Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas colours

As we're off to see the Laughing Geos at Christmas we had a little parcel opening in LB last weekend. Nick gave me a lovely selection of new colours (pink, clear sky, British racing green, lemon zest and cherry) for staining porcelain from Scarva and I got a chance to try them out (in a one step firing!) this week. Super exciting - and they all look lovely, though the pink seems not to have worked, which is quite normal. Sometimes the composition of the clay stops the colour from coming out.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sprouts & gingerbreadmen

I opened up the kiln  again this week to see some lovely creations. Above some more experimental glazes - this time on some little cruets - I think they look remarkably like sprouts. And then to continue the Christmassy theme there were gingerbreadmen in porcelain - complete this time!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas cupcakes

Another fabulous (though fiddly) cutter from kitbox - I'm loving these snowflakes, I had a hand though from Mr H!

Friday, December 02, 2011

pink porcelain

Yesterday I was at a conference in London and managed to squeeze in a quick trip to see the Grayson Perry The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman exhibition at the British Museum. I had been tempted to go after see a few of his pieces on BBC4's History of Ceramics series. But I didn't expect to be totally blown away! The ceramics themselves were fantastic - such depth - both of meaning and decoration/craftsmanship. Layer upon layer of different techniques - scraffito, slips, glazes, transfers, casts, lustres...all on one piece. And the juxtapositions of the museum collections and his objects fitted perfectly - working very well with the title of the exhibition. Highly thought provoking - an incredibly intelligent man.

While I was away Nick was in charge of the kiln, so it was very lovely to be able to open it up to some bits and bobs when I eventually got home. I had been trying out some colour blends with pink and yellow porcelains. I couldn't resist taking a picture this morning with the early morning light coming through the kitchen window.

Monday, November 28, 2011


At the weekend we went down to Guildford to celebrate two birthdays. We went to see the Gerhard Richter exhibition at Tate Modern and then had a very fabulous dinner at Cambio - delicious delicious fish followed by the ooziest chocolate fondant ever!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

green skin glaze

We had a super couple of days in Stow-on-the-Wold and then I was straight back to ceramics. I picked up this pebble, which was an experiment with two glazes - I love the wrinkly nature of the dry green - its almost like a separate skin on the outside on the shiny white one underneath. More experimenting to get underway!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cakes for pudsey

Tomorrow is Children in Need and rather than sitting in a bath of beans I have make come Pudsey inspired cupcakes for the DH bake sale & competition!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tonight at ceramics....

One of my fellow students, Pete, had brought Ken (above) as a model and decided he could become a resident in the studio, but first we decided to protect his modesty!!  Tonight I had a lovely surprise as my first birch bark imprint test had made it out of the glaze firing - its just got black iron oxide and one half unglazed, the other half with transparent glaze. I'm pretty pleased - next I need to decide what to make with the pattern on the outside!

Handmade Christmas Decoration Exchange

Look what has just arrived in the post - these beautiful little parcels are from Amy at ElevenAM. We are taking part in Emma's Handmade Christmas Decoration Exchange from Craft Tonic. And when I unwrapped them they had these gorgeous heart-Christmas tree decorations in them - they'll be up on my tree as soon as it gets here!

Monday, November 14, 2011

World Cycle Challenge & Mark Beaumont

Its not often you get to see a picture of me - but here I am with Mark Beaumont. N & I are just back from Mark's talk about his new venture - getting lots of people to cycle around the world with World Cycle Challenge. I am so tempted to 'do a Dervla' but I really don't think my new boss will let me have 9months off! But it looks amazing - may be N & I could do a leg or two......Whilst there I met Mike, who's doing the Global Bike Race - 20 men & women plan to race around the world starting next February!! Looks like the two trips will have quite different routes.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kings Norton Craft Fair

I was putting some of the last touches together for the Kings Norton Craft Fair at St Nicolas Place last night. Its on from10-2 this Saturday - tomorrow- and if you need some directions this is the post code : B38 8RU.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Blue pots

The kiln was opened again this morning - in readiness for the Kings Norton craft fair this Saturday I had been expanding my stocks. However I also had a couple of new things in there too - and here they are - some small (about 10cm high) blue pots. They're porcelain but are coloured with the fabulous intensity of cobalt carbonate and have a black 'kohl' line at the top there - that was me playing with the underglaze pencil again and I really like it. They're glazed inside, so are definitely waterproof - the high fired porcelain is normally waterproof but this is added security. And they're really smooth on the outside - I wax lyrical! I love them!!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

I had completely forgotten about this! In Brussels airport I found Nutella weekly packs, with a mini jar for everyday of a week. However I did resist buying any.

