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Wednesday 31 July 2013

My new whippet!

Hello everyone. I spent the afternoon in the studio today. I have been busy with work lately, so today was the first time this week to go there. I completely forgot that I threw a cup on a potter's wheel last Saturday until about ten minutes before coming home. It was already a bit too dry, nonetheless I was going to turn the bottom. When I centered it, and started turning, the cup flew away. It hit the rim of the tray of the wheel. That's it. I was able to come home early! I can tell you that it was typical of my thin walled cup; potter's version of  'the fish was big!' ; )

I am going to share my recent works with you here. Today is a whippet. As you probably know, I have made a dozen of lying whippets, but this is my first one in a sitting position.

Whippet in sitting position

The glaze looks like white alabaster
The glaze resembles white alabaster stone. I like it. It was more difficult for me to make. But once it is fired, I like it so much. It was worth the effort.

Our dogs are sleeping now. Pearl is asleep for about 22 hours a day. If you want a real sleeping dog, I highly recommend a whippet or a greyhound.



Monday 29 July 2013

Mighty caffein and new masks

Hello everyone. What a lovely start of the week! We had another beautiful day. A funny thing was that yesterday I saw someone on twitter saying that she hasn't taken sugar, carbohydrate and caffeine for a month. Whoa! I can go without sugar and carbohydrate, but not coffee. I am aware that I have a couple of cups of coffee too many. So I decided to skip my first black coffee. What happened was that Mike went to office early this morning, and didn't bring the usual tray of breakfast to the bed for me; so I went down and had a slice of sourdough bread with laughing cow cheese, a bowl of yogurt and a glass of water instead of a cup of black coffee. Then I somehow walked up to the bed and slept again, until 10:30! When I woke up with surprise I had two cups of strong black coffee.

This week I will not go to the studio as often as I would like. I have a busy week with my day work. I am not, luckily, employed, so it is totally up to me how much I work. Believe me, I work a lot! (I usually start working before eight in the bed - not today though!) I love working. After a week of a holiday, I miss my work so much that I am glad to go back to my desk. I am one of those who live to work. huh? Ceramics? I do ceramics to save my soul.

A couple of masks have been fired. They don't look good against white, but here they are. This is 'Art theory discussion'. This will be in MA show, 'Prism' in September.

Art theory discussion
One of the rabbits was fired, too. This will hit my Etsy shop shelf soon. Apparently I realised that these masks need a different background colour! (Edit: I took more photos. They look better! 30/07/2013)

Cheeky rabbit

 I have listed a few new works on my shop. I am going to list several works every week until the end of August. So don't forget to check them out once a while.


Saturday 27 July 2013

Iron Age pottery and gold coin under our feet and paws!

Hello everyone. Imagine an Iron Age gold coin has been under the ground where your take your dog for a walk. That's what happened. I used to walk Topaz to a part of Kent University ground everyday during summer. She chased rabbits, ran as if there had been no tomorrow, and rolled on the grass. We saw a beautiful fox sleeping under the bush and a dead shrew after heavy rain.

Kent University decided to build a new college on the site. Archaeologists were called in. They found Iron Age settlement and a beautiful a gold coin with a stylised horse on it.
Iron Age gold coin made in a place which is now Belgium
It looks as shiny as when it was made about 2000 years ago.

4.2 hectare archaeological site on Kent University campus
Yesterday Mike suddenly told me that the site is holding Open day until a half past four. I took a day off from the studio. Instead I was reading financial reports coming out this week at home. Mike has been busy recently and he often started at eight, so he was planning to leave at four. So we decided to meet up at the site at four. Our house is very close to University ground, about 2 minutes on foot to the edge of it. But this site is on the hill, so it took me about 12 minutes on foot. Mike was already there. His office is much closer. Both Mike and I are alumni of Kent University. We used to walk on the hill with Topaz so often. Mike used to live in a college adjacent to the site before we married. It was almost his garden!

There were a couple of tents, where excavated artefacts were displayed. Surprisingly, there was Iron Age pottery.

