Monthly Archives: March 2015

Nail your hat to your head


if you want it to stay on today.  I tried three different hats and even the most head-hugging had too much windage.  No-one was taking a boat out

1 not taking a boat out

and there was a good deal of sucking

2 sucking

and swooshing

3 swooshing

and the waves made angry lace.

4 lace

We stood at the foot of the cliff and watched breakers surging round the corner

5 corner

depositing spume.

All this was to distract me as I had experimental pots cooling in the kiln.  There was an experiment in sprigging6 sprig

and I’ve only half a jamjar full of this experiment on the gash pot, not even enough to glaze the rim.  What you can’t see is the velvet softness of the glaze as you stroke it.

7 half a jamjar

Then there was some fooling about with the new rutile combined with other glazes.  Never had one like this before

8 greenand only look at the speckles close to:

9 speckles detail

Then there is a first experiment in porcelain.  I rather liked the ghost leaves, though they need some working on

10 ghost leaves

but with all their beginner faults upon their head, the ghost flowers are my favourite.

11 ghost flowers

Leave it to the Georgians … probably


Double glazing with completely purposeless glazing bars, than which there are few things more bogus or unnecessary.  Yet what is one to do?  Vast unbroken sheets of Pilkington make the house’s face look dead; small windows make the house dark; and bogus diamond panes are even phonier than glazing bars.  Compounding the problem, nobody now makes a window as the Georgians could, and the clumsy rectangles don’t divide into Georgian-proportioned panes either.


What’s more, they arouse conflicting yet not mutually exclusive sensations:  imprisonment, protection, and an unexpected but ineluctable homesickness for real glazing bars, still vivid in memory, blobby with the paint of years, holding glittering, rippling, dimpled, irregular, old, old, old glass up to the world outside.

Never mind; the new ones open and close like anything.  

Walking a beach that isn’t there


I’ve been crossed in love


Fearful pangs of unrequited love.  The beloved is alluring, fascinating, pours out a wealth of beauty on other more favoured mortals, sometimes drops a nod or a smile in your direction.  Once or twice you happen to be together quietly in the dark, the other relaxed, open, eye to eye with you. But then you plan a party with their name at the head of the guest list; they say they will come if they have time, and never show.


Being in love with the cosmos is not a good idea.  At 8.15 this morning the eastern sky looked like this, and not even a bright patch betrayed the place of the sun.

It was so dark that the birds didn’t bother to stop singing for the eclipse as only about three had bothered to start, and those three didn’t notice the difference. At maximum the sky looked like this:


By 10.40 it was all over.  At 11.00 the cloud began to thin and a watery and perfectly circular sun appeared.  By lunchtime …


In the face of so comprehensive, painful and pointed a snub, what can a lover do?


1     Eat chocolate

retail 1

2     Go shopping

retail 2

3     More retail therapy (unwise level of spending)


4     Return to the comfortable arms of an old flame


5     Flirt with a new charmer

No, being in love with the cosmos is not a good idea.  It doesn’t care for you and it never, never, will.  But of course I know:  one smile, one nod, one look from the beloved, and there I will be again.  Abject.  Adoring.

All obsessions must be paid for


… either in cash or commitment, and usually both.

The tiny tessarae are accumulating.  Experimenting with leftover raku glazes was not entirely successful but never mind, I have a cunning plan.

1 raku glazes

More hours cutting tesserae.  Having a co-conspirator helps, but even so nipping up 500 individual tilelets does things to your head.  Someone brought me a small bag of dolly mixture today and I found myself doing this:

2 dolly horse

Decisions:  this is rather conventional not to say commonplace.  Should I use it as a practice piece for sticking and grouting, or put it back in the tubs and try to make an image I like better?  On the one hand, how irritating to make permanent something one is only temperately fond of; on the other, how annoying to bog up a piece of work you really like because you haven’t tested the necessary processes.

3 wol

The co-conspirator says it would make a good wol-hanging.

Clay days


I collected some samples from the landslip on Tuesday.

1 samples

I minced them up into little sippets on Wednesday, looking for stones and damping them down.

They soaked on Thursday.

At the crack of dawn on Friday the tesserae were glazed and jigged into the kiln.  They don’t need too much head space, so to get extra shelves a couple of old biscuit fired dinner plates were called into service.

2 stuffing the kiln

This evening (Friday) the clays got a preliminary wedge.  The dark grey, brown and coral/orange are fine as fine, the blue more grainy.  The purple red is going to be a bit of a pig and if I’d any sense I would not have collected it, but who could resist such a lovely colour? I finished at midnight.

3 somewhere on the road to usability

Tomorrow (well today) will be crack of dawn again – to see how the tesserae got on.

Squares, rhombi, trapezoids, and on … and on …


Copying the kind of modelling achieved by serious mosaicists is going to require a more subtle colour palette.  I’m trying various oxide additives to a pale clay body to extend the range, but no idea how that will come out.  At the moment they look like undifferentiated mud pies.


It is also going to require a lot LOT more tesserae, and in smaller sizes to refine the images we can achieve.  I made the first few hundred teeny ones.  I think we might need a few thousand for the project we have in mind.

Sigh.  One good thing:  they don’t have to be perfectly made, as it is useful to have a rhombus here or trapezoid there to help one get around the curves and corners.  And triangles of course.

hundreds and thousands

Examples to study.  I think the pieces on the ideas wall will keep me in my place.

ideas wall

Second attempt (not enough tesserae to complete layout).  Highly imitative.


The chocolate bar principle


– Though you might find these grey blocks unappetising.  Some are glazed, undergoing a once-firing process;

1 chocolate principle

others will be fired as bisque.  The brown slab looked quite chocolatey, but the yellow one was worse than the grey.

2 hoping not to melt

Interestingly, the yellow beach clay had most shrinkage and seemed most vitrified, shooting itself across the room with explosive CERACKs when I squeezed viciously with the tile cutters.  I was glad of the safety goggles.  The yellow clay also fired very dark, where the brown became quite pink.

3 nippings

Marine motif, anybody?

4 marine

It is lucky I’m not trying to stick this one down.  The image is coarse, partly due to the size of the tesserae and partly because the artist doesn’t have a clue what she is doing.

5 infill