In preparation for the up-coming Open Studio Weekends on the first two weekends in November, we have been hard at work making and firing to get everything ready in time.
We are still working on the pottery shed, as it isn’t quite finished yet. So much to do, but it is almost there. We have to stop the building work to concentrate on making pots now.
There are so many little bit and pieces of the building that need to be cleaned up and properly finished. The team of shed builders who erected the frame for us were working very quick and rough and left a lot to be desired in terms of details. I’m still finding out the places where they didn’t finish off the flashing, or didn’t put enough silicon in the joints here and there. But their biggest crime was not using metal screws with rubber seals, so I had to go around the whole building and squeeze silicon rubber over all the external screws to waterproof them. It probably only saved them $10. Such is the state of modern building trades. Fortunately we didn’t buy a high rise home unit with cracks in it, so we couldn’t live in it, but still had to pay the mortgage. That is so unforgivable. With all this rain over the past year, I’m still discovering places that leak or just little annoying drips that need attention.
The framing crew did at least get the frame level, square and true. I’ll give them that much. The building inspector from the council who came and inspected our job, told us that this was one of the better frames that he had seen. Some were so bad, he had to call the builders back to straighten it up.
Janine and I have done nearly all of our building work over the years as owner builders here for the past 45 years, but this rebuilding job was just beyond us in our ’senior’ years. Especially the scale of it and particularly after working ourselves into the ground with all the clean-up work that we did after the fire. By the time it came to start re-building, we just didn’t have the energy. After the 6 months of cleaning up, we were ready to hand over to a team who supposedly knew what they were doing when it came to erecting a steel fame shed — sort of. They were certainly well practised at making short cuts.
This last weekend we fired the wood kiln. This was our 2nd firing in this new kiln and we are still learning how it works and getting to know its peculiarities and character.
We had Len Smith, Rob Linegan to help and Jan Kesby called in after her workshop at Sturt Pottery to give us a hand, as she was in the neighbourhood.
The kiln at full fire, burning logs on the hobs.
Rob and Len doing their bit.
Jan Kesby showing us how it’s done.
We will unpack later in the week after it has cooled down.
Janine has been crushing and grinding her beach pumice stones to make her sea-ladon green glaze. Made from just beach pumice and beach cuttle fish carapace ‘shells’.
She has also been making up her ‘Chun’ or ‘Jun’ blue opalescent glaze that she makes from the ash from the kitchen slow combustion stove.
They both require crushing and then grinding in the ball mills to get the best result. There are so many little steps that go into being a self-reliant artist that most people just couldn’t imagine.
Then there is the splitting and stacking all the wood for firing. Everything takes time. We only have pre-burnt logs to fire with now, as every tree on our block of land was burnt. So we have a few hundred tonnes of standing dead wood to use up for the rest of our lives, but regrettably, since it is already pre-burnt. It has lost a lot of its volatiles, saps, kinos and resins. This means that we have to invent new ways of using it up in the kilns, as it is a bit like firing with charcoal than fresh timber. It still burns, but with a short flame and doesn’t really crackle and roar like it used to pre-fire. One solution I’m trying is to split it finer, where that is possible, but the stringy back that grows around here has a very twisty, gnarly, well integrated grain, that doesn’t easily lend itself to fine free-splitting.
Another option is to re-build the fire box to adapt it better to this charcoal rich environment, larger and with more provision for burning charcoal and ember? That’s a much bigger job, so I’ll try all of the easier options first. Time will tell.
Because I only go to the petrol station once every 3 or 4 months to put a small amount of petrol in the plug-in electric hybrid car. I always forget where the switch is, to open the petrol cap cover.
In our old petrol powered car, I used to go the garage and get petrol almost every week, so I knew where the lever was. It was on the floor next to the drivers seat.
Now, because this car is so different — all electric everything. I have to remember to look for the special button to do the job.
Previously, I was only putting $20 in to last 3 months, but with the recent outbreak of war in Ukraine, the petrol company has been forced into ‘Putin’ the price up.
