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Exhibition Deadlines

Deadlines, a bit like marmite – love or hate them? I don’t like them but they sure do give me an incentive to get work completed, so I can see the benefit of them.

I am part of a group called Adderbury Artists that is taking part in Oxfordshire Art Week from the 13th – 21st May 2023 and last weekend I realised I only have 2 left to make any new ceramics if I want it included in the exhibition.

With pottery making can not be left to the last minute as the work needs time to dry out (impacted by weather conditions), trimming, firing, glazing and re firing. In good weather, in a rush, this can take me 2 weeks.

With that in mind I went out in the studio after my day job and made 8 bowls (this is quite unusual) but with the deadline looming I worked fast. This morning before my day job and finding the bowls dry enough to be trimmed, I was able to do this task all before starting work at 8.30. The 8 bowls are now sat on my shelf drying out.

In my usual making process I would take double this amount of time!

My plan this evening is to repeat the same, but making another items, lets hope it can all run as smoothly as last night!

Does having deadlines help or hinder you? I’d be interested to find out how other artists manage their time when an exhibition is looming?

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Top 6 Pottery Tools for the Wheel

I would like to share a selection of my favorite tools that I use when throwing on the pottery wheel. The list could have been longer to include other equipment pieces such as weighing scales, mirror but I tried to keep it down to bare minimum.

Porcelain Bottle and Beaker

Number 1 – Pin Tool


The pin tool has many uses, I use it most frequently to get rid of air bubbles, to trim edges, to remove excess clay from rims and to score.

Number 2 – Kidneys


Named after the shape. I have quite a selection that I will use. The metal ones are great for cleaning up surfaces particularly after the clay has dried a little. The plastic ones are great to use when the clay is wet, and as they come in different strengths you can select the right one depending on what clay you are using. Having a selection of different shapes, sizes and flexibility is useful too.

Number 3 – Boards


A selection of boards is ideal. I have some marine ply that can be fitted to the wheel head to throw on and I have a selection of MDF boards that are covered in cling film – this stops bases drying too quickly, which can be problematic for porcelain.

Number 4 – Wooden Hand Tool

Wooden Hand Tool

Wooden tool – Word of warning I never use any metal tools on the wheel head, the noise is like fingernails scratching down a blackboard. These wooden tools are relatively inexpensive making them ideal as they do need replacing over time as the wood wears down. They are nice to hold and leave subtle marks, as opposed to sharp edges.

Number 5 – Sponges


Sponges – I have a selection for different clean up purposes. A baby sponge for throwing as it fine so doesn’t leave too much texture on the surface. For smaller, hard to reach area’s I use a wedged make up sponge that is even smoother.  And (not photographed) a sponge on a stick – an essential piece of kit when throwing tall forms and wanting to reach water in hard to reach area’s. 

Number 6 – Wire

Wire Tool

As I mainly throw porcelain I like to use a really thin wire to remove the freshly made work from the wheel head. I have another wire kept near to where I wedge the clay to wire off fresh clay from the bag.

And this is all my favorite tools. I hope have found this helpful and that new potters get some start up tips. Do get in touch if you have any questions.

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1:1 Wheel Workshops now closed

Update – In the spring/summer I will share some dates for project based group sessions that you can sign up for if interested.

Group Handbuilding Class

Group handbuilding classes are available for a maximum 6 people, children will need supervising by an adult. Handbuilding is a great way to familiarise yourself with clay, how it feels, its possibilities and limitations, and really develops your skills that can be transferred to the wheel. Explore how to decorate with colour using various applications. Sessions are available at weekends for 3 hours, cost is £60 per person. All materials and tools provided, you just need to bring an apron, towel and enthusiasm.

Please note all work will be fired for you after the workshop as it needs time to dry and multiple firings, this can take 4-6 weeks after the workshop to complete. I will contact you to let you know when it is available for collection from the studio or work can be posted our for an additional cost.

Please do get in touch to discuss your needs, I am flexible with availability and will try and meet your requirements.

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It’s great to see the flowers making an appearance at this time of year in the UK.

The cherry blossom and magnolia are some of my favourites.

My making mind switches to vessels for enjoying blooms in the home and garden.


In the studio I am making some plaster molds to create more large plates, see portfolio for one recently sold in my home town gallery, Church Lane Gallery. Its the first time, I feel, my 2D drawings and paintings have transferred onto ceramics.

