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Plates with Purpose, Messums West

Plates with Purpose Messums

Plates with Purpose is an exhibition at Messums West to raise funds for two charities, The David Nott Foundation and Hope and Homes for Children, both charities helping people whose lives have been affected by wars. 40% of sales will be divided between the two charities. The opening was on 1 March and the exhibition runs until 29 April 2024.

Plates with Purpose Messums

I attended the opening at Messums West in Tisbury, Wiltshire. It was lovely to meet so many of the other exhibitors, Loraine Rutt, Francesca Silverton and Mirka Golden-Hann. I bought a Chesil Beach Muted plate (image above, bottom left) by James Kay. The plates I exhibited (image above, bottom centre and images below) were covered in lichen effect glazes. I recycled plates from restaurant orders that had cracked in the biscuit firing. Lichens are indicators of clean air and are affected by air pollution. I hope in my work to bring attention to the loss of lichen biodiversity caused by burning fossil fuels. I was very happy to see at the opening that all my plates had sold.

Linda Bloomfield Plates with Purpose Messums West
Plates with Purpose Messums West March 2024
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Stone Lane Sculpture Exhibition

Lichen-effect ceramic forms in a woodland garden with autumn leaves

In summer 2023 I took part in a sculpture exhibition in Stone Lane Gardens near Chagford on the edge of Dartmoor. The garden is found at the end of a narrow country lane and has a stream, several ponds and a national collection of birch and alder trees. I set up my series of lichen-effect ceramic forms at the end of May 2023 and they remained in place until the end of October 2023.

It was interesting to see how the work changed appearance with the changing seasons. A local photographer, Liz Mary Photography, took some beautiful photos in the autumn, when the leaf colours really set off the green forms. Thirty other artists took part, with sculptures made from granite, metal, plaster and ceramics. I was very happy to be a runner up in the public vote.

The forms rolled around over time and became slightly muddy, but they all survived. They are made of porcelain so can even survive frosts outdoors. I collected them the day after Storm Ciarán arrived in southern England, so I spent much of the day driving though downpours and seeing rainbows. The rain cleared just in time for me to pack up my ceramics. I am looking forward to taking part in more sculpture trails in 2024.

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Oeiras Ceramic Art exhibition, Lisbon, Portugal

Lichen effect vase by Linda Bloomfield
Oeiras Ceramic art exhibition, work by Philippa Mollet
Luciana Cravo, Philippa Mollet and Linda Bloomfield at Oeiras Ceramic Art, Lisbon

I had a week in Portugal in October 2023, teaching glaze workshops and visiting Oeiras Ceramic Art exhibition. I was invited to be an ambassador for the exhibition, together with other ceramic artists including Alberto Bustos and Yola Vale. We attended the opening night of the exhibition and gave a series of workshops and talks in Oeiras.

Glaze workshop at Ceramist shop atelier Oeiras
Glaze workshop at Ceramista shop atelier Oeiras

I was invited by ceramicist Luciana Cravo and business owner and exhibition organiser Catia Fernandes to teach two glaze workshops, one at Luciana’s studio and the other at Catia’s Ceramista shop and atelier. We spent the first day making glaze tests and then fired overnight and discussed the results the next day.

Lava glaze test tiles
Barium lava glaze with added cobalt, copper, chromium, iron and zirconium.

The kilns fired to a higher temperature than expected (cone 10 and above 1300C) but there were some great results with lava glazes and crawl glazes. The students also made glossy, matt, satin matt and crackle glazes. Each student made a base glaze and added various colouring oxides.

Crawl glaze tests with various colouring oxides
Zinc crawl glaze by Mariana Figueiredo with added chromium, manganese, tin, nickel and copper

Some of the students from the glaze workshops were also at Oeiras ceramic art exhibition. I met Catherine Portal, Philippa Mollet and Leonora Lockhart, who I had met previously when she attended my book launch in London.

Luciana Cravo at Oeiras Ceramic Art exhibition
Leonora Lockhart, Luciana Cravo and Catherine Portal at Oeiras Ceramic Art

Luciana Cravo makes lava-glazed sculptures inspired by weathered rocks found on the beach. She was extremely welcoming and looked after me throughout my stay in Portugal, taking me for delicious lunches of bacalhau, pasteis de nata and also showing me around the national museum of tiles (azulejos) in Lisbon. We also visited the workshop on the top floor of the museum where tile panels are restored. Thank you for inviting me Luciana and Catia!

