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Finished work at Guldagergaard

I have really enjoyed my month at Guldagergaard. In my final weeks I fired the Speedy soda kiln again and took part in firing the anagama. This was a three day firing where we each took a six hour shift. My shift was 6am to 12 noon on the final day. We stoked the kiln every time the temperature started to drop. The front of the kiln near the firebox was much hotter than the back of the kiln, so we tried holding the temperature steady for several hours to bring the back up to temperature. By around 2 am the firing team eventually got the back to cone 9 and the front to cone 11 and sealed up the kiln. After that, we kept the kiln in reduction by stoking with a few sticks of wood every 15 minutes until the following afternoon. The cooling took around five days and we couldn’t unpack the kin until minutes before I had to leave to catch my flight back to London. I’m looking forward to seeing the results.

Firing the anagama

I took some photos of my finished pieces outside the studio at Guldagergaard. These pieces were inspired by the lichens growing on trees and rocks around the studio. Guldagergaard means Gold Acre Farm and it used to be an apple orchard before becoming the International Centre for Ceramic Research. These pieces were fired in the Bourry box train kiln and the Speedy soda kiln. The large pieces are made from Scandinavian stoneware and the smallest pieces are English porcelain.

Wood fired pieces inspired by lichens
My piece for the Guldagergaard collection
One of my favourite wood fired pieces
an anagama fired piece
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On Air at Ceramic Art London

Lichen inspired sculpture

I really enjoyed exhibiting as part of On Air, an exhibition about air pollution at Ceramic Art London. The exhibition was curated by Dutch design duo Iris de Kievith and Annemarie Piscaer of Smogware and sculptor and animator Jo Pearl. They included work by US artist Kim Abeles and UK sculptor Jasmine Pradissitto. The work by Smogware was a set of teacups and plates using smog dust collected near main roads in London. Smogware London intern Rosy Napper mixed the pollution particulates with a transparent glaze in increasing amounts: 25, 45, 65 and 85% dust. The pollution particulates were analysed and found to contain mainly iron oxide, alumina, silica, calcium and sodium, which actually melt to form a dark brown glaze on their own. Mixed into a transparent glaze, the colour ranges from yellow ochre, through brown to black, representing the amount of dust inhaled during 25, 45, 65 or 85 years living in the city.

My work for the exhibition was a series of porcelain forms covered in lichen effect glazes. At one end the forms were green and covered with lichens, while at the other end they were black and barren, making tangible the effects of air pollution on lichen biodiversity.

US artist Kim Abeles made a stencil showing the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and his policy on air pollution. A plate covered with the stencil was left for a month on the roof of the Greenpeace building in London and the pollution falling on it was trapped using a fixative. The faces of other world leaders Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Jacob Zuma were revealed by smog from their own cities. Jasmine Pradissitto made several sculptures using NOXTEK, a new ceramic geopolymer that absorbs nitrogen dioxide pollution from the air.

Sculptor Jo Pearl made a clay animation of how it feels to gasp for breath. After completing the animation, her piece was fired in a smoke firing. During the exhibition we talked to many visitors about air pollution and had some interesting conversations. The exhibition conveyed a serious message; a call to action.

Photos by Henry Bloomfield.

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Glaze workshop dates 2022

Glaze test colour blend

I will be teaching a number of of glaze workshops in 2022. There will be workshops on understanding colour in glazes in London, Buckinghamshire, Sussex and Devon. I am excited to be teaching a workshop on special effect glazes in Denmark at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Centre. In the two day workshop we will spend a day making glaze tests, then the next day learning about glaze chemistry and analysing the results. Click on the links to contact the studios.

19-20 March 2022 The Clay Garden Hammersmith

29-30 April 2022 Special Effect Glazes, Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Centre. Denmark

28-29 May 2022 Kigbeare Studios, Okehampton, Devon

24-25 June 2022 Forest Row School of Ceramics, East Sussex

2-3 July 2022 Where Inspiration Blooms, Buckinghamshire

20-22 July 2022 La Mine Atelier de Ceramique Paris

20-21 August 2022 London Potters, Cernamic Studios, Stoke Newington, London

17-18 September Nottingham Ceramic School

Lichen effect glazes

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Glaze workshops 2021

I will be teaching some glaze workshops again in 2021. These get full very quickly so make sure you book up soon.

We will make a series of glaze tests on the first day, fire them overnight and then discuss the results the next afternoon. In the morning I will talk about glaze chemistry and what each material contributes to the glaze. I will be also be teaching at Forest Row School of Ceramics later this year.

5-6 June The Clay Loft, Stroud

22-23 July Forest Row School of Ceramics, East Sussex

25-26 September Nottingham Ceramic School, Nottingham

If you can’t get to a workshop, you can always do my online glaze course.

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Jurassic coast

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.

 

Durdle Door.

Wealden clay layers at Lulworth Cove

Jurassic Purbeck limestone layers at Lulworth Cove

Chalk cliff with vertical layers

Fossil forest.

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Design Nation at London Craft Week

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.

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Glaze and throwing courses 2018

Glaze tests, Linda Bloomfield Glaze Course

I am teaching several courses this year, both in the UK and in Belgium.