I put $30 in this time. I’ll see how long it lasts. This is only the 3rd time I’ve been to the petrol station this year. It remains a quaint and unusual event for me.
This electric car is beautiful to drive. So silent, but with heaps of torque. All you hear is some faint tyre noise, depending on the road surface. On the newer, smooth road surfaces, it is silent.
I’m pleased to be able to drive home and plug it in to the solar panels for a re-charge. If the sun isn’t shining, we still plug it in, and charge it off our Tesla battery. In this way we can use yesterdays stored-up sunshine.
I’m very pleased to say that even during winter, with shorter days and a lot of rain so far this year, we are still over 95% self powered. We can run our house, charge our car, plus run the pottery and even fire the small electric kiln on our 6 kW of solar PV.
So far this year, we have paid just $75 for electricity from the grid, and this was our first power bill in 16 years since we installed the first 3 kW of PV panels. This bill was largely due to the fact that the feed-in tariff has been reduced to just 7 cents per kW/hr this year, while the cost of green electricity has increased. The feed-in tariff won’t be going up any time soon, if ever. So we have to cut our cloth accordingly. Up until recently, we were getting 20 cents per kW/hr for our electricity, and getting the best part of $1,000 per year in rebates.
However, because I have been doing a lot of regular firings in our electric kiln, we have therefore used a lot more electricity than we normally would. This is becauseI have been working on my Show at the Sturt Gallery. It has taken a lot of research and testing to get this new body of work completed. I haven’t made pots like this before. I haven’t decorated my work with brushwork like this before, I haven’t used most of these clay bodies before and I haven’t fired this wood kiln before. Almost everything is new and therefore un-tried. It was a lot of work to get it all together in time, involving a massive amount of glaze and body testing and test firings. Hence the large power bill. So this is why it is so rewarding to realise that we were able to cover over 95% of it with our own self-generated power.
All this testing also has another more important purpose. I need to make the specially commissioned work as my part of The Willoughby Bequest for The PowerHouse Museum. My original idea all went up in the flames, so I have had to find a new approach, and this new work is my way into that place.
The show at Sturt gallery has been well received. It’s been open for a week now and they have sold 17 out of the 23 pieces. So that is a very good result and I’m very happy with that. I’m very happy with the work and I think that it stands up well. It expresses both my angst and trauma, but also the terrible beauty and energy of intense fire.
We have passed the shortest day, but the weather is still getting colder, as it does. There always seems to be a bit of a lag from the shortest day to the depth of winter. The reverse is also true for the longest day and the hottest weather. So it is now time to do the winter pruning of all the grape vines and deciduous fruit trees.
This was always such a big job in the past with all our stone fruit trees being over 40 years old. They had grown quite massive. Now, post fire, and all new dwarf fruit trees planted in the new orchard, it will not be such a big job, as the trees are still quite small and should remain that way. No more ladder work for pruning.
The first, earliest, peach tree has suddenly broken into flower. This is a strong reminder that I need to get on with it, stop lazing around, and get all that pruning done.
All this cold weather, frosty nights and chilly mornings has inclined me to make a few curries. They are a good comfort food, warming and filling, without being too bad for you. Veggie curries are great, I have been trying to use mostly what we have growing in the garden, which at this time of year must include broccoli, cabbage and even a few Brussel sprouts. I even managed to used most of our own spices.
This Asian influenced meal had the last 9 small tomatoes from the garden, our garlic, chilli, lime leaves, curry leaves, coriander and the last two small capsicums. All from the garden. I had bought a few pieces of fresh ginger, galangal and turmeric from the green grocer because we cant grow these plants in our garden here, even in summer. We had 3 curries over the week. Each one was slightly different, from Thai to Indian. Curry seems to be more warming than other meals.
Maybe it’s all that chilli?
