I have been making new work for an installation at Somerset House as part of Collect, the international craft and design fair presented by the Crafts Council from 27th February to 1st March 2020. My installation will bring attention to the effects of global warming and pollution on lichens. The lichen crusts will become darker and fewer, eventually disappearing altogether. Lichens are indicators of clean air and are affected by sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide from burning fossil fuels. If all the lichen disappeared from rocks and trees worldwide, global warming would increase significantly.
I made a number of glaze tests to give the effect of lichens on rocks. I like the crustose form of lichen; the white and yellow patches that grow on rocks and roofs. These are more pollution resistant than the green lichens that grow on trees. I applied the lichen glazes over matt grey glazes on closed forms representing basalt and limestone boulders and stromatolites, ancient fossilised mounds of blue-green algae, one of the first forms of life on earth that oxygenated our atmosphere.
I am looking forward to exhibiting at Collect. There are other makers exhibiting including Margo Selby, as well as international galleries Ting-Ying and Flow Gallery. There is also an exhibition next door on Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi.
Collect, 27th February- 1st March 2020, Somerset House, The Strand, London WC2R 1LA.
I have been busy writing two glaze books; the first is a second edition of my book Colour in Glazes, out in October and the second is a new book on Special Effect Glazes, out next June. Both books will be published by Herbert Press, an imprint of Bloomsbury publishers.
Inside Colour in Glazes there are new glaze recipes including a shrink-and-crawl glaze, a tangerine orange glaze created by Jeannine Vrins and methods of glaze testing such as how to make a series of glaze tests from one glaze base in a colour blend. There are also technical details on how to make your glazes dishwasher safe.
I wanted to include work by potters who have used my glaze recipes, so the second edition includes work by Katie Robbins and Clara Castner.
Last weekend I went to Burnt Earth Studio in Forest Row to teach a glaze course with potter Candice Coetser. We spent the first day mixing up a base glaze and adding colouring oxides.
At the end of the day we loaded the glaze tests into the kiln. Each student made 15-20 glaze tests with various combinations of five different colouring oxides.
We fired the kiln overnight. The next morning, I gave a talk on glaze chemistry and after a delicious lunch we managed to open the kiln at just below 200 degrees C.
The glaze tests came out really well. Most students were interested in matt glazes. They tried adding cobalt, copper, titanium, nickel, manganese and tin oxides. An interesting discovery was that nickel oxide makes a light apple green in magnesium matt glazes. The favourite colour was the duck egg blue made from a combination of copper and tin oxide. There were also some interesting pinks and mauves from manganese and titanium. I will be back in Forest Row in April teaching at Forest Row School of Ceramics.
We recently visited the Dorset Jurassic coast, so named because it features layers of Jurassic limestone: 145 million year old Portland stone and Purbeck stone, as well as layers of Wealden clay, Greensand and Cretaceous chalk cliffs. Some of these layers contain fossil sea urchins and shells, and there is a even a fossil forest, with the remains of cypress tree stumps. The layers, or strata, have been uplifted and are now at a steep angle, some even vertical. The hard limestone has been eroded less than the clay, resulting in some unusual features like Durdle Door, a natural sea arch. Lulworth Cove is a perfect circle, where a river has cut through the limestone and the sea has come in and washed away the softer clay.
We collected some of the clay to make into a pinch pot. It was quite sandy clay and may contain too much calcium to fire above earthenware temperatures.
The layers of limestone are very thin because they were deposited in a shallow lagoon which frequently evaporated and dried up. The chalk cliffs are much thicker because they were deposited when the sea was relatively deep. The pebbles on the beach are the flints which dropped out of the chalk cliffs as they were eroded by the sea. This took tens of millions of years, the pebbles gradually getting smaller until they became shingle and then sand. The chalk on the seabed reflects the light, making the sea look turquoise here even on a cloudy day.
Since the end of June I have been working on a very large order for G&G Goodfellows, who are supplying a new restaurant in Woolsery, Devon.
