westwards.

Back home to battle with technology..I think the phone I use as a camera is playing up and it is getting difficult to transfer images. Meanwhile, The Carpenter made supper. It is good to share work!

new pots

More jars, only one lid not free so far, but I've no doubt that it will be fine. The one that was stuck from the last firing freed itself- and no obvious reason for sticking. I think I'll start using a very light coating of rimwash so that they don't stick, next time! (just alumina and china clay, which melts at a higher temperature than I'm firing- so just a matter of wping it off after firing)

The big platter looks good, I'm looking forward to making more of these. The bowl with the pie-crust rim fired well too.

More salt pots
and a bigger blue bowl

I'm not completely happy with everything...but who is?! No disasters, and all saleable work....relief!!!


Late yesterday morning the frost was still there, just a crust on the surface so far. By the time I'd cleared the shed on the allotment I've given up you could break the surface and all the ice crystals had gone.
Just don't look closely at the greenhouse on the one I'm keeping on.....
The Carpenter helped load the car and I moved things to the house, workshop and shed until I get a shed on my allotment.

The weather was sunny so despite it meaning a late finish, the kiln was lit just after 2pm. Rather that than struggle to get it started and to get the flue to draw on a frosty morning.
It fired very well, only slowing down after 1100 C, partly because the gas bottles had started freezing and partly because it was trying to reduce. I aim for a balanced, oxidised firing partly because it uses less gas, but also because the green glaze is attractive and sells well!
There are parts of thje kiln that still reduce, even when it appears to be drawing through. This adds a variety of colour on a pot, a flash of 'movement' and individuality.
I'm learning more each time, but I like these variations even though I can't entirely control them.
The firing was finished by 9pm, which was a relief! Time to relax instead of just turning off and crawling into bed!!

This morning at 6.20am, the temperature had dropped to 342 C...it will be quicker because of the freezing temperature outside, but now is when it really slows down. Just under 300 degrees you want it to go slowly, as there is one of the points that the quartz crystals in the fired work change form. You take it easy, or get problems with the work cracking.
Now it is just after 8am, I might just go and check the pyrometer.....

Teigar Cat!!

With The Oily One , just before he had a hair trim! She watched, from a safe distance!

She approves of woolly jumpers..but then food comes to mind (often!) and shes on her way!!

"no, I'm not going to pose" !!
Fourteen and still going strong.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

tired again

just a thought

work out who you are and what you need. Be honest.
Before you comment on this, have you, are you?
If you respect and like yourself, you can do so to others

Diwrnod i'r Brenin

Literally "A Day for the King"....in other words, a day off. With fine sunny weather as well- although we'll pay for it with cold nights!!

Still busy though..I collected the rest of my work from Craft in the Bay, from the Summer Exhibition. I had assumed that the pots I'd packed into one crate would all come back in the same one, but they'd split them into a crate and a box...forgotten that they'd done so when I collected the crate in September...and I only checked the crate last week!!! Lucky indeed.

Then dentist. That Tooth has shed the top of its filling, so it received a temporary top and hopefully will be crowned next month.

I visited Oriel Canfas near Chapter Arts Centre in Treganna (Canton) in Cardiff.

No time for a cuppa in Chapter unfortunately, but it was good to see Anthony Evans working well in Oriel Canfas.

There was nowhere to park near where the Oily One works, which is quite near to Chapter too, so home for a cuppa!

The day was topped off by finding my way round Newport to find a Freegler (I should have trusted my directional instincts to save myself twenty minutes!!) and going to the Velodrome to help with the Cycling Club Cardiff track session and see friends.

A good day....followed by tidying the allotment today!!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

a beautiful day

Snowdrops under the Walnut tree.

I spent today with friends, firstly collecting bagged pony manure for this garden. Then I pruned brambles here, mostly under a warm sun with a few very light soft rainshowers.
It was so beautiful, the air was warm and breathable, birds singing, and a tractor chugging along in the distance.
We talked pots and potting too, planning next week's work.

Then off to Usk for tea with a friend, collecting a few belongings from elsewhere on the way.
More tea and talking ceramics and gardening and swapping travel plans.

It is good to be with friends and be relaxed and talk-and before you know it you can see how to progress in a blink, after having wrestled with ideas for an age!!

After a lunchtime shower it was dry again, but having been so clear it is getting much colder- but still not quite freezing.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

cracking on

Yesterday I fired the first bisque of 2012!
It went well, apart from one gas bottle running empty and finding the kiln back to 100 degrees C and dropping! A quick switch over and it was on the up again. If nothing else it meant that the bigger bowls and plates were fired nice and slow, so no bad cracks and explosions!!

