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Sunday 27 April 2014

Crying owl and my fairy godchild

The first work for Landmark Arts Centre Midsummer Art Fair is finished. I started this in late January.  I needed to glaze-fire him up to 1240C four times, mainly because grey underglaze around the eyes has had problems. It has been a long journey. I am so glad it is done now. 

Crying owl
He just appeared after I heard from a mutual friend that my sick friend had been bullied by a nasty and coward man. I wanted to help the friend who has never said anything about it. But as I can't do anything else, this owl appeared from my clay. His tears are made of blood. It is very unusual piece among my work. 

There are a couple of pieces nearly finished. But I have to wait for another glazing firing for that. In ceramics you always have to work in the boundaries of available kilns. Ideally you fire a full kiln. It is more efficient as well more ecological. When I was using university kilns, it was easy. But now I always have to keep an eye on how to fire work. Quite often I have to stop glaze-firing even when I have still more to do because there won't be enough for firing or the combination of size and shape of work wouldn't suit to another firing. Good planning has become essential. To make it easy, I put a shelf in an open cupboard at the height of my kiln interior. So I am able to grasp which should be fired with which at a glance as I make. This photo is just before the second cupboard was put up next to it. The lowest shelf is my kiln size.  

Here are some pics of work in progress. 

Porcelain wreath 1

Porcelain wreath 2

Porcelain wreath 3



My 3 1/2 month old fairy godchild from NZ has visited us with his parents. Seb is such a smiley baby. He made us all happy. His parents are very loving. Seeing them made our hearts really warm. How nice! The second time in my whole life I held a baby! They plonked the baby on my lap. I was really surprised. I didn't know he was so heavy for the size. I think babies are dense! He is with his parents in this photo.

My fairy godchild, Baby Seb.
To prepare the visit Mike and I had blitz yesterday. We threw away things, did a tidy-up and cleaning. The ground flood became clean and tidy, but some mess had to immigrate to upstairs! :D

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Rabbit, Minotaur and Storm.

The Easter holiday is over. I hope you had fun! Yesterday I had to spend most of the day in  bed again due to illness. The bad headache came back again. But I was able to manage to post a rabbit mask to a lovely friendly lady in Australia in the morning. I usually take Topaz, the loyal pooch, to the post office, but not yesterday, I quickly drove there and drove back. I am crossing all fingers for his safe journey!

Beautiful crackle glaze. 
He has one of the most beautiful crackle glazes I have used. But it is very difficult to show well in photos. So here is a close-up for you.

I use the Royal Mail tracking service for purchase over about £80. It is peace of mind for both customers and myself. A few months ago a lovely gentleman in US was on holiday, when the sculpture had arrived at NY airport. He told me he had been tracking it, and hoped that it would arrive by the time he got home. And it did! If there is a request, I will, of course, change ordinary airmail to airmail tracking service. Please let me know before your purchase!

Minotaur, the beautiful beast, crossed the ocean to live with his loving owner. 

I felt so unwell that I didn't open the kiln by myself yesterday. Mike did it for me in the evening. It was mostly successful, glad to say, but one piece definitely needs another firing. A few pieces are getting finished, which takes some pressure off me. The Landmark Art fair, which I am going to participate in is in June, 20-22. My self-imposed deadline is the end of May, but I am aware that so many things could go wrong, and I must make more than enough. I had two lucky so called sold-out shows (In fact, not every piece was sold but most were gone).  So I would like to prepare well in advance for this fair; visitors should not be disappointed.

She came out beautiful and mysterious. 

I am a workaholic, and like to get things done well in advance. Mike, in domestic occasions, is the opposite, he says there is still time until late and has to do things in hurry. (Note: he is truly professional, and just gets things done for his work, or, in fact, anything related with IT at home.)  I used to nag him, but I gave up. Each has his/her own pace. Having said that, I am the one who almost misses trains, planes, ferries and he arrives well in advance. But the point is that I seldom miss anything because I will run fast!

She came out so beautiful and strong. That's what I like. A strong, resilient and confident women. The strands of hair are still safely attached, too. What is great about sculpture is that it looks different from different angles. Also the light makes a big difference. I love the face changing expressions according to the light. If you have one of my sculptural pieces, please put it in a different place once a while. You would be surprised how different it looks.

Saturday 19 April 2014

Yet another glaze-firing!

Here is our new porcelain bowl. I say our because Mike made it on a potter's wheel and I decorated it. It is now in my shop. Two more to be listed soon! Watch the space!

Porcelain bowl made by Mike and decorated by me. 

After loading the kiln about eleven o'clock Wednesday night, I caught a cold. Ah, it was predictable. I had stayed in the sick bed for one and a half day. I wanted to stay longer, but in the next room, Beaper, the grey parrot, was wolf whistling as well as whistling the tune of  the Merry Christmas song so loud that I gave up on napping. Since then, I have done more glazing in the studio (and remotely loaded the kiln and started another glaze-firing!). A strange thing about glazing is that I usually reluctant to start, but once it is started, it is difficult to stop until all are glazed. I kept at it for two days, and now only three pieces left.

I still get a sore throat and headache when I go outside; it has been cold lately. I put all pieces on kiln shelves in the studio last night, and politely asked Mike to carry them to the kin in the garage. They are mostly re-firing pieces.

Lower shelf

Top shelf
I had a small rabbit mask to be fired, but forgot about it. That's why the lower shelf has space!