Rugby Artist and Makers group are also holding their annual exhibition of members art and I have this plate in Rugby Art Gallery for the next few weeks. And I will be gallery attendant next week which means I get time out talking to people about art.

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The Autumn Artist

The autumn artist has a selection of fingerless gloves, a warm raincoat, comfy wellies and an essential umbrella as well as their art supplies in a waterproof rucksack.

If watercolour is the preferred medium it can be a challenge as a drop of rain can turn the painting into a Jackson Pollock art piece. A well laid out plan may have to change to accommodate the effects of the rain. An umbrella carefully balanced may help.

Cafe’s are the autumn artists best friend. Somewhere to retreat when the wind and cold turns their hands numb, a mug of hot chocolate will help warm hands up.

The autumn artist wouldn’t miss the chance to paint the stunning shades of gold, amber and bronze, and not brave the elements to create their art.

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Drawing & Painting

I have been doing lots of drawing and painting this year. Subjects have varied as the years progressed. It started with a fascination for portraits which I captured in clay and paint. This then progressed to the natural world, which I was probably craving more of due to lockdown and realised when I had a two week holiday in Cornwall and created some landscape paintings. Finally to animals due to hatching some chicks.

This is a sketch of Uno, a silkie bantam chick, from our most un-succesful hatching. We had six eggs in the incubator but only Uno hatched. A quick trip to the wildfowl trust to purchase 2 more silkies meant Uno was not alone for long. We still do not know if Uno is male or female. His/her 2 friends are white silkie’s called Ice and Ivory. I try to name the chicks colour names, but am running out of colours.

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Keeping Creative

Green Fields Landscape

Trying to remain focused and motivated to create can be hard at times. I am finding that I have to dig deep to find that inner drive, to switch off the news and the distracting thoughts to spend time in my sketchbook, as I know it will serve my health well if I do. If you are experiencing similar difficulties I wanted to share some pointers that I have used to overcome these blocks:

Release those social media binds

Taking time off social media. Social media experts talk about how important it is to post regularly and to have a consistent theme, which I tried and can admit found quite exhausting. Then I listened to a You Tube video by Ergo Josh who gave a really good reason about not posting regularly and how it can make us Artists too focused on likes. He advised taking break and enjoying the process. Making for makings sake. I liked his advice and thought it was a refreshing change and that I would give it a go. The result was so liberating. I personally did not even realise that the regular posting was stifling my output as my subconscious was considering if what I was making would fit in with my social media feed. The video can be found here

Artists on Instagram…This is Important

With this new mindset I experimented in my sketchbook, feeling safe in the knowledge that what I did never had to be seen. It resulted in trying new techniques, materials and really enjoying the process. It was like returning to Art School, and I still have not returned to my social media with regular feeds, that was 3 months ago.

Personally I really recommend taking a break from social media occasionally and giving yourself some time to play, experiment without the constraints of thinking it has to be shared. The result can be some new ways of working and fun trying out new processes.

Committing to regular daily practice

Sketchbook Portraits

Block out a regular time to create, it may be for just 5 minutes, but just committing to spending time each day is really good to form new routines and habits.

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Great British Slipware Potters Exhibition

The Contemporary Ceramics Centre in London has a new exhibition that I am very much wanting to see and thought I would share. Its title ‘Be Suprised by Slip’ and features pottery by Dylan Bowen, Doug Fitch and Nigel Lambert, all up there very much respected potters that produce great work.

The Contemporary Ceramics Centre in London has a new exhibition that I am very much wanting to see and thought I would share. Its title ‘Be Suprised by Slip’ and features pottery by Dylan Bowen, Doug Fitch and Nigel Lambert, all up there very much respected potters that produce great work.

Opens 25th July to 17th August 2019. The Contemporary Ceramics invite boasts:
‘ Dylan, Doug and Nigel are among the most beloved – and longstanding – ceramists working in slip today, each drawing inspiration from the rural settings of their workshops in Oxfordshire, Galloway and Gloucestershire, respectively. Come see how these makers use common methods to create such vibrantly diverse results’.

I have visited Dylans workshop as he is in the my neighbouring county and I am a very proud owner of one of his plates. The vibrancy and energy conveyed through the slip makes for a very exciting piece of pottery.

Do make time in your diary to visit.

Contemporary Ceramics
63 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3BF
Entry is free