Gerry Grant

Gerry Grant
On The Wheel

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

100 days of lockdown and still finding reasons to be cheerful!!!


Who would have thought back in January that Covid 19 would have the impact on our lives that it has done.
I decided in March to start a blog, chronicling good things that have happened to me that day. Some things were to do with the pottery, others the house or garden, family, and Jubilee Park - but I vowed to stay positive.
So far we've:-
  • painted the pottery inside and out
  • redecorated the conservatory
  • redesigned the porch to use as a utility room
  • grown loads of veg
  • supplied online shops with a few pots
  • been involved in a student's PHD thesis on Iron age pots
  • experimented with new styles of pots and firing techniques
  • removed thistles and docks in Jubilee Park
  • helped reform the willow sculptures at the Park
  • watched the birds around the house
  • read loads of books - the best being "Cupcake" and Madame Saddayako
  • knitted cardigans, hats and shawls
  • learnt how to hold zoom meetings
  • become more IT savvy
  • had lots of barbecues!!!
I have to admit though, I really want to start doing fairs and exhbitions but that seems a long way off so our next project is to paint the showroom in the pottery and get rid of some water damage.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Recycling clay

Today Gerry spent the morning recycling clay. We recycle about a quarter of a tonne each year. We keep all the scraps of clay, whether it is from turning or breakages (or even mistakes) in a large bin with water added. The clay mixes with the water and becomes very sloppy and soft. Then Gerry empties the clay onto a large plaster slab and allows it to dry out to a throwing consistency.

He puts it through the pugmill but has to mix it with a fresh bag of clay otherwise it would be too "short" and hard to throw with.

It's a messy job, but worth it if you have the space.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Lockdown veg!

In the past we have grown a few vegetables but not successfully. This year we have nurtured a vegetable plot - probably because we have more time on our hands and have weeded and watered everything regularly.

We have had a plant swap in the villages where residents could take their unwanted plants and seedlings and swap them for something else. We split a lot of perennials and herbs and in exchange brought back a couple of courgette and tomato plants, and sewed some spinach beet seeds, lettuce and rocket, beetroot, french beans, broad beans and kale. We've looked after them really well and are now reaping the benefits of our hard work. (Let's face it - what else can we be doing?)



Saturday, 27 June 2020

A two year old has a go!

This is to show that pottery is fun for everyone - even when you are two years old. You need a bit of refreshment though ......

Friday, 26 June 2020

Back to school .....

My yearly trip to Hutton Cranswick Primary school was yesterday. Every year I get asked to go to the school to make some owls with the year 6's. The school emblem is an owl and the school likes to present each child on leaving, a pottery owl which they have made, as a keep sake from their old school.

It was touch and go whether it could be done but they had a small class of 17, so I managed all right. It seemed so normal and calm in a year that clearly isn't.

Monday, 22 June 2020

A knotty problem.....

Today we have been cleaning up and repairing pictures that had not seen the light of day from our loft for ages.

This is one which I really like. My brother made it for me - we were both involved in the scouting and guiding movement. He tied all the knots himself and mounted them into this frame.

Over the years the labels became detached- certainly a knotty problem to put them back in the right places.....

Sunday, 21 June 2020

A project finished.......

And finally, Gerry's reproduction of the Prunay Vase - an Iron Age pedestal pot is finished.

This project has been on going for about 2 months when a PHD student asked for a potter to see if a pot could be made to replicate one found in France from the La Tene culture of the Iron Age.

The British Museum has done lots of analyses on how the pot was made and came to the conclusion that the two colours of the design were achieved by a process of oxidation and reduction firings. Gerry has questioned this as the pot fabric of the pot shows no evidence of black reduction anywhere other than the outside pattern. To Gerry it looks like the black was painted on top of the red slip applied to the surface of the pot. The British museum said that this could not be possible because there is no step up from the red to the black.They suggested that the red part of the design must have been shielded in some way- but with what? If a wax had been applied it would have melted before any reaction would have occured.

So what is the answer? If anyone knows, we'd be interested in hearing about it.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

Cricket or whisky????

I had a commission for an unusual 40th wedding anniversay present last week.

The customer wanted a little "cricketer" person made in ceramic to give to her husband. They had bought one years ago, but it had been made of plastic and it's head had broken off. (She brought the two pieces to show me). She wondered if I could make one similar, but incorporating a bottle of whisky as he likes that too.

I was really worried as I only had 10 days so if anything went wrong I wouldn't have time to make another one. Anyway, it went well - this is what it looked like when it was finished.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Copper red glazes...

