In the first week of 2018, I found myself still clinging onto my Christmas break. I spent my Christmas in London with family (and a new arrival, my nephew Victor!) and then chilled to the max for a few days, which was really nice after consecutive weekend markets through December that left me feeling frazzled. I wasn’t ready to face the world, social media, etc. I am sure many of you will sympathise!
Last week I came out of my shell and I am beginning to get back into the swing of things. It helped that I received a wholesale order and an online sale, which gave me a push to emerge into reality! I started to think about what I want to accomplish this year, while reflecting on my 2017.
You may recall that I started making things with air dry clay about two years ago. I enjoy it so much that I find time in the evenings and at weekends to do my clay projects. Some time this year I found myself dissatisfied with my tried-and-tested materials – I longed for that shine we see in ceramics, and greater strength. I also wanted my work to be guaranteed food-safe and waterproof. I have been playing with the idea to build a ceramic collection for my shop, or when I hold a stall, but I don’t feel comfortable selling crockery made of air dry clay so I decided to look into firing my creations instead.
I found a local kiln firing service about 30 minutes drive away, and got a batch of small bowls, dishes, pots, and a mug – a very wonky mug! – bisque fired for the first time. I was very pleased that they came out well, and couldn’t wait to start decorating them.
Painting with underglazes turned out to be quite time consuming. They don’t have quite the same effect as acrylic paint, the application needs several coats to be apparent and I got the impression from ceramic websites that it is normal.
That was around the beginning of September. While painting my first batch, I had the idea that I could try selling ceramic Christmas decorations on my stalls. It is usually easier to judge how well my products are selling in person than on my shop so I wanted to grab the opportunity. I made some circle and star shapes with the help of cookie cutters. The bisque fire went well except for one breakage and then I spent two evenings painting the pieces. Then it was my first time getting my glazed work fired. I was very nervous!
It turned out I was right to be worried. They didn’t come out as I imagined them to look like. There were no serious cracks or explosions in the kiln, but they simply didn’t have that ceramic shine I wanted and the underglazes didn’t look right. I had thrown myself in the deep end not knowing much about ceramics, and I had to find out why they looked dull. After googling I suspect that they were under-fired or I didn’t apply enough overglaze for them to mature in the kiln.
I was extremely deflated. I realised that I picked a hobby that is expensive and challenging. But I am prepared to persist!
I recently found out that there is another local kiln firing service 5-10 minutes drive away – it is either new or I missed it in my original research! So I will be firing my next batch (hopefully with better glaze application) at that place to see if the outcome is the same or not.
I have asked for a good ceramic advice book for Christmas and hope I have better luck next time! Off I go to continue painting my first batch…
Previous posts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3
My new Tropical House print is becoming popular! This piece took a lot of turns as I worked on it, so I am sharing ‘behind the scenes’ how I created Tropical House from start to end.
Photos above belong to Brynn & Co
If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may know this already but I am so excited to announce my collaboration with an embroidery artist, Amanda of Brynn & Co!
She first approached me to say that she loved my plant paintings and wanted to collaborate with me to create a plant-y design to sell as an embroidery kit. Of course, being a crazy plant lady and always on the lookout for exciting opportunities, I said yes! We talked about her vision of what the design would look like and I started sketching ideas. Happily, she absolutely loved my first draft so I painted it with watercolour and sent over a scan for her to base the embroidery on. I think this is the most exciting bit – seeing my painting come alive as embroidery art, a form I’ve always admired.
Like Amanda said, we couldn’t be happier with the results and we hope you are too!
GROW embroidery PDF pattern
GROW embroidery kit
I joined The 100 Day Project again! I did handlettering last year and this year I am drawing wild flowers. I decided to use my Lamy fountain pen and Seawhite sketchbook for this project.
Originally I wanted to paint them all but I realised it’d take a lot of time away from my other work, so I hope to find time to turn some of my favourites into paintings eventually!
I post my 100 day project on my Instagram every day, please follow along if you like them!
I love seeing what other artists are up to with their 100 day projects and I really enjoy these above – what’s not to like about little animal paintings about friendships and smiley kawaii produce!