August 2015

The summer has been a time of experiment and development at Stone Hens Ceramics.

Developing new ideas is something that I tend to do mostly when I'm walking the dog, I start thinking about one thing and then see an image in my minds eye, the rest of the walk I'm tweaking the image, or thinking how it can be made, and then I will do a sketch when I'm home.

Of course, not everything gets off the drawing board but it's great looking back at sketches and seeing how they came to fruition.

I'm working less with stoneware at the moment and more with porcelain, I've also given my glazes an overhaul and am looking at refining my list of products.

Working alone is fine but now and again it's good to chat to others and as so many of my friends are makers professionally or just for their own pleasure we have recently started a small group, six of us presently, meeting monthly and chatting about anything and everything. We call it Makers Monday and aim to invite a new maker to join us each month.

We talk about how we get our products noticed, social media, product design, the triumphs and disasters of craft shows etc,. There are lots of laughs and of course there is cake!

I've also been fortunate in collaborating with Phillip Hughes, an Art teacher for almost 40 years, who is now indulging his passion for ceramics at his wonderful studio.

We have been experimenting with paper clay, (something I've heard a lot about but never used), mixing fine paper fibre with liquid porcelain to create a strong, fine and versatile clay body.

Using plaster and cottle boards we moulded organic shapes and we now have some very fine pots. Still a work in progress and not yet a finished product for market!

Experimentation with dipping objects into paper clay were for me an exciting prospect having read about it, but soon became a disappointing exercise, coating balloons with paper clay was more promising, if a little bit tricky to do, don't try to speed up the drying process with a hairdryer, the balloon flys away and it's too wet and sticky to catch! It's an ongoing study and using it in a more solid form is still to come.

It's lovely to work with Phillip, sharing our enthusiasm for clay in all its forms and although I am impatient for each experiment to result in a perfect finished product for sale, Phillip is forever reminding me that whatever the outcome, the fun is in the process, and we are learning all the time!

Wise words!