The Stable that became a Potting Shed.
A water colour that I did at a time when my parents owned the property.
The stable had one of those lovely doors that was in two parts (a stable door in fact!), and you could open just the top half and have a lovely view into the garden where vegetables and flowers grew in profusion under a leafy canopy provided by a large ash tree. Peter and Judy kept an eccentric gaggle of hens, that were several sizes and colours. One of them, Grace, was a pretty bantam hen who made up for her diminutive size by having a larger than life personality. I was amused one day to see her head peering over the side of a largish pottery bowl that was on a top shelf in the stable. How she managed to get up there I don't know, but she decided the bowl was her nest, and her skill in getting there was the poultry equivalent of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay's conquest of Everest in 1953. Base camp was the wedging table, a perilous hop may have taken her to Peter's wheel, and then there was the final push, without oxygen, to the shelf many feet above it!
Peter Watson, my teacher and friend.
Potting in the stables was one of those little parts of life that seem for ever bathed in warm sunshine. My contact with clay and a slow turning wheel was a healing one and brought me some peace and balance in my life, and there was something about that stable and the garden that was part of the magic. So now I have my own shed, and it is in our garden, and I made tiles for the last two days with the shed doors open wide, and the sunny and chilly clean winter's air bringing with it a feeling of renewal and life.
I have been making tiles, and using autumn leaves to decorate the tile surface.
Tiles and Autumn Leaves
The level of detail that can be left by the imprint of a leaf is simply staggering. To really appreciate it, here is an enlargement of part of the tile on the right hand side of the photo above. I have reversed the tones in the photo so that you can see the detail more clearly, and almost in relief.
I find that it is easy to make an impression from a leaf into leather hard clay.
Hoheria leaves all from the same tree. I could be wrong, but I think that this one is Hoheria Lyallii
I make sure that the clay surface is nice and smooth, and if necessary smooth it with a rubber kidney (that is what the grey thing is in the top part of the photo). I arrange the leaves on the tile and carefully place a board over the top and push it down with my hands.
I roll over the board with a small roller, this helps attach the leaves to the clay.
After that I remove the board and roll over the clay and the leaves directly with the roller. This pushes the leaves into the surface of the clay.
If you wish to re-use the leaves on another tile, then you can carefully lift them. If you don't need the leaves any more they can stay on the clay and they will burn away in the firing. I like to use a kebab stick to hook under a leaf or stem just to get the lifting started.
I have been adding a simple decorative boarder to these tiles by pressing the kebab stick gently into the clay. A nice translucent glaze should pool in the lines and go a deeper colour.
To help the tiles dry flat, I have been putting them in between squares of gib board (plaster board) so that the moisture is removed from the clay evenly from both sides at once.
Good-bye Mr Limpy!
The good news of the day is that Ginger the cat is very much better. We were still worried enough about him to make a return visit to the vet today. He had been hardly using his painful front leg, and the whole sorry saga had been dragging on for two weeks or so. The vet, who is lovely and very good with him, gave him a very thorough examination, and really tested all the joints of both his front legs and shoulders. His little legs were rotated through their full movement, and the foot of his bad leg checked one pad and claw at a time. His damaged leg was considerably weaker than his good one, but it was very reassuring to see him quite definitely improved from the visit before where he was almost unmanageable at times due to the pain.
A little later in the day we saw him trotting comfortably on all four legs again, and he has been right ever since. I think all the rotating and moving of his joints may have popped something back into place, or freed something up. It is wonderful to have seen the departure of Mr Limpy, and the return of our old friend Ginger!