On Sunday I was up before dawn and drove up to the North side of Sydney, a few hours drive away. Up to Oxford Falls. A place where I used to live. I grew up and went to school there. I used to live at number 41 Oxford Falls Road. This time I went to the far opposite end of that long road to collect some old and rusted galvanised iron roofing so that I can rebuild my wood fired kiln’s wood shed and finally create a new and hopefully permanent home for the rebuilt big hydraulic wood splitter.
It was a really lovely sky at dawn with the horizon turning from grey to pink for those precious few minutes.
I had been given a tin roof off an old chicken farm shed. I was told about it a couple of years ago, when we were casting about looking for old re-cycled roofing iron to use as cladding on our new pottery shed. I wanted to use all old, grey, weathered and slightly rusty re-cycled gal sheeting on this new building to make it look more in keeping with all the other old buildings on our site. Our home is the Old School building from 1893 and we also have the old railway station built in 1881. I managed to save both of these buildings from the fire. We wanted to keep the heritage look and feel of the place and a brand new shiny corrugated iron pottery shed would stand out like dogs balls, I managed to find just enough old, weathered roofing to complete the job while I was still waiting for the roof to be taken off the Chicken shed in Oxford Falls.
That roof was finally replaced this year. Too late for me to use in the new pottery, but just in time for me to use to re-build the dedicated wood shed for all the large billets of timber that are required to be split, stacked and dried for use in the wood fired kiln. I’m quite fond of the old heritage buildings and their ‘settled-into-the-environment’ look, so it is appropriate for me to build the new wood shed out of old and slightly rusted stuff.
When I drove into Oxford Falls Road, the road I grew up on, but where I left to find my own way in life in 1972. I found some old memories flooding back. I remembered that we used to walk down the road a few miles to get to the creek at the bottom of the hill and go yabbying. A yabby is a fresh water crayfish. This time, instead of turning to go up the hill to where my parents old house was. I turned the opposite way and crossed over the ford just above the falls and went West.
I hadn’t been here since I was in my teens and used to drive the family truck down here with my grand father, to collect chicken manure from his friends egg farm. My Granddad was a very committed organic gardener, health food devotee, and a strict vegetarian. He brought my mother up that way, and she me. In fact, my grand parents lived behind our house. The two houses back to back, on different streets but with a common back yard joining them. This back yard was huge, as land sizes were very generous in those post (WW II), war days. That shared back yard was dedicated in the most part to a huge vegetable garden and a few fruit trees. And, of course two massive compost heaps.
It was a regular chore to go with granddad and shovel chicken manure from the deep litter floor of the chook sheds when there was a change over of birds and the various sheds were empty for a short while. We had to take it in turns either holding the bag open or digging the manure and wood shaving mixture into the hessian bags, then lugging them out and up onto the truck. I shared this job with my older brother for a few years until he eventually left home and I was old enough the get my drivers licence and took over the driving. Old man Rigby, who owned the farm and my granddad were great friends. They were about the same age and shared the same interest in ‘health foods’, as they were called back then. Old Mr Rigby baked his own bread. As did my grand mother and she taught my mum. She then taught me. I still make most of our bread, as well as grow my own organic vegetables. Family traditions are passed down in this way. Give me the boy till he is 7!
Well, you can image my surprise, when I turned into the driveway of the site to collect the old roofing iron to find that it all seemed strangely familiar. I recognised the old shed with the hand split stone walls. It all came flooding back. I’ve been here before. Almost everything is different now, but the old shed is the same, just more dilapidated, but I remember that Old Mr Rigby lived in there. The first room served as his kitchen and his office, it’s now the pottery studio. The remaining bigger part of the old shed was his machinery shed. It’s now got one of my wood fired kiln designs in there. Who could possibly imagine that !
I remember sitting in that room waiting while Mr Rigby and my Grand Father chatted on about compost and other organic gardening stuff. I was bored. I wanted to get going, so that I could go to the beach. I didn’t take sufficient interest in their healthy organic gardening and wholemeal bread baking chat. My Granddad was probably thinking…
Last weekend we fired the new wood kiln for the first time. Not the best firing that I have ever had, but OK for a first firing. There is always a bit of a learning curve getting to know how a new kiln works. Becoming familiar with its particular traits and ‘personality’. We are also using pre-burnt wood from the bush fire. Burning in the kiln, what was recovered from the trees in our front garden. It’s strange and burns quite differently from the trees that we are used to burning from our forest that were unburnt.
