Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Washwood Heath Nursery School

"How we share the planet" is the universal theme this term, designed to stimulate the children's imagination. The young potters experimented with the clay, making very articulate sea creatures and various animals - check out this lovely fish with dotty patterns on its side.

Crafty Group at the Pottery

A vehicle breakdown and some confusion over the clocks 'springing' forward did little to deter seven friends from enjoying a whole day's worth of throwing at Eastnor Pottery. The group had travelled across from Kent on Friday, spending a day at a health farm on Saturday before bowling up at the studio on Sunday.

All of the girls showed great technical brilliance on the seven potter's wheels as well as producing some creative coloured solutions to our coil-pot project. To see photos of the days activities, please view the album on our Facebook page.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Potter's Wheel Workshop

One of the participants on our one day Potter's wheel workshop on Sunday commented on the 'green' credentials of working with clay:

"I like the idea that the pots that 'flop' and end up on the reclaim pile get recycled into other pots".

"It's not that dirty or messy either! You don't need to use nasty chemicals to scrub away at it - like you would with oil-based paints - it cleans up nicely just with water".

Pottery Hen Party

Beth and her accompanying 'hens' spent a glorious afternoon at the studio, picnicking in the early spring sunshine, throwing pots on the potter's wheel and modelling pottery arty-facts.

The twelve girls took it in turns to experiment on six of our electric wheels, whilst the others made and painted coil-pots on the tables.
We've created a photo album on our facebook page.

If you fancy spending your hen party in the creative environment of the artist's studio, please take a look at our Hen Party page on our website for further details.

Pottery Birthday Party

Saturday proved to be a busy day at Eastnor Pottery.

Rebecca and her classmates celebrated her 8th birthday by making, and painting pottery 'Muffins'. It was a beautiful early spring morning and the partygoers once they had finished their claywork, were able to enjoy their picnic on the Pottery lawn.

Meanwhile, inside the studio Jon worked frantically, shifting furniture and preparing for a party of Bristolian Hens who were due to descend for a 3 hour Pottery Hen Party.

Mad for Mud at Madley

Wellies and waterproofs were the order of the day at Madley Primary School last week. Jon's working with the staff to transform two large spoil heaps into interactive earth works and mud sculpture.

The team got to experiment with bagged earth and rammed soil construction techniques. Handfuls of 'Cob' were then slapped onto sandbags filled with earth.

Everybody threw themselves into the task with enthusiasm and energy, achieving an impressive construction - all in the short space of a couple of hours. Well done everybody!

Potter's Wheel at Brearley

Although the sun failed to appear on Tuesday, Jon set up his potter's wheel on the playground for the children to dip in and out of. Thermal underwear and constant hot water changes took the edge off the temperature just enough for Jon to function, the children however, were unaffected by the climate and made some beautiful pots encrusted with handles and decorative additions.

One of the boys made a fantastic robot, which collapsed when he added the 'hat'. His philosophical reaction - "Look Jon, he's sitting down now!".

The Calming Effect of Clay

Jon welcomed the opportunity to work with the 2 & 3 year olds at Washwood Heath Nursery last week.

The children were very excited about the project and could hardly sit still long enough to 'work' the clay.

However, fifteen minutes into the session you'd never have believed that the children were the same ones who sat down at the beginning. The conversation and debate were still taking place, but the volume had dramatically decreased as each child was already on their individual journey of creative discovery - a great session!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Simon De Montfort Workshop

About a month ago, Gemma lead an after-school clay workshop at Simon De Montfort School, in Evesham. A small group of children were accompanied by their parents & carers.

Everyone enjoyed creating their own clay coil-pot figure or animal, and by the end of the session there was an impressive collection of items. These included a dog, a one-eyed monster, a snowman, and a ballerina.

All of the pieces have since been fired, glazed, and will be returned to the school when Gemma will facilitate another workshop there in early April.

Pottery Party

Ellie and her friends celebrated her birthday at the studio one afternoon last week after school. The revellers were very excited about making colourful critters and produced some wonderful painted animals. Check out the glowing eyes on this marvellous hedgehog!

