Tuesday, 22 November 2016


A lot has happened since my last post, and I'm pleased, and relieved, to say the mood is a lot more optimistic than my last post.

My classes have continued to thrive in the new Harley Ceramics Studio, near to my workshop. It's a fabulous location with a well equipped studio.

The classes run throughout the year, so please email me if you would like to know more details.

Slip and resist techniques on handmade tiles
Sgrafitto and inlay work
Application of handles to thrown mugs
Modelled and pinched animal sculptures
The working area and display of collected ceramics

Friday, 30 January 2015

Now then...

 As I was saying....

January, 2015. Snow. Cold. Dark nights. Nature in its natural place. For now.

A tidy workshop. A tidy desk. A tidy mind. For now.
There's a saying, isn't there? Tidy desk means a tidy mind. Or is it, empty desk, empty mind?
You choose.

A tidy workshop ready for open studios last November

It's been difficult to concentrate recently. Bad news first. The last few weeks have had a very serious, and very worrying nature to them, with the news that Rufford Craft Centre in Nottinghamshire will close this year in July. The County Council has finally got its claws into the arts service, once and for all. This has far reaching implications on so many people - artists, arts staff, students, schools, communities of many kinds.

The arts facilities, in particular specialised ceramic equipment, is the best in the area by a mile, and the skill, support, and expertise of the arts staff is outstanding. The Earth and Fire International Ceramic Festival will see it's last year here http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/enjoying/artsandculture/arts/earth-and-fire/ I will lose all my ceramic classes, and this has disturbing consequences on my work practice, as they provide my bread and butter. All devastating news. But something else will come up. A big year of change looms.

Let's focus on the good things for now (and there are lots of them!), and get up to speed on events over the last few months. Here are some of my favourite moments.

My fabulous students at our Christmas fuddle at Rufford Craft Centre.

  A few examples of the lovely pots my students have made. I'm very proud of them all.

Susanne, helped by potter, Johannes Peters, and Steph.

Hoards of collectors arriving by ferry at Diessen Ammersee for the annual ceramic event.

On my way home after Diessen, I always enjoy my stay after with Susanne Lukacs-Ringel in the Schwaebische Alps. Here she is unpacking her salt kiln. http://www.holzbrandkeramik.de/

Ladenburg Marketplatz (I lived in the flat on the right)

A brief visit to visit Ladenburg, Baden-Wurttemberg. I lived here as a language student many moons ago.

For a fleeting moment, I considered a career change when I saw this cafe sign in Holland!

Great fun as demonstrator at Art In Action, Waterperry, http://www.artinaction.org.uk/. Here I'm demonstrating a bark vessel, assisted by my lovely helper, Betul.

I managed to squeeze some walking in the Lake District, luckily on a sunny weekend.

And finally, here are a few of my favourite pots from last year. Catch up with you again soon.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Lots to say...





Quietly confident.

It's all happening in the workshop now. I've found my flow. All I can say is, it's always a good sign when I have to wipe my feet on the way out of the workshop!

Lots to say, and lots to show.
But I won't.
Not now.

Instead, I'll leave you with a taste of what you're likely to see on my stand this year.
Come and see.

Here are some excellent photos taken today by Mr David Binch of Oakwood Ceramics http://www.oakwoodceramics.co.uk/

Only one week to go before I hit the road (and ferry) and head off to Germany for the first of this year's shows. Here goes! See you soon.

Monday, 24 March 2014

No Flies On Me!

I can tell Spring is on its way.

Insect life is starting to twitch.

Flies are a particular nuisance. Flies are a particular nuisance when they land on your head in the middle of throwing. My wheel must be under a squadron of kamikaze flies and wasps that bomb dive full throttle from the rafters directly above me. I'm sorry that they take that attitude to my new work, but I wish they'd make a protest in another part of my workshop - set up a picket line, or start a campaign on Flybook.com, or something. It's a bit over the top!

Kamikaze fly
Spectator pots on rafters

Insects aren't the only species that are starting to twitch. I am too. I'm now fully out of hibernation and getting cranked up into full potting mode. It's going to be a busy potting season again this year. I thought I'd paced it quite nicely, but looking at my diary, I can see I've got 7 events in 10 weeks. (I'll put details of the events on my website homepage.) I feel a bit like a rabbit in the headlights at the moment with another daunting schedule. Every year I wonder whether I'll have the energy to do this, and every year, I think to myself there's nothing else I'd rather be doing. I think it appeals to the masochistic side of my nature. Nevertheless, a lot of work to do.

The past few weeks I've been pursuing the Bark theme I started in Australia. They are coming on well, but I have to admit, it takes me a while to get into my rhythm of making, and particularly glazing. I've just put a batch in the kiln, so tomorrow, we'll see... I started playing the CD of Australian bush birds to get me in the mood, but I had to switch it off as I could feel the waterworks starting!!

Slipping time

 Favourite slipping music Pray For Rain by Massive Attack on repeat! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HS8J_Oky5cw

I wonder how the glazing will turn out.........

PS This is a short post. Not intentional. I've just spent the best part of 2 hours putting this post together, and then forgot to save it! Double drat! Now Blogger has a mind of its own and I've now given up. Normally I'm a patient person, but I've just thrown my dummy out the pram. It looks like the fly is on me after all!!
Till next time.

Job opportunity: Marketing Assistant anyone?



Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Carpo Diem

...starting from tomorrow!

I can't believe it's such a long time since my last post. Time has whizzed by.  As I sit and question what on earth I've been doing these last 3 months, I'm aware this is the last day of 2013, the last day of what has been a Huge and Unforgettable year for me. Wow!