We fired for 14 hours through the day, and into the night. A very comfortable time frame and just about standard for the sort of firings that I have developed over the decades in this style of kiln.
There were a few losses. Two of my large 450mm dia. porcelian platters dunted on cooling. There is always a possibility of this with very large flat ware, and especially so with glassy, dense porcelain bodies.
Despite these couple of losses. I managed to get a few more nice pots out for the show at Sturt Gallery next weekend.
I used the iron rich soil from the side of the road off the top of Mt Gibralter near here in one mix. This moderates to inky blueness of the cobalt.
I also made another batch of smalt-like pigment with local iron rich ochre with metalic flakes of iron oxide that I scraped off some of my burnt machinery that I was recovering for re-use. The mild steel parts that got burnt in the fire and then left in the rain for a year before I could find the time to get back to them, had rusted badly.
I flaked off the worst of the rust and collected it in a container for use as pigment. It’s a nice idea to re-use some of my old ruined equipment and incorporate it into my new work creatively. I think that this flakey iron oxide is probably mostly FeO and some Fe3O4, with very little Fe2O3.
Since the firing, I have been out splitting more wood for the next wood firing, helped by the chickens of course. They even followed me into the workshop where I had 2 girls in a man shed!
Sandy Lockwood, Meg Patey and I will be having a show together at Sturt Gallery in 5 weeks time.
Save the date.
We will be giving an Artists talk at Sturt after the opening to explain the work and answer questions.
This is very new work for me, as all the pieces are decorated and have been made in response to my experiences during the 2019 catastrophic bush fire event that I endured and my engagement with recovery therapy since that time. Difficult work for me.
Janine and I had a very good Open Studio Weekend Sale.
We are part of an artist collective organised by a local lady called Erin Adams, she came up with the idea of the ‘Pop-Up’ Open Studios artists collective and herded all of us cats into a cohesive group. A tremendous job of work on her part, and we are very grateful to her for her organising ability.
Over this long weekend, we had over 30 visitors each day, for the 3 days, and almost everyone bought a pot, so we were chuffed.
The weather leading up to the weekend was awful. Freezing temperatures and blowing a gale. We had power outages, with trees blown down over power lines, for 2 days beforehand.
I was starting to think that no one will turn up. Nobody would want to brave all this weather to come out here.
As it turned out. Lots of people came out to Balmoral Village to see us. Most of the ‘Open Studios’ are located in and around the towns of Mittagong and Bowral here in the Southern Highlands. It is a well recognised tourist destination for people from Sydney, and it is easy to flit around and visit all of those local studios about town, without having to spend much time driving between them. You are also in close proximity to cafes, restaurants and coffee shops.
As we are 25 km out of town, it’s a half hour drive to get out here and the same to get back again. So we appreciate the effort that the locals put in to get out here. However, what was amazing was the number of people who drove down from Sydney to come and visit us. About 2/3 of our visitors were from the greater Sydney area. So Thank You very much to all of you who made the long drive of 2+ hours or so each way.
Luckily, we had our friends Susan and Dave here for a few days to help us clean up, set up, and then help us with selling and wrapping for the first couple of days. It made the job go so much easier. Thank you Susan and Dave!
I had made a batch of Tea Pots for the sale and sold most of them. I like making tea pots, they are an interesting challenge. You need to make all the different parts in the correct proportions to fit together in a unified design, but they also need to perform their function properly once fired.
The shelves are greatly depleted now. I love making pots, so its great to have space to make more things.
In the past couple of weeks, I developed a new high calcium porcelain glaze that has a lovely ‘streaking’ quality. I works well with a thin, soft pigment wash.
The pigment highlights the texture of the glaze. It also feels very soft and buttery to the touch.
