Nasturtiums

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 nasturtiums in the garden, with tea in my bestselling Colour Peacock mug 😊

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.

Initially, using a drawing as reference, coloured underglazes are applied to each bisque-fired vessel.
The next stage is to draw in the precise lines using a very fine-nibbed bottle of black underglaze, this crisply picks out the coloured motifs.
The wheel thrown vessels are then dipped in translucent glazed and fired high at 1280C to achieve a bright close.
A trio of my Nasturtium Ware porcelain – inspired by 1930s Art Deco period china ware.

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.

This design uses my black ink drawing, overlaid on a water coloured background.
This design uses a watercolour sketch of some nasturtiums.

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.

The first iteration of the nasturtium tea towel – letting go with outrageously vibrant colours!
A recent update of the design with a stylish navy background and altered motif colours.
My latest addition Autumn 2020 – a first attempt at a proper repeat pattern with colours referencing typical 1930s transfer decorated china ware with contrast orange highlights.

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.

Bright earthenware soap dishes after their final glaze firing.
Raw soap dishes – the earthenware is illustrated before any firing takes place so that the slip can be applied and the clay can be scored into.
Earthenware nasturtium dish full of it’s eponymous flowers, this entry into the village flower show sadly did NOT win 😂
Irresistible!

Make 17 at Devon Guild of Craftsman

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As the Crows Fly is very much looking forward to being part of the Make 17 exhibition at Devon Guild of Craftsmen this year, as well as being featured artist on their publicity for the event. Really excited about this. The private view (see below for details) will be on Friday 17th November from 6-8pm so if you are in the area please do come and meet us as it should be a lovely evening. Otherwise the exhibition will be running from Saturday 18th November until Sunday 7th January 2018.

Slipcast Collection

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New wares are beginning to trickle out… I’m excited by the colour palette and feel of these fresh new slipcast pieces in stained porcelain. The charcoal grey vase form is cast from a lathe-turned form I created while in Denmark. I like the possibilities of the grey canvas for fresh simple white slip decoration – here a midcentury modern inspired sunburst pattern, set off by pompom hydrangea blooms.

ATCF 1 Slipcast Vessels Yellow White and Tealfive slip cast jugs

I’ve been keen to experiment with coloured porcelain for a long time. After trying out some own-made black clay on the wheel I decided that the chemicals used in colouration (raw oxides and metal salts) were best kept in minimal contact with the skin, and so began my delve into slipcasting production… I’m really pleased with the initial results and they have certainly had good reactions from customers so this range will be something I am working on quite heavily this year. I love the strong colour palette in the pieces above and I’m also tapping into the subtlety of marbled slips and pared down surface decoration.
  

I couldn’t resist, while in Denmark, the chance to create a direct link with the minimal, pared down scandi-chic trend that’s consuming UK interiors shoots at the moment. These lidded vessels are based on casts of plain glass storage jars from Denmark – they are the store cupboard equivalent of the kilner jar and I was really taken by their shape and design.

Volcanic Yellow…and Storm Blues

The experiments with colour block brights and layered leopard print effect glazes are coming along too. I’m really excited by this range and once a few firing difficulties have been ironed out I’m going to be making this my primary product I think.

I’d never really tried doing anything with out surface illustration before – that is my area of expertise and what I’ve always loved doing. Having the freedom just to think about shape and colour and the graphicness of the 3D objects themselves is really exciting to me and a bit of a breakthrough in my practice. Refreshing not just to simply see the vessel as a canvas for mark making.

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:

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Volcanic Yellow on display a the Frome Independent market.

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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:

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