My open studio at the weekend was the busiest yet. I have been taking part in Artists at Home since 2003. This year I showed my new bottles and vases inspired by the still life paintings of Giorgio Morandi, as well as my usual porcelain tableware. The new bottles sold really well, particularly the grey and mustard ones. I also sold seconds of my manufactured mugs and plates, which coincidentally featured in the Sunday Times Home. This year the open studio weekend coincided with midsummer and the roses in the garden were at their peak. We have a rambling rose which climbs along the fence on one side of the garden. It has clusters of white flowers which gradually turn slightly pink. Luckily, it only rained on Saturday evening just after closing time and on Sunday we had record numbers of visitors.
I have have been working on a new tableware range to complement the Morandi inspired bottles. So far, I have made mugs, teapots, plates and bowls. I experimented with overlapping glazes but I think a crisp finish looks better. I need to do more work on the plates and bowls but the mugs and teapots came out quite well. I am getting quite a few orders for the Morandi inspired bottles, and they seem to appeal to men as well, which is good, as most of the customers for my existing coloured porcelain tableware range are women.
Over the last two months I have been making a large order of 90 cake stands and 60 plates for a store in Japan called TomorrowLand. I had to make it in 5 batches as I only have 30 wooden batts for throwing plates on the wheel. I also have exactly enough shelf space in the studio for 30 batts.
First I throw the plates on a batt, which I remove from the wheel and leave to dry on shelves overnight.
The next day I remove the plates from the batts and trim underneath.
I also throw bases for the cake stands, which are stuck on after firing. The plates and bases are biscuit fired, then glazed and fired again. The Japanese buyers ordered white, pale blue and grey.
Then the cake stands are packed, three in a box and the boxes are shipped off on pallets. I am very pleased to have finished the order before the hot weather, as plates need to be dried slowly to avoid cracking.
This week I’m making some slipcast porcelain lampshades for Benchmark furniture.
The shades are used in the Snowdrop light, designed by Jonathan Tibbs. You can get a desk or wall-mounted version, made from laminated ash.
I have also made some taller lampshades as a bespoke order for a customer. I have to slipcast these one at a time as I have only made one plaster mould of each shape. I should make multiple plaster moulds but plaster is not a forgiving material to work with. Unless you are very careful to stop all cracks, it has a tendency to leak out all over the floor when you are pouring it. Plaster also blocks sink drains and explodes in the kiln if bits of it get into your clay. However, I will eventually have to make new moulds, as they start to erode after around 60 casts have been made.
I have been looking at Morandi paintings recently and have been inspired to make a series of bottles in some new colours: black, grey and mustard yellow.
In January 2013 I went to see an exhibition of etchings by Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) at the Estorick Collection, a museum of 20th Century Modern Italian art in Islington. Then, last year, we picked up a battered Morandi art book at a car boot sale. The book is full of Morandi’s paintings, watercolours and etchings. I have been looking at the groupings of pots. Morandi used a collection of old glass bottles painted with flat white paint, metal jugs and canisters, candlesticks and lamp bases. He painted similar still life groupings over and over again. My favourite are the subtly coloured ones painted in the 1950s. I thought I would try making some of the shapes in porcelain and then photograph them in groups. I will be taking a collection of them to Maison et Objet in Paris on 23-27 January.
We have displayed our poppy from the Tower of London in a pouring bottle I made. In memory of my great grandfather Company Sergeant Major Reuben Hart of the Gloucestershire Regiment who died at Gallipoli in 1915. He was a gymnastic instructor and lightweight champion in the army and had served in India. He was known as Buffy and left a wife and four sons, one of them my grandfather.
Last year I exhibited at craft fairs every weekend in November and found it exhausting, so this year I decided to concentrate on selling online instead. This means I have more time to spend making in the studio, and also to enjoy the season, celebrate family birthdays, make cakes and wrap presents.
This week I have been making an order of tea bowls and gaiwan for tea company Lalani and co. The gaiwan was designed in collaboration with Jameel and Nadeem Lalani when they found they burned their fingers on the traditional Chinese gaiwan, a type of lidded tea bowl. Our fusion gaiwan is more like the Japanese shiboridashi, made for brewing small amounts of high quality large leaf teas.
I also found time this week to make some personalised mugs for my son’s school teachers. I’ll glaze each mug in a different colour so they don’t get mixed up in the staff room. I often make personalised mugs to order for Not on the High Street.
I have been thinking about some new colours for next year, so have been looking at my collection of test tiles. I will be showing some new colour combinations at Maison et Objet in Paris in January.
Welcome to my new website, created by my husband Henry.
Here I will be posting news and photos of what I’ve been making.
My latest commission is for new tableware for the NotontheHighStreet.com office. I am making cups and saucers, plates, teapots, jugs and bowls. NotontheHighStreet like to decorate their office with unique products designed and made by their partners. They found my porcelain mugs did not chip or break, so have ordered the whole range for their new office in Richmond.