Thursday, 3 November 2011

Ceramics - A Fragile History

I don't often watch live TV these days. I prefer to watch what I want, when I want. Last night I caught up with episode 2 of BBC Four's Ceramics - A Fragile History

This episode charted the rise and fall of the Potteries in Stoke on Trent, a potted history really of the story of all Industrialisation in Britain over the last 150 years. The quest for cheap labour leaving the factories abandoned & desolate.

I was fascinated to see the sheer number of kilns shown in the archive footage. Seemingly rising up out of the terraced cottages.

The rows of women (all dressed rather fantastically!) painting the finished pots, singing while they worked. Sad to think of the talent wasted by the closure of these factories.

The programme left me with mixed emotions, both my Grandfathers, & my Dad worked the massive Ford factory in Dagenham.

Rows & rows of newly made cars were parked up in warehouses & giant car parks very close to where we lived. The ebb & flow of the workers streaming in & out at the shift change times.

No one could be sad to see the end of all that smoke though......I would not have wanted to live in the midst of all of that pollution! My own electric kiln generates a lot of heat, and some worrying smells at times! The residents of Stoke on Trent must have needed strong lungs.

The Ford factory in Dagenham now has wind turbines to power production, see how clear the air looks in this picture.....

They were installed in 2004, and are HUGE!!! I went down Kent Avenue with my Dad, & stood at the base of the east turbine soon after they were put up, they are an amazing sight. The air may be much cleaner, but the number of jobs in the factory has decreased massively from the heyday of the plant. Most production was shifted out of the UK, after years of difficult relations between workers & management. Economics rules, so much of the plant was closed down, like those in Staffordshire.

I guess we have come full circle, from "piece workers" carrying out production at home, through the mass factories of the Industrial revolution, to our current economic crisis, where those with the love of "making" once again set up "cottage" industries to sell their unique handmade wares.

A fragile, and ever changing history indeed.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The changing of the season

I'm very excited!

The weather is starting to change here in England. Athough the days are still very bright, the leaves are well & truly falling. The clocks went back at the weekend so the nights are drawing in. The squirrels in the tree outside are busy gathering nuts & seeds ready for the cold weather.

There are changes in my own life too! I'm preparing to move up to Colchester, further out in Essex. I'm also taking a sabbatical from my day job, this will mean more time for creating / designing & making.

I have not been able to focus on creative things for a while, so I'm thrilled to have this opportunity to take stock, up sticks, and make some changes!!!

I can't really focus on dolls at the moment as there is too much packing and organising going on, so in the meantime I'm making some jewellery, inspired by the work of my great friend Mama Bea........

I can't wait to reveal all soon! Here's a sneak peak...........

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

I Love Puffins...........

So I was delighted to see this clip from the BBC's springwatch programme........


He's sooooo cute!!!!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Doll Artists I admire........

During the week I don't have much time to work on my Dolls, so I sometimes spend time admiring the work of other doll artists. I LOVE Friedericy Dolls! I couldn't afford one. Although I do have an "Alice" which was made a few years ago for the Richard Simmons collection.
Most of their dolls are directly sculpted in porcelain, although I notice that now there are some paperclay offereings on their website too. Their faces just "sing" to me - I hope that you like seeing them too.....

"Alice" Richard Simmons Collection

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Jimmy McGriff - The Worm - Mod Jazz.wmv

So this is how my day started today.... :0)

A new painting perspective

This is another piece of experimentation for me - my work in porcelain usually uses a white, or light base, I build up the skin tone using layers of fine washes to build up a realistic look. The paint is very translucent, and has a soft, natural look.
One of the things that I find frustrating about working with paperclay is trying to get a "depth" to the skintone. After reading a blog by Susie McMahon, I am experimenting with using a dark brown base under the flesh tone paint. I have thinned the paint quite a lot, to let the dark base show through. At the moment it is still patchy - but I can see the potential. Already there are areas of "shade" in the deep parts of the sculpture. Thanks for the inspiration Susie!!

 You can read Susie's blog here

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

If only there were more hours in the day....................

So, today was the hottest day of the year! What a shame to be cooped up in an office looking at cost reports! At least I have a view of the park, and, with the window open we could her the birds singing in the trees. The evenings are getting lighter, and the blossom on the trees is stunning. The clocks go forward this weekend, so hopefully I will soon have more time to sculpt......

I have worked a bit on my Izannah workshop doll, I'm sure I'm miles behind the rest of the class.....
Hand molded hair

 Paperclay hands
Maybe I can start painting her this weekend - I hope so!!!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Wow! I'm in love................

Whilst browsing images on Google I have just discovered the work of Marie Prett.....

I really want a dog balancing on a ball.

Did I say want? Of course I meant I need a dog balancing on a ball!!!! Guaranteed to put a smile on your face.....her Circus performers are wonderful too, better start saving my pennies....

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Booker T & The M G 'S Soul Limbo

An Epiphany..............

Today I had an epiphany moment!
I've struggled for ages to get a smooth finish with Paperclay, but following advice from a member on Dixie Redmond's Izannah Walker Workshop I've discovered that it's ok to sand it wet!!! This is much easier for me, because it is so like cleaning porcelain greenware. I hated the dust of dry sanding....and struggled to see what I was doing!! What a simple discovery, and it I've tried it out today - to great effect!
Thanks Artis Corwin!! You made my life a little easier today :0)