Gerry Grant

Gerry Grant
On The Wheel

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Making pots for The hospital of St Cross and its almshouses in Winchester

We have been making pots for the Hospital of St Cross for a number of years.

The Hospital of St Cross, St Cross, Winchester, UKThe Hospital of St Cross and Almshouse of Noble Poverty is a medieval almshouse in Winchester, Hampshire, England. It has been described as "England's oldest and most perfect almshouse". Most of the buildings and grounds are open to the public at certain times. It is a Grade I listed building.

 The Hospital of St Cross is famous for its unique and ancient tradition of providing the Wayfarer’s Dole. This is a horn of beer and a morsel of bread given to any visitor who requests it. The custom was founded by a monk from Cluny in France, whose holy order always gave bread and wine to travellers. The tradition still continues today. Visitors may request the Dole at the Porter’s Lodge as they depart.

 We make the dole beakers that are used and sold in the shop.

 


This is John Craven, from "Country File" when presenting a programme from the Winchester area.

These are the pots we sent off today.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Fresh out of the kiln

Fresh out of the kiln - some new planters that I have made. I am still learning on the wheel - so these ones are all different from each other.... Absolutely unique!


 

The insides were painted with a black oxide before the biscuit firing to fix it onto the pot, making it more easy to handle when applying the decoration.

 

 

 The decoration consists of applied oxides and wax resist before the pots are dipped in an oatmeal glaze.

Monday, 19 October 2020

Can we blame it on Covid 19?

Is it my imagination or is everything that goes wrong get blamed on Covid? Letters getting delivered late, equipment not being put up in the Park, no spare parts?

Our kiln didn't fire properly last night - it didn't reach biscuit temperature. It went high enough to reach the quartz inversion rate- where the molecules in the clay re-align themselves and settle down again. If this does not happen, then when the pots are glazed and fired to the high temperatures, hair line cracks can appear all over them.

 

We can't blame it on Covid..... One of the connections in the kiln had become loose. Gerry thinks he has fixed it, but we'll be doing a test firing tonight without pots in it to see if it works. Then we will re-fire the pots again.

We want to fire them again because the temperature reached meant that when the glaze is applied, it will be too thick - the pots will absorb too much water.....

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Colours of Autumn..

It's such a lovely time of year. The colours in our garden are beautiful - especially the Acers.

This is the Acer in our yard. It has been growing in a British Terracotta pot for about 20 years. (The colours have not been enhanced!)

The photos below show some Acers in our garden.








Saturday, 17 October 2020

Enough pots....

 I think it must have been back in March when we had enough pots to fire both kilns... But we now have orders coing in from shops which are hoping to do a good trade before Christmas and perhaps even half term. I will pack two of the orders up tomorrow to go out by carrier on Monday.



Friday, 16 October 2020

A foray into repeat throwing....

 

I have been trying to learn how to repeat throw on the wheel. That means getting all the items the same size and shape - important, say for a set of mugs, although not so much for individual tea lights.

As you can see, I have a long way to go - quite a variety in size, and the rims are thicker on some than on others.

Nevertheless, I have made them into the "mousie" tea light holders, hoping that I will be able to sell them. (I haven't put Gerry's potter's stamp on them though!!!!)

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Moon vases...

 We sold two large moon vases at Potfest in Scotland, so Gerry has been making some more to take with us to Potfest in the Pens in Penrith at the end of the month.


Traditionally made in Korea for ceremonial and decorative use, moon vases are made in two halves then joined together when "leather hard".


In this photo, Gerry is pressing the two halves together and smoothing down the join.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Making a mould for an emblem

 We have been making pots for over 40 years with emblems on them - Celtic knots and crosses for shops in Scotland and Wales, or more site specific ones such as a little Imp for Lincoln Cathedral and the Durham Knocker for Durham Cathedral. 

The emblems are made by pushing clay into an engraved plaster mould which Gerry has always made himself. At the moment we are working on a little acorn mould for the Little Yorkshire Candle Company. They sell reed diffusers and wanted some little pots for the oil containers.

A couple of photos of pots with emblems on:-

 




Saturday, 10 October 2020

Fangfoss and Bolton Potato Competition

 

 

 

 It seems that my weekend has been taken up with the Potato competition we have in our village every year. The competition is to see which villager grows the heaviest crop of potatoes from one single seed potato - the prize being £50.

This year the Potato Champion of Fangfoss is Paul Welham who grew 10.9 kg of potatoes from his seed potato. I was way down the ranking with a crop of 2.2kg.

 We will have made about £600 for our village Park by selling the seed potatoes.

 

Friday, 9 October 2020

Workshop pots finished at last...

 

 

These are just three of the pots that were made by some attendees at a workshop held back in March. We made these pots by hand and also some raku pots on the wheel. We had the raku firing a couple of weeks ago and glazed these pots at the same time.


They are very unusual and the colours are fab. The colours have been painted on first and wax resist put on top before the whole pots were dipped in an oatmeal glaze.

