Volcanic Yellow

I’ve been inspired for a while to try and create a sulphurous yellow glaze as I am a bit mad for yellow at the moment. I’ve also been working hard at throwing porcelain for my illustrated range – but felt it was time to try something a little different that relies simply on the surface effects and colour of the vessels in relation to the thrown shapes and the qualities of the material.

I completed a small body of work using some new glazes before going on sabbatical earlier this year and felt really pleased with how they came out of the kiln:

volcanic yellow four pieces

Volcanic Yellow collection in the studio.

I took the pots to Frome artisan market this month, selling out before I’d even had a chance to take any proper product shots! I must admit I was quite surprised at the level of positivity to them. Here are a few shots of them before they went:

volcanic yellow 1 lo

Volcanic Yellow on display a the Frome Independent market.

base of volcanic yellow lo

Logo-ed base of Volcanic Yellow mug

I’m really looking forward to getting back into the studio now and developing this range further – I’ve already thrown a new shape of jug to play with. Shown below, they are just now drying out ready for bisque firing. Maybe it will be part of the new Volcanic Yellow range, or maybe an illustrated piece, I will be test-firing a few different ideas:

new jugs lo

 

Travels in pottery

Arriving back in the studio after a substantial time away in various parts of Asia, I thought I’d post up a little taste of the visual plenty from the trip, starting with of one of my favourite places – Bhaktapur.

This town in Nepal is a mediaeval city with a very strong artisanal tradition and a charming and laidback approach to life. Only an hour from the craziness of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur is full of friendliness and a lively traditional, and very visible, culture. It’s a Newari city and it has it’s own special caste of potters – the Prajapatis. Historically this was a very low caste but it was heartening to meet young potters raising their heads high and proudly continuing their traditional heritage for a new era. By embracing social media, finding out about new techniques and researching new niches in their business they are moving away from occupying a challenging strata of society as the demand for simple bisque-fired, purely functional, single-use pots slowly dwindles. Below is an example of a traditional urn, situated on a street-corner sitting area:

Bhaktapur ancient pot

I had the privilege of watching and engaging with a remarkable master potter too. His ‘studio’ is simply an unsheltered area of a backstreet off Potters’ Square, next to some rudimentary storage space for his goods and materials. He works in the traditional style, throwing functional homewares such as rakshi brewing apparatus as well as myriad moneyboxes, as seen below – each of these pots is thrown in less than a minute on his huge momentum wheel, which is simply stirred into action with a wooden staff:

master at work

Pots drying in the square – these are for the local market and are functional pots for use in the home:

drying in potters square

Here a potter tends to one of the wood-fired kilns, before getting ready for the next firing. In preparation, women file through the square bearing huge bundles of straw to pack around the pots. Beneath is a shot of a kiln ready to fire. How the whole district doesn’t go up in flames I have no idea:wood firingready to fire

Pots of yoghurt stacked in a traditional curd shop. A buffalo milk delicacy, cooling earthenware bowls are still the preferred vessels to sell in – sadly they are discarded after use:

curd bowls

Below are some more shots of the square. You can see the huge stack of straw ready to be transported to the kiln firing buildings; pots ready for sale; pots drying out in the sun, each maker arranging them in a perfect grid of work; there is even pottery graffiti on a wall as you enter the Potter’s Square:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I would love to spend more time here and feel the whole process from start to finish and speak to more of the traditional artisans still at work.

Farnborough International Airshow

As the Crow Flies had a bit of an outing with some very different winged beasts last week, occupying a stand at the Farnborough International Airshow in Surrey. Really excited to take along a new product made especially for the show – the Flight mug, featuring a plethora of birds, balloons and biplanes. Glad it went down well with the punters at Farnborough too!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Continue reading

Summer Market Season 2014

Come along to a summer fair and meet the artist, see all the lovely As the Crow Flies ceramics and home wares for yourself! Find out where:

image-2 Continue reading

Dragonflies and Thistles

Had the pleasure of going home to Fife for a week last month and took up a load of wares and commissions to show and sell to friends and family. Aside from the excitement of our triple birthday (me, my dad and my brother-in-law share the same date and traditionally blow out our candles together, something I wouldn’t miss for the world), it was great to share what I’ve been doing over the past 6 months with everyone.

dragonlies in flight lo

Continue reading

New illustrative work in stoneware and earthenware

Just a quick post to share some images of a couple of pieces of commission work I have recently finished… a great pleasure to make and so nice to have the opportunity to really stretch out the creative juices.

Number one is a bespoke set of nasturtium illustrated earthenware – 2 large mugs and a serving bowl…

nasturtium bowl 1

nasturtium bowl 2

nasturtium mug 1Number two some Birds in Flight sgraffito decorated stomeware bowls…
at lido IMG_2595

 

Doily ware – handbuilt porcelain

I’m really getting a positive response from people on  my handbuilt porcelain ware.  I use ‘slab-building’ for this (although you could hardly call the sheets of porcelain that I roll out as ‘slabs!’) and press moulding for the bowls.  The techniques, with really thin fine porcelain produce slightly warped pieces – all uniquely shaped but with a strong design which ties them together. The imprinted design, using a vintage lace doily which is first bisque-fired, is hand painted using a variety of oxides and underglazes before firing again with a transparent glaze to create a really vibrant colourful piece… The range is expanding; it’s gone from jugs through teapot stands all the way to limited edition jewel caskets!

IMG_2569

IMG_2565

IMG_2433

IMG_2564

IMG_2435
IMG_2563doily mugs

IMG_2568 IMG_2571

 

Experimenting with Flamingos

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Genesis of a set of flamingo bowls – a really lovely commission and a fun illustration challenge…

Slides show the journey from initial sketching to slip and sgraffito illustration, freehand onto the earthenware bowls I threw; then the bisque ware and the final glazed result.

Botanicals: thistles bespoke

 

 

thistle closeup

The prickly Scottish thistle. A fine prickly challenge… and pleased with the results too. Part of a commissioned body of work, a pair of personalised thistle bowls emerged from the kiln a couple of days back. This was their process: A starting sketch, mainly just out of my imagination after scanning through some photos and vintage wallpaper designs. I find it’s better to draw without pictures for direct reference – a more personal interpretation can be more satisfying. After all, it’s what is signified in my mind that matters as I am aiming for decoration and essence rather than photorealism.

thistle sketch 2The idea is then sketched straight onto the slip painted earthenware, using a build up of coloured underglaze layers…

thistle painted…and then the image is defined by picking out sharply contrasting sgraffito lines, below.

thistle sgraffito

The finished items, you can see the personalisation in the final picture – this was part of a commission for a family of bowls. A lot of good fun work.

thistles finalthistle personalised

Botanicals: blossom


blossom glazed

Starting to explore more botanical ideas on my illustrated earthenware. Just enjoying picking up on what’s around me as I walk around the studio, it may be in Barton Hill but there are still loads of spring blossom trees and other inspirations… this is a little apple blossom journey that turned into a couple of mini espresso cups and will be rolled out onto bowls etc if the design works well after glazing…

blossom studyblossom espresso vignette

IMG_2395

buds cup budsblossom bowl inner