Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chris has finally arrived and we spent part of the day in Bath, a lovely town with the most amazing Roman baths, still full of water from the hot springs below.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Virginia Graham has a studio across fireworks from mine. She makes whimsical teapots, cups and sugar bowls, many incorporating faucet handle shapes glazed with metallic lustres. Her work is a delight to look at, bright and fun.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Three trains and a jaunt across the English countryside and I am back in Cardiff. 
I've been working to get all of my work assembled and ready for display. 
Wes, where are you? Westen Muntain, my friend from home and a very gifted printmaker, has the most incredible eye for assisting me with the perfect placement of the small items I put in my niches. I'm also missing my boxes and boxes of eggs, nests, wire, etc. from my home studio. 

Overall, I am very pleased with the work. It's been a challenge to make work for two shows in the three and a half weeks of working time that I had here but well worth the many long days in the studio.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Wendy and I visited Brookhouse pottery, the studio and home of David and Margaret Frith. Their pottery is exquisite, much of it in the traditional English style. 
Their place is beautiful, a converted woolen mill, spanning a small brook. David was a delight, kindly giving us a tour of the studio and gallery.
I bought two gorgeous pieces, a large traditional woodfired pitcher and a small delicately glazed lidded jar and received as a gift a lovely tea bowl. 

It was a wonderful afternoon.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Saturday Wendy and I visited Crag Bragdy, the mosaic mural company where she works part time. The scale of the murals they make is immense and the detail work exquisite. They specialize in large scale murals for corporations and private clients, many located in the Middle East. Here are some production shots from the facility which is located in Denigh.

Friday, April 25, 2008

On Friday Wendy and I went to Aberystwyth, a seaside  town with a university and arts center where the International Ceramics Festival is held every other year. We met with the arts center and talked about possibilities of me assisting with the festival next year. A great reason to return to Wales!
We then drove to Wendy's house in Denbigh, which she shares with her partner David Binns, who is also a ceramics sculptor. Pictured here are Wendy and David in their gallery, which is on the first floor of their home. Also starring William, their terrific dog, chewing blissfully on a stick.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Today I traveled by train to northern Wales, where I was picked up by my dear friend Wendy Lawrence, who is a ceramics sculptor living in Denbigh.
 We drove to the studio and house of her friend, Meri Wells, who is a sculptor who does wood fired figurative sculptures. This is her work in the first photo.
Her stone house was built in the 1650's and has been restored by Meri over the years to much of its original state. It is a magical place, full of wonderful collections of phonographs, old books, letterpress type, bones and amazing art amassed over a lifetime. I bought one of Meri's beautiful works, a Roman ox figure. 
Meri was a wonderful hostess and we all stayed up very late by the fire, talking and laughing over wine and good food. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Last night I went with Frankie to see Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan perform Moon Water, a modern dance performance that centered around the movements of tai chi. The stage was slowly flooded with water over the duration of the performance and the water became another element of the dance. The athleticism and grace of the dancers was extraordinary.
 It was in the Millenium Arts Center which is one of the most beautiful theaters I've ever seen, modern with slate and undulating native woods.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

This is Frankie Locke, a ceramics maker who has a studio at Fireworks. 
In her work she layers colored clays in undulating forms and then carves through them in complex, organic repeating patterns. She is currently coating this piece with beeswax to give it a soft sheen and bring out the colors.

Monday, April 21, 2008

While shopping for gifts in Howell's, an upscale department store here that has a food and wine department, I noticed the American section in their specialty food department by the expensive French chocolates and wandered over for a look.  
Craving strawberry flavored marshmallow whip? The creamy goodness of JIF? Karo syrup? Stove Top Stuffing? The joys of Betty Crocker cake mix? 
Missing your daily bowl of Lucky Charms? A box can be yours for only nine pounds. In case you aren't up on your daily international exchange rates, that would be twenty dollars and seventy cents. Yup, you read that right. TWENTY DOLLARS AND SEVENTY CENTS. 
If I pay that much for a box of Lucky Charms ( you know, if I fell and hit my head REALLY hard- twice) there darn well better be a leprechaun at the bottom of the box holding a tiny pot of gold just for me!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I've been glazing and firing like mad, as they say over here, (albeit in a MUCH better accent than my plain North Carolina one. Though oddly enough,  I am often told by random strangers here that I have a "lovely accent".  It even prompted the older gentleman at the fruit stand at the market to give me an extra pound of grapes one day, in celebration of my "glorious accent" he said. )
  I've been pleased with the results of the glazing, especially the subtle layering on the book forms. Since my glaze recipes didn't turn out here I have been using white and black slips and oxides.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday afternoon I took a few hours off from the studio to attend an artist talk by Paul Scott, a UK ceramicist who wrote a book on print and ceramics. He does traditional blue willow ware with modern British  landscapes that often comment on contemporary social issues like nuclear power and foot and mouth disease.
In sharp contrast to images of radioactive pigeons and burning cows, there was a show in the same space of an artist named Cathy Miles, who does the most wonderful metal bird sculptures that are laugh out loud whimsical.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday night I went to UWIC, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff in case you were wondering,for an exhibition opening. Pictured here is some of the work I saw.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