Mum Caroline - a professional photographer and fellow creative, took some lovely photographs some of which we will publish by kind permission in the next few weeks.

Art for Architecture

Bilston's fantastic new Leisure Centre is nearing completion. The Art for Architecture scheme ensures that at least 1% of funds are used to commission artworks for the new-build. As part of this process, Jon was invited to attend a 'hands-on' public consultation event. Visitors and local residents got the chance to chat with artists, and sample some approaches to creative practice.

The feedback from the event will inform the type of artwork and activities to be put out to tender.

Above: Clay work produced at the event by members of the public.

Keep up to date with the consultation process by visiting Bilston Gallery's Facebook page.

Potter's Wheel Fun at Evesham Nursery

Although the three day mud sculpture project had to be postponed till May, Jon was still able to visit Evesham Nursery for a bonus residency day on Tuesday.
The Potter's Wheel is always a firm favourite with the children and an obvious choice for the extra session. Jon soon had a group of keen participants jostling around the wheel, debating what they were going to make:

"I'm going to make a rocket for me to fly in it"

"If I make a cup and plate, will it work?"

"I'm going to make things we have on a plate - beans and sausage and waffles!"

"My hands do a noise...listen it's like a squeaky noise"

Thank Heavens for the AA!

Jon was supposed to be facilitating three days of mud sculpture in the idyllic setting of Evesham Nursery's Forest School at the beginning of last week but unfortunately the Flying Potter Van broke down en route.

Although a vehical breakdown is never desirable, Monday morning was a particularly lovely day; the sun was shining, the daffs were delicately tilting in the breeze, and the AA were on their way. There was nothing more that Jon could do but sit back in the driver's seat, sketchbook on lap and muse about his forthcoming exhibition in Bilston.

Although it took most of the morning to be recovered and the nursery project had to be postponed, the unforeseen breakdown offered Jon some quiet reflection and design time. A rare opportunity, and although unexpected, very welcome indeed!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Pottery Birthday Parties

A host of 'Funky Fruit' and 'Colourful Critters' were produced at the weekend by two groups of youngsters celebrating birthdays at the Pottery.

Jasmine and guests had lots of pottery fun in the morning, whilst Alex celebrated his 9th birthday with his classmates in the afternoon.

If you would like to book a pottery party, please check out our Birthday Party page on our website.

A Surprise Visit at Brearley...

A diary mix-up meant the staff at Brearley were somewhat surprised when Jon the Potter turned up on the doorstep for a day of clay exploration. Faced with a long and fruitless journey home, the staff were as accommodating as ever, and allowed Jon to stay.

The children were given the opportunity to make coilpots outside in the quad. Although the temperature struggled to creep above zero degrees the children didn't appear to feel the cold and made some exceptional pieces. These were rounded up and displayed in the outside gallery space. We particularly loved Bobbie's Gruffalo cave with 'space rocket' addition (featured above).

Madley Mud Project

Socks and sand were the materials of choice when Jon joined the staff at Madley Primary School. The teachers and teaching assistants got to play with socks filled with sand, moulding them into sculptures and mini land-art pieces.

Cherry Orchard First School Tile Panel

Cherry Orchard First School in Pershore is undergoing renovations and improvements to its building stock. These include a new playground surface, a new hall floor and considerable alterations to the Nursery department.

The staff and children are coping extremely well with the disruption, swapping classroom spaces and activities on a daily basis.

As the school hall was out of commission, Jon found himself facilitating clay workshops in the corridor. The project this week - to produce a coloured tile panel of the Nursery's rainbow caterpiller logo. Each child (and a healthy gaggle of parents) made a section of the whole image.
Once it's been fired and glazed, the panel will be installed in the new reception area of the renovated Nursery - all in time for the grand opening in April.

Bilston Show a Go-Go!

Jon had a couple of inspiring meetings last week. On Monday Natalie from the Bilston Craft Gallery in Wolverhampton visited Eastnor Pottery to start planning Jon's solo exhibition scheduled for the summer.