Sometimes when you want the glaze to be green it will come out red! This is a set of beakers which had copper in the glaze. Gerry thought he had put them in a part of the kiln where there would be plenty of oxygen so they would be green - but no....
In this firing the reduction took place throughout the kiln, even the bottom - which is unusual, so all the green pots came out red. They look great - except the customer wanted them in green.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Interesting results.... you never know what you are going to get

Firing pots in a gas kiln in a reduction atmosphere (lack of oxygen) is always interesting as you never know until you open the door, what the exact results will be.

If there is copper in the glaze, it can turn bright red instead of green. If there is iron in the glaze it can come out a lovely chestnut colour.

And that is what happened today. The stacking bowls Gerry made for me are just want I wanted, a rich brown tenmoku, and the jugs for a customer have come out red.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Two days to build a house!

That's how long it takes two house martins to build a little house of clay and mud! This is a photo I took last year of one of the nests that were built under the eaves of our house. This year there are sixteen nests on the North, South  and west sides of the house but none on the East - I don't know why.
Some have been occupied for nearly two months while some were building them today.
A lot of the migrating birds - especially swallows and swifts were blown off course in Greece this year. They had horrific storms and fierce winds in April.
I am so glad to see that so many of the housemartins think our house is a good place to call home....

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Reasons to be cheerful? finished cleaning the bricks!!!!

Gerry and I are now finishing the work on our porch - we are converting it from a porch to a utility room... We started it before the lockdown and then couldn't get any more materials  until a couple of weeks ago.
We've had some of it plastered, but Gerry wanted to keep the original brickwork of the exterior of the house. This is because one of the walls had some bricks that we  made when we built an extension in 1997 and we wanted to keep them.
So what a horrible job - we got some brick cleaner and cleaned the bricks up. It took ages but has been done now.....

       Gerry cleaning the bricks! Some of the bricks that we made.

Monday, 15 June 2020

Good news from the knitting magazine....

Today I thought it would be a good idea to write to the knitting magazine to ask them to consider writing an article about "buying British" as we come out of the lockdown.
There are so many small producers in this country who are struggling to sell their work anywhere, I thought a bit of help from magazines wouldn't go amiss.
The knitting magazine runs features on different types of wool, on the latest months - must haves etc. But wouldn't it be nice if they could feature British made products from local makers?

     Here are some of the pottery that we sell at "Wool festivals"
     except they have all been cancelled this year!!!!

Sunday, 14 June 2020

It's easier to be cheerful when the sun shines.

  Because it was sunny today we did a few jobs around the house - like a bit of weeding around the bedding plants.

This is a bed of Violas that have been flowering since March.

  Then we decided to tidy up outside the hedge, but got carried away and ended up clearing all the
   weeds away from the pavement. Shall I send the council a bill for doing their work????



          This is the cleared path outside our house!

And finally - It was still sunny, so I went on top of the roof to clean away all the moss and muck from the conservatory windows.

So a very busy day.....

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Getting ready to Open....

Offically we're all going to be allowed to open again on Monday....

Today I've been dusting down the pots, arranging them on shelves and getting ready for the rush!
We've certainly got a lot of pots in stock!!

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Lots of green pots....

The green glaze is one of our most popular - sometimes it goes red under reduction firings because of the copper in it.

We have had to give these pots a good dusting as they have been in storage since March, and the shop wants themm tomorrow. They are going to Roots farm shop in East Routon near Northallerton.

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Is this the shop with the best view?

This is the view from the office of a shop we supply on the Isle of Skye. It is called Under the Rowan and is on Armadale Pier in Ardvasar. Can you beat that?

The shop sells all sorts of handmade crafts, but specialises in different types of wool. They placed an order back in January and we have had their pots in storage ever since - until today. Ready for their opening next week, Birgit, the owner has asked us to send them up to her.

I would imagine the shop relies very heavily on tourists and until the government allows people to stay overnight in hotels, B and B's and campsites, they will be struggling. So --- if you live around there, do pop in and say "Lyn has sent you!"

These are the sort of pots we make for the shop. Some of the mugs have a map of the Isle of Skye on them , others have a celtic knot.  They are all thrown on the wheel and the emblem is made by pressing the clay into a plaster mould and adding it to the pot when it is leather hard.

They are unique souvenirs to "Under the Rowan" on Skye.

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

.....and it's flowering again.

We have quite a few planted shrubs in our yard, which is between the pottery and the house. Most of them are in English terra-cotta pots which are the best as they will survive the harshest of British winters. The cheaper Mediterranean pots will not last as well and will "spall" or flake and fracture.

