Baby it’s the last time

What with the end of the world and other cheerful things coming up, I decided to call time on the kiln at the bottom of my garden ( actually the fairies had threaten legal action if we didn’t stop). So I filled it up with pottery I had made with the special clay mixed to be fired at cone 5, high earthenware/low stoneware.

I ran out of pots to fill it up so asked my pottery friend Arlene ( New life ceramics ) to make some to fill the vacancies.  Eventually the kiln was ready to be fired.

 

In a month where there had been snow and day after day of rain where a stream ran in my garden, I picked a dry day luckily. After an overnight small flame warm up, it was about 6.30 and 290 centigrade  to start, that was a very good start. The early part of a gas/wood firing is very laid back, just turn up the burner.

At about 400 c, I stuck the second burner on, earlier than usual but better for an even firing , I watched as 4 months of rising damp steamed out of the chimney. Without any hassle or undue effort the temperature rose to about 700 c which is where I started with the timber.

As per usual the temperature stuck at about a thousand, but not really a problem as the carbon trapping starts about then, eventually the temperature got going again, the bottom left cones had gone over but I couldn’t see the top left. After an hour I decided to call it quits and firing was over.

Arlene couldn’t get to me until 4 days after clamming up, eventually we got to open it up, Arlene’s pots were very good, these were for her own use not to sell so it was a bit of a relief that they were good.

 

Now the show is over time to move on to the next performance, overall it had been a so so kiln, if I ever build another,  it will be to a different design.

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Gawd it’s been a while

Hello there ( sounds like i’m hailing a ship out at sea, picture for reference )

Picture of the sea in you had forgotten what boats float on

 

What with the end of the year coming up n all I thought I would say HAPPY CHRISTMAS and a good new year to all.

 

I have been busy doing the Christmas markets, sadly one less than last year,  Ecolocal decided to give the frost fair a miss this time. Susan did a new one at Oxted library whilst I swanned off to do a course with Ruthanne Tudball at Forest Row.

As usual the best one was at the Weald and Downland museum the weather was cold and very sunny, the best winter weather, it was a day longer than previous years. There were record numbers of people and I think it was bigger and better than ever before, so well done the organisers.

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I am steadily making stuff but like everyone it all tails off and we have 12 days off, I have got a massive yule log on the fire, but eventually that burns out and it’s back to work on plough Monday .

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slab bottles with cut sides and a thrown neck .

Happy Christmas .

Look forward to seeing you in the new year

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This year’s Raku firing ( 2017 ) The last one .

After 11 years and some 15 firings I decided to make this year’s one, the last . It was getting difficult for people to make their stuff without an evening class to make it at.

When getting out the metal boxes, I lifted the lid and discovered a very angry wasp nest inside, I was stung three times, after a very quick visit to the doctor was able to get some anti drugs, I have a funny reaction to wasps. We had three new glazes this time two that I had made Simply Red and T1, Tina had made one called Turqueltina .

Marilyn’s pebble

 

We started at 10 and the first firing at 11, the forecast was dodgy but it was very comfortable and sunny. Some of the glazes start to work later in the day but this time the results were good all the time. Star piece of the day must be Arlene’s torsos fired twice, I have never seen so many colours, she is selling them at a naturists fete, should really be naked raku.

 

Thank you to everyone who came along and thank you to everyone who has attended for the last eleven years.

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Kiln building course at Forest Row school of ceramics.

I saw the ad on Joe Finch’s facebook post and as It was quite near to me I decided to attend. Katrina who’s school it is laid on really lovely weather for the whole duration.

 

 

 

 

 

The school is part of Emmerson college and has the most fantastic view down a valley and up to the Ashdown Forest.

 

 

It started on Friday when Joe laid out the pattern on the concrete,first came the hollow concrete block then the heavy firebricks which were a pain in the butt. They were secondhand and needed cleaning off, a hard and tedious job this affected the whole kiln. Lesson 1 when building a new kiln use new bricks ( i’d actually learnt that with mine).

In a while the kiln was growing and we were able to make a start on the chamber and were soon ready for the arch. That was worked out for a former/frame and left for the following morning. The door was cut in the bricks being numbered for easy assembly.

 

Saturday another lovely day despite grotty forecasts, we started with the steel work and the arch.The former was brought away and saved for just in case. We all glazed our pots and the chief stacker stacked them ready for lift off the following morning. Joe had brought gas burners that looked like a rocket booster from Apollo 12.

