A couple of weeks ago a friend gave me a few moulds which she was throwing out. At the time I was not sure that I was going to get much use out of them but she was eager to clear the decks and I can’t bear seeing things go to waste so I stuck them in the car wondering if I would ever use them.
This week, whilst in the studio trying to resist the temptation to fiddle with my hand built vessels before they were ready for the next stage, I decided to divert my attention by having a go with some of these moulds. The results were beyond my wildest dreams. Lovely shapes began to emerge; jugs and mugs with really great proportions. I am really delighted to have found something to do with myself to prevent me overworking my main pieces and I think they might be quite popular in the gallery at Klay in Camden.
At first I was not too sure about making functional ware as well as my more contemporary sculptural pieces. They are not in the same league and I have been thinking that I needed to stick loyally to one thing and let it speak for itself. Indeed, one of the debates which we entered into during the diploma was about this very subject and I had come down firmly on the side of staying with what I am trying to say. However, the comments which have come back about them have been encouraging and a number of people have told me that the two different ways of working will complement each other and increase interest in my work. Plus I have already seen what sells on a regular basis at our gallery and it tends to be the smaller, functional pieces. I cannot bring the costs involved in my main work down very far even if I do make them small. In addition I do want/need to sell enough work in the gallery to make it a worthwhile venture so perhaps it is a good idea to have the two strands running parallel.
So, here goes, all I have to do now is fire them, polish them, glaze them and fire them again. Then they will find their way to Klay and to the next open studios at Wimbledon. If they prove to be popular at these two events I shall take a whole load of them to Kew Gardens for Handmade next autumn where I have just heard I have been given a space to exhibit with the Design Factory .
So thank you , Paula, for my new toys. I am having a lot of fun with them whilst my other work firms up.
Wimbledon Open Studios is almost over – this is the last day. My legs ache, I have spent the last 3 days eating rubbish food and repeating my explanation of my work over and over and over again but oh my goodness, I have had so much fun.
I made the decision to make during the show for a number of reasons. I have found it much easier to chat to people when I am also manipulating a piece of clay and people seem to have been more willing to come in when there is something for them to watch.
It has given me plenty to do and lots to say. Not only that but I am on target to complete the current group of test pieces for what I am calling my ‘Poldark Project’ – exploring the mineral rich spoil heaps of Cornwall within the delicate fragile environment of thin porcelain. I think I can safely say it has been a successful experiment.
Undoubtedly the best thing about the event has been peoples’ response to seeing first the outside and then, as they draw nearer, the interior of my new work. The word which has escaped from their lips most frequently – WOW! People seem to love the idea of the story told in the piece, the relationship of fragile porcelain to found clay and the link to the imagery on the interior. I have made several sales and I am confident of a number of commissions as a result of discussions with home movers and extenders; the bereaved and the loved; relatives of loved ones with imminent significant birthdays and people with a special place in their hearts. I think I might just be on to a winner here.
So this week, my thanks go to my daughter for pointing me back towards the fragile work I love so much and for feeding me smoked haddock and poached egg when I most needed it, my sister for setting me off on this particular trail, Fred Gatley for showing me how exciting polished porcelain could be, Jonquil Williamson for helping me rearrange my studio so that people wanted to come in, Louise Diggle for pouring Cava into my glass and the rich and varied landscape of this beautiful isle which I am happy to call my home . – Teamwork is everything!