I first met G&G Goodfellows in January 2018 when I applied to their Talent for Tableware competition at the Table show, which took place at Kensington Olympia. Table was a brand new show that was connected to trade show Top Drawer & Home, and focused solely on products that suit a restaurant environment. Since then I’ve been working with the team at G&G Goodfellows to launch a collection named ‘Simplicity’ that is exclusive to their London show room; a collection of matt white, grey and black glazed pieces, which can be mixed and matched to the client’s choice.
During the past 9 weeks, I have thrown and glazed over 300 pieces of porcelain tableware. The elements in my kilns have nearly worn out from the intense period of firing every three days; so much so, that I had to add on an additional 10 minutes soak during the glaze firing, just so the matt glaze would reach the correct temperature. Luckily, in that time, there were only three breakages; two bisque fired plates that cracked, and just one cracked glazed plate.
The whole order has been shipped off in two stages via pallet delivery. When sending a large number of boxes with fragile contents, it’s generally safer to keep all the boxes together, along with lots of bubble wrap and padding inside the boxes.
I’m looking forward to this year’s Artists at Home open studios. I will be showing new work, one-off pieces, porcelain tableware, as well as samples and seconds. The roses are in full bloom and the weather is looking good. You are welcome to visit on Friday evening 15 June 6-9pm or Saturday or Sunday 11am-6pm. 21 Flanchford Road, Stamford Brook, London W12 9ND.
This year I am sharing my studio with textile artist Ekta Kaul who makes beautiful scarves and map quilts. She will be bringing her community project Chiswick without Borders, an embroidered map of Chiswick connecting inhabitants to their roots all over the world. She will also bring her silk scarves and large map quilts.
There are several other artists showing in the area, Juliet Strong who makes jewellery across the road from me and Kate and Jonathan of Starch Green, who make prints. You can find them on the Artists at Home website or pick up a booklet from local shops and libraries in Chiswick, Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush.
Design Nation put together a lovely exhibition called Head, Hand and Heart with talks and demonstrations during London Craft Week 2018. The exhibition was held in Helen Yardley studio, where she designs and makes her bold, abstract rugs. Curated by Design Nation, Helen Yardley and leading design journalist Barbara Chandler, the show included Harriet Elkerton and Linda Bloomfield ceramics, Anna Gravelle, Angie Parker and Jacky Puzey textiles, Hugh Miller furniture, Christine Meyer-Eaglestone marquetry, Gizella Warburton textile vessels, Ruth Singer textile and found objects, and Clare Wilson glass vessels. There was a panel discussion chaired by Barbara Chandler, a pecha kucha session and demonstrations of weaving, rug tufting, porcelain throwing, marquetry and Japanese textured carving.
All the work was beautiful but the most intricate piece was the ‘In Shadows’ cabinet by Hugh Miller. Inside were beautiful ceramic cups with a crystalline matt glaze by a Japanese potter from Osaka, as well as wooden boxes containing coffee, exquisitely carved spoons and whisks. The slatted doors, outer ones in bamboo and inner ones slatted with thin brass rods, cast shadows to give a dimly lit atmosphere like inside a Japanese tea house. “‘In Shadows’ is inspired by Japanese applied arts philosophy and is made in British elm, Japanese Bamboo and Brass. The timber is stained black with Japanese calligraphy ink. Hidden within is a Japanese coffee set by renowned ceramic artist Saiko Fukuoka. Over 1000 man-hours have been invested in its construction, including the hand finishing of over 150m of solid drawn brass.” Hugh Miller. Photos by Dan Weill for London Craft Week.
The exhibition will be travelling to Eunique trade show in Karlsruhe, Germany, 8-10 June 2018.
I have been writing a regular glaze article every month for ClayCraft magazine, a new pottery magazine available from WHSmith. ClayCraft magazine includes pottery tips, projects to make by Kevin Millward and technical articles by Alan Ault of Valentine Clays, as well as a diary entry every month from Doug Fitch, who makes traditional wood-fired slipware pottery with his wife Hannah McAndrew.
In my articles so far, I have covered making a base glaze, adding colouring oxides, test tiles, applying glazes, ash glazes, special effect glazes, setting up a studio and how to correct crazing. In the next issue, my article will be on barium and strontium matt glazes with recipes for strontium turquoise and nickel pink.