5-9 February, Belgium, Colour and glaze and Throwing porcelain in the Art Academy of Heist-op-den-Berg and Art Academy Lier.

10 March Parade Mews Pottery, Tulse Hill, South London, porcelain throwing demonstration and talk on glazes.

24-25 March, North Devon Ceramics Academy, South Molton, Colour in glazes masterclass.

20-22 April Forest Row School of Ceramics, East Grinstead, Colour in glazes workshop.

26-27 May Dartington Studio45, Devon, Colour in Glazes workshop.

22-23 September Forest Row School of Ceramics, East Grinstead, Colour in glazes workshop.

If you can’t attend a course, you can always read one of my books, Colour in Glazes, The Handbook of Glaze Recipes or Science for Potters.


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British Craft Pavilion at the London Design Fair

Lina Bloomfield at London Design Festival- Morandi Bottles

In September I exhibited at the London Design Fair in the British Craft Pavilion curated by Hole and Corner magazine. Before the show, photographer Chloe Winstanley visited my studio in West London and took some lovely photos for an interview feature. At the show I met some other lovely potters, including Rebecca Proctor of Modern Craft Workshop in Cornwall, Matt and Catherine of Pottery West in Sheffield, Ana of Kana London and David Worsley of Dove Street Pottery in West Yorkshire. The look in the British Craft Pavilion was modern rustic, with modern furniture and textiles, hand-turned wooden bowls, forged steel knives, cast concrete and jesmonite, a material made from gypsum and acrylic resin. I also met Ali from Francli craftwear, who recently made me a split-leg pottery apron.

The show was very busy and I met many journalists, bloggers, curators, interior designers, restaurateurs and buyers as well as many old and new friends. Interiors journalist Barbara Chandler took a lovely photo and I shared the tube journey back home from East London with her. My stand was in a great location next to the cafe, talks and demonstration area, and a highlight was taking part in a chocolate tasting workshop with Land chocolate. I now have some new orders, commissions from restaurants and new ideas for upcoming glaze articles and books.

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Dialogues exhibition

Last Saturday was the opening of our exhibition at Sarah Wiseman Gallery in Summertown, north Oxford. I met Sarah Spackman many years ago at a craft fair and she bought some of my pots to paint. Then, when we were both demonstrating at Art in Action at Waterperry Gardens near Oxford, we swapped a painting for some pots. For the Dialogues exhibition, I made some bottles inspired by Giorgio Morandi’s still life paintings and Sarah included them in some of her new paintings. I particularly like the painting below which includes some of my bottles and a plate of cherries. Sarah trained at Camberwell and loves painting still life compositions with hints of bright colour.

Centre Left, oil on linen 56x76cm £2,850

Earlier in the year we visited Sarah’s studio in Oxford and bought a painting. Sarah has shelves of pottery and objects which she arranges in still life compositions. She likes likes to paint fruit or flowers in season, often from her allotment or a friend’s tree.

The exhibition continues until 30 September. You can see the exhibition catalogue here.

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Cornwall geology and pottery

During our summer holiday in Cornwall we had a lovely walk along the SW coast path from Perranporth to Portreath, passing several abandoned mines and spoil heaps, great places to look for rocks and minerals.

Cornwall, Godrevy lighthouse

We started our 12 mile walk at Perranporth, south of Newquay on the north Cornwall coast. At Cligga Head, we passed an abandoned tungsten mine, where they mined wolframite, a black mineral containing tungsten, iron and manganese. There was also a lot of greisen, decomposed granite, on the first step towards becoming china clay. While the granite mass was solidifying 300 million years ago, hot gases caused it to decompose. It is now easily weathered by the rain and sea and we could see white granules of quartz everywhere under the heather. The hot gases forced the granite up through cracks in the older Devonian slate rocks and caused minerals to dissolve and reform in seams. The ends of mine shafts can be seen in the cliff face, which is stained red with iron oxide.

Rocks and pebbles found on our walk. Bottom right, altered granite; the large white crystals are feldspar. Bottom left, turquoise rock stained with copper. Middle left, red rock stained with iron oxide. The black rocks and pebbles are Devonian slate (400 million years old), with white veins of quartz running through them.

Rocks from the SW coast path

At St Agnes head, there is a granite outcrop which has been weathered into a clay and sand deposit where clay is dug for the Leach Pottery. Further along the coast path is the remains of an old tin mine, Wheal Coates, where the chimney of the Victorian pump engine house still stands at the top of the cliffs. Tin ore was found in seams below sea level, and so water had to be pumped from the mine shafts. We tried throwing a rock down one of the old mine shafts and it took a very long time to hit the bottom.

We also had a lovely visit to the Leach Pottery in St Ives, where we were shown round the working studio by trainee potter Lexie Macleod. The potters use a mix of St. Agnes clay, ball clay from Devon and iron oxide to give the dark, toasted colour they want. They use several glazes, a green ash glaze, black tenmoku, a dolomite white and a white/orange shino. They often throw a hundred mugs in a day, which then take several more days to finish and add handles. Their outlets include Seasalt, who fund an apprentice, and David Mellor in London and Sheffield.

The Leach Pottery studio