Hot bronze – Scottish Sculpture Workshop 2


I made some small jugs and some bowls to trial as new forms for casting.


I left 5 sand moulds for hot bronze, more experiments…


And this is a 3 bowl set, I can’t wait to get it cleaned and finished.


Local clay

I’ve finished using the Tay River clay and have the torn hands to prove it – it was very gritty.

This piece was made on the beach, the surface is ash used to stop the clay adhering to the rocks; it has been sawdust fired.


I’ve collected more clay from Crail and half of it is processed ready to use once it has dried a bit.


This is the sawdust fired Tay clay piece that is in my mid year review show



This is where the Tay River clay was collected from.

Pots on the beach, Cellardyke

I have been working on the beach with my local Crail clay and clay from the River Tay using driftwood, pebbles, rocks, wood ash, mussel shell and bird bone.


I have tried a form of slab building, hitting the clay with driftwood over a textured rock to get a thinner, tempered and textured sheet which I have then formed over stones, first sprinkling wood ash to prevent sticking and eased it off when it was slightly hardened. I have also used seaweed and teasel leaves to texture the clay.


This is Crail clay shaped in a crevice in the rock, having been formed with driftwood first.

potCrailCellarb it has grey slip scraped back with a mussel shell.

potcrail2 This is a pinch and coil pot from Crail clay. The shell in it has fired to quicklime and so as it rehydrates the bits pop off in a rather fun way.

Week 6 Sawdust firing – preparation

I did the sawdust firing as this kind of firing is a traditional method of firing, now used mainly for decorative purposes.


I packed a bin with sawdust shavings, layering in pots as I went.

I fired a piece broken so that I could get smoke effects from different parts of the kiln (dustbin) and reconstruct the patchwork, similar to reconstructed museum pots. This had blue slip, which helped the reconstruction, but is too bright for the piece.


I fired a piece with masking tape resist and a crank slip, which crackled during firing and could be rubbed off when the firing was complete. This piece had grey slip patterns and I part filled it with sand before firing to keep the smoke from the inside. potsawdustcrank

I fired a piece wrapped in seaweed to get the salt into the firing.


I fired various local earthenware pieces,


We lit the sawdust with newspaper and put the lid on with a kiln shelf to adjust the air flow. It burned from Thursday morning until Friday late afternoon when we had to take the pieces out.


I’ll post photos of the fired pots shortly.

Week 3 Materials experiments

I threw some bowls to practice simple forms for casting and also to make sure that I didn’t ‘waste’ my Crail clay. I have put some slip on some and burnished them after trimming the bottoms.



I also made a pinch pot with colis out of some of the Crail clay, again it needs trimmed and burnished. The ceramics workshop room is very busy at present so I haven’t thrown the Crail clay yet.


I had two days on the beach following up local bricks as they link to clayfields and have found an Anstruther brick; I’m very taken with the colour they have fired (blue in the middle) and the pleasing shape some have become.


I forged part of some wrought iron that I found seriously rusted on the beach and the heated rusted parts have also come a great colour.



With John Scott’s assistance I twisted and flattened a billet of two steels and I like how that looks when etched, sanded and oiled. I have since heated colours into it.


Lives in a landscape

Final year. My project – ‘lives in a landscape’ is looking at cultural history in the landscape. I am initially exploring materials and traditional processes that have a link with the landscape. Sean Kingsley’s Fife Diet ceramics project using clays from Fife farms, led me to ‘win’ clay at Crail.

This is Sean’s family winning clay. The spade for this is called a graft (‘though I used a trowel)


The clay is then dried (picture a pile of mud-like stuff on newspaper in the sun,

then soaked overnight and strained to remove the slatey bits. This is called ‘blungeing’.

crailclay copy

I collected some of the slate bits too as they are attractive.


To be continued…

native americans-hidden landscapes


Carrying forward my hidden landscape work in the States I discovered that the native americans, who largely died out after the settlers brought smallpox and land ownership to North America, had left their mark on the landscape. The black walnut, the shagbark hickory and the white pine were all trees husbanded, by the native americans in New York state, to provide food. These trees also provide a link to the settlers as it was the native americans who kept the settlers alive with their knowledge of local foods.


The piece is a head piece, held in place by a cast dagger.

The shagbark hickory provided nutmeat which was traded with the settlers, it also withstood the native american practice of brush burning to regenerate the woodland.

This piece is informed by a period photo:-


native american artifacts and the Donghri Kund (in Orissa)


It is held behind the ear by the bronze dagger.

greenhandle3 I also sampled making a dagger head in stoneware based on a native american pipe.



tulipierreblog tulipblog1

My last project for SUNY spring semester Wheel Throwing was not thrown, but extruded and then coil built. It was quite a challenge to get the individual tulip vases balanced. The photo shows two of the three final vases, The design was based on tulip stems so the tulip flower heads could do their fading thing with some support. The three vases can be rearranged together to give different forms. They remain in New Paltz being nigh impossible to transport.

Ceramic collection




The first half of semester was spent making 20 cylinders to practice surface decoration on; 5 mugs to practice handles; 5 jugs to practice lips; and 5 lidded vessels to practice making to measurement. They were glazed in the second part of term and so are just making the blog now. Mostly they haven’t come back to the UK, but my new skills have!


lidded vessels


mug selection

Dinner settings SUNY Ceramics



Our penultimate Wheel throwing project was two, themed dinner settings. I chose the Seven Ravens as I’ve been looking at fairy tales in casting. And I themed the project around David Huycke’s stacking bowls going for shape rather than purpose. The decoration on some is scraffito ravens’ heads and on others is wax painted ravens’ footprints, a couple of pieces have a key inscribed onto the base.

david huycke bowls

david huycke bowls