Goings and Comings


Gradually filling the raised bed... a layer of greenery next

Gradually filling the raised bed… a layer of greenery is required next

I think that I have finally worked my way through most of the old paperwork in my work room and banished it to form the lovely absorbent base layer in our new raised bed. In a fit of enthusiasm I also went through a couple of large plastic crates that were lurking in the bottom of the wardrobe and that also contained long-neglected teaching materials. Go Me! Now, I’m moving on to craft materials…

Over the years I’ve tried my hand at lots of crafts… some have become firm favourites, whilst my interest in others has waned. Years ago, for example, I used to enjoy Brazilian three-dimensional flower embroidery, but these days it does not pique my interest. Similarly, I have done no encaustic wax painting for years, nor have I made paper. And, I have finally admitted to myself that I really don’t enjoy dressmaking. And so, the next task is to find good homes for my unwanted craft items. To this end I have joined a swap/sell pre-loved craft stuff group on Facebook. I’ve tried selling via ebay with mixed success, so I thought a targeted group like this one might be a good alternative. And so it is proving… I have takers for a pile of t-shirt fabric, another piece of fabric and a bundle of zips – and this is only after one day. I know that I won’t be able to get rid of everything this way (the shoulder pads remain unclaimed, despite offering them free, just for the cost of the postage), but at least some of my unwanted crafting supplies will be welcomed into new homes, where they may actually be used thus freeing up space for me.

What I do have to be cautious of is too much flowing in the opposite direction… I must not be tempted. Having said that, though, there have been a couple of arrivals this week, which leads us to the


Last week I had a lovely email from a participant on a course I taught a few years ago, with the offer of a set of purple glass snails. How could I refuse? And so yesterday morning I received these:

Glass snails

Glass snails

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them yet… I could use them as buttons or embellishments and I think I need to have a good think about them for a while before I make a decision. Anyway, if you want to see more of Charli’s work, do take a look at Ugly Teapot.

The second arrival was, coincidentally, also in the form of buttons, these from the very talented Joanna Bond:

Ceramic buttons... with a tiny leaf motif in the middle of each

Ceramic buttons… with a tiny leaf motif in the middle of each

I commissioned these buttons for my sofa cushions, but I don’t think that I really want them to be tucked away out of sight (the shell ones that are currently on the cushions are good enough for that), so I think that I will use these to hold the main pieces of the cover together – making the joins a decorative feature and effectively creating a set of loose covers. I went to collect these buttons from Joanna’s studio where we discussed the possibility of an artistic collaboration – yarn and ceramics. If it works out, you’ll be the first to know!

So, the goings have far exceeded the comings, plus I’ve made a bit of money selling things that, to me, have become clutter. I think that counts as a successful few days!

Out of the kiln

Yesterday I had a lovely surprise… I was doing some voluntary work in the office over at Denmark Farm when Joanna turned up with the little sculptures we had made in her paper porcelain workshops back in October.

I’m really delighted with the results. One of them never even got home to be photographed: I immediately gave it to Mara (who, amongst other things, organises the courses at Denmark Farm) because she admired it when we opened the box. She is going to hang it on her Christmas tree. I have recipients in mind for several of the others, but I am going to keep a few for myself, as I am delighted by the way they have come out.

Just as a reminder, this is what they looked like as they were made:

And here are my creations after glazing:

Not bad for a first attempt, I think!

Naturally artistic


Joanna: a happy teacher!

Regular readers of this blog will know that, whilst I’m very creative, mostly I make things that are useful. It may come as a surprise, therefore, to read a second post from me this week about creating something just for the sake of it. Over the years, I have been to a variety of courses that have taught me creative skills: crochet, wet felting (both of which I love) and basketry (which, it turns out, I really don’t like; it being simply fighting with twigs for me). However, a few weeks ago I went on a course to do something that I would describe as pure art. It was entitled Nature into Art – Porcelain Paper Clay Micro-Sculptures.

Now this was something completely new for me. I don’t think I’ve touched anything resembling clay for about 15 years and I’ve certainly not ever attempted sculpture with it. The thing that appealed was that this course took small natural objects for inspiration: seeds, flowers, fungi. Also, I’d met Joanna Bond, the tutor, on another course that we both attended as participants and her description of these sculptures really intrigued me. So, I booked a place.

One of my unglazed creations

One of my unglazed creations

I forgot to take my camera for the first session when we did the sculpting (hence no blog post, but you can read Joanna’s description of the day here – the photo opposite comes from that post). We made some forms inspired by nature – like my interpretation of star anise that you see pictured – plus we also made small ‘plaques’ into which we pressed grasses, to produce impressions. Today we were colouring and glazing our creations and I did take my camera. Firing had transformed the grey objects that we made, into beautiful white sculptures that already looked like works of art:

Some of our fired work

Some of our fired work

The first step was to add some colour, using various pigments:

And then to dip each object into the glaze… at which point all the colour disappeared. The glaze will become transparent when fired again and the beauty of each object revealed once more. One final embellishment for one of my sculptures was to put some tiny pieces of glass into the cavities; this will melt when fired and add pools of colour in the hollows.

Packed up and ready to be taken to be fired

Packed up and ready to be taken to be fired

So, fingers crossed it will work and I’ll have some lovely sculptures and pendants inspired by nature.

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