Chawan at Embassy of Japan, London
I had a nice little surprise in October when I was invited to take part in an exhibition at the Embassy of Japan in London. It was called Chawan : Insight into Beauty. All participants submitted a few chawan tea bowls : they had to be functional which meant I adapted my choice of slips and glazes which gives them a calm and contemplative quality I feel.

Here are a couple of examples. I was delighted to take part in the exhibition, and very pleased with the results too. More to follow in 2014!

Making has now stopped for a few weeks.  I deliberately stop making at this time of the year. To be honest,  I've run out of steam, or clay, or both. The idea is that when I start again, I'll have a new release of energy and will be chomping at the bit to get cracking. I now have chance to catch up, reflect, and try to get organized. Very virtuous.

For a while now, I've been collating thoughts and pictures from my residency in Australia to put together in some kind of document, although I haven't quite decided yet what form it will take. It's taking hours and hours and hours - some of it constructive, some of it just daydreaming. I'm sure I'll have more news on this in my next post.

For those of you who have trouble daydreaming, listen to this lovely little song I'm A Dreamer by Josephine Foster, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfdBZUFWHFs.(WARNING: not advisable if you are already prone to daydreaming. I first listened to this song in September, and look where we are now - it's December 31st!!)

Bark vessel
I've also put together a leaflet on my residency too. You can download your copy from this link:

Robin Welch bowl

The RWFC (Robin Welch Fan Club) and I went to see Robin's work at the Sainsbury's Centre, Norwich.  If you're looking for a day out, it's a fascinating exhibition called Materpieces: Art & East Anglia ( http://www.scva.ac.uk/exhibitions/current/?exhibition=113).
Here's a picture of a very handsome Robin Welch bowl which was bought by the Attenborough's in the 60's. It was in good company alongside Elizabeth Fritsch, Lucie Rie and Hans Coper pieces.
Stunning setting at SCVA  with Mrs Welch and Mr McInnes.

Tuesday class at Rufford Craft Centre

My classes at Rufford Craft Centre wrapped up nicely with a festive fuddle. I'm lucky to have a great bunch of enthusiastic students. A big thank you to all of them for their good humour, application, and support. They make pretty good pots too and make Tuesdays a highlight of the week. Thank you everyone!

 A blog post wouldn't be complete without a few pictures of The Outside (and they also count towards one of your 5-a day). Here are a few I took around Hathersage/Stanedge Edge, Derbyshire, on Boxing Day this Christmas.



In my first blog back in January (There's No Other Place Like Home? http://rachelwood-ceramics.blogspot.co.uk/2013_01_01_archive.html), I mentioned eating frogs. Time to clarify - I was referring to a great motivational book I'd read by Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog, 21 ways to stop procrastinating. The Frog in question at that time had been applying for my residency at Sturt. And look what happened. Watch this for a taste: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0W7GB5Fh2XM

And thinking about the question There's No Other Place Like Home?, I think the answer for me is yes, definitely, as I found out this year during my residency. It's also made me aware that home isn't necessarily related to a physical place. It's more about the knowledge that  if you know where you heart lies, then that's when you've found home.

To end the post with a little sunshine, peace and a relaxing moment, I've included this short video I took whilst having sandwiches at Reef Bay, Sydney. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mMR_PCVnlc
Thanks so much to the Bush and my bush walking buddies.

I wish you all the very best for 2014. Thank you so much for reading my blog and I look forward to another exciting year to tell you about. Happy New Year.

Friday, 4 October 2013


 "We in our own human imperfections are repelled by the perfect, since everything is apparent from the start and there is no suggestion of the infinite. Beauty must have some room, must be associated with freedom. Freedom, indeed, is beauty. The love of the irregular is a sign of the basic quest for freedom."

Soetsu Yanagi: The Unknown Craftsman

I read this passage on a wet (but not miserable) moment at the Keramisto international ceramics event in the Netherlands 3 weeks ago. It had rained a lot so it was quiet and, as most visitors were waiting to visit on Sunny Sunday, it was a good time to catch up on some reading. Sometimes I find it difficult to articulate how I feel about my own work and its aesthetic, but the above words really struck a chord with me. Those words to my mind open up a vast world of opportunities, possibilities and space. I found them in an article about Carme Balada's work (Neue Keramik 4/13 p.17)

Table for Two, and breakfast time at Keramisto, NL

I'm pleased to say my new barks were received well. I can't wait to get stuck into developing those further.

 I love doing the European shows, the travel, the language, the possibility of something new happening, and of course, the people and the potters. I just like the fact that I Can. I always feel topped up when I come back to England. In August I was in Oldenburg, Germany.  A very high standard of work at all these shows, and just the sheer variety is refreshing to see.

My passport has served me well this year. International travel over for 2013 (unless anyone wants to surprise me!!!)

I've enjoyed delivering several children's summer workshops this year carrying on with the Australian walkabout theme. We just explored the local bushes and parks to pick up foliage and twigs as inspiration for drawings and surface textures of mini-bark pots. The children loved it.

So it's been a hectic few months - making, shows, travel, workshops, freelance work, admin. It's funny how the admin work goes at the end of the sentence, when in fact it takes up a far larger chunk of time than people realise. Admin incorporates, and holds everything together. Next time I should put it at the beginning of the sentence with a capital 'A'. My work pattern has been very fractured this summer. Normally I like to get in a groove with making in the summer. Not this year. Oh yes, and a bit of time to try not to think of pots...which led to a weekend in Scarborough for some sun and sea...... You have to laugh!

Scarborough Castle, and view of beach from castle!