Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Sharon Kidson's Group

Way back in 2003, I was offered a three hour consultation with a business advisor as a condition of some funding that I'd tapped into. That business advisor was none other than Sharon Kidson from Tim Kidson Associates. Those three hours radically changed my life and my attitude to my practice! I've worked with Sharon on several occasions since - each time her advice and experience has been invaluable.

On Monday, my last adult group of 2009, was made up of Sharon's closest business associates and clients. The group had breakfasted at the local hotel before coming on to us for a two hour pot throwing session.

Jonathan Lee Photography

An aspect I really value about my job is being able to work with talented photographers and video artists. I've known Jonathan for a number of years now and am always blown away by his work. Here's a recent pic from a 'Clay babies' session held at the St Thomas Children's Centre in Birmingham.

Giant Logs Are Us

We spent a morning shifting these giant slices of Sequoia, (Californian redwood) into the studio. This is preparation for my imminent 'Discovery pots' exhibition at The Courtyard. The chunks were very kindly donated by Adrian Viner and his saw mill, in Broadheath, and I'm going to use them as plinths.

Eastnor Pottery Christmas Party 2009

Ok,we are a micro team, but it didn't stop us staff cracking open a bottle and throwin' a few shapes!

Unbelievably it was Caroline's first g
o on the potter's wheel.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Coleford Residency - day 7

Brrrrr! I love working in the industrial environment of the brickworks, but the cavernous expanse of the factory makes for near Arctic conditions this time of year.
Not even three hot water bucket changes could fend off the onset of hypothermia! Still, I had great fun producing forty two speedily thrown rustic pots before I could stand the cold no longer. I intend to fix these little fella's as musical drum pots, designed to be tapped and struck with beaters or sticks. If they're fired high enough they should produce a pleasant 'ring'.

George Salter Collegiate Academy - Birmingham

Eight sixth form students all studying art for a whole day workshop...nice! I'd been invited by their art teacher to facilitate some large scale ceramic making based upon the theme of recycling.

The workshop took place on a
Saturday - and I must admit I had doubts about whether they'd make it in- students and Saturday morning, and all that! But I needn't have worried the students were lovely, each producing a significant coiled piece based upon preparatory drawings. I was particularly impressed by the early finishers, who then helped those working on more complex sculptures.

Once the pieces have been fired and glazed, they are destined for exhibition at the Eden Project in Cornwall! Very exciting and a fantastic opportunity.

Immi's Sparklin' Shoes!

Immi and friends joined us on Friday evening to celebrate her 8th Birthday. Check out Iimmi's sparkling party shoes...and the cake was pretty spectacular too!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Lillian de Lissa Nursery

Before Christmas I worked with the lovely children and staff at Lillian de Lissa Nursery School in Birmingham. This is the third year in succession that I've visited the school, delivering what can only be described as a festival of mud! The children 'play' with clay slip, water, tools and the potter's wheel, approaching the material and activity however they see fit. It's a messy affair, and quite chaotic at times, but with sensitive observation and reflection the staff are able to formulate an individual learning strategy for each young student.

The staffs' commitment to creative learning and reflective practice is inspiring - videos, photos, notes, minuted meetings, conversations, staff development - it all works. The school is a vibrant, exciting, and happy place genuinely offering the under five's a fabulous environment for discovery and learning.

Scout Association Team Day

A small team granted, but it didn't stop Sam and her two other work colleagues visiting Eastnor Pottery for their annual team building activity.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Brickworks Visit Number Six

Those of you who have grappled with clay and ceramics, will undoubtedly know of the perils of firing - things blowing up or warping etc. I remember as a student hearing about industry making three objects for every one they needed, to compensate for glaze imperfections and cracking brought on by the rigours of the kiln.
I've been very fortunate at the Brickworks so far with a 100% success firing rate...
I guess my luck had to run out at some point! - it did so in style - all three guinea bowls -(see blog entry http://www.eastnorpottery.co.uk/blog/2009_11_01_archive.html and scroll down) ripped apart in the drying cabinet, even before they had entered the kiln.

From wet squidgy
clay, to finished fired brick - the material shrinks a whopping 18-20% - that's an awful amount of movement in the piece- if there's any flaw in the body, then it's sure to manifest itself as a dirty great split in your work.

Evening Pot Throwing Session

Tracy (pictured here on the left), a pot throwing veteran of our workshops, brought six of her friends along for an evening of potter's wheel fun. The girls all mastered the technique in a matter of minutes and produced some impressive shapes. If you would like to book the studio for a private potter's wheel party, then please e-mail admin@eastnorpottery.co.uk to arrange a date.

