Saturday, 7 December 2013

The Dala Horse

The Dala horse has long been a symbolic gesture of frugality and simple gift giving for the people of Scandinavia, in particular Sweden. The horses were carved from blocks of wood and given as gifts to the young and were used as toys.

There popularity has grown and the horses are collected and treasured by many.
The art of carving and painting the small horses quickly flourished in the 19th century, as economic hardship in the region inspired greater production of the small horses, and they became an important item of barter. Horse-making may have started as something to do during the long dark winter months, but soon the Dala horses were traded in exchange for household goods and their carving and painting blossomed into a full-fledged cottage industry. The rural families depended on horse production to help keep food on the table, as the skills of horse carving and painting were passed on from generation to generation.

The stout shaped horses are the more common shapes, but there are other
types of shapes, some with slender necks and longer legs.

The most popular painted designs are these folk style patterns with bright reds,
blues and yellow being popular colours featured on them.
Other Dala horse colours are softer and simply painted with an overall base colour.

Inspired by their endearing colours and designs, I decided to make some ceramic ones a few years ago
to hang on Christmas trees as part of my Scandinavian styled decorations.
Each year they have been well received by my customers so I increased and changed my range this year (due to seeing a few of my designs copied by other ceramicists!).
Next year I won't make the above style design as these are the ones that have been copied, I will be changing the design in the hope that they stay individual and personal to me and my way of working.
You can pick up the last few colours here and here.http://folksy.com/items/4872022-Scandinavian-Christmas-Ceramic-Dala-Horses
These designs are currently available (in short supply) from my
 Not on the High Street Shop.

This is how they arrive, I charge no extra for gift wrapped packaging.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Street Market with my potter "Pots"

I am doing my first street market on the 1st December in Bungay, Chaucer Street, Suffolk. Ive always wanted to do an outside stall and show my ceramics outside in the open, so this year I have opted to do one. Cold as it may be Im going to brave it.
Here are some of the new things I will be taking.
My little bird stamps being put to good use. I have stamped them into porcelain clay and glazed these bowls with iron oxide and a clear glaze wash.
My love of fusing glaze and glass continues.
Our finished vino bottles getting put to good use. Smashed up and melted in my pots and bowls.
Im not a "potter Potter" if that makes sense but my pots do seem to be getting larger and, indeed I am making, well, Pots!!
This one is fruit bowl sized.

I love this verdigris glaze, its so rich, this pot is also fruit bowl sized.
Getting Bigger!!

This is a teeny tiny ring bowl made from porcelain with turquoise glaze and a little melted glass.
It measures just 5cm.

I made this bowl with thin strips of stoneware clay wrapped around itself, printed with textile blocks, its wonky but its my favourite one so Im going to keep it.
Also fruit bowl sized with a little shot of cobalt and turquoise glaze and a few glass beads melted into the centre.

See how wonky it is!!
It looks like a child made it.

Lastly, this one sold before it went to market but I will talk about it anyhow.
 I used the verdigris glaze again but this time on different clay body, another little hanging pot.  Threaded with red leather strap which I think goes quite well with the green and brown tones. This one was chunky, the sides were about 1cm thick.

I hope you liked looking at my potter pots!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Chaos, mud, and my church

I am working more now and trying to juggle the school position with working from home, with the added pressure of work being done to my home. (I am currently sharing my workspace with the builders, its full of packaging and builders tools.

My kiln has become a shelf for drills, spanners, hammers you name it and its not really working out, well as far as working in my workshop, so Im back in my "nook" that I made last winter to escape the cold and still get my hands in clay. (see here for that post)

On the upside our lives are changing, our living space will finally be large enough to accommodate our growing family. Currently surrounded by mud, but here is our new space. Im calling it "my Church"
I wish I could say that this will be my new workshop, but sadly no,
 it will be the main living area of my home though. 

Yuk!, this is really a horrible space now, it has become overrun with boxes and bubble wrap, which Im wading through day by day.
Hopefully I will sell loads and it will all be gone by Christmas.

Small areas of my workbench I have some soap stands drying.
I kind of have to see whether these will last with all the foot traffic through here!


Make shift shelves in the corner.
My main shelves are full of tools and other things so Ive had to dry my work out everywhere and anywhere.
Roll on spring!!



