I’ve posted before about my evolving use of dandelions and how they have featured in so many ranges of my ceramics and homeware, both current and archived. Here I’m going to explore the many ways I’ve used nasturtiums in my work. Their shape, form, colour and vibrancy are an endless source of inspiration and fascination. As with all my botanical design work I begin with observed drawing.
Drawing the flowers from life is my starting point for a whole host of designs across different media: transfer printed bone china ware; hand illustrated wheel thrown porcelain; colourful printed tea towels. You can see how just a handful of drawings can be put into so many different contexts and with such variety of end results.
In contrast to this individually hand thrown, hand illustrated range – where each vessel is similar but unique in the exact placement or combination of flowers, buds and leaves – is my range of transfer printed bone china ware. For this I use a professional ceramic transfer print studio to digitally print my designs for me, which I then apply and fire on to Stoke-on-Trent bone china ware in my studio.
The outcome is so different from the hand thrown ware, and is infinitely quicker to produce which is quite a relief. Popular thought the hand made range is, I don’t produce much of it as it is a very lengthy process with the layered colours and drawing which also makes it quite expensive. I do have a secret admiration for the uniformity of the bone china ware version too! My other major output with the nasturtiums is textile-based: bright, colourful tea towels in three different colourways.
And from the archives here are a couple of shots of my first ever nasturtium designs, produced using the traditional technique of slip decoration with sgraffito (scratching into the clay) to describe the outlines.
Introducing a new set of bone china wares that I’ve been sketching, colouring, getting printed into decals and firing onto some beautiful Stoke-on-Trent bone china ware. Here are some shots of the finished pieces, followed by an explanation of the work in progress.
The flexibility of being able to accurately reproduce detailed drawings on ceramics using this method really inspires me – it’s a completely different approach from the handmade pieces and I love it as it allows me to produce consistent products that all work together.
This little lot has been in the pipeline since July so it’s great to be getting it ready in time for all the Christmas events this season.
Here are a few snapshots of how the designs begin, on paper. Sometimes in the garden with tea and sunshine, sometimes in the studio using blooms and seedheads gathered while walking.
I love this process. It makes me feel so connected to the work I do. It also allows me to be creative with the raw materials. Currently I am creating a couple of tea towels to go with the above designs. Because I can manipulate the images in whatever way I want to I am free to put them together in new ways. I got really inspired by the Fifties in the colouring and style of the drawings so I took it a step further for the Dandelion tea towel and turned elements of the sketch into a colourful repeat pattern.
It’s at the printers right now, so here’s hoping it looks good on unbleached cotton!
January and February…the fairs are over, the festivities finished and the earth is hibernating and readying itself for germination. Much the same stage has been reflected here at As the Crow Flies. A really valuable period of reflective thought, sketching ideas, drawing on the ideas touch on in 2015 and pushing them further.
I’ve really enjoyed the chance to process carefully the throwing aims I’ve had, working towards cleaner shapes in porcelain, practising the motions of throwing and enjoying the smooth clean feel of porcelain after working in terracotta for so long. First out of the initial test firing was a Wild Pea serving bowl:
Seeing the initial effects coming out on a few pieces enabled me to refine and progress the ideas…gradually more things came out of the kiln, building the bones of a new range of Dandelion and Wild Pea shapes; some of which are pictured below:
I’m also pleased to have produced more satisfying wine tumblers and the first forays into vase production, but photos of these will have to come later. The final thing I played with was transposing my popular Nasturtium design from terracotta to porcelain – in tea cup form. Looking very Art Deco with it’s conical shape, I particularly like this example:
All in all, I feel ready for this year…although I’ll have to put my anticipation on hold for a little while as I am taking a sabbatical from mid-March to mid-July to walk through Mustang in the Himalayas and then cycle the through the Pamirs in Tajikistan up into Kyrgyzstan. I’m sure the inspiration will be myriad so I look forward to posting when I get back.
Well, what an amazing week it’s been – so much to learn and so much inspiration gained from the British Craft Trade Fair last weekend. I’ll be posting up more fully about all the other ceramicists I had the chance to meet and chat to. For now, though, here are a couple of shots of my stand at the show. As the Crow Flies was in the Newcomers Gallery, and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all the other traders there and making friends with people producing everything from contemporary jewellery to beautiful knitted textiles.
So many thanks to all the team at BCTF for creating such a great event, and to Angieof Craft&Design magazine for sponsoring the Newcomers’ Gallery and giving such a good talk and advice at the traders’ breakfast club.
Really looking forward to this event on Sat 16th – Sun17th May! Our venue is going to be absolutely amazing… As the Crow Flies will be taking over the kitchen space with ceramics, illustration and home wares. Fuller maps will be exhibiting their utterly unique and brilliant map artworks of Bristol and beyond in the print room. Esther Curtis designs will be creating a lovely ambience with her beautiful graphics at the front of the house where you may be lucky enough to get a mini massage treatment from our lovely hostess Sam Lacey… all in all it’s going to be a complete sensory experience.
We’ll be showing at 17 Ashton Gate Terrace, Southville, BS3 1TA so come along and find us. Follow the links below to find out about the other artists at the venue:
Sam Lacey – holistic massage therapist:
Fuller Maps original artworks:
Esther Curtis design:
Find out more about the trail here: http://www.southbankbristolarts.co.uk/
So, shortly I’ll be unveiling some new designs at the British Craft Trade Fair event in Harrogate next month. My partridges are now busy getting sampled as tea towels and new mug transfers, which I’ll hope to be firing onto some bone china just in time to pack them off! Here is a sneaky peak at what they will be looking like…
Above are two sets of mug designs – English partridges under a pear tree, and french partridges in a chorus line, how apt. Tea towels will be in a two-colour screenprint in vibrant burnt orange and viridian, while the mugs I’m sampling in a retro ochre palette and a more jubilant magenta palette. We shall see what hits the spot when they’re ready in a week or two…
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:
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!
Pleased 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.
Introducing a fine new range of rather jaunty hand made and hand painted porcelain and antiqued brass cufflinks…