Fireworks @ Kings Heath Cricket Club

Lost in Lace & City Choir's 90th Birthday Concert

After another busy Saturday morning we decided that on the way to City Choir's 90th birthday concert that we'd pop into the new BMAG exhibition - Lost in Lace. Based around the ideas of the holes, spaces, boundaries and structures of lace we saw an abundance of fascinating and beautiful pieces - mostly in white or black, traditional colours of lace. It really got me thinking about other holes and spaces - like those between molecules.....evidently been thinking too much about those naughty neutrinos that travel faster than light.

After all that it was decidedly dinner time so we went for a potter in Brindley place - Carluccio's was full but this gave us the opportunity to try out Piccolino's. We had a hard time choosing as everything on the menu sounded so yummy! The fresh fish menu really caught our attention though and we have scallops and dover sole - simple but excellent.

At the Symphony Hall we settled into our seats and enjoyed Dvorjak's Te Deum and Janacek's Taras Bulba and Glagolytic mass. All was fabulous, particularly the mighty sound of the organ - and as it was their birthday there was even cake afterwards in the bar!

Friday, November 04, 2011


My new Moo mini cards arrived yesterday - so that was a super nice surprise when I got back from Italy - and they're just in time for St Nic's craft fair next week!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Tonight I find myself in Piacenza, which was planned just not a lot in advance! Having had a tasty dinner in the hotel restaurant (lamb chops followed by plenty of biscotti) I went for a stroll through the darkened streets. There was hardly a soul about and as I clipped along I could hear strains of music coming from what looked like a sports hall glimpsed through high 16th centuary windows. Further along I found the centro storico with its magnificent cobbles the size of paving slabs and towering covered market. I love the ancient hearts if Italian towns and tonight was no different - I was particularly taken with the bookend men astride horses on either side of the central piazza, darkly resplendent in capes of night.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Christmas craft fair!

Just gearing up for the village craft fair! Come along and say hello!

Kiln opening

Along with the crazy plumbing I also had the kiln on yesterday. There were a few molecules in it, a petri dish exploring underglaze pencils, node number 7 from the Earth Network - this one is from Sarah in Leith and has a plectrum impressed into it, some beautiful shaped objects inspired by several autumnal walks and the first of the snowball ware inspired wreaths and one made from butterflies too. And beacuase it was Halloween a wee bat seems to have sneaked in too!

Monday, October 31, 2011

A day off

Nick has some days off that he needs to take before the end of the year, which is a rather nice thing, so we planned to have a nice Monday, pootling through town, having a nice lunch and going to the cinema. But as with all best laid plans it didn't quite happen like that. We had noticed that the tap in the kitchen had developed a small leak and upon investigation this morning I found that the water was leaking down into the cupboard below and directly on to the plug for the dishwasher. So in my wisdom I thought - get out the B&Q book and have a look on the Internet, it can't be that hard to sort out a washer! Well, within an hour we had figured out how to take the mixer tap apart and removed the cartridge (which contained the ceramic washers), to find that there was a crack in the cartridge casing. Pottering down to Homebase no cartridges were to be found but happily they sent me on to Majit's up in Moseley. There I got lots of advice - including the immortal 'you won't get that back together' in regard to the cartridge now sitting in bits on the counter top. I meant a magnificent man, who by his own words was 'at the end of the line' (dying of terminal cancer), who spent half an hour telling me how to install a tap and picking out the bits I would need, all the while getting later and later for his own appointment. Back home, kitted out with a new set of taps and some flexible pipes, I dug out the pipe cutter and blow torch I had bought for plumbing I was talked out of in the house in Acocks Green. I even found the right adapters and we were ready to go. More B&Q book reading, a youtube video and an hour later (plus a bit of swearing!) and the taps were in place. But everything was leaking. So a liberal quantity of PTFE tape was applied to all screw joints and the leaking stopped. Isn't it amazing that a small amount of tape is the only thing between a flood and a working water system!

We did get time for a quick expedition into town for coffee too.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

All Hallow's Eve cupcakes

I was super excited when this bat cutter arrived from kit box. But I held it together until today when I could set about making Halloween cupcakes - with a smidgeon of orange puree and orange essence in the sponge and a little orange essence in the orange coloured icing, they are very tasty!!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Red House Glass Cone

Today we went over to visit Laura in Stourbridge and popped into the Red House Glass Cone where they were blowing Halloween inspired glass - cats and pumpkins and spiders. We had a super time watching the pieces appear from the molten glass and then enjoyed some yummy lunch and cakes in the crystal tea rooms.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Lake panorama

Having had a play with the new version of Photoshop I present the panorama of the lake above Kilpishalle where I walked with Dave in Finland. It was so tranquil up there, and there were lots of blueberries, croberries & lingonberries!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

30 items

The laughingsnail etsy site reached 30 items today. This seems to be a magic number - though I am not sure why, may be it indicates a certain quantity of stock and choice to buyers? Well fingers crossed it helps with a few sales!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Eucalyptus flower bud?

