Recently, we’ve had an annoying spell of things breaking. Something new happened to add to it, which was flat pieces (for pictures) breaking in their first (bisque) firing – that was a shock indeed! Looking into it I discover the same old story – I’ve just been lucky so far..

What I should have been doing is putting sand or batt wash (a powder usually mixed with water to cover the kiln shelves) on the shelf and placing the picture on it, so that during the heating and cooling processes in the kiln, it has room to move and not be under pressure. Lesson learned.

One of the pieces was actually three large flat pieces forming one artwork, a triptych, that will form a backdrop behind someone’s aga style cooker. I would say I could have cried, but actually I did just cry. I dwelled on how to respond to K, the person who commissioned it, and eventually emailed her with the sad photos and the offer to remake (a long wait), refund her or start again but deliberately make it in six pieces (also a long wait). You’ll not be surprised to hear that I cried again when she phoned in tears saying how much she loved the broken pieces and wanted them glazed! The reason she chose us, she says, was because of Chris’s poetry, which reflects often on what is beautiful and what is broken within each one of us..

The fourth piece to break that day is pictured below – less of an emotional deal, although still puzzling! However, the ancient Japanese method of restoring what is broken with gold, kintsugi, works beautifully with the subtle and fragile looking trees and the poetry with it. What do you think?

We decided a little while ago to make something extra with our ceramics, something to make our poetry available more widely. It’s the poetry that appeals to many folk. A little while ago, we took a free appointment with google for advice on the internet and social media – I was wondering how to appear higher in searches for Scottish pottery – but very quickly, we realised that that isn’t what we want to be found for. To quote the lovely google mentor, clay is our medium, not our product. In general, she was right! It felt like quite a freedom to see our work that way.

So, anyway, the cards grew from that idea. We are selling them in packs of five, each one different within the pack. We did one batch and have just had another batch printed with some of the popular ones from the last batch and some new ones. Each image is a close up of one of our poetry plaques.

Here is a snapshot of the new batch which will soon be listed on our website, later today in fact!

 

 

Sometimes, there are such big things happening in life – family illness, bereavement, financial juggling, changing covid regulations, trials and tribulations and ups and downs.. however you want to phrase it all – but the other day it was creating these necklaces that nearly finished me (Michaela) and had me reaching for the job page in the local paper..

I made necklaces in the past but wasn’t really happy with the finish so I tried again and this time created something more ‘seatree’ and more finished. On advice, I used epoxy for gluing the new findings to the ceramic pendants, which took some time – only to come in the next day and find how easy it was to pop them off. Sigh. Out comes the super glue which fixes anything to anything, apparently – it says so on the packaging but also it stuck my fingers to the scissors, the scissors to the table, my fingers to the table, my fingers to each other, the paintbrush to the pendant.. Eventually I had ti all lined up and sat for 2.5 (im)patient minutes while holding the pendant and finding together at a weird angle.. And dry. Sigh of relief. Then the next morning, off they all popped again. I could have cried. How hard can it be!

Wish us luck – as tomorrow we try a newly recommended glue by a jewellery expert. Otherwise, I might be applying for that job in the local post office…

PS The photograph I can’t take credit for as that was our daughter took it, trying to give me some hope! Doesn’t it look lovely?

Chris and I work together on everything seatree – like these clocks – and the website. Chris developed our website from scratch, very impressive, but as the years went on and the business changed and adapted, it became a little clunky with extra add-ons slowing things down. So, we applied to Highland and Islands Enterprise for a grant to update our website and our technological capabilities in general. This came partly from the pandemic too, needing to adapt further. we really needed an online shop and a website we were proud of and that reflected the new developments in our business model – like the workshop in a tin idea.

We are so grateful to HIE for approving our grant and after research we chose a local artist who also develops websites – she inspired us with her vision of what the website could look like – and it is very lovely!

It seemed like such a long time between getting the grant and launching the website, but we got there and it is so easy now for us to keep the web shop updated. We hope you like it. We sent a link out to some volunteers from our mailing list to check it over – we have so much to be thankful for!

We’ve had lovely feedback and we hope that conversation will continue…

Over the past few days, we have finally set up the display in our ‘shop shed’. This video hopefully gives some indication of where we are up to.

We can’t say thankyou enough to those wonderful people who made this possible by crowdfunding us. It is incredible to think that others will invest in us, just when we needed it most in the middle of a pandemic. We will be in touch with you all…

Where would we be too without friends? Our friend Nigel helped Chris with whole process. He is a hero!

In case you missed it, here is a bit of a montage of the building process;

 

(This post was first published over on Chris’s personal blog, here.)

We live in a seemingly perpetual Advent. Not just because of all the early Christmas decorating, but because we are all still waiting; for vaccines, for ‘normality’, for release, for and end to isolation and for the possibility of touch. Strange then that the actual season of Advent is now fully upon us.

I find myself remembering an old project, birthed by Si Smith, called ‘We who still wait’. It was a collaboration of photography (Steve Broadway), meditations (Ian Adams) and my poetry. (It is still available, here.)