 

Thursday, 8 October 2020

"I'd better go and wrap up my pots"

In Pre-Covid times this is what Gerry said every night before going to bed. "I'd better go and wrap up my pots", so that they were ready to  have handles etc put on the next day.

And that is what has been happening this week.... We have had a sudden burst of orders from places around the country. But - what will happen now, with the harsh governement measures put in place in Scotland and the potiential of a lockdown looming in England......



Monday, 5 October 2020

What an honour!!

 On Friday we were emailed by the assistant deputy decoration editor of "House and Garden" magazine to see if they could use some of our pots in a feature in their magazine....

They liked the pit fired pots and the small candle pots. However, they only confirmed it today and the photography shoot is on Wednesday so we are hoping that TNT deliver on time....




Sunday, 4 October 2020

A few orders coming in....

Since coming back from Potfest last weekend we have had several orders placed with us - Roots Farm Shop, Jorvik Viking Centre, Highland Fling in Inverarary and the hospital of St Cross down in Winchester. It feels good....


 

32 little candle holders in a traditional style destined for Highland Fling in Inverarary.

Friday, 2 October 2020

Keeping safe

 Today we have put measures in place so that visitors to the pottery can be tracked and traced if anyone is found to be having Covid symptons in our premises. Let's hope it never has to be used!

We've got sanitisers all over the place and I washed the floor upstairs with a weak solution of domestos today. We're ready to welcome visitors!



Thursday, 1 October 2020

Where have we been?

 I haven't done this blog for a week because we have been in Scotland exhbiting at Potfest held in the grounds of Scone Palace near Perth.

This was the first big show we have done this year and it was great - meeting up with our colleagues, winning a prize in the competition and having an almost sell-out show!


This was our stand at the start of the show. We had three large tables. On one of the tables we had our studio ware - including bowls, moon vases and pit fired pots. On another table we had domestic ware and on the third table we had our "Mousie Range".





This is our stall at the end of the show. We had knocked down one table on the Saturday to make it look more busy. This is all we had left ! We sold two of the moon vases as well.....





After the show we went to Dundee for a couplpe of nights. We visited the Mary Quant exhibition at the V and A, and the Discovery Museum - both really good.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Knitting magazine.....

One of our pots has featured in this months edition of the "Knitting" magazine.  It appears on a page called "This month's makers' must-haves" .

It's a sheep money box. I suppose it's ideal to save your money in it until you have enough to buy some wool.....

 It's the picture at the bottom of the page on the left.

Monday, 21 September 2020

New showroom?

 Well ---- It looks it, but we have just had a new window fitted and I have repainted it. The showrrom looks much brighter and fresher now.


A tricky job because we had to move the display shelves around the room as we painted.







The finished room.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Today's workshop

 Today Gerry and I ran a workshop that should have taken place in April.... In March, the students made some tall vases and some pots ready to raku - which never got done. Only 3 out of the original 9 felt it safe enough to finish their pots but we went ahead anyway. It gave us something to do on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

The tall vases were glazed using wax resist and stoneware glazes, and the student's thrown raku pots were fired successfully. It was a good afternoon.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

 My dog wall hanging came out of the kiln today and I am really pleased with it. I hope a bird comes and makes it a home.

On Saturday we will be firing my cat as well.

All the pots came out well - the green actually came out green and wasn't red! This is good because the customer is coming tomorrow to pick up his green pots...



Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Dolphins, Gannets and great views

 It's been a lovely day today with temperatures up to 25C here in Fangfoss, so Gerry and I headed out to Bempton cliffs to see the seabirds. At the moment the place is teaming with gannets....


 

The RSPB warden said there was a pod of dolphins headed our way so we stayed and watched them. They were really jumping out of the waterand splashing as they landed - spectacular.




Then we went up to Speeton to start the walk along the coast, which we had planned to do before being diverted... We walked along Filey Bay to Hunmanby Gap and back up the cliffs to the start.

This is the view from the top of the cliffs, across Filey Bay with filey in the back ground.

An added bonus was that we picked a bag of blackberries on the way back.....

Monday, 14 September 2020

Flowers in a red vase - reduction fired

 

 

Zoe sent me these flowers for my birthday - they are quite whacky! I don't know how they've been coloured because there are multi-coloured blooms on the same stem.


I put them in one of our vases - a copper red glaze produced when the kiln is "under reduction" or when it is deprived of oxygen by putting more gas into it decreasing the amount of free oxygen available.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Sushi tonight!

 I love making Sushi. Most people think of sushi as raw fish wrapped in rice then seaweed, but apparantly the word sushi means "rice", so you can put anything inside.... I learnt how to make it by going on a Japanase cookery workshop with my friend a few years ago.

To serve up the sushi I made some "sushi platters". I made these by rolling out a slab of clay and placing it on a large flat sponge. I got a block of wood that was smaller than the clay and pushed down hard. What happens is that the areas of clay outside the block of wood  are forced upwards forming a side. I made two small ones for the sauces that accompany the sushi.



