Friday, 28 April 2017

Happy Bank Holiday Weekend!

Happy Bank Holiday Weekend!

Hopefully Simon & I will get the opportunity to grab a few hours in our respective studios this weekend as we´ve been given an extra day.

Simon´s working on some pieces that we can put on our new Etsy shop. We don´t really want to open it with just a few items, and we´d rather not take pieces out of our own online shop, so we´re both going to be fairly busy this weekend creating some more stuff 😊.

However, in order to get some more inspiration, we´ll be out and about too, depending on the weather, so I can take some photos (which I love doing) as reference for more pieces. The weather´s been pretty good to us today, although I haven´t had much of a chance to enjoy it, so here´s hoping it stays nice for the weekend too.

Simon & I have been working on designs for a new series of multimedia wall hangings which will include all three materials - clay, wood and silk. We´ll keep you posted ...

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Friday, 21 April 2017

Successful Biscuit Firing!

Successful Biscuit Firing!

Yes, thankfully the biscuit firing turned out well. No cracks or glaze seepage 😅.

It can be the case that you spend hours on end making and then glazing a piece, only to lose it instantly with a dodgy firing. This was a slow, low biscuit firing at around 950°C, and I´m really pleased with the underglaze colours (some of which I was trying for the first time).

The piece that has taken me an absolute age to carve and glaze using various methods, including scraffito, has come out really well considering the bowl itself is reasonably thick. It´s part of our "Seascape" range and will be going up on the site as soon as it´s had its final firing where it will be provided with a transparent glaze and then fired at 1200°C. That will really bring out the colours! 

Seascape bowl after biscuit firing

Seascape bowl before biscuit firing

Everything was pretty much bone dry before I loaded the kiln, so that´s helped matters too. If you put something in the kiln that has too much moisture in it, you´ll basically end up with it cracking or, even worse, exploding in the kiln and taking out anything else that´s sitting alongside it on the kiln shelf - not a fun experience. Had a few of those in the past 😒. So now I´m super wary and I always make sure that everything is totally dry before I submit it to the firing stage.

I´ve been playing with some really nice underglaze colours too, including these purple / lavender bowls which I´m rather fond of - can´t wait to put the final transparent glaze on them. 

Biscuit-fired purple underglaze
Got a fairly busy weekend ahead, but hopefully I´ll have some more time in the studio so I can get the transparent glaze on the biscuit-fired pieces and also start working on a new multi-media piece of wall art that Simon and I are collaborating on. It´ll be nice to do some handbuilding again 😊.

If you haven´t already checked out our Twitter, please take a look @blended_monkey 
Graded blue underglaze

Saturday, 15 April 2017

What a Lovely Spring Day!

It´s Been Such a Lovely Spring Day! 

We visited Ely farmers´ market and bought some lovely cheese from the Cheese & Pie Man along with our usual bag full of naughty breads and pastries from the "bread guy" (can´t remember the actual name of the stall, but we simply refer to the stall as the "bread guy"). 

We returned home and I managed to do a bit of gardening - potted on the tomato plants and planted out a few clematis plants I´d bought the other day ... 
Harry & Nutmeg (our German Shepherds) were interested in the whole process; too interested to be honest! 
If I´m not careful, and I don´t keep them both distracted by throwing toys for them to fetch, the second I turn my back Nutmeg will be "helping" me by pulling out the plants that I´ve so painstakingly planted - thanks Nutmeg! Not!

Simon spent a few hours in his workshop making a start on a new hollow form. He was roughing out a piece of yew when I poked my head round his workshop door. Looking forward to seeing the end result. 

I was able to grab half an hour or so in my studio too, and added some more underglazes to a piece I´m currently working on for the seascape range (doesn´t really look anything like it will look after firing - but this gives you an idea of the process). 
It´s going to take a while to finish this stage, as the design is quite intricate and I want to add a number of layers of glaze in various shades. 

The kiln is pretty much full, but I need to finish the underglazing on this bowl so I can add it to the top shelf where a space is patiently waiting for it ... and then I can finally bisque fire! Phew!