Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Recently finished experiments...






At the moment I am exploring different clays and how they behave. Trying to learn the ways of the clay is a mammoth task. So many different clays, and endless combinations and uses! Not to mention glazes. Wow. 

These are few things that I am happy with from the most recent firing. The jug up the top being my favourite. I'm really loving the combination of iron rich clay and porcelain left bare. I will definitely be continuing along that line.

I'm also really loving using some porcelain to get back into some jewellery making. I forgot how much I loved putting pieces together to form a necklace, just the right combination, just the right balance.


You can find these guys up in my etsy shop. These necklaces are on chains which are 18ct gold plated over sterling silver, which makes them a bit more luxe. I will also make some up shortly on braided leather, if you prefer that option, stay tuned.

The brooch is porcelain too and actually formed over the lid of a vintage Tupperware container. The I love the Tupperware lady brooch ��. 


And lastly, here is the vase from the woodfiring in action. Bringing some colour to these bleak winters days, it's really doing quite a good job I think! Xx

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Clayspace Daylesford Community Wood-firing


Over ANZAC weekend I had the great pleasure of being part of a community wood-firing here in Daylesford. To be included in such a wonderful group of potters (which included my amazing teacher, Minna Graham, the incredible Petrus SpronkKim Haughie Kath Wratten, Georgia Harvey)  was really very special and I was just so excited about it. Having no idea about wood firing I knew it was an opportunity to learn a lot, by doing and by talking with the rest of the crew.


Wood, a lot of wood,  we had cut and stacked prior to the firing weekend. On Friday, with great excitement, we met to pack the kiln and seal her up. This was a
chance to check out everyone's work and ask a never ending stream of questions. 
We sorted the work by size and discussed some of the possible effects of kiln placement. The throat of the kiln which is closest to the fire, can create some dramatic and sometimes wonderful effects, but its also a dangerous spot, and the work may get broken. Its a sort of high risk, high payoff sort of scenario, not for the faint hearted, like me. Perhaps I'll be more adventurous next time round?


Once the kiln was full, and looking beautiful I might add, we replaced the bricks in the opening and sealed her up. It was decided that Saturday would be a rest day and those on shift no.1 would fire her up very early in the morning (Petrus started at 3am!) on Sunday. The first part of the firing must be taken very slowly, literally one twig at a time, which is excruciatingly difficult,  but this is crucial for the works survival. At this early stage moisture in the clay is heating up and expanding and if this is done too quickly will cause the work to explode. Once all the moisture has left the clay you can start to raise the temperature at a higher rate. Petrus was the zen master and showed great restraint, as a result, none of the work was lost in this way.



I arrived at 8am to a lovely festival like atmosphere. With so much work invested and ensconced in the kiln, excitement and anticipation was high. Lindy, Petrus and Kim were busy keeping the fire stoked whilst making pancakes and rising dough for naan bread to be eaten with a communal afternoon stew. I hadn't anticipated the amount of fun I would have just hanging out, talking and learning from these talented folk and stoking the fire. Here I am with my shift buddy Sue, who was involved with the set up of the kiln and was a wealth of information and knowledge.





And so the day progressed with much stoking eating talking and joking. I had to leave for a few hours, but returned around 7pm to find that we had not reached our projected temperature (1300), in fact we were a few  hours behind schedule. What followed were a few intense hours of consternation and trial and error as we tried desperately push the temperature up. It got later and later and not a lot of movement was happening in the temperature.


 We were crowded around the pyrometer watching the numbers fluctuate wildly, at once enthralled, annoyed and hopeful. Time wore on, and as people lost the will to stay awake, our numbers dwindled. Kath, Petrus, Lindy and I refused to give up and agreed to stay until midnight (Petrus had been there since 3am!), and we adopted a new technique of filling the box with small wood every five minutes (this was the opposite of what the very confusing manual said to do) but it seemed to work- we shot up another 100 degrees. Our hopes were raised.



But we struggled to nudge the temperature at all after that and soon Kath and I found ourselves the only two left post midnight, we had to make some tough decisions about what to do. After checking the cones (the pointy things you can see in the pic above) and sadly acknowledging their lack of meltedness we agreed to call it a day. After so much effort, we felt a wee bit defeated. We crawled home to bed, leaving the fire to burn out slowly, and the kiln to cool over the next few days. 

Long slow days where I couldn't stop thinking about what had happened inside the kiln, I couldn't wait to see inside!


And so we took a look into the the throat first...


And unearthed some treasures! Check out the colour!


Then with excitement I can only liken to kids tearing open Christmas presents, we removed the bricks in the main box.... 


and wow, there were some winners.




And some happy potters! Hooray! The majority of the work had come out cooked and beautiful. Some pieces needed re-firing but I'm pretty sure everyone went home with a few pieces that they loved. Not to mention having had a really great time in the process! It was truly a wonderful experience, and I am so grateful to have been a part of it. 


And here are my favourite three. The vase I think is very special, and I shall keep it always as a reminder of what was hopefully the first of many successful wood-firings!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Young love.