It was good timing, the bottle running out as I'd just had a letter informing me of a gas price rise from today...so gas ordered yesterday came at the old price, thankfully.

This morning the kiln was down to just over 100 degrees after breakfast, nicely timed to crack open the door and let it cool further as I sorted the pottery tools I'd cleaned. Not many to go, as I'd had a good sort out a year ago, but back in order.

The glazes were ready , the gasman came, and after shopping and lunch...let the glazing begin!!

I'm trying this kilnload without waxing, to see if it gives a tidier finish.
All pots were plazed, fettled and packed back in the warm kiln by six o'clock.

Decks cleared and cleaned, then The Oily One made omelettes with cheese and chopped onion.
Served with plenty of salad and some good dark rye bread. Just the thing after a good day's work.

Monday, 9 January 2012

dusk walk

I've cleaned a heap of tools, when they and the tool boxes are dry I can sort them and reduce them. All the greenware has been packed in the kiln ready for a bisque. There is room for more at the front, but I want to get this fired as soon as I can. Then it will be a fresh start for this year.

By four o'clock I'd had enough! Time for a walk near the village.

An oak looking haggard and green, so different from last year.

Looking down the Graig with the end of the Mountain bike Downhill Trail behind.
The eight foot tall bracken now brown and laid low
The sides of the fire road, including sizeable trees has been flailed back
Top of Cwm Fapi (the Lappy)
Down between the trees. The eyes see far more light than the camera
The first streetlight at the top of the Graig
looking down to the lights of Cwmcarn
Back to streetlights, that make it seem much darker

more de-cluttering

The kitchen is looking better, I don't have to move anything to do something, or put something down!

The living room is livable. I have sofa, chairs, coffee table, I will have a dining table once I've decided which six pots get to go to North Wales.

The shelves and boxes of pots, the stack of storage boxes full of stock, the trays and files of paperwork. Well, it has to be a stockroom and office as well as living room. It is called trying to make a living, so that justifies them.

The Room of Doom.
The Carpenter is doing his best, The Oily One clutters it. My stuff there is at least sorted on shelves and I can't face it yet. I will be painting walls SOON which will reduce some of the clutter.

My Room.
Is looking a lot better. Sorted paperwork to return to the Living Room Office Shelf.

The Bathroom.
Is clean and tidy, although still waiting for the next set in up-doing

The Workshop
Is Next

The Greenhouse and Shed can wait a bit!!

Sunday, 8 January 2012


Considering who I am.

Considering what I need

Considering how I function.

Unscrambling thoughts as well as de-cluttering my living and working space.

I need to love and give and care, but I also need my own physical and mental space.

I like to work with and share decisions, but not to be ordered about and have things demanded of me.

I'm probably just like everyone else then!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

first market this year

At Usk this morning we had the first farmers' market of the year. Only a small market in the smaller hall with about a dozen stalls, far fewer than usual. It was pleasing to see regular customers turning out and the bright sunshine helped! This is the first time in fourteen years that the first market in January has been held, and it was successful due to the weather. Had it been like the past two years, most of us would have been unable to get there!

I didn't sell much, but more than covered costs and talked to many about the Court Cupboard Gallery. Hopefully this will mean more sales there.

Back home to carry on the New Year de-cluttering with The Carpenter. Getting there slowly!!

Friday, 6 January 2012


Today has been mostly tidying..I've found the box of good pots I've been hunting...in an obvious place!!

Once I've decided which pots will be heading to North Wales for a gallery selection, I can clear the living room table.
I've "found" the sofa, the comfortable chairs AND the coffee table already...the room will be usable soon!!

Now I've got two months to decide what to submit for the Eisteddfod...there is even time to make brand new work.
Usk Farmers' Market is tomorrow morning, and the car is packed ready. I think Monday morning is Sort Out Workshop Day.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

job done

All the numbers crunched, job done!

I'm surprised at just how much I've sold so far...when you think that most people are reckoning to have a halved turnover this year.....

That is a real incentive to get out there, post regularly on Etsy and Don't Panic!!!

The Carpenter was riding home from work today. When he did (luckily) a seated acceleration from a traffic light....and sheared the legs of the "spider" of his chainset.....

I drove to the rescue, and we came home mostly via the lanes and smaller roads. It was a relief to get out after all that number crunching and nice to have good discussion on the way home.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


I just followed Cro to here. and he had written a comment worth sharing, it is so good.

"One can usually tell the home of an ex-art-student. We tend to appreciate objects for their individual worth and beauty, rather than stick to accepted interior-design concepts."



mountain walk

At last I'm well enough to go walking again-I managed an hour before the weather turned to rain.

It was so good to be back up here.
But what a difference one year ago.