Saturday, 1 October 2016


Hello Potters and Friends,

I'm sorry not to have written a post for a while, but now that the holiday season has come to an end I'm back up to my elbows in slurried clay and new ideas! Like this.....

Take a look at this wonderful piece of art from American potter, Michael Kline.

This is a stoneware clay plate inlayed with porcelain. A fantastic piece of work. Michael puts videos up on his Facebook as well as Periscope and I've watched him doing this technique several times in order to give it a go myself. However, my attempt is in the kiln at this moment which is why I've chosen Michael's perfect plate as the finished example. 
So this is how he does it....

First, stamp a pattern on your leather-hard work making sure you have reasonably deep impressions. 

I have very few purpose-made stamps, in fact only one actually, so I used bits of lava from Lanzarote, shells from the Kent coast and even an old cheap ring that was meant to resemble something that Princess Diana got engaged with. This gave me perfect flower shapes. (Must hunt the toy shop for more little girls' trinkets.)

Now we're ready for the porcelain. 

I added water to some soft porcelain and mixed it until I had quite a smooth, watery consistency. This is important as the first coat needs to soak into all the nooks and crannies.
After this you can use a slightly thicker porcelain and keep brushing it on until the pattern almost disappears and the surface looks smoothish. 
Now, let it dry before tackling the exciting bit.

With a sharp tool carefully scrape away at the surface and soon you will see the white pattern emerging. My clay isn't very dark so when this little beauty comes out of the kiln I suspect that the contrast between the two clays will be a tad disappointing, but this is my first attempt, from which I'll learn. Hopefully.  Then fire as usual and dip in a transparent glaze. I'll show you this fired cup next time.

So, what else is new in the workshop?  Before the summer I was glazing everything blue. (see the previous post)  But since the hot, hot days we enjoyed in August I've found myself mixing up the brightest of yellows. 

And as you can see, I still love working with my wax resist technique.

Bright colours, and especially yellow, seem to be loved by everyone this year. Lots of sales.

Here's a photo of the bottom of our garden from last autumn. It backs onto a huge field, and beyond that, a water-meadow that slopes down to our River Leam. 

A little bit colourless you may think, but no... from this open space our daughter Rosie has collected blackberries, walnut leaves, wild marjoram, nettles, grasses and sedge. And this is what she has been working at.

'Meadowsweet Yarns' by Rosie Bill

All natural dyes picked from our water-meadow. Stunning colours Rosie, I like the yellows best — but then I would! Her Etsy shop should be up and running this winter. 

Sometimes we like to give ourselves a treat and Alan has just bought himself a wonderful 'F' Irish Whistle. It's red, an unusual colour for an instrument, but he only has 8 or 9 silver ones in the box labeled  'Alan's whistles'. And, as he said, it's really a birthday present to himself. What will I buy him when he celebrates... next March?? 

But I can't talk because I have just bought a little expensive something this morning.

Hows about that eh?? 
It's still in the box but when I get it out tomorrow it is going to transform my working life! You can perhaps see what it is but it's a bit special. 
It'll take me out of the darkness and into daylight. Next post will have an in-depth review of this cheeky little piece of equipment.


Sunday, 22 May 2016


Hello Potters and Friends,

On reading the title don't think for a minute that this will be a sad post. In fact I couldn't be jollier.
I'm still very much in love with my wax resist technique (described in the previous post). I've been creating new designs and logging them in my sketch book, as it's so easy to forget once a pot has been sold.
But I'm very pleased to have rediscovered some of my older glazes that I'd put the lid on and shoved to the back of the workshop. I thought that I would possibly never use my bright blue glaze again because it was fiercely bright and not to everyone's taste, but after I'd painted on the black designs I thought immediately that blue was an obvious choice.

I also used a heavily speckled stoneware clay to add a bit more interest because the speckles would burn through the glaze.

So the glaze that I thought was too bright for any future use was now transformed to 'just right'.

And here's a thing....
I painted this teapot (below) with a light green underglaze. I intended to wax the pattern as usual and then dip it in a white satin glaze.

However, I decided instead to just glaze it, as is, and see what would happen to the pattern.  

A very surprising result! A sort of tan colour verging on lilac in places. I'm tempted now to try other underglaze colours.  A kiln opening will always produce a few unexpected results. But I'm more amazed these days to take out a pot that looks exactly as I intended it to be. 

So in about 4 weeks time I'll be opening my doors for the Warwickshire Open Studio Exhibition. On the same weekend, 18th June, we also have the Leamington Peace Festival. It'll be a very busy weekend in Leamington Spa.

Jephson Gardens, Leamington Spa.


Saturday, 20 February 2016


Hello Potters and Friends,

I was going to entitle this post 'I Can't Resist Wax Resist' but, you know, I managed to resist.... No seriously, I have been using this technique a lot recently and I am loving it. This is how it started;

'Hare over the Moon'

I saw the fantastic work of stained glass artist Tamsin Abbott (below) and I wanted to create something of that style on my pots. I finally settled on the wax resist idea.

Autumn Bonfire

A bottle of wax resist can be bought at all pottery suppliers and is applied to bisque ware with a brush. Most potters use it to coat the bottom of pots to resist glaze while dipping. But I've gone a bit crazy with it and will soon be ordering a new bottle!

My Method
So what I've been doing is painting my design onto greenware with an underglaze — bisque fire it — paint over the design with wax — let it dry — dip the pot in the glaze and the design should remain unglazed. If some little drops of glaze should stick to the wax then you might be able to just blow them off or soak them up with a dry brush.

It's almost impossible to take wax off bisque ware, as it soaks in immediately so be very, very careful. Where it touches is where it stays!

So here are some examples from my last kiln opening.

'Blue Hare'

I used one of my grandson's crayons to dot the cups, then painted over the red flower with wax.

'Thistle Dish'

No underglaze colour on this one. Just a quick squiggle with the wax brush, then dipped in Tenmoku. 

'Red Leaf Bowl'

Love this one. I painted on a red glaze. Then, when bone dry I carefully waxed it, being careful not to disturb the powdery glaze. Then I continued with a black glaze. And couldn't resist (sorry) a couple of dots.

Work in progress — the early stages......

Painting on greenware before firing.

Oh hell, I might have gone a bit too fancy with this one!  I told myself to keep the designs simple.  It'll probably take me a whole morning to wax it. 

That's more like it. 

So give it a try and have fun with it.

Cheers !