Tuesday, 10 January 2012

70...My New Blog

This is my last post with Blogger. Although I have not quite finished the new site it is up and running and I will be tweaking it over the next couple of weeks. At the moment it is quite basic but I will be adding more pics to the background and header as I figure out how to do it.

Come over and have a look at:


Let me know what you think...good or bad and see you on the other side!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

69...Going over to Wordpress

 Happy New Year to All!

Apologies for not writing for a couple of weeks, but I have been spending time over the hols trying to set up a new blog in Wordpress. This is not an easy thing to do.

I do like the look of this blog, but I wanted more control over the site and I want to step it up a bit. So, that has meant many frustrating hours on the computer, and in fact I have delayed my return to France so that I can sit in Brighton (where it is easier to keep warm) and plough my way through HTML, CSS and FTP...No, I've no idea either.

Anyway, I have got the basics together, and I am tweaking the rest as I write with the help of the online forums. I am hoping to put the first post up this weekend. So, watch this space!

Monday, 19 December 2011

68...Two Stormy Weeks

A dark and stormy day

After the longest, mildest autumn I can remember, winter finally arrived here with a flurry of storms. Actually, flurry is a mild word for the winds that raged through here on and off for two weeks. This photo was taken from my studio at lunchtime one day..it didn't get light. Branches have been falling daily and finally on thursday night we had the biggest storm of all before it all calmed down. The thursday night storm had me up at 4am...closing shutters and checking windows...but we still lost a few panes of glass and some tiles from the roof. I think it sounds worse here because of the large trees all around the house, twigs and branches clatter down onto the roof, and the trees seem to bend down so far you imagine they are going to fall.

Out in the garden the workawayers have continued on despite the rain and here Laila has dug up all the weeds around my veg beds. They are now covered with liner and later we will put a thick layer of wood mulch on top. This will save me loads of work next year...not having to cut the grass around the beds, and less transference of weeks into the beds.

Simon from Sweden has been cutting down small trees and logging them up into large piles which look like lovely wooden installations around the garden. These will season for the next 2-3 years before coming in to feed the Rayburn.
Someone who read a previous blog asked me about the Workawayers....so this is how it works. If you have a project....of any sort, or if you want to go somewhere..anywhere....you write a profile on the Workaway site. You need to be quite specific about the work you want done, or the work you can do, but it can be anything from gardening, building, looking after kids etc etc. If you are a host, you post some photo's too. Then you wait for people to contact you. The deal is they give you 5 hours work a day, 5 days a week, and you give them somewhere to sleep and provide for 3 meals a day. Normally people come for 2-3 weeks..sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the work. So far I have had 3 people here and it has worked out really well. I can't keep on top of the garden by myself and so far the people that have been here have used their own initiative and just got on with things. The great thing is you get time with people to talk about their culture and see the way they do things. We have had Swedish meatballs twice since Simon has been here....and they are lovely.   Laila has also been cooking dinner once a week which is such a treat.  I've already had several requests for next year...so perhaps my jungle will turn into a lovely garden soon!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

67...West Blatchington Primary School's Fabulous Flowers

One of the 7 sisters

After a storm which brought down part of the roof at the Newhaven terminal, we sailed out into a glorious morning with not a cloud in the sky. The only signs of the storm was the churned up, sludgy colour of the sea which today seemed less to reflect the colour of the sky and more the bottom of the ocean. The ferry had actually sailed during the night and got in a little late this morning and the doors to the outside decks were still taped up to disallow entry....no doubt they had to stop the smokers from being launched over the side of the boat. A high price for a fag!

I had been back in Brighton this week for the 2nd part of a workshop at West Blatchington Primary Schood. Each child had made a flower out of clay based on research they had done on the flora of South Africa. I have done this workshop before with their teacher Nicola....but she has moved to this school and wanted to repeat the workshop with these children as it had gone so well before.

Today the children were painting their flowers with underglazes and layering bright colours on top of each other.

I think I enjoy this workshop just as much as the kids do. The flowers all survived the biscuit firing so we could just relax and make the flowers gorgeous.......

....with spots and stripes and swirls..lovely!

It is often said that children are losing the knack of concentration....but I find that when they are really engaged in a project, they can keep on going for ages without being distracted. Certainly, these children would have happily painted for twice as long as the time they were actually able to.

This chap on the right turned out to be my partners great nephew, and we didn't even know he was at this school......and what a lovely young man he is. Hi Jason!

 I have now moved over to wordpress...please come and find me at  http://theceramicgardener.com

Monday, 5 December 2011

66...Centre de formation ceramique and winter arrives

Centre de formation Ceramique
This week I attended a meeting at a ceramics centre in Bolbec, Normandy, we were discussing a new potters fair that is being organised for next October. It was very interesting for me as it is the first time I have seen a place like this in France. It looked extremely well organised, clean and tidy...I like that in a ceramics room.

