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?

Every now and then, I make a batch of wee things – hearts, tiny ones like these to go into tiny glass jars, hearts with words on, small pieces of clay with just one word on to go in  a jar of beach treasures. I find it very therapeutic. I have a pottery friend, Pauline, who cries out in alarm when she sees them, how one earth do you have the patience? But, in reality, it is calming, not stressful. It allows me to focus and not to have to think too big, to just create with my hands and to let muscle memory do its thing. It pulls me back in from the bigger picture of design and lists and kiln schedules..

What is your go-to calming exercise?

We are taking part in March Meet the Maker – worth a follow if you do social media. Today’s daily prompt was ‘numbers’.  Certainly, these are important in running a creative business – pricing, ordering, accounts, measuring clay, weighing glazes, deciding how much of any item to make. But we both agree that they are important only if they stay in the background. What is more important is that we make what we love. That we connect with others in what we do. That we build relationships with our community and with our customers. This picture is going to someone tomorrow, ordered as a gift, with a story about why it was just right for the recipient. They are the things that matter more than the numbers.

We may have mentioned before that we love commissions. We don’t always say ‘yes’ as sometimes it really doesn’t fit what we do but often we can say ‘yes’. It takes a lot of extra work as we to and fro about design and thoughts and colours and ideas..

Here is a slab of clay.. Not very exciting but watch this space for development. This will become a panel of three pieces, that will be framed together. There are the client’s chosen lines from Chris’s poetry, a wise old tree and some slender trees around it, some birds swooping, a river sweeping beneath the words..

The clay is currently stretched out on some canvas in order to dry. That makes it easier to put the lettering in and to draw into the clay without lumps causing issues in the pattern. Patience is a virtue..

Well, here it is, 2022 and covid in the household. I am self-isolating and the rest of the family are staying away from others and still testing every day but are negative just now. I’ve spent some of my self-isolation time today speaking to my oldest pal, Ali, who is recovering from an aneurysm and stroke. She was writing a list with her good hand of all the things that needed to be done and I encouraged her to also be writing a list of things to be grateful for. So I am going to do the same..

Things I can’t do that need doing..

Visit family on Skye

Give my family hugs

Make two commissions that came in this week

Spend time with my friend with dementia

Photograph the work just out of the kiln

Things I am thankful for..

Having family that I love to be with

Have family that care about me regardless

Time to dream and write and plan

Use the phone, and the internet to keep in touch

Time to relax without being ill

What are your lists?

Well, we’ve had great news recently of getting into a number of ceramics fair which is very exciting and then terrifying! We’re mostly excited though! So, it’s all systems go and we’ve had the help of Em and James today. Emily has her own ceramics business and we have an exchange of time, so that for every hour she helps, she gets an hour back to work on her own pots. James is joining in the fun and will be doing some experimenting with his own work! Here’s the crew for today..

Chris, cutting and shaping clay..

James outside, rolling the clay into slabs..

Emily making up a jug after I put the poetry in.

We got so much done, we didn’t have enough rolled clay left for more making..!

 

Where did January go? I’m just emerging into thoughts about what to create this coming year and I want to bring more wonderful shape and texture from our corner of the world into our pottery. I set out on a walk today to capture some ideas and this wonderful ivy caught my attention – what delightful shapes! I wonder whether to try a sculpture, someone emerging into the year, ivy caught around her, but these buds showing the possibilities, the delight, the beautiful silhouettes to be found even on the darker days ..

Watch this space…