When we were down at RHS Wisley recently we found a eucalyptus tree with these super little but odd green spiky things on it (on the right!). There were also the regular nuts - so we did wonder what they were. After a fairly extensive trawl of the Internet I think they might have been flower buds ready and waiting for next year. I found them fascinating and really inspirational. So I commandeered some green porcelain (with Sue's blessing I might add) and after a little exploration I fashioned this objet, with a texture and white dusting over the surface in imitation of the 'planty thing'.

Black cherry tomatoes

With the chilly weather upon us we harvested all our tomatoes - a variety called black cherry. They're very tasty but sort of chocolate coloured (the picture makes them look rather too red). Rather than pickling this year we made some passatta - which was also an interesting chocolate colour!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Etsy front page

Oh my! My treasury made it to the front page of etsy!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Glass fusing at home

 Over the weekend I have completed a small experiment/test run of the kiln for fusing glass. I had some off cuts of glass for making stained glass (which meant I didn't know what COE it had and wasn't going to start mixing colours together or making anything special). These I made a little double stack of and popped onto some thinfire paper in the kiln (this stops the glass from welding itself to the kiln shelf). Then I set the program and walked away. 24h later, holding my breath and hoping I hadn't ruined the kiln, I opened it up. And phew!! Everything looked as it should! The glass had fused and the edges were nicely rounded. There is a little pulling along the long sides but that's probably the glass trying to get to the magic 6mm it likes so much. So I think we declare the experiment a success! And a progression can be made to better glass and design :-)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's a ......

...well now, the answer to that is a secret til tomorrow! Kathrine is expecting a little baby in the new year and she found out the gender last week. So I have made her some baby reveal cupcakes to tell the others in the lab what it will be. They're vanilla sponge with a little bit of cake taken out that has been filled-in in an appropriate coloured (!) blob of icing. Then I covered that up with plain icing and some rather jolly balloons!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Chocolate button cupcakes for Chocolate week

This week has been chocolate week and I have been so busy it seems I haven't had a moment to myself. However I have managed to make some button moulds and cast 'chocolate buttons' using candy melts in turquoise and red. We had hoped to do this for the wedding but in the end we bought some vinatge 'chocolate buttons' from Hotel Chocolat - which with the fiddliness that I experienced this week was a good thing! Here I have used the buttons to decorate fluffy-light chocolate cupcakes topped with Dairy Milk icing. The final touch was a drizzle of dark chocolate. So I think that pretty much ticks all the chocolate boxes!! However Nick & I had one at lunch tme and discovered there could be too much of a good thing. We will need to find some willing helpers to eat all 12 of them!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Snowball ware

I was checking out Kate Malone's creations the other day and came across her interpretation of 18th centuary Meissen snowball ware. Having a few flower icing decoration cutters I thought I'd have a go at making a little decoration/wreath. So here it is as I have finished applying the last flower, its off for bisque firing now - I hope all the flowers reamin attached!

The second picture on this blog article shows an amazing original snowball ware vase! It was on exhibition at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramics in Toronto - which is worth a visit if you're in the area.


At the weekend we were discussing why people didn't get tooth decorations - except diamonds and gold, no blue teeth or tattoos evident but this morning I came across this webpage  - tooth tattoo (or tattooths as we thought they should be called) - they're not in the mouth but still there you are!

Presumably people don't stain (on purpose) or tattoo their teeth because it looks unhealth or leads to them having problems/cavities/falling out.....

Monday, October 03, 2011

Kota timelapse

On Saturday evening we had a great time in the kota - a wooden structure where there was a wonderful fire. We pottered in and out going for saunas and then all sat round the fire and ate smoked fish, chorizo and manchego cheese, Timi from the school in Kilpisjarvi had us singing West Indian songs too!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

In the Lab again!

Here we are in the lab again at Field Notes - Luis is giving us a talk about immunology and at the end we dissappear for lunch!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Aurora Borealis at Kilpisjarvi

I'm up in the very north west of Finland this week on a bioart workshop. For the last two nights we have been really lucky to see spectacular Northern Lights! The red dot in the foreground above is one of the other photographers, which adds a wonderful sense of scale.
We have been acquiring the Finnish traditions by eating great local food and taking trips between the sauna and the lake for a swim!

In the lab with the Biological Milieu group

Friday, September 23, 2011

Autumn crocus in Highbury park

Every year I potter down to Highbury to gaze at the beautiful autumn crocus (crocuses/ croci!) and they didn't disappoint this year either!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

More nodes

So I might be getting married today but I also got the joy of opening up the kiln! Above are the little beach huts I made for Liz - I think they're super cute! And then below we have some things I am trying out for the Christmas fair I am doing with Helen in November and the latest additions to the Earth Network.

 Love & Happiness pebbles

#6 Fleur de lys ring/trinket and New Orleans earth

# 4 Elephant brooch and Guildford earth and chalk (which is a great effect)

#3 USB port and Long Bennington earth

#5 Flower charm and Britsol earth.
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