I have a small studio, and often have difficulty inserting my elephantine bulk into the space, however we managed to fit an entire local school into about 6 square metres of empty floor near my potters wheel when they came to visit me in the second week of the month. It is possible that some were standing on top of others, I'm not sure, but they did so without complaint or injury, and I think that we had fun!
There is a certain sound and rhythm made by the massed voices of children greeting an adult when a teacher has instructed them to say "Good Morning Mr ......". I received a collective "Goooood Moor-Ning Miss-Ter Greg-Gore-Ray" from the class before I began my demonstration, and I suspect that the sound and rhythm of children's voices greeting people in that way has not changed for many decades... I certainly remember it being like that when I was 6 or 7 years old.
One thing that does change every few years are the noises and words used to express amazement, or enjoyment.....
When I went to the wheel and centred and pulled up 2 or 3 kilograms of clay for the first time, there was a collective "WOW!" This was repeated at other significant points in the demonstration... The raising of a wall of a tall pot, finishing a pot, lifting a pot off the wheel! It was good fun for me, and for them!
I have demonstrated painting and potting to other generations of children and adults, and have received "CHOICE!", "MASSIVE!", "UNREAL!", "WICKED", and "COOL!" The word used seems to change every 4 or 5 years. Probably my favourite is "cool" because it is so inappropriate when referring to most pottery related processes. People often say "Cool!" when I tell them that I fire my kiln to 1300 Celsius (2372 F) to fire porcelain or stoneware. I sometimes correct their "cool" with "hot!" but they rarely get the joke... which is slightly sad really, because language is a funny thing, and a wonderful thing! How amazing it is that we can use organised groups of sounds to express the full array of human thought and emotion!
Anyway, the children and I had fun, and I was amazed at how quickly I could make a bowl, vase, teapot spout, lid, handle, teacup and handle, when requested to by urgent young voices!
A week later we had a visit from a local Rural Women's group. Encouraged by the fact that I fitted a school into my studio, we compacted the women into the same space, and had a wonderful afternoon without lasting injury or death by suffocation! Two French Canadian tourists who happened to visit the gallery at the same time as the Woman's group, joined in, and stayed for a cup of tea afterwards. It was delightful to meet them, I was actually quite sad to see them go! I hope they have a marvellous time touring New Zealand.
We are fairly isolated here, and I don't get to travel much at all, but we have been greatly encouraged by visitors from overseas. When they spend time with us, it is a bit like being able to travel ourselves.
I rarely take pupils, mostly due to having very limited work space here, but occasionally I do, and I am really enjoying having Becky in the studio for a few hours each week at the moment. It is lovely to be able to get someone else started with clay, and to see them taking their first steps.
I have been very busy trying to work through commissions and keeping some good stock on the shelves. I am always testing glazes and trying to find how best to use them. I made a set of 6 porcelain cups for someone recently. The cups were to be closely related, but could be a little different. The "inside" glaze for some of them, became the "outside" glaze for others.
I also made other cups at the same time, for our own stock here, and tried some other glaze combinations.
I made these tiny handless sauce jugs for someone as part of a commission. In spite of their colour, they remind me of a pair of polar bears... maybe polar bears go purple with cold!
I am doing some tests with this unusual glaze at the moment. It gives grey, orange, and oatmeal colours on porcelain, and gives iron spots on stoneware clay. It has a waxy matte surface. It is a highly alkaline glaze, and I had thought that it would yield copper blues ... however, what I have here interests me a lot and I will play further with it.
This copper green is lovely over stoneware and porcelain. It also will fire to a good copper red when fired in reduction atmospheres. The glaze is a bit expensive to make as it has 5 percent tin oxide in it, and tin oxide is a horrible price these days, but I love the subtle lustre this gives, even when it is fired in oxidation, and the tin gives the orange/red response where the glaze is thin over an iron oxide bearing stoneware clay.
Whilst many materials can be substituted in glazes, each does have its own "personality", and sometimes this makes it worth the extra expense of using the "real thing" rather than a substitute.
Well, must sign off for now, one kiln to unload, the other to fire! Then off to the wheel to make more work for orders.
...Just before I go....
I want to say a Big Thank You to people that send "Fan Mail"!
It has been a great encouragement to me over recent weeks to receive emails and photos from people that have bought my work and then have taken the trouble to send me a photo of it in use or on display at their place. It is a really kind and thoughtful thing to do, and does help me to keep on battling away in the studio. I am very thankful to you.
Here are some photos people have sent in recently...