Sunday, 3 November 2013

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Some New things and shop revamp time!

Well Folksy has been a bit of a wash out this year Ive had no time to do the promotion that is so needed with sites like that and Not on the High street keeps me on the tips of my toes pretty much all year round and with the day job my poor Folksy shop has suffered and well.. died a sorry death.
Folksy have revamped again and this time I really like the layout, the shops look fresh and I feel inclined to give it a bit of attention again, I have to say its got a bit more user friendly than when I last loaded up the product pages, I have listed 4 new things today and it hasn't eaten all my time and was so much easier than before.
Here is what I have put in my shops today:

Ceramic message stones.


I havnt listed this to sell yet, as I have just photographed it to use as my shop avatar, its a little bowl decorated on the underside and melted glass inside, this is one of  the nicer ones that I got from the kiln last week.

This is now my new folksy shop banner,

Just listed in Not on the High street shop, fresh for Christmas.

Japanese silk inspired bowls, I have lots of these, all a little bit different from the next so this one is now on Folksy too.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Right White Glaze Test Result (making my own Glaze)

Last post I was trying out new recipes for a white stoneware glaze that I could make myself from the raw ingredients that I already have in my workshop. 
I made up four different whites that I thought may suit the firing range I generally fire to (1260c), and the type of stoneware clay I use. 
This was the original post

Here are the test sample results after a 1250.c firing range. As you can see they are quite different with really only two that I would consider using for my work.
Glaze 1 sample I wont make again, its not right for my work and looks gloopy.

Glaze 2 is better it has fitted well onto the clay, it just may need a thicker coat when applied.

Gill's white is good for my work, it fits well onto the clay and its smooth and not too shiny.

Lucie Rie's White was the worst fit for my clay, you can see that it has started to separate away from the clay sample and just looks bobbly and gloopy (not for me) 

sorry Lucie

Here they are again and I fired the same glazes onto broken pieces of greenware (unfired clay) to see how they looked. I think the results were similar to results on bisque ware (fired clay)
Im going to definately make the Gill's White and begin to use this on my work. 

So watch out for new pieces that I will be using this new white glaze on.

and this is how I make and choose new glazes to make!

This is my glaze board. I use all these colours on my work, some are bought glazes and some are made from raw materials. I just keep adding to it when I find something I like to use.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Right White

Ive been spending a bit of time gathering glaze recipes for a white stoneware glaze. Ive found three potentials which might be suitable for the kind of work I do. 
I already have all the dry ingredients stored in my workshop so I was determined to use them and not get lazy and buy a ready made one, as lovely as they are. ( Its quite satisfying to make a good one that suits the clay and Ive made it myself) The downside is they look great when you see an example but once Ive had a go at making it, it doesnt always resemble what I had in mind. 
So here goes, I have chosen 4 white stoneware glazes to make. 

The first two glazes I chose came from my glaze recipe book. They are very similar as you can see below they have all the same ingredients, but slight differences in measurements and types of oxides

. I have made the samples 1 & 3 on this page and named my samples glaze 1 and glaze 3

I have made small quantities of each one and I will compare all of them when they are fired , choose my favourite and make a large batch of the one I choose. They were all carefully weighed out on scales and put into plastic bags at first then mixed with a little water and left to settle in a jar.

After leaving the glaze to settle overnight I gave it a bit of a stir and painted them onto my already fired tile samples. (these all get pinned onto a board thats why they have holes on them)

On the reverse I have written the sample name on so I know which ones they are.
As you can see I have also decided to make a Lucie Rie Glaze aswell and then Gills White which looked good and fires to stoneware temps too.

Here are three of them done. Not looking like much at the moment. But will post again once they are out of the glaze firing.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Glass melt Sea forms school project Results

Last post was all about the sea-forms project I have been involved in at school. Here it is if you want to see the initial stages.
After the glaze and glass melting stage this is what the results looked like.








These two are the same piece except in the second photo I have added some Indian Ink to the glass crackles to define the lines


These pieces have also had Indian Ink rubbed onto the
 glass after firing.





I will post more photos of the next stage.
                            View more glass and ceramic melt              projects here.


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