We bought several large pots from Bessingby pottery at least 30 years ago and they are still going strong.
We have bought more recent ones from potters at Potfest, and one or two from the Tile Factory at Barton on Humber.

But my best pot of all is the pot the children made for me when I retired from teaching part time at Bugthorpe school. They made this with Gerry, by coiling stoneware clay round a large bucket. Everyone in the school, teachers and children alike made a few coils and worked on the pot and everyone signed it. I was presented with it and it had been  filled with a "bottle brush plant". 

I leave the planter and its plant out every winter, and it has flowered very year - this year being no exception!

These are some of the other pots I have bought over the years.


         Top left - Mint growing in a pot from Bessingby

          Top right - Marjoram in a bought by a potter at Potfest.

          Bottom left - A fuschia (yet to flower) in a pot by                   Barton Tile Works.

          A Geranium in one of our pots!

Monday, 8 June 2020

Making decorating easier! (well - a bit anyway)

A friend of ours has lent us some scaffolding so we can paint the conservatory. We had been puzzling for a long time as to how we would paint the high Apex of the roof.

Problem solved!

It took us all weekend and today but the whole room is finished now......   

We're fed up with decorating - so hope to get some pots made this week.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

"I'm just sitting watching flowers in the rain...."

This seemed appropriate today in view of the weather. On walk down to Jubilee Park we managed to dodge the showers and just got back before an enormous downpour.

We like to check on the flowers we planted in March. A few have died off, despite us watering them, but a lot of them have survived. As well as buttercups, daisies, red and white clover, here are some photos of other flowers down there.

                           It also looks as though the foxgloves have taken and some poppies.

Friday, 5 June 2020

I'm glad it's raining!

After a couple of months of no rain, today and yesterday have been wet. Not only that, but it's been thundering for the last hour.....

But we've been pleased that it's raining. We've been meaning to do some little repairs to our porch and I hate working inside when it's sunny...
We have borrowed some scaffolding from Jeff as we decided to paint the conservatory as well and the apex of the ceiling is really high. We'll be doing that tomorrow....

Thursday, 4 June 2020

Two hours later....

It has taken Gerry about two hours to work out how the pattern on the Iron Age vase might have been drawn.
He transferred his drawings from paper onto the pot and traced out the design. Then using a cobalt and copper mix he painted the pattern over the red slip.

There is a little gap of unglazed pot before an application of copper/cobalt mix along the rim and the bottom - then a key shapped pattern just above the shoulder.

It was only when it was finished that Gerry realised that the spirals he has painted on face the same way, whereas on the original vase, they alternate. Never mind, I'm sure the Iron Age people had to practice too - and he has made a spare to get it right!

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

How did they do it????

Today Gerry was trying to figure out how the Iron Age potters painted their design of entwining spirals onto the La Tene vase.

Unlike the Iron Age potters, he was able to draw out his design using a pencil onto graph paper!

It is a bit like the "Mercator" projection - how do you transfer a flat drawing onto something spherical ? and that is what he has to do next....

Watch our for how he progresses!

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Children get their inspiration from Andy Goldsworthy

The children at Beverley Minster school were studying the work of Andy Goldsworthy - an artist working in the environment using natural materials. They asked if I could go in and make some pottery with them inspired by his work.

In February I went in and we made planters, finished with a collar that was created by impressing natural materials into the clay - like pine cones, leaves, twigs, bark etc.

The only problem was that we went into Lockdown before the pots were fired. But now the restrictions are being lifted gradually and the childen are back at school, so tomorrow I am delivering the pots to Beverley.


It is really beginning to feel that we are gradually getting back to some form of normality.                                                                                                                        

Monday, 1 June 2020

a flock of sheep...

The Yorkshire Dales look as though they are gearing up to open again- especially watching the visitors flocking to the area at the weekend.
We supply a little shop called "The Old School and Craft shop" at Muker near Hawes, and they are preparing to open in the middle of June - so want the order they placed in January to be sent to them.

Good news!!!

Time for a haircut!

Today I let Gerry loose on my hair - it is the longest it has been for about five years!


Just before lockdown I bought a job lot of purple flowering petunias at the Garden Centre. Just look at them now. The little man is a pot Zoe made for her GCSE art (age 16)- she was working on a project to do with goblins. She also made a sculpture of David Bowie as the character of the goblin in Labyrinth, holding a big glass ball which Zoe made into a lamp. Now it stands in the corner of our yard...