Seaweed pinch pot

Seaweed pinch pot

Thursday, 4 December 2014

glaze frenzy... market approaching

Yes, it's definitely that time of year when studio time becomes all about clearing the shelves and getting everything glazed and fired. My end-of-year market commitments are minimal (deliberately so because I've recently resumed part-time botany work and time is super scarce) but none-the-less there is almost a compulsion to have the shelves clear and the work all finished!

My sole Christmas market appearance will be at Made 'n Thornbury Craft Market Saturday 13th December:

I also have some pieces for sale at SMALLpieces, the ceramics gallery at Northcote Pottery Supplies in East Brunswick. (They're having a 10% off special there for this first week of December by the way). And Dee from Wild About Melbourne is stocking some of my work at Northern Regards Artisan Market this weekend.

As I take stock of what I have for market I notice that I've spent no-where-near enough time making popular items like mugs and bowls... instead I've been getting carried away with what I'm calling my 'she-oak series' - vessels of various forms on which I'm impressing gestural marks using she-oak foliage (as mentioned in my previous post with one example of the finished effect). Here's a little more insight into the post-bisque stage of the process:
some of the vessels from the she-oak series, glazed and waiting for oxide

applying the black iron oxide so it runs into the she-oak impressions

rubbing back with steal wool to reveal the impressions (I'm still experimenting with ways of doing this - it's tricky removing enough oxide from the pot to get contrast without also rubbing it out of the impressions... and it's also hard to keep the glaze clean!)

I'm hoping in my next post I can share a group shot of the finished group. I'm excited by the idea of exploring this technique with a range of other foliage types... especially grasses and other fine things as I love the gestural marks. I was lucky enough to visit the Grampians National Park last weekend and I was seeing inspiration everywhere.
shadows of grass against rock - loving these lines!

This final image, also from the Grampians, doesn't really relate to my current work but it just reminded me so much some recent rock-like raku creations of Georgia Harvey's that I couldn't help take it - especially as Georgia's exhibition of these pieces opens in Hobart at the end of this week!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

studio sale

This is pretty short notice, but I've decided it's time to move some works on to new homes so will be having a STUDIO SALE here in my garage studio SAT NOV 22nd 2-5pm. Old stock, seconds and one-offs will be going extra cheap!
This cabinet for storing and displaying finished work (alongside the gardening tools!) is a new addition to my studio space - I'm loving it!

Apart from the build-up of stock that I'm keen to clear out, I was motivated to try a studio sale because I've recently become an accredited member of craft (which used to be known as Craft Victoria), and this happens to include insurance for selling from my studio (thought I should make the most of that!). I was pretty excited to gain this membership... feels very affirming at this point in my ceramics development to have my profile on the craft website - you can have a look here.

Feels like we're definitely on the fast track to the end of the year now.... so it's also time to mention that my one and only Christmas market this year will be the lovely local Made 'n Thornbury 99 Leinster Grove Thornbury on Sat 13th Dec 10am - 4pm.

If you're interested in dropping by during my studio sale and don't have my address please send me an email ( or facebook message... that way I'll also have an idea how many visitors I'm getting!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

pod vases and she-oak drawing

Among the various beakers, mugs and bowls that have been making their way off my wheel and through the kiln recently there have also been some vases of various sizes which I've been having fun with. 

With some I've been exploring the effect of vertical striations on a full, rounded bulb shape... hoping to evoke a ready-to-pop seedpod by pushing grooves into the inside surface while the clay is still wet. 

pod vase
With others I've been exploring 'drawing' with she-oak foliage... rolling the vessel onto she-oak needles when leather hard. I really like the gestural marks this leaves behind on the clay surface and have been trying to accentuate them using iron oxide.
vase with she oak drawing and iron oxide
For a look inside the studio, here are a couple of process pictures from my Instagram postings... you can find me on instagram at @riverwife_studio

Thursday, 2 October 2014

market! new tea beakers, bowls and the odd jug

A sample of the latest work out of the kiln.... and info about the market I'll be selling these pieces at next friday!

Bowls with leaves around them
Tea bowls with iron oxide stripes and a rustic glaze (thumbprints included!)

