Isn’t this wonderful? It’s an unfiltered image at 10.30pm last night, from our son’s boat. We had just had a beautiful sail to the isle of Bute (in the distance) for fathers day, a pottery delivery and a game of cricket. As you do. These colours were hard to believe. It’s going to be a challenge, but I shall aim to recreate in the pottery. Someone said recently that our pottery was darker than it used to be. Let’s see if I can allow the colours of summer back in..

We’re home from a wonderful weekend at Potfest Scotland . We met so many lovely folks, friends old and new, people coming back to buy from us, people with beautiful stories, kids asking great questions.. We also felt a belonging to the wonderful community of potters. The Potfest team encourage working together, celebrating together.. After set up, those of us camping can gather round a massive firepit provided by the team. At that point, we realised we had no mugs and no cutlery! So I headed back to the marquees to find a potter who might still be setting up who might also sell mugs – and found one! Once a stranger, now a friend.. mug provided even though I’d gone without my wallet! (We did pay him the next day!). Then after the first day and lots of cheery good wishes, we all gather around the competition pieces, cheer all the winners, toast the team and each other – then take part in the annual Vessel Swap – all standing in a circle while the team leader Matt shouted out two to the left, six to the right.. mugs and bowls passing round the circle till the end was called and we each had someone else’s cup in our hands to take home. Great fun! We also had neighbours that cheered us on, offered encouragement , shared the funny stories.. We’d recommend going along to an event near you or taking part if you’re a potter or crafter – these conversations keep us going.

Words are our thing! One of the projects we make are wee jars with poetry in along with beach finds. Little treasures. I make a line of poetry, write it down then once the sets are all fired, here I am… an hour later and still trying to make sense of the notes and the words and turn them back into lines of poetry..

Wish me luck!

 

This is my third attempt at a very large bowl. Once I finished putting the lettering and the textures and lines in, it went into a large mould and is drying nicely. The rocks and pine cone created textures for the bowl. I’ll be posting pictures once it’s finished.

It’s my third attempt because the first two went badly wrong. I made a large bowl with a thin slab of clay and it dried and fired beautifully but warped in the glaze firing.

After sulking for a while, I made some trials with smaller bowls, which also sometimes warp, by using thicker slabs of clay. I don’t enjoy it as much but at least there are less ‘seconds’.

So, time to try the large bowl again, this time with thicker clay and a lovely ring base..

And still it slumped! No longer a bowl, more of a wobbly platter! I asked a fellow potter for advice and she suggested less glaze on the edges and then firing the bowl upside down.. So, that’s what I’m going to try! Wish me luck.

 

You know how sometimes you don’t necessarily remember the detail of a place, just the feeling, the shape, the light..? That’s what I hope to capture in the pottery – this plate is of Toward, a bay near us. I doubt that anyone local would actually recognise it, but it resembles the way it makes me feel – held by the hills that swoop round and the water as the tides change. I love the light there, even as dusk approaches, the light lingers.

Where is your special place? We can capture it in clay for you..

What do you see?

My concentration face and the wrong pair of glasses.

My daughter’s (rejected) school hoodie.

My rings which I never remove for fear of losing them somewhere.

A sketch in the background for a new commission.

Useful tools – a mini grater for cutting angled edges, a wooden spoon for securing joins, a kidney for smoothing and a sponge for smoothing too.

And me, not using any of them, just my hands, as usual..

Here I am, joining the younger generation and using my phone to snap a record of what I’m doing. This is of part of an order for a local shop. The reason I snapped a photo is so that I can be sure to remove the pieces from the website shop and will be able to record sales more efficiently as I go along. There is so much admin involved in running a business! We’ve recently done an open studios event and there is a regular comment of how lucky we are to be working in the pottery all week, but in reality two days of pottery is two days of admin! Luckily, I quite enjoy that too!

Last week the sun shone which meant it was much easier to get the dusty and unhealthy jobs done outside, including making up new glazes. We order a large batch of glazes every now and then and always try one new one. Sometimes it works and fits in well, often it doesn’t! There are a number of ways to make a glaze – sometimes with all the chemicals and oxides carefully weighed and measured, following a tried and tested recipe (the cheapest but most time-consuming way), sometimes a shop-bought glaze in a pot, ready mixed (the most expensive way), or the middle ground – to buy a powdered version of the glaze you like and weigh and measure it out, making using a sieve, with glaze medium. That’s what’s happening here. It take s awhile and makes a mess but I do love doing it. It’s very satisfying! Watch this space for the finished result.

Here’s a glimpse of our stall set up last weekend at Sheffield Ceramics Festival, which was a lovely event. The organisers were brilliant even down to working out the best place for our stall, with us needing boards behind to display the ceramic artworks. It was a little dark in the hall so we went out and bought some extra fairy lights to add some extra sparkle. We met so many lovely people and the last person to visit the stall said, “I am completely blown away. I don’t usually cry at pottery. I work with humans and cry with humans and the humanity of this stall has got me.” How wonderful!

Here at seatree, we believe that community is vastly important. One of the ways this works is with time exchanges – we have some help in the pottery, always on a time exchange basis. Share and share alike. Gwen helps with glazing and in exchange with help her with DIY. Karen, pictured above, helps with all aspects of making and glazing and in exchange gets the same amount of time back to make her own pottery, which she shares out, keeps or uses to raise money for charities. Then there’s Emily and James who help with all aspects of making and business in exchange for the same time back to make and sell their own pottery. It’s a wonderful thing and we all get what we need from it. Maybe try some time exchanges in your life or business?