Azulejo museum in Lisbon
Tile panel, National Azulejo museum, Lisbon
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Glaze workshops 2024

I will be teaching a number of ceramic glaze workshops during 2024

Set of glaze test tiles from a ceramic glaze workshop, showing a colour blend between five colouring oxides and the effects that can be achieved

I will be travelling to various studios around the UK and Europe to teach ceramic glaze workshops which expand on my books, Colour in Glazes and Special Effect Glazes. The two-day workshops are suitable for intermediate potters who would like to learn more about glaze chemistry, what each glaze material contributes to the glaze and how to adjust glazes to correct any defects or make special effects such as craters, crystals or crackle. Contact the studios directly to book a place. These courses are popular; if you find the workshop you want to attend is full, I sometimes come back to the same studio in following years so don’t give up!

These workshops cover the fundamentals of what makes up a ceramic glaze and the role played by each ingredient. Participants on the workshop will create and test their own glaze (often based on an existing recipe) during the workshop, fire the glazes overnight, and receive feedback on their results. They will leave with a better understanding of how a glaze is developed and tested and with the knowledge to enable them to create and refine glazes on their own.

27-28 January The Clay Garden, Hammersmith

24-25 February The Clay Garden, Hammersmith

9-10 March La Mine Céramique Paris

23-24 March RAMP Workshop, Silverton, Devon

5-7, 12-14 April El Taller de Ceramica, Malaga

20-21 April Jilly Russell Vessel studio, Special Effect Glazes, Moretonhampstead, Devon

4-5 May Coombe Farm studios, Special Effect Glazes, Dartmouth, Devon

10-11 August London Potters at Cernamic Studios

14-15 September Mud Gang studio, London

21-22 September Muddy Fingers Pottery, Special Effect Glazes, Jarrow

26-27 October Nottingham Ceramics School

I recognise that not everyone will be able to attend one of these courses. There is a lot to be gained from being in a practical workshop with others, but if you cannot attend one of my workshops and would still like to learn about glazes, I have some short online courses available ( which cover some of the same content.

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Pathways Art Trail

I recently took part in Pathways Art Trail, Hook Green Wood in Kent. Curated by Jemma Gowland and Jane Sarre, eight artists made art, sculpture and poetry inspired by the woodland. We also held a series of talks and workshops. My talk was about lichens found in the woods and how they can be affected by air pollution. Hook Green Wood has oak moss, evernia prunastri and also ramalina farinacea, both branched lichens which are sensitive to air pollution. We also found grey-green foliose lichen parmelia sulcata and the more pollution-tolerant yellow lichen xanthoria parietina. My ceramic forms were based on algae and fungi and showed the effects of air pollution on lichens. The series started with lichen-covered forms and ended with black and barren forms showing the lack of lichens in our air polluted city centres. Lichen biodiversity is important; birds use lichens in their nests, some animals eat lichen and it is often the first organism to colonise newly formed rocks, both volcanic and man made surfaces.

Photos by Alex Brattell

Hook Green Wood, Lamberhurst, East Sussex UK. Linda Bloomfield, Jack Durling, Miranda Ellis, Saskia Gall, Jemma Gowland, Rachael Nicholson, Jane Sarre, Clare Whistler. Curated by Jane Sarre & Jemma Gowland.
Hook Green Wood, Lamberhurst, East Sussex UK. Linda Bloomfield, Jack Durling, Miranda Ellis, Saskia Gall, Jemma Gowland, Rachael Nicholson, Jane Sarre, Clare Whistler. Curated by Jane Sarre & Jemma Gowland.
Hook Green Wood, Lamberhurst, East Sussex UK. Linda Bloomfield, Jack Durling, Miranda Ellis, Saskia Gall, Jemma Gowland, Rachael Nicholson, Jane Sarre, Clare Whistler. Curated by Jane Sarre & Jemma Gowland.
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Glaze workshop dates 2023

Lava glaze test tiles

Do you want to learn how to make your own glazes and understand what each material does in a glaze?

Lava glaze test tiles
Volcanic glaze test tiles

I will be teaching a number of glaze workshops in 2023. We will be making glaze tests in your chosen base glaze: glossy, matt, crystalline or crater, adding colouring oxides and discussing the fired results as well as learning what each material does in the glaze and how to adjust the glaze and correct defects.

21-22 January The Clay Garden Hammersmith

4-5 February Forest Row School of Ceramics East Sussex

18-19 February The Clay Garden Hammersmith

10-12 March La Mine Atelier Paris

24-25 April Studio Pottery London Victoria, London

5-7 and 12-14 May Cowork Art Centre Malaga, Spain

25-26 May Cultivator Cornwall, Camborne Contemporary Crafts hub, Cornwall

24-25 June RAMP Ceramics Silverton, Devon

12-13 August London Potters Cernamic Studios, Stoke Newington

16-17 September Nottingham Ceramics School Nottingham

9-10 October Atelier Luciana Cravo Lisbon, Portugal

11-12 October Ceramista Shop Oeiras, Portugal

Suitable for beginners, professional potters and ceramic artists. Contact the studios to book a place.

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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.