Not sure whether to call these 'tea beakers' or 'tumblers'?

A round-bellied jug with unglazed exterior

Come and visit me at the twilight market - I'd love to see you there!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

tactile tea bowls and beakers

A few images of new work to share with you. I've been focussing on tactile qualities of drinking vessels.

Some mugs where the stain in the slip has had a nice melty effect on the oatmeal glaze.
Beakers  - oxide is brushed on before bisque, then the botanical inspired design is scratched through the glaze, adding texture.

I have the prototype of the tea bowls shown below in my kitchen and it's become my favourite to drink from because I love the feel of the textured, unglazed clay against my hand. 

Vase and tea bowls with impressed texture and iron oxide (unglazed) on the exterior - nice to hold!

Close up of the textured tea bowl.

A little pourer.

Still life of vase and beakers

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

full vessels, embossed textures and pigeons

rounded wheel thrown forms (on which I'm experimenting with embossed textures around the foot) and a fat pigeon that emerged when playing with some raku clay as 'homework' for my Form and Surface class
I've recently started taking a short course at Slow Clay (in Collingwood) with Shane Kent. The focus is on handbuilding and surface treatments. It's been invigorating! Getting off the wheel and really exploring the possibilities of hand building techniques is one great thing about the class, but most of all I'm loving having the input of a knowledgable and insightful teacher. I didn't know just how much I was missing this by working autonomously at home until I started the course. It amazes me how quickly a skilled teacher with a well-attuned eye for the medium can hone-in on what's needed to bring a work to a higher level. In the first week Shane responded to the first little pinched vessel I made in class with a comment about the importance of working on the interior spaces of vessels until a feeling of fullness is achieved. I've had this focus in my mind with every vessel I've made since. It's so incredibly helpful!

Another thing that's been really helpful in hindsight was the few days away in the bush with my family last school hols. I thought quite a lot about my clay practice while away and it helped me to remember the qualities of vessels that I love. There was a marked change in my cup-type forms when I got back on the wheel.
embossed patterns from an improvised 'relief plate'
The time spent in the bush also got me re-inspired about textures and the tactile potential of vessel surfaces, so I've been having fun exploring that a bit more.  I'd already been dabbling with subtle impressions around the bases of cups (leaving these areas unglazed). Extending this idea I recently tried making a sort of basic relief plate using cardboard and PVA and when I rolled the sides/bases of some small pots over this it left a very organic seaweedy embossed pattern which I'm really enjoying. I had actually been aiming for regular striations like on a mushroom cup but this result was cooler!

experiments with glaze resist
Another area of recent experimentation is glaze resist. I'm on a quest to find a good resist medium for mixing with iron oxide. This is related to my interest in texture as I love the textural contrast of glazed/unglazed that resist can give.

All this experimentation is awaiting firing, so no results to share here yet. But I do have a few carved pinch pots to share with you. The designs are based on fern species found in Tasmania and Victoria.
comb fern and coral fern pots

fork fern pot detail (with coral fern pot in the background)

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

pre-market photoshoot

small pourer and salt bowl

dimpled beakers (these are fairly large - hold more than 350ml)

small ramekins (intended for pate)

small pourer with yellow inside

beaker with iron-stained resist patterns and small bowl

small hand-formed pots with colour inside

small salt bowls (wheel thrown and subtly altered)

small salt bowls

Small mugs with drawings of Victorian wildflowers (here: native violet,  common correa and chocolate lily)

Small wildflower mugs (here: chocolate lily and black anther flax lily)

random colour on the photo-shoot table!

Market day is this Saturday at Northern Regards Artisan Market (Northcote Social Club, High St: 11am - 4pm) ... maybe see you there?

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

regarding Instagram and Northern Regards

As I'm sitting down to write I find I have to (yet again) reconcile myself to having missed the moment to blog about all the little interesting studio happenings, internet findings, profound (ceramics related!) thoughts etc of the past few weeks. I'm finding these things move on so quickly that blogging about them is for far more dedicated bloggers than I am. One of my major blocks to posting is getting some decent images and then loading these on the computer. Sounds simple, I know, but somehow it just doesn't happen. So, I've joined Instagram! Ah, the joys of smart-phone photography.