Iron Age pottery shard
They used to heat up flint stones, which are very common in this area until they broke up to small pieces, and then they mixed the pieces with local clay. White pieces in the pottery above are flint stones.

There are lots of flint stones in our garden, but once a while we see this red stones. They are pretty and I like them, so I have collected some from the garden. Now I know that they are probably remnants of iron age pottery industry!

Heated flint stone became white outside and red inside. 

Iron Age pottery shards
We were taken to guided tour of the site. This is where pottery was made. The black part was fired place. Archaeologists think that Iron Age people layered unfired pots and combustible material, covered them and fired the pottery (pit firing).  

Iron Age kiln from top view

Iron Age kiln side view
Now you probably wonder what they made. They made pots used for rituals. This pot is going to be CT scanned, so that contents will not be disturbed. 

Iron Age pottery
They were also used for burials. The burial area was most likely to be fenced off; there were posts holes surrounding the area. We stood in the middle of it. (Well, it used to be a rough football pitch, and we used to run around with Topaz)

This is one of the holes. There were lots of them. 

Burial pot was excavated from this hole
The picture below shows how it was found.

Burial pot

They also made spindle whorls and weights for looms. It is so interesting. I have read about the oldest textiles made from a loom and the oldest ceramic found in the Ice age settlement in central Europe while I was writing an essay a couple of months ago. I wanted to visit the sites and museums in Czech and Germany. I had never expected that I would see something like this so close to us.  

It is on the top of the hill. Our house is five minutes walk from the building, the top of which is visible on the right side.

Actively digging!

Topaz used to run around this 4.2 hectares' ground

Canterbury archaeological trust's cool van.

We were shown also a boundary ditch.

A boundary ditch
These are charred grains. They are spelt, emmer and something else I don't remember. (they identify grain species from chaffs easily, but not from grain itself.)  We were told that because the soil is so acidic, only charred things survived.

First I thought they were mice dropping! 

Bronze bell

After the guided tour, we looked around the site. Because of the construction, I haven't come here for a couple of years. The ground was dug this deep.  

About 60 cm
When we walked home, we walked passed the place they dumped top soil. The 4.2 hectares of 60 cm top soil is this much! And this is only fraction of it.

I love history and love even more prehistoric artefacts. I feel so lucky to be able to see them so close from home. Now I am more curious about the things I found in our own garden. I found a little shell shape bronze some years ago, I am now thinking to take it the trust so that they could look at it. 

Thursday 25 July 2013

The most beautiful evening walk I have ever had in Canterbury

Hello everyone. We have done a lot today. We visited an open day at the Iron Age archaeological site in Kent University. After early dinner, we were watching South East BBC news about it at home, then they said that there would be special bell ringing from 6:30 to 9:30 in the evening at Canterbury Cathedral, to celebrate the birth of Prince George. 'Let's go to hear the bells ringing.' I suggested. We took Pearl with us and went to city centre to stroll. It was the most beautiful evening I can remember in Canterbury.

Cathedral from North Gate
The evening light reveals different faces of familiar buildings. Although I have often walked this street for about 20 years, I didn't remember seeing old timbers above this traditional jewelry shop near the Cathedral gate.

Discovery of lovely architecture in a familiar street

 I can't recall the sky has been as blue as this in Canterbury. It did look as if it were a Mediterranean sky!

Beautiful architecture

Bell ringers are ringing in this tower. I could see ropes moving from the window. 
I usually forget how beautiful the Cathedral is. But when I see it close, I feel overwhelmed by the magnificence.

I love church bells. The repetition is so soothing, almost hypnotising.

Side View

Thankfully dogs were allowed to be inside the Cathedral grounds . While I was taking photos, Mike and Pearl were patiently waiting for me on the bench. She has never entered the Cathedral before. So this was her first time. She is officially a Cathedral city dog now.  

Midori is taking too many photos!
After listening to the bells about 20 minutes, we headed back home. We walked back along riverside. 