In the days leading up to the Open Studio, I baked a loaf of bread in the pottery wood fired oven and although it took longer than it would have in the house oven, it turned out very well. This new oven has its own personality and will take a few goes to get used to.
I prepared the dough in the house as usual, and then put it in a cast iron pot in the pottery oven.
I also made a couple of panforte cakes for the open weekend, to share with visitors. Panforte translates from the Italian as ‘strong bread’. It is a small, solid, flat loaf of sweet bread, filled with dried fruits and held together with some honey and flavoured with a few spices like cinnamon and cloves. The recipe was listed here in an earlier blog. Search ‘panforte’ on the home page search box.
The dried fruits are measured out and mixed with the flour, before adding the honey water and spooned into my homemade stainless panforte rings on a buttered baking tray.
Spoon the mixture into the rings and press it down to fill them well, then bake at 180oC for 40/45 mins.
When the cakes come out of the oven, I sprinkle on a mixture of castor sugar, cinnamon and flour as a decoration. Served in thin slices, they go very well with tea or coffee.
Now that the Sale is over, it’s back to work. Our first job is to chain saw logs to refill the wood shed with fuel.
We have been so busy potting to get everything ready, we burnt a lot of wood in the house and studio stoves, to keep us warm during this very cold start to winter. We burnt so much wood, that we started to run low in the wood shed.
So today was wood chopping day. Out with the chain saws, the wheel barrow and the mini tractor.
We have no shortage of dead trees after the fire, but they need to be chain-sawn into short lengths and then carted to the wood shed where they are split and stacked, ready for use.
A good days work and ready for the next job. This is self reliance. Nothing lasts, nothing is perfect and nothing is ever finished.
Janine and I have been hard at work making pots, glazing and firing, getting ready for next weekends Open Studio Sale.
Everything else has been put on hold, while we clean up the studio and finish glazing and firing to get pots on the shelves ready for next week.
We will be Open from 10:00am til 4:00pm. each day , Saturday, Sunday and Monday of the long weekend.
A few weeks ago, it was starting to get cold enough to warrant lighting the wood stove in the pottery studio.
We bought the stove last year in spring when it was the last one in the shop and on sale, reduced by a couple of hundred dollars.
Although it sat there in the pottery uninstalled all year. It turned out to be a good decision.
I saw the same model on sale recently, at the beginning of Winter, for $500 more than we paid.
So I finally got around to installing the chimney and roof flashing in time for this recent very cold spell.
We have had temperatures drop down to just 2 oC this last week, the first week of winter, with so much more to come as the winter proceeds. The stove has had a bit of use each day this week keeping us warm while we work.
This new model of wood burner incorporates an oven as well, so Janine baked a cake during the week to test it out and it worked really well.
I’m looking forward to more fresh baked cake and coffee while we work in future!
We have just had our first Open Studio weekend. It was good. Not too busy, just right. We had an influx on Saturday morning with half a dozen cars in the first hour. We even had a queue at the wrapping table for a short time. but after that it settled down to just one car after another until lunch time and then a long spell of quiet. In the afternoon we had several more visitors spread out more or less evenly until just after 3pm when it stopped.
We were lucky that there was a big function on at Sturt Workshops in Mittagong all day Saturday, so we picked up a few car loads of visitors that called in here on the way past, coming from Sydney and going to Sturt.
We have had only 4 stoneware glaze firings in the 3rd hand gas kiln that I bought back after 26 years out in the wild. It’s now back in captivity and working well.
Sunday was quieter, but still good. We had the same lull in the middle of the day but a much quieter afternoon. It was a great start to this 4th pottery iteration after loosing the first 3 to fires, we have been a lot more cautious about what sort of garden and just how much foliage we can accept near our house and workshop. As this new 4th pottery is almost entirely made of steel, it is a lot less flammable. Steel building can still be ruined by intense fire – they bend and collapse in intense heat. So that is why we have decided to build this new studio in the middle of our block well away from any bush. I have already plumbed the building with fire fighting sprinkler lines. Although as it is so wet they year. I haven’t got around to fitting the sprinklers yet.