You know that feeling when you are SO seriously into something, so excited about it, so utterly enamoured with it that it's all you can think about, talk about, dream about? I hope you do know that feeling.
I'm having it right now, and I only have eyes for the clay. 
Clay is my boyfriend.


I've spent the better part of the last year (and it's been almost a year since my last post!) immersing myself in a new medium- learning its ways and trying, sometimes with great difficulty to speak its language. 

I feel creatively alive again- the way I did when I first began to experiment with metal, but clay is a far more seductive mistress. So sensual. So tactile. So transformative.


And there is so much to learn. So many possibilities. Infinite combinations of techniques, materials & processes. A simply magical connection to history that I adore. Endless inspiration everywhere I look. I am indeed in love.


And it feels like a love that will stand the test of time. Clay and I have much to do, much to see, much to learn. And Im pretty excited about documenting & sharing this new journey xxx

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

We are in!


It's true! We are here finally, living in the strawhouse and it is just marvellous :) after a two week rest and recovery period I can truthfully say its been worth all the stress and hard work.
The journey from 1860 (when our last house was built) to 2013 has been a blast and holy moly what a difference insulation and passive solar design make! We've only had our fire on once and that was to dry our shoes! Believe me, where we live that is nothing short of a miracle!! We have seriously been mostly walking around in t-shirts! So  many exclamation marks in this post, my apologies...
Anyway we are slowly unpacking and sorting and organising and playing around with some decor, it's so much fun and I'm sure there will be many more posts and pics to come. But here are a few of the parts that are un-unpacking land enough to photograph. Big love to you all xx



Thursday, March 7, 2013

Officially a crazy person...

Hello interweb! Its been a while. Time has seriously evaded me lately and sadly dear blog, as so often happens, you have slid on down to the bottom of a huge list of priorities. Juggling everything and trying to stay afloat has become a 24 hr a day job. Either we are really bad at managing our life or, and i fully suspect this to be the case, we love it all crazy.

Our life is fairly bursting at the seams- running the final sprint to get the house finished- so many jobs to do, so many lists! And to top it all off I decide to add another thing into the mix- with my spunky friend Elle I have set up a mini shop at our local hugely awesome vintage megastore, The Mill Markets. It's been a flurry of sorting labelling & organising but we did it! Just in time for our wee towns busiest of weekends. Insert large sigh of relief. Come visit if you are from around these parts :)









Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Kitchen cabinetry sneak peek...

So excited!!!! We are now at lock up and now the real fun begins! It's time for all hands on deck and a race to the finish line!! The kitchen cabinetry is done and looking pretty fab I've gotta say. Oh how I cannot wait to cook in there! I wonder what will be my first meal? What do you think? What would yours be?







Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Yay for today!

There is lots happening at the strawhouse, this makes me very happy. Very happy indeed. Today is the fist day that I can really see an end in sight. The windows arrived and the boys started fitting them today. Having a window in totally changes the feel of the place- without it it felt far from finished, with it, it feels Kinda complete. Amazing! The plumbers came to start fixing the cladding (where the smurf blue lining is) and I'm not feeling completely sure about our choice now that I'm seeing it in the flesh. Is it too dark? Is the proportion of render to cladding weird? Is it sitting to close to the window tops? Grr- it's so hard to conceptualise all these things and think of every aspect. But hey it's still progress! I'm feeling really excited about the next few months and the lovely visual and creative treats in store. This is the part of the build that I've been waiting for!

Also I had a whole day sans small people to attack some weeds, feed the natives and start mulching the windbreak with the mass of leftover straw. I worked in the garden for a full day! So good.

But possibly best of all, it's raining! Actually raining! First time in months. Hopefully it continues and fills up everyone's tanks and gives the whole town a much needed drink! I hope your day was a good one too ;)










Sunday, January 27, 2013

Holly Cottage

If I could remove the stress and time pressures of our build, life at Holly Cottage would be sweet indeed. In fact even with those pressures life here so far has been a blessing. The forest, the birds, the butterflies, the textures and smells, the trees dripping with fruit, the visitors, the sweet little house with so much personality, the flowers and the bathtub that feels like its in the middle of the woods- I just adore it here. It's so peaceful, so picturesque, so harmonious. Such a completely perfect place to spend the summer. Even the things I anticipated being problematic (no mod-cons, no internet, dribbling shower, lack of space) paled in comparison to the surroundings thank you for having us Holly Cottage, when the time comes I will almost sad to leave.











Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mud.

The strawhouse is coming along in leaps and bounds now that we've finally moved on from Christmas- ugh let me tell you that holiday is no good for house building! I think it's set us back about a month, but it's all systems go now to try and get to lock up. The first coats of render are on and there's a lot of mud being slung about as corners and edges are sculpted. It's so beautiful to see the details coming to life!
The windows have been another set back and as anyone who watches grand designs will tell you, it's always the windows! Hopefully they will arrive on Friday- only four weeks late.
Water is proving to be our other issue right now. It's not rained for weeks and trying to keep my trees alive (and leave enough water to make mud) has become a daily battle. Has the drought returned after just a brief reprieve? I hope not.
C 'mon rain, we need you!