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:

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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.

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Christmas is coming…

Wow, what a year… since my last post which was inexcusably long ago, As the Crow Flies has been very, very busy! New outlets at the Leeds Craft Centre and Design Gallery, 20/21 Gallery in Scunthorpe, Platform in Cleethorpes and Found in Dunbar have kept me very busy with my order books, add to that the crescendo of Christmas market madness over the past month and computer-related work outwith the studio has been at a bare minimum.

I’m looking forward to two final markets in ATCF’s Bristol hometown – first up is this Saturday, 12th December, 10am-5pm, for Christmas at the Orangery. Pleased to see this shot of my doilyware being used as a promotional piece:

new doily set losq

Hand coloured Porcelain Doilyware

A really lovely selection of fine local makers at one of Bristol’s best known Christmas fairs – Christmas at the Orangery is taking place in Henleaze at the Bradbury Hall. Very excited to be taking part for the first time, and to see the Doilyware range featuring in a lot of local publicity:

Bristol Mag Dec15 pic

The Bristol Magazine, December 2015.

henleaze and westbury dec15 pic

Henleaze and Westbury Voice, November 2015

Hope to see lots of local Bristolites there! Or if you can’t make that one then our final date will be Whiteladies Road Farmers’ Market on Saturday December 19th from 9-2pm. Have a wonderful festive season!

Acer Bowl in Ceramic Review

earthenware bowls lores

So excited to see my acer serving bowl gracing the page of Ceramic Review this issue. Such a shock I nearly dropped my coffee! It’s featured in an advertorial for the British Craft Trade Fair which I’m taking part in next month. So pleased, it’s a new design in my hand painted and sgraffito decorated earthenware range.

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British Craft Trade Fair

Exciting news! As the Crow Flies will be attending the British Craft Trade Fair this April with a stand in the Newcomers’ Gallery. Here’s a screengrab of As the Crow Flies’ online catalogue page:

ATCF BCTF

It’ll be the first trade-specific event ATCF has been to, so lots of development work is underway… Some new designs in the pipeline as well as research going into laser-cutting some original ATCF illustrations to bring a new dimension to the slab built porcelain range.

Looking forward to this event so much!

New Inspirations – Tree Themes

10390038_10152323059957133_2866024385991924260_nPleased with the work-in-progress on a new range of hand-illustrated earthenware… It’s my favourite way of working and I was thrilled to be commissioned by a good friend to produce Christmas presents for her extended family featuring favourite trees. The pictures here show work in the green ware stage – at present they are in the kiln cooling after their first bisque firing and will be glazed by the end of the week – must remember and post up some photos of the final pieces! Maple, Oak and Beech feature on these pieces, with some hidden personalisations such as imprints of leaves from family gardens inside the mugs.10610717_10152323309352133_3436202340150921515_n 10730999_10152323061527133_8483336425447139595_n 10734214_10152323062652133_6369216000558981153_n 10744022_10152323333202133_757224287_o image006

New Market Dates this Winter

I’m delighted to confirm that on Saturday and Sunday 15th-16th November As the Crow Flies will be at The Front Room Arts Trail, Totterdown, Bristol showing at Gaines Greengrocers, 198 Wells Rd, BS4 2AX. Looking forward to revealing some new pieces specially produced for the show.

Excited to be attending a fair in one of my favourite places in Bristol on Sunday 30th November 10am-4pm: Arnos Vale Christmas Fayre, Spielman Centre at Arnos Vale Cemetary, Bath Road, Bristol BS4 3AW.

On Friday December 12th 9am-3pm I’ll be attending Blandford Christmas Market, in the Corn Exchange, Blandford Forum, Dorset. Pastures new!

From now until Christmas there will be As the Crow Flies cards, mugs, tea towels and cufflinks at Room 212 shop and gallery on the Gloucester Road, Bristol.

Click on the blue links above to find out more about each market and shop.

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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!

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New Products: Nasturtium Soap Dishes

As the Crow Flies studio has been busy of late after some frustrating time off with a slipped disc…image-1 Continue reading

Functional pots; responding to India

I need to work further into this idea, but I was charmed by India’s functional usage of pots. Although the use of unglazed earthenware vessels as diposable street-ware is dwindling sadly, it’s still perfectly normal to drink tea or lassi from a crude, beautiful, unique little pot in the street (and surreptitiously squirrel it in my bag rather than dash it to the ground!). They are so conical in shape, with tiny bases – designed for handheld use, not setting a table. I got home and couldn’t wait to try churning out a set of these…

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Functional pottery, Indian style

young potter lo

In Rajasthan, just as city merchant districts can have streets full of nothing but bathroom fittings or paper ream shops (Old Delhi is a stunning example of this premise), out in the sticks you can come across an entire village of potters.   Continue reading