Monday, 29 May 2017

Bank Holiday Busyness!

Bank Holiday Busyness!

Well, it´s certainly been a very busy Bank Holiday weekend. 
Haven´t exactly relaxed all that much, even though we´d promised ourselves we would. We´ve been waiting for a couple of good weather days so that we could finally get the outside of Simon´s workshop painted. We thought it would look a lot nicer to have it green rather than the plain wood colour it was before. Also makes it blend into the surroundings a little better.

And all this good weather has really benefited the rose garden too - it´s looking so lush and lovely. 
Shame I can´t capture the gorgeous, heady scent and share it with you here! 
I guess all that pruning in winter did it some good too. I´ll just have to keep on top of dead-heading the flowers as they go over, and then hopefully we´ll see blooms for some months to come. 
I was never particularly "into" roses until Simon and I moved here a few years ago. The previous owner, Pauline, had planted this semi-circular rose garden many years ago, and I was actually quite taken with it when we looked around the property the first time. We´ve done our best to keep it pruned and tended ever since.

We´ve been posting on Twitter fairly regularly, so feel free to have a nose @blended_monkey.
And we recently put some new pieces up on our site. Here are a few of them; just click on the captions to take you to our site - hope you enjoy!  

Pair of Blue-Washed Oval Bowls
Round-Bottomed Pot
Cluster of Hearts
Seascape Bowl

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Busy Week

Hi there!
Sculpture - it all starts
with a block of clay 

It´s been a busy week for us. 

I´ve been concentrating on various projects in the studio (mainly hand-building work) and these include a sculpture that I´m working on which has been inspired by the cliff caves in  Cornwall. I used to spend a lot of my art school days on the Cornish beaches, and they provided me with a great deal of inspiration.
This is very much a work in progress, and I´m currently waiting for it to dry out completely so that I can then sand it and prep it for the biscuit firing. 
Sculpture - still more
work to do, but
it´s getting there

One of my other projects will be part of our latest collection called "Meadowscape". The plate I´m working on has been provided with several coats of slip and then the Meadowscape design scratched (scraffito) into it. There are many more processes to go through and lots of coats of underglaze to apply, but I´ll keep you posted on the progress. 

Meadowscape - scraffito
Simon hasn´t been able to do much in his workshop over the last week or so, as he has recently had eye surgery and therefore has to stay out of dusty environments. However, the piece he started working on before his operation is a replica of one of my ceramic bowls (see here on the left) which 
he´ll turn in wood. 

It will then be used together with a ceramic base which I have already prepared. Should be an interesting, sculptural piece when it´s finished.

The garden has been thriving! 

The knot garden did need a prune though, and it´s a rather painstaking job. Still, it always looks great afterwards, and the wisteria which acts as a canopy for the bench at the back of the knot garden is doing really well this year too, especially as we had to give it a hard prune last autumn. 

Our first iris of the year
Wisteria growing as a canopy over the bench
Our first iris popped up at the start of the week (here on the right), in all its beautiful glory! It was then followed by a whole host of them. They´re looking stunning this year. Hope you enjoy the shots of them ... 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Our Beautiful Peonies

Our Beautiful Peonies

Hi again!

In case you guys have not seen our Twitter posts @blended_monkey, we thought we´d share with you some photos of the gorgeous peonies that keep cropping up in the main garden. They´ve appeared almost over night. 

Wild pond in the main garden

We inherited our lovely, very established garden when we bought our house two and a half years ago. The garden is set in 1.2 acres and includes two large ponds - one is more of a wild pond that plays host to countless frogs, fish and also various plant varieties, while the other is located close to the house in our "hot garden" and is a raised, formal pond. We believe this one dates back to when the house was originally a pub back in the 1600s. 

Formal pond in the hot garden
The garden was lovingly planted by its previous owner some 20 or so years ago, and it´s a real hidden gem. We´ve been surprised at how many people in the village have said that they had no idea our house had such a large and beautiful garden concealed behind it. I must admit, when we first viewed the house we were also quite shocked when we saw it. It´s hard work to maintain, but we really love it, and it provides us both with creative inspiration. 

Although there are some formal elements to the garden, including a Victorian-style knot garden, the "purple garden" which has been planted with purple roses and lavender, and a formal semicircular rose garden, we have allowed a lot of the beds to be fairly natural. We don´t want to spend hours every week weeding ... we want to enjoy the garden and also encourage wildlife to enjoy it too - so the odd patch of nettles here are there really doesn´t bother us.