I decided to spend those couple of days in the pottery making work for the sale. Everything in it’s own time.
We almost sold out of Janines painted unomi beakers and inlaid lidded boxes, as well as my breakfast bowls.
So on Monday morning we were both back on the wheel making new stock for the up-coming December Open Studio weekends as we have elected to be part of the Southern Highlands ‘Pop-up’ Artists Open Studios on the first two weekends on December, – 4th and 5th, then the 11th and 12th.
This image of us by Eva Czernis-Ryl. Thank you Eva.
Yesterday we had all three kilns firing at once. A bisque in the little electric kiln, a stoneware reduction glaze in the big gas kiln and another stoneware reduction firing going on in the old relocatable mini wood fired kiln. I recovered it from the ashes of the fire. As it was built from a stainless steel monocoque frame with insulation brick lining, it mostly survived the fire, because it was stored out on the verandah and didn’t get too badly burnt. It just needed some cosmetic TLC on the frame and a new set of castor wheels. Lucky!
It was designed and built as a possible dual fuel kiln to be fired with either wood or LP gas from BBQ bottles. However I had never fitted it with burners and only fired it with wood previously. Now is the time to finish fitting it out with burners. I spent a day making shiny new burners and gal steel mountings. I chose to only pack and fire the bottom half of the kiln , as it is designed to be in two sections. A bottom half with the fire box opening and burner holes – which ever is chosen to be used. Then a top half composed of a removable ceramic fibre ring and lid. The ring can be removed and the lid placed on the base section to make a smaller half sized kiln. Which is what I did yesterday. As it was the first test firing of the kiln, I thought it best to go small for a first firing.
After an initial tweaking and tuning, It worked perfectly and fired to stoneware in reduction easily in 2 1/2 hrs. using less than one 9kg bottle of BBQ gas. I had 2 set up ready with a change over switch just in case, but the 2nd bottle wasn’t needed. I also set them up in a tub of water that can be warmed. In this way I can fire them to dead empty without them freezing. But none of this was necessary yesterday.
I’m a bit more confident about our local rock glazes now after 3 rounds of test firings. The hares fur/teadust tenmoku is a little more stable.
Both Janine and I have been investigating the use of colours over tenmoku.
and I have managed to stabilise the local Balmoral dirty feldspathic stone and wood ash opalescent Jun glaze.
Janine has made some slip decorated lidded boxes.
The stone fruit orchard is looking great after a wet start to the spring season and everything is green and luscious.
The almond grove is also very lush and green. All these mature almond trees were burnt and transplanted into this area that was formally a native garden. We have decided to keep the more flammable native bush at a much safer distance from the house now.
The pottery will be open this coming weekend, the 13th and 14th of November as part of the Australian Ceramics Assn. Open Studios weekend that will operate nationally. We will be open in conjunction with Megan Patey in Colo Vale. Megan makes beautiful Majolica and Smoked Arab lustre.
click on the QR code to find your local potter.
Janine and I will be also open on the first two weekends in December and the Southern Highlands Artists Pop-Up Open Studios group.
We will be open on the 4th/5th and in conjunction with Sandy Lockwood, on the 11th/12th of December.
We look forward to being able to show you around the new pottery on one of these 6 days.
We will be following the government recommended COVID19 safety protocols. So please come if you are double vaccinated and have your vaccination certificate. There is our Service NSW, QR code poster on the door for login
We have a covid-safe plan that includes keeping the space very well ventilated and limiting numbers to 4 sq.m. per person.
Please don’t bring dogs, as we have recently had both wood ducks and brown ducks hatching clutches of little ducklings that waddle all around the property with their parents feeding on the lush grass. These are timid wild animals and we have no control over where they wander. So please keep a respectful distance if you are walking around the garden.