 

Sunday started at 8 with the kiln being turned on, with all the pots being biscuited the boosters made very good progress getting the temperature up to 1000 in 6 hours, that’s when the trouble started, the boosters were found to be too big and there was a lot of unburnt fuel being unburnt in the kiln. After a new strategy was sorted the kiln gradually started to move upwards. I had to leave but Joe Katrina and the faithful few stayed on to cajole it up to temperature and dose it with soda.

Monday, we arrived amazed that it had got to temperature, whilst we waited for the cooling Joe did some demonstrations .

We opened the kiln and recreated the packing pattern for every shelf which showed the characteristics of that firing, cool,hot places, where the soda had been best/least.

 

Everyone was pleased with their pots and sadly it was all over.

 

Thanks to everyone and thank you Katrina and Joe.

amazing oak trees seen at the pottery school

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Christmas fairs

As you all probably know that at the end of the year we celebrate Christmas. As we get older I feel that it loses a little and it’s harder to regain the real feeling of Christmas. I think that the fairs we do recapture a little of that excitement that we once had,  and some of the atmosphere has to do with the cold weather,we have had a little period of this just in time for the fairs.

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Our first fair was at the Weald and Downland fair later than normal and colder than normal. Our cottage had both doors open and we froze. We did have a good time though with 5000 people on the Saturday and 6500 on the Sunday, and we met some old friends we see every year there.

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The next one was a corporate one in the city of London at Aviva towers with my friend Debbi who works there. The city is amazing,  alive and thronged with people during the week and deserted at weekends,the building of new sky high blocks continues at pace. The big blocks have been given silly names like;Gherkin,walkie talkie,toaster,cheese grater,cassette tape and soon the scapel. Every ten minutes a cement lorry went passed the window.

Luckily next to the coffeee machine

Luckily next to the coffee machine

 

 

It was nice to have the Aviva choir singing carols around the piano ( good name for an office block).

 

 

The next fair was the frost fair in Carshalton around the ponds by Honeywood house, a perfect setting. There were clog dancers,choirs,brass bands and cajun groups almost next to us. There was also an amplified stage where Debbi was , 20161203_161910she was next to the stage I said she was ……she has recovered her hearing now.

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We had a lovely afternoon and it all went twinkly when the lights went on.

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We have a two week gap before the last one, which will be in Centrale next to Debenhams on the 17th, after that we can put away our cheesy lights hang up our sannerats ( santa hats ) for another year.

 

Thank you all who came and purchased something and everyone who came and said  hello.

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In the slips

The slips are a category of seats in concert halls and Theatres ,this is nothing to do with that. It doesn’t mean standing next to the wicket keeper either.

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Slips are liquid clays used for decoration there are a whole spectrum of colours, I like to use clays from out and about on my travels. They are from places like the river bank of the river Wandle ( WC ) wandle clay. River Thames mud from outside River house in Nine Elms which I call MI 6, sea shore clay from Itchenor Sussex which is called Itchy slip where I gather the clay from the slipway which I call slip slip. Some of the names are quite boring though like Dicker slip from Dicker or Alf Riston from Alfriston.

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I have 14 slips,some are running out and I wont be able to replace them,WC is from the river bank and I would feel terrible if I cut that away anymore than I have done. I am sure that other places in England will offer up some earthly presents. I collected one from France which is called French lake slip.

The clay being churned up

The clay being churned up

 

They are used at the all the temperatures I work at,the higher the temperature the more change there is, some go from brown at 1060 to green at 1300 reduced.

 

Slips are a great way to decorate a pot .

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RAKU 2016 ( our tenth year ).

This year’s Raku firing was our tenth year, we lost count of the number,we had some years more than one.IMG_0671

The weather changed the day before the firing from 24 plus to 15-16 so quite a drop,but it was dry.

 

We had two new glazes, Heavenly white and Turqmanistan along with all the other glazes they had to be remixed and sieved quite a task, but worth the effort.

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We had a few explosions,  my pots obviously didn’t have enough grog in them to stand the shock horror of being rapidly warmed up.Only mine exploded sadly it was the ones made for guests to glaze and fire.

There wern’t  so many combatants this year so it was a little less manic. I had invited Lis Watkins along to sketch the scene quite a hard task with people darting everywhere in and out.I think she did a remarkable job.Raku Master Copy Cropped and Cleaned Small File

The day went oh so quickly, the pizza oven was in full swing and the food was generally gorgeous, thanks to everyone who contributed .

 

Farewell Raku until next year.

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