River Stour
Pearl was happy as it became much cooler. An American lady at a restaurant near the Cathedral asked us if she is greyhound or whippet. She seemed to fall in love with Pearl. : )

River walk

Sunday 21 July 2013

Visit to Art in Action

Hello everyone. As we drove into Oxfordshire, we kept spotting Red kites over the motorway yesterday. We have never seen one yet in Kent. According to Mike, the population became small after they were killed by farmers, but now they have started increasing in number; they have spread from Wales east, so one day we will see them here in Kent, too. As they are rare to us, we started counting them. From Heathrow to Art in Action site, we saw twelve.

Red kite
It was luckily cloudy. It was the best weather for us to travel by car, as well as for our birds at home .

In painting marquee we both liked Lottie's owner, Cheryl Culver's works. She does pastel, but the surface looks metallic and they remind me of Klimt's colours.

Then we visited the International marquee. They are from Egypt. I like the way Arab people depict horses. You can feel their respect and love to the animals. I think horses are their pride.

Beautifully stitched.
In contrast, this is this humorous donkey one. I would have thought that they were made by women, but actually by men.

We visited sculpture next. Have you seen a seahorse rocking chair before? It is beautifully carved, 

This caught my attention. Cool Viking! It is for the ship. 

In the same marquee, we found ceramic artist, Brendan Hesmondhalgh, whom I mentioned yesterday.  



 There are lots of wildlife artists. Simon Griffiths makes birds.


In the showcase marquee, we were impressed by this paper cut by Sarah Morpeth.

Sarah Morpeth

By same artist.

 One of the newcomers had this display. As we are eating our courgettes almost everyday, we had to laugh!

In the same marquee, there are sculptors made with straw and probably clay slip.


We had a slice of orange almond cake and cappuccino. Then we went to the garden for rest. There were very colourful summer flowers.

Then we went to printing and ceramics. But there are no photographs even though we liked printing best. There were lots of demonstration in printing, we watched each very carefully. Mike and I want to try lino cut this summer.  

Two ladies print etching on real dried leaves. The project is called Tree Portraits. They were beautiful and I spent a long time to admire their works. You can see their collaboration in their websites. Buckmaster and French.

Saturday 20 July 2013

Bulls and dogs at Art in Action

Hello everyone. Mike and I visited Art in Action near Oxford and Oxford Ceramics Gallery in Oxford city centre to see John Maltby's sculptures today. It is about 2 hour's drive from Canterbury to Art in Action. (Mike does all driving.)

I have taken lots of photos, but today I will share the photos of animals, mainly dogs we saw in the show.

At the entrance, there are young bulls play headbutting each other. I seldom have a chance to see cows in Canterbury, let alone bulls. One of them came close to me while I was taking this shot. He observed me and sneezed loud. That surprised me so much that I literally jumped up with a little scream. Everyone watching the bulls laughed!

Young bulls head butting

Although we didn't take our dogs to the show because Pearl doesn't enjoy travelling by car, but we saw lots of dogs there. This is Lottie. The owner, the gentleman in blue polo shirts called her, she somehow looked up to me, and came toward me to be taken for a walk! He had to come to us to take her out for a walk. She was too sleepy to recognize her owner, perhaps.  

Lottie wanted to walk with me!

This one looked a bit miserable. Look at his feet! Where are my mum and dad?

I am alone...
 This greyhound is... ceramic! It is a lovely work by Brendan Hesmondhalgh.

This lady caught my eyes. She is probably in her late sixties, or early seventies. She has fabulous gladiator sandals with shorts. The way she walks her dog is so cool! 

As whippet owners, we keep finding whippets, of course. This handsome dog is blue, which a shade of grey. 

I am shy. I don't like crowds. 
He was a show stopper! Look at him! His owner sells natural soap in the market tent. He sits on the empty box and posed for me!
Do you want some soap?
 Very briefly the sun came out. He looked hot.
 People are walking dogs outside tents.

Some are doing a picnic in the orchard with a bottle of wine. This whippet looked so happy there.
Picnic in the orchard
We kept bumping into this wispy lurcher. He is very well behaved dog.

This Afghan hound is a man! : )

This is a huge dog. He is very a well-behaved gentle giant. He must have been happy that it was a relatively cool day.

That's is today. More reports on Art in Action and Oxford tomorrow!