When I am doing glazing, I feel a small kiln is more suitable for my work than a larger one. I like to fill the kiln quickly and see the result soon so that I can get feedback from what I have done. If my kiln were a bit taller it would be perfect. But I can't have it all.

Although I have been indoor bound, Mike has been out and about.


River Stour in the city centre


Our animal family are also doing well.  

Pumpkin is bathing. 

Dogs are sleeping in tandem. (Pearl chews her blanket!) 
 In the garden, apple blossom is in bloom.

 And Camassia is showing its beautiful blue spike.

Happy Easter to you all. We finished our first Easter Chocolates on Friday, and we are working on the second one. They come from Madame Oiseau chocolaterie. You can get her lovely chocolates in either Canterbury or Selfridge.


Wednesday 16 April 2014

Last and current glaze-firings

We have had some sunny bright days, but with a chilly wind! This is ideal  weather to use solar power for firing the kiln. Another glaze firing was done today. Luckily the last glaze-firing was successful, so I had only a few to be re-fired, which is nice for a change!

All whippets came out lovely! They are beautiful!

Bronze-gold glaze whippets

The first time in a year or so, I have made these beautiful crackle whippets. This time, I used semi-porcelain clay. They are large for my whippets.

Clear crackle whippets - large

I hope you can see beautiful crackles. 

This one was a surprise. I was aiming at dark blond or very light brown hair. The other boy's hair also became dark brown, not patchy, though!  

I am planning to do another glaze-fire in a week time or so. There are lots of things to do in the studio as well as running my little shop, which takes about three hours every day.


Last weekend, I took a rest from ceramics. I did a big tidy up in my office. I have loads of boxes and packing materials. I did some clearing out and made space for them. A tidy up always makes me feel good! I should do it more often!

We also went to the Blean woods with our dogs, Topaz and Pearl.

Is somebody in this?

After this, it's another world. 

Old rotten stump

Our garden is full of flowers. 

Cherry and apple

Oriental poppy

Mike's Easter holiday has begun today. We are planning to visit the zoo again.  If today's firing has gone well, we might pop out soon! (We will only know the result tomorrow morning.)

The lower shelf

Top shelf with the head! 

Friday 11 April 2014

My painting table, spring flowers and Pearl met a tiger!

Hello everyone. It is so nice to finish all my work before dark on a Friday! I have glazed and loaded the kiln full, and even had a tidy up of my studio space! Ah, lovely!

The last three days, I have concentrated on glazing and painting bisque-fired figures. This has somehow made me hungry for high calorie food. I am a bit concerned if I am going to be a piglet at this rate!

I have three tables for my ceramics. One is for making, another is for painting bisques; they are in my studio. The third one is for packing  in my office.

My painting table has had these ones. A view of my painting table - yesterday.

Rolling heads!

The hair of this boy might become blotchy because I didn't mix enough colour at one go. I was making the colour under artificial light at night, so I couldn't tell the nuance of the shades. I guess he would need at least a second firing.

They will be in my Etsy shop, if they come out fine. 

This is how the heads were held.

This afternoon, I started loading the kiln.

The lower shelf

The top shelf
I hope they will come out fine. The kiln will be opened on Sunday morning.


In our garden, there are so many flowers at this moment. I can finally enjoy them this weekend. We will put the garden furniture out.

Oriental poppies -very early!

Lily-flowered tulips. 
Our eating cherry have lots of flowers! But birds will have most fruits! :D
This afternoon, I took Pearl the whippet for an ordinary walk around four blocks. At the farthest end, we were chased by a tom cat! Pearl became bonkers, and started barking at him. The cat made himself large by arching and putting all fur spread, and chased us! I ran away as I dragged Pearl who was ready to fight. Then when I looked back, the cat was behind us, still chasing us! And when I hurriedly crossed the road, he came to the closest corner of the other side, and did a wee! I picked up Pearl and held her as if she were a child (heavy and cumbersome with those long legs) and whispered her 'Don't make a mistake. That's not a cat, it is a tiger!' 

Bluebells near us
 Have a great weekend!

Monday 7 April 2014

Another bisque-firing and the British Museum

Hello everyone. I have just started the kiln for bisque-firing.

The lower shelf.

Mike made a pair of little owls as tests. Do you remember we bought a bead rack? They are the first ones to hang from it!

The top shelf
I wanted to make another piece, but after a few hours' trial, nothing came out of the clay. So I gave up, and made an anteater for fun. The anteater we saw in the Zoo last weekend inspired me. He had gentle eyes and cute ears, so does mine!

My first anteater!


We went to the British Museum for my research on Saturday.  I needed to look at the Lewis chessmen again. They are in a new bright display. I could see them in detail.

The Lewis chessmen
We had stayed there until we became hungry. There are always so many interesting things to look at. These are Roman brooches. One is a rabbit. The orange one is a sandal brooch! Why? I thought it was a pickled cucumber! :D

Roman brooches. Rabbit and Sandal! 

Then we went to Soho to have dim sum. We found a restaurant recommended by the Time Out as well as Japanese expatriots. Yes, it was delicious!

Then I came across the Chinese stationary shop I had wanted to visit for years, by chance.  I did some shopping!

After that, we went to Mayfair. After some shopping, we came back. What fun we had! It was also my monthly day-off. I usually have a half-day off each weekend. Once I take a day-off, it would take a few days for me to get back to the rhythm. so when I have got a project or two, I prefer to keep working.

I hope you had a good weekend, too!