Tuesday, 26 February 2013

C.O.G. (Cooking On Gas)

Yes, we're cooking on gas at last!

YG, CTS, BRT, CFS. Hmmmm!  At first, I thought someone was pulling my leg, as if it was some kind of ceramic residency gullibility test. But no, these are the code names allocated to the clay I've decided to test, and seem to bear no real relevance to the clay itself as far as I can see. YG is a yellow stoneware; CTS (30# stoneware), and BRT (heavily grogged stoneware). I'm also testing a white raku and a porcelainious body too. However, communicating in short anachronyms is sometimes quite handy. Coffee time is easy - B.N.S for me (Black No Sugar).

The ceramic workshop at Sturt is a lively place - friendly, relaxed, industrious, and with good humour. Suits me fine. I'm sharing a workspace with Simon Bowley (prolific potter and much admired Sturt ceramic tutor), and Alex Standen (talented and thoughtful young ceramist). Additional regular inhabitants include Mr Chris Topp (who runs the Clayworks shop which is based in the pottery), and the numerous enthusiastic students who pop in to pot, get their heads down, and rise for a chat from time to time.

Having worked alone in my own studio for several years, it initially took a little getting used to sharing a space again. At first I felt self-conscious and aware of onlookers' expectant gaze, but I thought, Rachel, get over it, and now feel very comfortable and settled in. (That's not a complaint by the way - I recognise the times when I need company, and times when I need quiet time to get in my head a little more.)

I figure my first move is to start with what I know, ie to do some tests using my glaze recipes with the new materials, and on familiar forms, and then use the results as a benchmark from which I can gauge my next move. Watch this space - due to do a glaze firing this week. We're also going to do a woodfiring in April (It's still fire season at the moment, ie the bush can easily catch fire - that's another story), so I've been making a few pots for that as well.

PS. I nearly trod on a snake today - a big brown one! Apparently, you're supposed to stand still...No chance. I've never moved so fast. My heart was pumping ten to the dozen. That'll teach me to look up at the sky.

(Ta Ta For Now)


Wednesday, 20 February 2013


It's a week now I've been at Sturt. I feel like I've been here ages now. For the first few days I've been preoccupied by day to day trivial stuff, which when you first arrive somewhere new, seem to be important...shopping, bus & train times, broadband connections, and of course, noises in the night (real and imaginery), and time-wasting frustration with mobile phones.

It's been a random week of trips to Woolworths; restlessness in the workshop; up and down, up and down; chilly nights, even chilly days; 2 hour daydream on train trip to Sydney, and return; talk & demonstration by  Vic Greenaway, meet up with Robin, Jenny & Samantha Welch; smelling the lovely water at Circular Quay and enjoying the hot sun; time with welcoming generous locals; comfort at feeling the new clay; yoga & pilates at local gym in Mittagong; bushwalk with locals in national park, leeches on legs; mozzy paranoia; missing my pots; meeting students in the pottery, camaraderie with fellow potters in workshop; curry night with the woodwork clan; watching puppies in the pet shop window; wishing I'd remembered to bring all my tools, glaze test preparation; rearranging my workspace umpteen times, and then putting it all back again; and wondering why on earth do cockatoos make so much noise! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gAjfARBOis 

I'm trying to find my ryhthm...it's coming bit by bit. 

One thing's for sure, I can't use jet lag as an excuse anymore!