Ashton Under Hill Adults

I spent a lovely afternoon with some inspiring parents and early years practitioners at Ashton Under Hill playgroup. Regular visitors to this Blog will know I've worked closely with the setting for a number of years, working with the children to create mud sofas, collaborative pots and deliver messy, exploratory play sessions. This time though it was the turn of the grown ups. We made Christmas candle holders, that included a go on the Potter's wheel. We'll get them fired, glazed and returned to Mirka and co in time for Christmas.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Ladywood Clay Day

One of my newest settings - Sure Start Children's Centre in Ladywood, asked me to provide a drop-in workshop for families on Saturday afternoon. The event proved extremely successful with over thirty participants through the door.

Coleford Residency - Session 5

I've been using my time at the Brickworks to make specific shapes for my exhibition at the Courtyard Theatre in Hereford. However, during the process of shaping the pots on the wheel, there is a point where I have to stop and admire the aesthetics of the clay. I usually forge past this point in pursuit of the pre-conceived idea. On Friday, I took the opportunity to 'stop' at the raw, 'wrought' stage and remove the pots from the wheel.

Evesham Nursery School Residency

Each year, there are always a few children who are a little wary of 'Jon the Potter' and his clay activities. I can fully empathise with these children as I too was very quiet and reserved as a youngster. I don't think I would have gone anywhere near me! It's always rewarding to finally work with those children who usually do their uppermost to avoid the area where I work. With gentle persuasion from the lovely and well skilled staff, I had the pleasure on Thursday to work on the wheel with two such children.

A ceramic and pebble texture panel created by the class of 2008 - didn't get the chance to photograph it at the time!

Arts and Business Seminar

I headed into the centre of Birmingham on Wednesday, to attend a Seminar exploring the role of the Arts in Business. As a practitioner looking to increase the amount of corporate work (take a look at www.flyingpotter.com) the opportunity to take part was one I could not afford to pass up... and I wasn't disappointed either.' The Meeting Place', Number 11, Brindly Place (pictured above), provided an inspiring venue and a very contrasting environment to the rural charm of Eastnor.

The whole day was facilitated by the regional branch of Arts and Business, who drafted in a host of professionals to lead the presentations and workshops. All the info and activities were extremely thought provoking and very useful.

Broadlands Primary

Back in the day (six years ago?), I undertook a huge tile panel project - working with every single child, and member of staff at Broadlands Primary School in Hereford. We created a gigantic jigsaw puzzle depicting the view from the school over the Herefordshire countryside. Although somewhat abstract in appearance, everybody agreed that the outcome (1 metre x 12 metres) was a stunning testament to the creative talents of the school.
I didn't get around to photographing the finished result, until last week, when I returned to the school to work with Year 4. We made Greek coil pots to be bisque fired and then painted by the children at a later date.

A couple of Year 4 students proudly displaying their Greek wares.

Megan's Birthday

Megan (centre), and five friends celebrate her 8th Birthday party in the small studio of the Pottery. The girls made 'Funky Fruit' and pinch pot sculpture before tucking into homemade pizza and cakes.

Little brother Henry certainly enjoyed himself, sat at the table
with his piece of clay and tools.

Party Time

We usually reserve this blog for all our fantastic clay related events, courses and workshops. However, we're going to make an exception for this entry as we had quite a busy week on a personal level. On Tuesday, it was Jon the Potter's 40th Birthday. On the Wednesday, Jon and Sarah finally (twenty years in the making) tied the knot at Ledbury Registry Office. Then on Friday the pair threw a multi-celebration party at the Pottery. One hundred guests turned up, wrapped warm for an inside/outside experience, and even the wind and rain magically stopped for the duration.

The Pottery looked fantastic; we had fires outside, a dance tent
and all rooms open for people to mingle amongst the kilns and unfired pots. Everybody had a lovely time, and all commented on the magical ambiance of the studio.

Members of 'Monk' Marquees taking a well earned

Badsey First School

I resumed my residency at Badsey First School, working with YrR. They are studying 'themselves' as part of the curriculum. On the first session we made a self portrait pot with each child modeling a clay version of their faces before attaching it to the demonstration pot made on the wheel. Over the four sessions, each student will get to have a go on the wheel, as well as making a clay skeleton explaining all the bones and structure of the human body.

Days Out with Dad

A while back, a group of Dad's and their children visited the pottery to partake in a spot of clay making. The group was established primarily to get Dad's to engage with their kids via a range of weekend activities. Such was the uptake (and professionalism of the organization) we had enough punters to run both a morning and an afternoon session.