Dear Friends, We will be opening our pottery on the weekend of 13th and 14th of November. We are informed that on the 1st of November, the state will be opening up to allow people from the Greater Sydney Region to travel to the regions like ours in the Southern Highlands. We have joined the Open Studio Weekend organised by the Australian Ceramics Assn. and accordingly, we will be open from 10 am to 4.00 pm on both Saturday 13th Nov. and Sunday 14th Nov. We are looking forward to seeing our friends again after such a long time in lock down.
We must remind you all that we will be observing strict Government COVID safe protocols.
Please don’t come unless you are double immunised, and have a vaccine certificate to show us.
We will need to see your vaccination certificate before you can come in and there will be a strict 4 Sq. M. rule applied. That’s 7 people max. in the gallery. Although I can’t imagine that we will get more than 7 people all day, never mind all at one time 🙂 We will have all the doors and windows open for good ventilation and to keep the CO2 levels down to around 450 ppm. As this is considered good practice to minimise the chances of infection. We won’t have a lot of work fired and for sale by that time, as we have only now just had our first stoneware reduction glaze firing full of glaze tests. I have been very busy working on the 3 local igneous rocks that I could collect within 5 km of our home here, or near the supermarket and Post Office on our once a week shopping excursion. That has limited my choices, but it’s a challenge to make the best I can out of what I have available in my immediate vicinity.
Its shaping up to look like we can make a tenmoku and tea dust glazes from the Hill Top basalt found in the next village. A green celadon from some washed felspathic gutter sand, A pale blue celadon, a yellow matt glaze, Blue/yellow mottled glaze, also made from the local ‘Living Waters’ Basalt intrusion, and a pink matt glaze made from the sericite porcelain body. As well as something resembling a pink/orange shino style of glaze made from the Balmoral dirty felspathic igneous stone. Nothing special, but a workable mix to get us started. As long as you are double vaxed, We’d love to see you here at some stage, once we are all allowed to travel inter-regionally. Even if there is only a small selection of our our work on the shelves, we welcome you to call in and see the new shed. I’ll be pleased to give you a tour of the Workshop, Pottery studio and Gallery, as well as the raw material processing facilities that we are in the midst of developing – for those so inclined.
We will probably also be open from then on, each weekend, through until Xmas, but please ring beforehand, just to make sure that we are in and open, and not out doing shopping.
It is a beautiful clear, sunny day here today. The air is cold and a little fragrant. I’m not too sure what with, but it is crisp and refreshing. We have been up to Sydney and back for the opening of the wood fired show, at Kerrie Lowe Gallery, where we have our work on show.
This is a small white tenmoku bowl with a lovely soft ash deposit on the fire face, showing grey some carbon inclusion on the body and rim.
A very delicate and beautiful object.
These are two of janine’s blossom vases. These two vessels are inspired by Korean ‘Moon’ jars. On this occasion, Janine has incised a sgrafitto, carved band illustrating the phases of the moon, as a way of linking these beautiful pots back to the origin of their inspiration in Korean, where we have spent a bit of time recently doing our research.
These pots were fired in just 4 hours in our small portable wood fired kiln. This little kiln is so environmentally friendly that I call this type of firing ‘Vegan Wood firing!
All the fuel for this kiln is collected from wind falls in our paddocks. Large old eucalypt trees are constantly dropping dead branches. We have to go around collecting these dead branches to keep the ground clear so that we can mow the dead grass. We have to mow, because in summer, high dead grass is a severe fire hazard. So part of out land management plan is to keep the ground around our house clear of fire hazards, as we live in a very bush fire prone area.
Having picked up all these dead branches, it seems irresponsible not to use them productively. By firing our wood kiln with wind falls, we are not hurting the trees in any way. No tress were harmed in the making of these pots. Hence ‘Vegan Wood Firing’. As we only use what the tree has rejected and finished with. It is also worth noting that some of the carbon that we collected from the atmosphere through the trees that we have grown here over the past 40 or so years is now encased chemically in our pots, making it securely trapped, more or less forever. So we are doing our bit to reduce the carbon load in the atmosphere. Carbon sequestration and removal on a personal scale.