The show will explore the five senses, encouraging gallery visitors to interact with Jon's work. Touch, sight, and sound are pretty straight forward. Taste and smell are going to prove a little more challenging! Jon and Natalie set out a time-scale for photographs, videos, and marketing text etc.

At the end of the week Jon had a meeting with management at Coleford Brick and Tile Company in the Forest of Dean. The brickworks very kindly allowed Jon to set up studio on the factory floor and produce work for his exhibition 'Discovery pots' at the Courtyard Theatre last year.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Partners in Grime

The participants came in two by two, hurrah hurrah! Two husband and wife couples and an auntie and niece combo enjoyed a weekend of making pots on the potter's wheel.

On Saturday everybody was assigned a potter's wheel and threw some very competent-looking shapes. The pots were speed-dried overnight allowing them to be turned, and painted on Sunday.

If you are interested in booking places on our next potter's wheel workshop, then please contact the pottery on 01531 633886, or email

Please visit our potter's wheel workshop page on our website for more details about the workshops.

Blind Art Video

The video of still photographs from the inspiring Blind Art workshop (which took place in January) in Cambridge with Camsight has been posted on Youtube, follow this link to view the video.

The Design Talents of Miss Heather Macdonald

Friday marked the end of Heather's four week internship here at the Pottery. Her task was to re-brand the Eastnor Pottery & The Flying Potter corporate image.

We've been extremely pleased with Heather's work - check out our Facebook page where we've created an album of some of her finest photo and graphic design moments.

Four and Twenty

"Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie" provided the inspiration for our latest children's workshops at half term.The young potters each had a go on the potter's wheel, to make a 'pie dish' then added a filling of their choice. The children's imagination ran wild with Dragon pie, Safari pie, and Shepherd's pie all on the menu! To see more images from the event see our Facebook page.

Our next children's workshop sessions take place on the 19th and 20th of April, in the Easter holidays. The working title is 'Country House'. If you would like to book places, please contact Eastnor Pottery to make a reservation by phone on 01531 633886 or send an email to

Fellow Potter at Springfield Children's Centre

One of the parents Jon encountered at a workshop session in Hereford turned out to be a professional potter. Jon was inspired by her story:

Having had a go on a potter's wheel aged 5, she'd decided there and then that she wanted to be a potter when she grew up. As a young adult, a cleaning vacancy was advertised at the pottery in her village (Pembridge). She got the job and at the end of her shift was allowed to experiment and play on the wheel. Picking up hints and tips from the other potters, she showed an obvious talent for the wheel. As she became more competent she was given throwing tasks, small pots at first then later, larger lumps. Eventually she became Pembridge Terracotta's main thrower, shaping 25kg lumps into products.

Although the pottery closed a few years back, the old magic was definitely still there as she guided her two young children through their first pots.

Creative Childhoods skills workshop

If you're an Early Years practitioner and have yet to experience the fantastic Creative Childhoods Exhibition, you'd do well to get yourself along to the St Thomas Centre in Birmingham this coming week.

The exhibition celebrates ten years of arts projects in Early Years settings across the city and is due to finish at St Thomas on the 5th of March.

Alongside the show, a program of skills workshops have been taking place, aimed at all those who work in the Early Years sector. Jon spent a rewarding day on Monday showing many of the techniques he employs when working with Foundation stage students.
Check out our Facebook pages for more photos.

High-sided Vehicle at Westfield Special School

Westfield School in Leominster employs Jon 'the potter' on an occasional basis to work with their students.

This time, leaves were the order of the day. Once fired the ceramic leaf tiles will be arranged in such a way as to represent a giant oak tree. the work will be installed on a wall in the school garden.

Dinasaur Clay at Brearley and Teviot

Having spent a day in each room (yellow, blue, green, then red) it was time for Jon to work with the younger children in the pre-school department. Once the clay was revealed the children took it everywhere, outside and inside, and up around the bend! Even the T-rex got a mouthful!