Decorating pottery

For years I have drawn a little cat in a hat, useful if you want to talk to someone and they have a fidgety child. I would ask if they would like me to draw them a cat, and then draw this motif, with a pointy hat, and a name tag on its collar so the child could choose the cats name.

I also like decorating pottery so took the opportunity to do so at Trentham Retail village. This is on the A34 near Trentham village, a couple of miles South of Stoke-on-Trent, near the Stoke South junction of the M6 motorway.

There is a shop there selling pottery called the Potters Barn. They have glazes and blank pottery so you can decorate pots yourself. I know it’s usually for children, but I don’t see why adults can’t do it too.

Anyway I painted two cats, so you will see one or the other depending on which hand you hold the mug in. There are various things to paint so I chose a large mug. It cost me £15, but when you think that’s including the firing of the mug, it’s no too bad.

The final result should be bright and cheerful. I added numerous flowers in the background and dots on the rim. I should get it back I a couple of weeks.

Exhibition

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Short notice I know….Its a steaming weekend with tours round the Etruria Industrial museum. The steam engine for Jessie Shirleys bone and flint mill will be fired up and the forge will be open further along the Trent and Mersy canal where it joins with the Cauldon canal. Also I think there will be organ grinders there. The exhibition  will be in the warehouse and hands on pottery is also on, run by Etruria Artists. The canal warehouse is by lock 40 on the trent and mersey. The weekend coincides with the opening of weeping window just down the canal at Middleport, this consists of thousands of poppies made out of clay and painted red. They are displayed pouring down the outside of the bottle oven at the Middleport pottery in Burslem.

The Flint mill is over the canal from Kilndown close, Etruria, stoke-on-Trent…  Come and see us if you can!

Kaleidoscopic

One of my favourite things to do with photographs is to put them through the google layout app that allows you to take a photo, flip it and flip it again. You end up with strange abstract patterns, of symmetry and asymmetry, depending in how many photos you use.

I treated the goose photos two different ways. The large goose has been tipped and twisted 4 ways do that there is a pattern of S shapes. The other is 4 vertical panels, all the same size. That I have called “get your geese in a row”. The third picture is of partly completed kitchen cupboards “kaliediscoped”…

The fourth picture is two photos of almost the same view. Both were flipped,  but I made sure they did not line up for a change.

The fifth us of the pilings supporting the cafe at a local lake. The cafe seems to float above the lake and these pillars help to support it. The final photo was of oriental poppies at a local pottery….there seems to be a stepped path up through the foliage.

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Last year

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Last year the garden was lovely, full of flowers. This ceramic head I made 20 years or so ago was full of nasturtiums and lobelia. It sits on the wall by the back door, its glazed in st Nicholas glaze if I remember rightly. Greeny grey in colour. It was hand built with a flat back and I used wet hand towels to support the face while it was drying out ready for firing.

The space inside it is not very big, so plants that can survive drought conditions are best planted in it.

We are getting our hanging baskets this week and I will try and plant some pots up with begonias, pelagoniums, bizzie lizzies and fuschias to cheer the walls around them up.

I would like to do some more pottery heads, maybe green men masks to make the yard more interesting.

Meanwhile in the main garden the trees are getting out of control. We had some work done earlier in the year but the remaining trees and shrubs have gone rampant because they now have more light.

Still if it works and we get more birds like a chaffinch and a couple of robins, plus nesting blue tits who’s chicks have now fledged , I guess I don’t mind too much!

New views of Spode. ..

Things are changing at the old Spode factory site.

Old buildings that don’t have much historical merit are being demolished and older buildings , or more architecturally important ones are being released from their imprisonment in brick, mortar, chip board, steel and concrete.

Like an archaeological dig tipped 90 degrees, new surfaces and entrances are being uncovered. Courtyards with windows newly on view. Stacks of saggars piled on shelves up at those windows, small or large,  flat or square ….the weight of the saggars must be tremendous. I wondered if the shelves are rotting and if they could collapse .

I remember seeing a film called “solarus” or “solaris” once years ago. By Tarcovski? A Russian film maker. The character’s moved through a post industrial nightmare, and I can’t help thinking Spode uncovered would make a brilliant film set.

A recent film called “jawbone” was filmed at Spode. They recreated a boxing gym in the China halls there. So many new views. ….

walking along the new pathway to the studios there, I wonder at the air we are breathing in, dust everywhere…how do we know there is no asbestos or other contaminants?

The feral cats of Spode can be friendly.  A grey and white Tom cat was hanging about next to the Hulton art pottery. We were told that someone is thinking of rehoming him. He had water and food….my partner wanted to take him home. But we already have two of our own cats. I think he will be OK. I have nicknamed him Maurice. ….

Little Devil

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I saw Adam from Hulton Art pottery today, which is based at the Spode pottery site. I bought a wall mounted bracket  (which is still wrapped in bubble wrap) but along with it he gave me a terracotta tile of what looks like a cheeky little devil..

I can’t  help liking his wide smile, the twinkle in his eyes, his spikey, possibly flaming coat, (the tile, not Adam!).

I asked if it was OK to paint this little guy, because he made me chuckle with laughter. It looks like something mediaeval that could have been a gargoyle on an old building. Adam told me it was made in about 1997, soon after he had completed his training in pottery, so it seems really special.  I feel privileged to have something that has age and character. This cheeky little devil is probably going to find a home on a window ledge somewhere.

I feel like he is related to the green men I have been painting over the last few years. Maybe they all have a feeling of spirit of the Earth in them. An old hidden life that we have lost as the world becomes ever more urban around us. I like the idea  of faeries and little people getting up to mischief.

I remember one if my favourite paintings when I was a teenager was Richard Dadds’ the Faeiry Fellers masterstroke. He was put into a mental asylum because of ‘madness’ but I don’t know his history apart from that. Dadds’ painting has amazing tiny details. If you can try looking it up on the net.

Anyway I might post a follow up picture of the little devil if I ever finish it.

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Yesterdays Art

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Some paintings I have worked on and a Mini Mona Lisa. ..

The first four are recent paintings that I have worked on because I was not happy with them. Water and Earth are both part of a series (including Air and Fire) I also want to improve them.

Leaves was originally a single leaf but it was very simple and I wanted to add more to it. The leaves are from my imagination. I sometimes use art as a way of helping my memory. If I can remember what something looks like I can use the memory for other paintings and not necessarily use reference photos. I dont have a photographic memory but I sometimes describe an image to myself, like the way a gutter and drainpipe are attached to a house. If I can describe it I can draw or paint it.

Autumn pottery is based on a “pot bank” the kilns that were used for firing pottery in the past. Now they use gas tunnel kilns. The plants are roses and cotoneaster. They are to represent vegetation growing around old, derelict pot banks. The blue background could be sky, or the water from local canals.

The final painting was a quick copy of the Mona Lisa, taken from a very old book on anatomy for student artists. I know it is wrong, the face is too thin, the smile is wrong. But for half an hour’s work its not bad. It’s on a tiny canvas about 1 inch by 2 inches.

So there you are, more paintings, its something I do.