More of what I've been working on, bisqued and waiting for glazing, on the left and my glaze tests, hot out of the kiln on the right. My glazes tests have not come out here so I have decided to use black and white slip with oxides. Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I always say that opening a kiln is a little like Christmas morning. You don't know if you're going to get that much coveted red bike with the sparkly banana seat and the silver bell, orrrrrrr.... socks. 
Today was definitely a sock day. Wool socks. Grey. And scratchy, too.
I've been trying to hurry my drying as things are so damp here that my work isn't drying. This was my first kiln load of serious work. I put it on a preheat cycle for 18 hours, but some work still exploded from the steam build up. I lost two major pieces and took out one of Lisa's beautiful teapots in the shrapnel fallout.
Luckily,  the two shelves of work below it came out intact. I am particularly pleased with the wire wing I made as a test from steel wire, then fired, pictured here on a scrap of the black clay, which does indeed fire black, for all of you out there who were wondering.  
So maybe it wasn't an ALL sock day.

Who says dumpster diving can't be an international sport? I dragged this great stool off a rubbish pile this morning so I can recover the top and have it in the studio for guests who pop by for a chat.

Monday, April 14, 2008

This is a welcome patch of spring in a front courtyard  that I pass every day on the thirty minute walk from my house to the studio.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lisa invited me to accompany her and Nigel to a festival at a nature center about an hour north of Cardiff, where they would be doing hands on artisan demonstrations. It's a beautiful center in the woods that teaches nature crafting and sustainable vocational training such as woodworking, bee keeping and gardening.
It was a delight to speak with master craftsmen and learn about their craft. One of the best things about Wales is they don't seem to have problems with liability issues- there were kids burning wood with searing hot pyrography tools, turning logs on lathes and hacking away like mad at big slabs of wood with very sharp chisels. It was great.
During the day, I learned how to make a pencil box in the wood shop, carve a giant wooden spoon with Nigel, make a willow basket, stack a dry stone wall and how to keep bees!

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Tonight I traveled to Swansea, a coastal town about an hour west of Cardiff, to attend two gallery openings. I went with Nikki Morgan, from Wales Arts International, who was my generous hostess for the evening and Eva, a lovely poet from Belgium who was in Wales for a month long  writing residency.
We arrived early so we drove around the bay and had dinner on the water. We then attended the opening for Hope Davey at the Mission Gallery, a beautiful small former chapel with the most amazing windows and a terrific selection of contemporary craft. The show was a combination of photographs and video that the artist took of herself within the empty chapel.
We then went to Glynn Vivian Art gallery which had a show of paintings by Gareth Hugh Davies, which featured large nightscapes of forests and fields.
It's always fun to attend art openings, especially with such good company. One of my favorite parts of the evening was actually the ride home and the conversation we had about writing and art and what elements within it touch people and why. Eva has a beautifully precise and poetic way with words and concepts that was simply a pleasure to listen to. 

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Oh John Barrymore, where are you?

Lisa and I visited the bay area today, where the Millenium Center is located. Alas, we saw no one from Torchwood, which is headquartered underneath the large stainless steel fountain ( pictured here) in front of the copper clad center. Sorry Chris!
We had a nice lunch at Kemi's and Craft on the Bay, which features local Welsh crafts, followed by a walk around the bay. These are gorgeous brick benches by Gwen Heeney, who is a Welsh artist who carves brick structures with references to Welsh mythology.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wales Museum

I spent part of the day in the Wales National Museum, which is a beautiful museum. I met Ceri Jones from the Arts Council there for a lovely chat over tea and then took a quick tour of part of the museum. 
They have a gorgeous exhibit about the origins of Wales filled with neolithic bones and stone axes and gold torcs. I was dying to take pictures but every time I even thought about reaching surreptitiously for my camera in my pocket, an ever alert ( darn it!) Welsh museum guard would edge closer and give me the stern, no nonsense look I remember so well from Mrs. Harmon's third grade class, which would stop me in my tracks.
I also learned to my dismay that a Welsh flapjack is not a pancake as fellow Americans might assume but an ever so delicious, sweet, chewy cake of oaty goodness. And that they sell them EVERYWHERE. Oh dear.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bring your brolly!

Weather here has been a bit unpredictable. These pictures were taken two hours apart. First the ice storm which left half an inch of ice pellets and then the gorgeous spring flowers. I'm reminded of that old adage" If you don't like the weather here, just wait a bit!"