Thursday, 10 September 2020

Art and Soul


 

 There is a new shop opened in Flemingate called Art and Soul.

Everything in there is handmade by local craftspeople and they have some amazing things there - anything from jewellery, woodwork, paintings, textiles, dolls, and clothing. 

At the moment we have two branches of our pottery there- the "mousie range" and the studio range. It is the mousie range that is selling the best and we have had to take some more stock there today. It has only been open a week.






Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Don't let Potfest in Scotland be cancelled!!!

 We are really hoping that Potfest in Scotland - held in marquees in the grounds of Scone Palace, near Perth, will go ahead still.

It is scheduled to open on Friday 25th to Sunday 27th September.

Every year the organisers run a competition and the title this year is "Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose". Gerry got his entry out of the kiln today - entitled "TRASH FOR CASH".

Over the forty plus years of making pots, we have made lots of errors - some of the pots don't even get into the first firing... We mash them down , recycle the clay and re-use it. His entry is a play on that theme - resuing all the types of pots we have made over 40 years and putting them together to make a large vessel.....



Monday, 7 September 2020

a glut of tomatoes

 When we came back from our few days in the Lake District, we found that our tomatoes seemed to have ripened all at once. These came from the two plants that were part of the village plant swap back in March. What to do with them?

Mark Smith, a potter friend of ours, had put on facebook about drying them in the oven and then bottling them in oil. So I did that, only first infusing the oil with garlic, which I thought would be good on Pizzas! I started with a whole oven tray of tomatoes, but once in the oven for 3 hours they only just filled a jam jar!

Then I had some more ripen today and I read that you could freeze them to make tomato soup with - but you had to skin them first. I don't know whether it was because the tomatoes were fresh, but when I poured boiling water over them, the skins came off much easier than shop tomatoes. 

There are plenty more on the plant but they are green and I don't like green tomato chutney. I wonder what else I can do with them........





Sunday, 6 September 2020

Results..

We were pleased at the results that came out  of the last firing. We had a few new ideas in the kiln which were eager to see.  

The soap dishes have turned out well - so too have the garlic mashers, but the lemon squeezers still need a bit of work. The squeezer itself works well, but the holes in the base aren't big enough to let the juice and flesh squeeze through.  Back to the drawing board on that one. The little jug that is on the bottom to catch the juice is big enough thogh.



 This is the garlic masher. You peel the garlic and rub it onto the dish which mashes it up. It works well with ginger too.






This is the lemon squeezer. I like the tenmoku glaze, although it is not popular with customers.






We've packed the big square kiln today to fire tomorrow. Fingers crossed.......



Saturday, 5 September 2020

Potfest in the Park at Hutton on the Forest, Penrith

 Today we came back from the Lake District after spending 3 days there - primarily to visit Potfest in the Park.

It was great to meet up with many of our colleagues. Some of them we haven't seen for years including Richard Bideau - the son of  Joan Bideau, who was a guest potter at Fangfest some years ago. We liked his work then and liked it so much now that we bought a piece:-



Richard loves working with crystals which have formed brilliantly on this pot.








We don't usually like lustre ware, but Gerry fell in love with this piece, so we bought that too.....




We spent all day at Hutton on the Forest. We not only knew many of the potters, but also visitors!! 




The gardens and grounds of Hutton on the Forest are lovely too. It is a great day out and is still on tomorrow (Sunday).

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

lovely little gnomes...

These are the finished gnomes that some children made in a workshop a couple of weeks ago.  I spent a long time glazing them - as I had nothing else to do.  I love them all.....

It's great working with children as they are so imaginativeand never stuck for ideas. I think I will run another one in half term - sometime in October.



Monday, 31 August 2020

Another firing....

 

 


Packing the kiln ready to fire some new lines in the pottery.







Lemon squeezers with their integral jugs, and soap dishes to try out.

Pyrometric cones balanced on the kiln stilts. Although the temperature is read through a pyrometer, we still use the cones to see which parts of the kiln are the hottest and coolest.

We use 2 cones - one designed to bend at 1,000C and the other at the high temperature of 1280C when the kiln is switched off.



Sunday, 30 August 2020

Setting up an Etsy Shop!

 Well, today has been spent setting up a shop on Etsy. With the Christmas fairs looking as though they are all going to be cancelled, we have to find some way of selling our pots and going on-line seems to be a way of doing it.

It has taken us a long time to do this, even though the Etsy help site is really good. It's just that it's time consuming. We had to decide what to put up there - Etsy recommends starting with ten items. We have a huge range of pots from novelty gift items to one off expensive studio ceramics. What to put on???

We decided that to start off we would just put on ten pots from our "mousie" range under the Fangfoss Pottery name. Then at another time we could set up an Etsy shop in Gerry's name. 

Then you have to take lots of pictures (up to 10) of different aspects of your pot that you want to sell, write a description of each one and basically go through the online prompts. I won't put them all up here because there are loads. Needless to say, I haven't finished yet, but you can save your project to continue working on it at another time.

These are the photos I put up to sell our oil drizzler......