For a few months now I've been loving listening to Ben Carter's podcast Tales of a Red Clay Rambler, and it was discussion of potters and social media on some recent episodes (e.g. Carole Epp and others on Epidsode 68, Witney Smith, Episode 69) that nudged me towards Instagram (my previous thought was 'I'm already so bad at keeping up with facebook and blog posts, the last thing I need is a new form of social media!'). But I'm into this now - it seems like a great way to keep an electronic visual diary with the added benefit of cross-pollination with the visual diaries of others. I'm still a bit clue-less about how to find the relevant people to follow (hashtags?? whaa? would love someone to explain) but even just following a few others has been rewarding.

I'm in a bit of a transitional place with my work right now... I'm very excited to be having a stall in a bit over a week (Sat July 5th) at Northern Regards Artisan Market (it'll be my first time at Northern Regards, and it's their 1st birthday... so there will be special celebrations, prizes, champagne etc - should be very fun!). Markets give me a bit of a hurry along to finish things and a slight adrenaline hit. Simultaneously, I'm trying to shift down a gear in my work. I feel like I've been rushing forward, eager, in fact anxious, to build my skills and establish that I am 'serious' about my ceramic work. I've had a persistent sense of unease about this though, like the faster I rush forward the more disoriented I become. So I'm trying to slow down.

Come and find me on Instagram @riverwife_studio 

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

kids' mugs

I've made a few kids' mugs. These chubby-handled mugs are smaller and a bit sturdier than those for grown ups and they have some little garden-inspired illustrations on them.  I think the idea was planted when I saw kids' mugs on the blog of US potter Emily Murphy quite a while ago (and we have a need for them in our household!). 

I have some new ones (similar but different) hopefully going in for glaze firing this week and am looking forward to seeing how they turn out!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

freedom from trimming

A few weeks ago I had the good fortune to visit Sophie Harle (of Shiko) in her Brunswick studio. Sophie was super generous in sharing several tidbits of useful technical info about her process. Since this visit I have been especially revelling in the joys of making beakers and mugs without turning them over and trimming them on the wheel, thanks to a handy and quick tidy-up method she showed me.

Freedom from trimming has allowed me up to spend more time experimenting with vessel shapes and sizes - heaps more fun! This is one shape I've tried out recently. These beakers are subtly dimpled on two sides (gave them a pinch with thumb and finger while they are drying) and it makes them nice to hold.

I had a very nice day last Saturday and Made 'n Thornbury Craft Market. It's always a very friendly and supportive atmosphere and it's totally dissolved the market phobia I used to have (thanks largely the the great attitude of fellow stallholders). Thanks to all the lovely folks who visited me and offered kind words and/or bought some pieces!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

stocking up and getting organised

Market day is approaching! I'm having a stall (again) at my local and lovely Made 'n Thornbury craft market next saturday (May 10). I love the supportive and friendly atmosphere of this little market. One day (maybe soon) I will branch out to the bigger market scene, but for now I'm happy for this to be my one.

The past two weeks I've been busy dunking and pouring glaze, trying to clear the bisque shelf. It's been very satisfying to see some stock building up. It's great to see the conclusion of a few projects too... like my first batch of lidded jars. 

These are the successful ones - but there were also a few less successful, such as one where the jar lid distorted and wasn't round enough for the lid. The very first ones, which featured in this earlier post, were thwarted by bad luck - the coloured slip I used to do the stencil decoration came out a really off-putting brown, reminiscent of overdone fake tan (I had thought I'd tested this slip...) then a kiln loading mishap when doing a second glaze firing (the first one wasn't hot enough for clear glaze to become transparent) concluded with two of the jars with lids permanently fused. Just as well I didn't like the look of them anyway! A few lessons learned though, so that's all good.

I've also been trying to generally get my space a bit more organised in the past week. A bit of a studio clean up was in order and to the extent that I've managed it it feels good. Then I saw this post by Carter Gillies on knolling (which I understand is a sort of compulisive organising of objects into like shapes and sizes).... and I see that I have a long way to go!