Test tiles

It's always good to take a look around and see how other people organise themselves in their working environoment.

Clay man coming out of wall

There was a lot of students work around and I particulaly liked this man stepping out of the wall. The wall had been made by the students in the Cob method which involves mixing clay with straw etc. I don't know the exact method, but it is the way they built walls in the Norman long houses, and you still see it on a lot of buildings.

There were a lot of different styles of work both traditional and contemporary. I'm not sure how the education system works here with regards to the applied arts but the people here were on a 22 month diploma course and should be able to start up their own business once they have qualified (although starting a business in France is easier said than done..the rules..the paperwork!)

Poppy vases
Back in my own studio I had a good glaze firing with a rush job of vases which will be winging their way up to a London gallery on thursday, just in time for Christmas. Unfortunately, an element also broke in this firing which is rubbish timing at this time of year as the whole lot will have to be replaced now.

Snow scene

It is becoming quite the done thing to go crazy with the garden decorations for Christmas over here, and many houses set up tableau's like this one..it was quite arresting and lit up the whole area. Some small towns around here set up scenes like this in every garden, and people drive through of an evening in a long line of cars. If this were in Britain, there would be someone set up selling mulled wine and hot chestnuts...not quite so entrepenurial the French.

Winter finally arrived today, the temperature fell and soon after the garden turned white with hailstones...still we've had a good run this year and this is the first time it has been properly cold.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

65...A beautiful day at sea

A lovely morning over the scrap metal pile
 A very frustrating weekend spent on the computer. I have decided to go over to the other side and start a new blog in Wordpress, but as with all these techy things, one has to learn the jargon, figure out the 'logic' of the programmers and try to make it ones own. I have got so far but realise I need to spend loads more time on it, so for the present I will continue in blogger whilst I figure it out.
Still, as I left to go back to the studio on monday morning, the sun came out in a spectacular way over the rather unlovely Newhaven......

....and continued in the same vein right across the channel and into Dieppe.

I arrived back at the house at exactly the same time as a new Workawayer from Sweden,

 he is only 19 but has proved very adept in the garden so far and has come up with some good ideas for improvements. He is a trained chippy, so I'm hoping for some new raised beds next week!


In the studio I have had a glaze firing which has kept the studio lovely and warm for a couple of days and has helped to dry out some work which is a rush job for a gallery in London. This piece will be joined by another to make a pair and will be attached to galvanised rod and drilled into timber. I recycle blue glass bottles from Neals Yard for the internal glaze and have yet to find an efficient way of crushing the glass....at the moment I am putting it into a metal bucket and hammering it (with glasses on) so if anyone knows a better way...please let me know.

Teals Tile

Teal, a previous busking workawayer has gone back to the States, but her tile came out of the kiln this week and has joined the tile gallery on my studio wall. Her Death Cap mushroom has come out a treat.

Find me now over at http://theceramicgardener.com

Sunday, 20 November 2011

64...Art at St Ouen and a busy week

Higgeldy Piggeldy Rouen

We jumped on the train and went up to Rouen to stay with some friends we met through Couchsurfing this weekend. I have been to Rouen many times, it is the nearest city to us, but I had never discovered the part of Rouen that our friends took us to. It is full of little streets with medieval houses leaning in and out all over the place...ooh the maintenance!

St Ouen

We visited a huge old Abbey called St Ouen which has had all the furniture removed and is used now for exhibitions and concerts. Indeed Patti Smith played there last night, although we didn't know that until this morning so missed it, but we did hear some gorgeous music being played from up in the organ loft.

Pink and Lilac window above the organ loft

There was a chap standing up in the loft playing a trumpet accompanied by his wife on the organ, and the sound was amazing. This place is HUGE...like the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern so of course the acoustics make sound swell. Lovely.

Tree in snow and clouds

There was also a video exhibition going on. All around the Abbey were large screens with this tree projected on, each one different and each one beautiful. This one had clouds swirling around and snow falling down on it.

Singing Ringing Tree

This one reminded me of the one from the fairy tale,

being silly with the Tree in the sea
...and this one had waves crashing around it. Mesmerising, especially if you waited to see a seagull fly by every now and then.

Lots of thrown cones

With the high pressure we have had this week, the work has been going well in the studio..i.e things are drying out, and I was able to get this commision made.

Large Angel drying out

This was the 2nd one I made, the weather was so damp a couple of weeks ago I couldn't get anywhere with it.

Laila getting no help from Houdini

I still have Laila the workawayer here, and she is going great guns in the garden. After digging over this bit of garden,

She created a new little path with some old red bricks we had lying around,

She has also been busy creating in the studio, and came up with this great green man..well woman.

golden sunshine through the gate

The autumn continues mild and glorious here. The middle of November and we are eating lunch in the garden in T shirts. The sun being so low makes everything golden at the end of the afternoon and gave Henry the chance to take some lovely photos around the garden. Long may it last......
 Find me now over at http://theceramicgardener.com