Anyway, here are some shots of the peonies as promised 😁

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Our Curious Little Robin´s Nest

Our Curious Little Robin´s Nest

A few weeks ago I walked into my greenhouse/potting shed and went to move the pink metal watering can that´s hanging rather precariously from a small hook just inside the doorway - luckily I didn´t just grab it, because I saw that it had twigs poking out of the top.

Upon further scrutiny, I realised it contained a nest ...
and this nest was housing a, considering the circumstances, rather chilled looking robin who was peeking out at me with its beedy little eyes. She/He (we´ll go with "she" for ease) was hunkered down in a beautifully made mossy structure that she had evidently been creating beforehand without me even realising. 

However, in the weeks prior to this, I had noticed a little robin hanging around my greenhouse/potting shed. She would fly in and out while I was busily sowing seeds and potting up plants, and didn´t seem to mind my company. Although I would never have expected her to make a nest in my metal watering can that is suspended rather dangerously from a small hook right next to the door. 

Like most people, we have numerous robins in the garden, and they are renowned for their inquisitiveness. Quite often I´ll be digging or hoeing and will be overcome by the feeling that I´m being watched by something or someone ... I´ll look up and usually find that I´m being spied on by a little robin ... or sometimes two of them. They are, of course, waiting for me to dig up something yummy for them to eat; or they´ll hang around the compost heap to see what delights I might be throwing on it.

So, without further ado, we moved the wildlife camera that we usually have out in the main garden and have positioned it on the staging opposite the opening to the watering can. 
We´ve counted around six little beaks opening when we´ve had a peek inside, but we´re always very careful to keep our distance.

Over the past week we´ve caught various bits of footage, including this snippet here where the robin does a little loop before flying off to get food and then returning with it.

We´ll keep you posted on the progress of the baby robins. We´re just hoping that mummy robin hasn´t made a poor choice in terms of the location - as it gets quite hot in that metal watering can and it can also get buffeted around when it´s windy.  

Friday, 5 May 2017

Successful Firing

Successful Firing 

The recently biscuit-fired pieces have now been subjected to a 1250°C glaze firing, and the results are fairly good.

Pleasing glaze "accident" - crystalline effect from glass beads I dropped
onto the glaze prior to firing

You never quite know how a firing is going to go - it´s always a bit of a nerve-racking experience!

Most of the pieces were originally underglazed in the biscuit firing and then provided with a transparent glaze for this final firing; and a few of the pieces had not been underglazed and were coated with glazes after they had been biscuit fired. 

The process in pictures:

Mixing the glaze
Applying the glaze
Glazed pieces in the kiln

Setting the kiln

Kiln closed & ready

Really pleased with my
"seascape" piece

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

We´re Back ...

We´re Back ...

... after what seems like an age!

We´ve got a new website now, and made some new pieces, with a lot more emphasis on blending our disciplines of wood, clay and silk. Take a look at the site and see what you think. There´s more to be added, but we´re getting there. Feel free to follow us too @blended_monkey or

Here are a few of our latest creations:

Lost at Sea

A Cut Above
Natural Edged Vase
Heart Votive Vase
Pair of Bud Vases

Silk Art
Seascape Silk Scarf
Natural Edged Vase
Natural Edged Vase

Monday, 1 May 2017

Blickling Bluebells & Farm Park in Norfolk

Blickling Bluebells & Farm Park in Norfolk

We chose the perfect time to visit Blickling Hall and see those famous bluebell woods in their full glory. 

After taking a 30-minute-or-so walk up to the main woodland area, we were met with a stunning wash of blue, with carpets of bluebells spreading far and wide amongst the gnarly trees.

We were fairly lucky with the weather; it was windy but we managed to dodge the rain, & even had the odd stint of sunshine.

After a good trek around the woods and massive intake of fresh air, we headed back to the café in the grounds and had a bite of lunch.

Our daughter had mentioned that she´d like to feed some lambs, and, as it´s the ideal time of year to do so, we headed over to the farm park in Snettisham where she did indeed feed some orphan lambs (so sweet!) and had a stroke of a calf. A good day was had by all!

Cute little orphan lamb