Laura finished a lovely large painting this week, the painting measures 4 feet high (1200mm). It has been so good seeing her back to working on something as challenging as this, and she is really happy to have completed it.
Laura is not a very common name, or we didn't think so, but we accumulated 3 under our roof two Sundays ago. It was such an unusual event that I recorded it for posterity!
Laura on the left has recently begun coming here for potting lessons. Fortunately she looks different enough from my Laura (in the middle) for me not to get them confused (my inability to remember names and faces is very well developed!). The Laura on the right happened to visit our little gallery here when she was passing by.
We had a visit from Mike and Chantel from Oamaru, they came bearing wonderful clothes that they had made for us, and also kindly bringing with them my mum and dad who had ordered the clothes for us as a Christmas present (dad took this photo). Mike and Chantel make made to measure Heritage clothing, and have a beautiful shop in Oamaru called Tiger Lily's. The woollen tweed fabric that Mike used for making my waistcoat and plus 4s was hand woven at Tiger Lily's. Chantel made Laura's lovely apron.
I have unloaded another small collection of finished crystal glazed pots and lots more glaze tests. My first successful crystal glazes were using recipes that Lasse Östman kindly posted on his web site (I wrote Lasse a thank you Email, and received a very nice one back). I am trying different oxides with his glaze bases as a starting point, and am also substituting some of the materials, such as replacing Rutile with titanium, and so on. I am also making careful adjustments to the firing cycle to learn the effects that this has on crystal shape, size, quantity, and growth.
As a result of my tests I have a really good copper green crystal glaze that is reliable enough to use, one that has nice pale blue crystals and an almost white background that needs some more work before it is usable (it currently crazes rather badly), several more that may be promising with further playing with the firing schedule, and I also have some of Lasse's that work well straight away.
I have also found a dolomite matt glaze that does well with the slow cooling schedule I am playing with, and have found that Bouverie Tessha glaze works splendidly as a dark liner glaze for the inside of pots. So I'm happy with developments.
Yesterday I was glazing more crystal glazed pots to go in the kiln. Towards the end of our working day, Laura noticed a car pull up outside our place, and, after some earnest discussion with his passenger, a man got out, and approached our front door. Laura bravely flung the door wide and...
Behold there were charming, wonderful people bearing gifts!
The mysterious strangers turned out to be friends of Doug Fitch, and they came complete with a mug that Doug sent as a present and something nice on CD. To receive such a thing is just pure pleasure. So thoughtful, and such an encouragement. I have admired Doug's work for as long as I have been blogging, and to have something from him here is really very special. The mug is lovely, it is from the land where I was born, and was made by kind hands, and what can be nicer than that!
The other bonus with this has been to meet Doug's friends Jeff and Stella. We had a shared meal with them last night, and I have had such a nice day with them today, we walked together down through the wildlife lagoon to the beach. The sun was out, and it was beautiful. Jeff and Stella had looked rather tired after their travels the day before, but were greatly rejuvenated by the sea air and warmth.
It was one of those splendid days when nature pulled out all the stops to make it enjoyable. There were wild flowers to lift the spirits (like these poppies that must have escaped from someone's garden), and the birds put on a fine show too.
Mr black swan seemed to be grooming, but was really quietly on guard. Not far from him was Mrs black swan and their fine family of 6 cygnets.
The grey heron was in sociable mood. Instead of hiding, he/she posed for the camera, allowing me to take a great many photographs.
Sadly it is now late and I have to finish (maybe just as well!!). Huge thank yous to all the people mentioned on this post for making life good, enjoyable, and full of surprises! I'll be having a nice cup of cocoa soon in Doug's mug!