I wrote the poems quickly, over a short period of time. Some felt ‘forced’, others arrived with tears, which may seem strange to some, until you realise that poetry is essentially about opening a vein and what comes out can be unexpected and overwhelming. Writing these poems forced me to fully engage not only with my own fragility, but also with those aspects of faith that still remain. Sometimes it seemed as if faith had been removed along with my religion, but at other times entirely the reverse, that only through losing religion was it possible to rediscover something deeper and more true.

Anyway, I offer you one of the poems from ‘We who still wait”. It says as much as I can say today.

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Open the sky

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Open the sky and let some light in

Let this night be night no longer

Let stars shine down in shafts of love

Illuminating ordinary things

All down with dirt and common use

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Let donkeys laugh out loud

For even basest things

Are silvered up with grace

Lubricated in kindness

He is coming

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Not to penthouses, to plump up cushions of comfort

Not to stroke the fragile ego of celebrity

Not to strengthen the hands of the powerful

Or expand their empty empires

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Not to shape new cathedrals from seductive certainty

Or even to doctor our old doctrines

He comes not to the exclusive few

But to you

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The mess of you

All your brokenness, all your failures

He comes in the certain knowledge that

You will fail again

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So, open the sky and

let some light in

This year, we decided to focus our attention on a limited number of Christmas decorations instead of spreading ourselves too thinly. Last year Karen and I had a competition to see who glazed the most decorations. Karen won by glazing lots of workshops decs and I made her a special one-off as a reward! But this year, there’s only sixteen being made by me. I made twenty, used two for trials and dropped two! So, sixteen it is…

I bought some beautiful slate grey ribbon – not my usual starting point! I tried two green glazes, seen in the photo. I love the silver flakes, provided to me by Raine Clarke artist – if you don’t know her work, you can check it out here at Underwing Studio. Anyway, having done two trials I decided not to go with green but to follow my first instinct and go blue. I’m hoping with the silver they will look beautiful. It’s a small thing, but making something that feels right, is totally ‘seatree’ is really important – so, blues it is and a special word on each one, pulled out of some of Chris’s poetry.

We hope you like them. 

Watch social media for photos of the finished pieces.

We’re very excited to say that we won a prize this weekend at Potfest.

Every year there is a (very friendly) competition for the potters taking part in Potfest Scotland and we entered our ‘girl, amended’ into the competition – created from a broken sculpture, as the theme this year is ‘recycle, rebuild, repurpose’.

We were very surprised to be picked by fellow potters to receive one of the prizes – ours was donated by an Australian potter taking part – a beautiful bottle of Shiraz and some Vegemite! What fun! Here are a few snaps.

We’ve just watched a beautiful talk by Rob Bell called ‘Drops like stars’. It was about the way that destructive forces, like bereavement, betrayal, debt, changes things for us in a positive way – the way that they define the future and the choices we make. He wove so many stories through the talk, including from a ceramic artist. Of course, those words really grabbed my attention. The way that every piece of clay, every error, every success, every disaster, is precious because it either works and something beautiful emerges, or we learn from it. 


In the studio, not one piece of clay is wasted. Everything that breaks or goes dry or stops cooperating in some way, gets recycled and used again another day. Some pieces that go ‘wrong’ get used for glaze trials. Some get sold as someone else loves them. Some get smashed in a very therapeutic clear out. 
Here’s a recent sculpture in the making. The poem says ‘I’ll not be drowning today’. She’s the third in line of recent makes – the first worked then cracked while drying, the second just didn’t work, and she is the third – we’ll see how it goes. I so enjoyed making her. It just came together how I imagined it. I have so very much to learn but this is one way of learning – I’ve been frustrated at times but am determined to keep moving forward. She is now fired (phew) and waiting to be glazed and fired again next week.. Watch this space!


I’ve been really lucky to receive an award from Craft Scotland for a sculpture course. It was the chance to apply for something that was about developing my art, not about the business skills. I feel so blessed to have an investment into me as an artist. The course will hopefully take place early October, virus permitting! I’ll be back to blog about what I’ve learned!

We are always growing and developing what we do, but what has stuck for many years now is our colour scheme and logo, used in paperwork and on the website, as well as leaflets, business cards and labels. So, I wanted to give a shout out to Enterprize web Design and Print Ltd in Lancashire, a small business run by friends (full disclosure!).

Andy sat with us to create our first website and our logo. The colour is based on the paint colour of our dining room walls! It was easier to point to that than it was to try and describe the blue/green/grey that we liked and it gave Andy a starting point. The idea of branding and all that seems a long way from making pottery, but actually having something to stand with over time really helped. At the time, ‘seatree’ seemed like something largely intangible, more a matter of hope and aspiration than real. Somehow having a logo really helped!

We’d recommend Andy and David for getting you started too. They are able not only to set up a website, but then support you to manage your web presence going forward. Andy is a brilliant photographer too, which is another one of those essential skills necessary for getting your stuff to look right…