Saturday, 30 January 2016

Easter Group Ceramics Workshops

Due to the success of 2015's Christmas group workshops, this year I'm going to be running several group workshops, where we will create a different item each time. There's something to suit everyone, including bird feeders, home wares, Easter & Christmas workshops!

I'm running 2 Easter workshops, where you will create Easter themed ceramic decorations; which you can bring out and treasure year after year!

*The Easter Workshops coincide with the children's Easter holiday (for Leicestershire & Northamptonshire) so why not bring the kids along for a crafty activity.

The 2016 group workshops list is ready, follow the link to my website where you can have a browse. If you have any questions or would like to book a place please get in touch!
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 There's only 6 places available on each workshop! Book your place today!
For the full list of 2016's group workshops please visit my website!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

My first ever Green Man!

I've been teaching ceramic workshops for a few years now, teaching many things from plaques to vases, children's workshops to Christmas decorations. The most popular is always making a Green Man.

I've never made one before, I never spend the time to make things for myself so I indulged! This was back in May 2015, I was and am still so happy with how he came out! 

I made him using White Stoneware Clay using a wide variety of hand building methods to achieve the design I set out for. Once the body was finished I decorated with a variety of different coloured handmade ceramic slips. 

Green Man Greenware stage, Stoneware, by Katherine Fortnum, 2015, photograph by Katherine Fortnum

I always put my own explorations on the back burner and put work first, its been a busy year with workshops, commissions and making new ceramics for craft fairs; so he was made in May 2015 and only bisque fired before Christmas 2015!

The New Year is here and I've finally glazed him and I'm extremely happy with how the colours have transformed, its exactly as I had planned! And as all ceramicists know ...that rarely happens!

What do you think? Please let me know :) 

Green Man, hand built, White Stoneware, Katherine Fortnum, 2016, photographs by Katherine Fortnum 

Friday, 20 November 2015

Slip testing

This week I've been experimenting with Slip Testing.

To create a standard ceramic slip I blend up some of the same clay body the slip is going to be applied to with lots of added water to a thick creamy consistency; which then gets sieved.

*Another way to create slip is to dry out clay then add water to turn it into a liquid.

 I measure out the slip into litre's (1000ml)then add the percentage of coloured stain / oxide to the slip. This particular clay is a sandy coloured buff stoneware, to get a strong colour I add 10% to the slip. 

You can use less stain to achieve lighter colours, the percentage you use depends on the clay body you're applying it to and the finish you wish to achieve. If your using oxides, they are much stronger than stains so the percentage is likely to be less.

As you can see I have done 2 tiles of each colour, this is because I shall glaze 1 tile of each colour so I have reference to the colour without glaze. When you apply glaze it enhances the slip's colour and it becomes much brighter. The colour difference would be from a pastel shade to a bright strong colour.

 The remains of the tiles I made are left on the fabric, I love seeing this as it reminds me of the tiling that can be created with the pieces I've cut out.

Which do you prefer to add colour to your slips, oxides or stains?

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Weather proofing has begun!

This winter is predicted to get really cold, my workshop is a loglap cabin, well insulated with heat/cold proof protected plaster board and insulation lining; I pulled out all the stops to keep my workshop warm and weather proof.

I'd done well, until this November temperatures have dropped and the glazes which are in air tight plastic tubs are covered in condensation and tiny ice particles are showing in the liquid!

Weather proofing has begun!

I've brought some plastic storage boxes and to make the contents safe from the weather I'm lining them with insulation roll; it’s actually used for insulating attics, it keeps cool in summer and warm in winter.

I used 'ThermaWrap Loft Insulation' and Clear Packaging tape from Screwfix.

First I did the easiest part as it involved less cutting, The lid was easy only using one large piece, making sure that once stuck the lid still fit securely on the box.

I lined the three largest sides with one long piece; then I taped around every edge with clear packing tape to seal each edge and attach in place.

Next I cut out the two end pieces, overlapping the sides by an inch so there was no box showing; they also got taped into place.

Heat / Cold / Damp proof storage box finished! Just another 5 to go!

How do you protect your materials in the warm summer/cold winter months? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Autumn Colours inspiring glaze tests

The best bit about Autumn has got to be the change in season, Autumn turning into winter. Yes its FREEZING and the weather is mostly miserable... but the nature is just glorious!

I just love walking out in nature and seeing the change, the colours transform to beautiful shades of auburn, yellows and reds; who needs to find inspiration for creative work on the internet when its right there outside.

I wasn't out in a beautiful park, I was actually at the hospital, but it goes to show you can find inspiration anywhere.

I seen the most stunningly coloured bush amidst the dying trees losing their leaves for the winter was this bush ablaze with colour, it caught my eye and I couldn't help but capture it!

I cant wait to try and capture the colour change in my ceramics.I feel some glaze testing is on its way!

The individual leaves are what I want to inspire some colourful glaze tests.

Glaze Tests in the kiln all ready to go!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Great British Pottery Throw Down

I'm very excited that the next new show to hit our TV's is 
'The Great British Pottery Throw Down'!

For all you pottery lovers out there (including me) this will be great to watch, and for those of you have never given it a go! It will give you an insight into ceramics and the different processes that are involved, no doubt as with the Great British Bake Off we will see tantrums, complete and utter disasters and of course no doubt some beautiful ceramics.

I can't wait! 

There's a very interesting article in The Guardian, have a read.

If your fingers get twitching at the thought of having a go yourself come along to one of my workshops, I can personalise a workshop session just for you or why not come along with a friend. For more info please visit my website or get in touch!

If your a ceramicist / a potter, would you dare to enter yourself into the competition? I would love it, challenging yourself to do things you thought you'd never attempt 
...minus the fact your on TV live for millions of people to see! 

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Autumn Walks in Laughton fields

Its Mid October its my favourite time of year, the leaves starting to fall from the trees, the scatter of conkers, the autumn chill in the air, so peaceful!

Its the perfect time for making use of the great outdoors and do a bit of foraging!

Laughton fields are picturesque and you can hear the animals, its surreal how quiet it is, it takes me back to when I visited there as a child.

We went out searching for chestnuts but we came across these lovelies, Sloeberries ...I think some sloe berry gin is in order and it will be ready just in time for Christmas too!

I think we were a little too early for chestnuts ... they were so small and shriveled! It should be peak season October - November but maybe the seasons are running late this year ...I guess we'll try again in a few weeks.

They were very prickly!

The poor shriveled chestnut ... 

It wasn't a wasted journey though, its always nice to walk in the picturesque fields and I got lots of nature inspiration to try out some new ceramic ideas!