Gerry Grant

Gerry Grant
On The Wheel

Friday, 14 May 2021

Turning a Moon vase

 

 

 This is the second part of the moon vase construction. The two bowls have been joined together and now Gerry is turning the top. 



Eventually he will turn a hole in the Moon Vase to make the top. Originally this would have been the bottom of the bowl!

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Making a Moon Vase

 

Gerry is making a few Moon Vases for Potfest in Scotland.

He makes two large bowls, which have very thick rims, on the wheel .

When the clay is leather hard, he puts the two bowls rim to rim and joins them with slip and lets them settle in.

Tomorrow he will put the pot on the wheel and turn the middle (where the rims meet) until they flatten out to make one large round pot.

He tries to make the middle the same thickness as the rest of the pot otherwise when it is glazed, this part will absorb more of the glaze and it will look thicker and different.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

A welcome visitor while packing!

 Yesterday we spent the whole day packing up pots to send out to customers. We had two parcels to send to IOna Abbey, one to Easedale craft shop near Oban and another for a fossil shop in Devon.

The shed door where we keep the packaging materials was left open, and unknown to us (at the time) a robin started to make a nest there.



 

The robin kept taking leaves into the shed. Here he is on the roof. 

He wouldn't have been able to get in or out, so Gerry cut a hole in the shed door (top right).

He has spent the whole day carrying things in and out.

 

 

 

 

And here he is admiring his handiwork!
 



Sunday, 9 May 2021

From the Earth


 This is the title of my piece for the East Riding Artist's exhibition at Hull Minster in June.

But it is too dark....

I made it from Crank clay, which has fired too dark , making the layers indistinct.

 It is meant to represent the layers of soil in the earth, with rocks and debris in it.

This week I am going to make it again with a whiter clay......


Saturday, 8 May 2021

Experimenting and testing..

 

 

When you are a potter you are constantly reminded that raw materials are a finite resource - when they run out - that's it! Then you have to find a new supply or an alternative. This is what has happened to us this week - the usual supply of feldspar has run out and a different batch has been sent. This has meant a lot of testing to see if it has the same properties as the old feldspar. Gerry put lots of tests throughout the kiln and luckily it has turned out the same as the old feldspar.

 

He also put in a test plate with  overlapping glazes on top to see what the effects were. He wants to use some of these on some platters.


Monday, 3 May 2021

Two's Company!

 Whenever I am out in the garden a little robin comes and keeps me company. He comes down to me really closely and watches. Even when I'm just having a cup of tea or reading a book he will be there.


So today I was out early doing a bit of weeding as the weather forecast is bad for the next few days. And there he was....


It did start to rain - bang on 12 noon when the weather forecasters said it would and just as we were about to go to the Open Garden at Linden Lodge. We still went though.

And it has rained all this afternoon and is still raining now. It's the first substantial rain we have had for a week.

Sunday, 2 May 2021

The force of nature!

 

 

 Gerry and I were down at the Park today and were surprised to see that some of the seeds we spread on the specially prepared areas had germinated, and that the plants have come through. It is so dry with big cracks appearing in the ground and  so cold we weren't expecting this to happen - but obviously nature has it's way.
Some of the flowers, I think, are called Water Avens - they are really small - only about 5cm tall, but very pretty. There were some bluebells, cowslips, buttercups and cow parsley - all struggling and keeping close to the ground, but at least they ewere there!


Friday, 30 April 2021

A difficult painting job.

 Over the last month we have been having repairs to the house and pottery - just minor ones, like getting a few tiles replaced, or having the barge boards replaced where they had gone rotten. But the cost of having scaffolding put up is horrific, so we decided to have the whole lot painted at the same time. We have overhanging eaves on the house and pottery which is proving quite a hard task to paint - but we are nearly there! Just in time to welcome back the housemartins. I haven't seen any yet.

To allow access onto the apex of the pottery roof, we have had to open the sky light in the kiln room and put the ladders through that -attaching to one of the shelving supports.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Really tiny animals!!!


 Are these the samllest animals ever? They are just a few made by someone in our village as part of our "pottery@home" project. To give some sort of scale, I have put a £1 coin next to them.

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

It's black and white..


 It's not often that we make things in black or white, but we have been supplying a candle maker who has asked for those colours. His whole range is in black and white or a combination of both. I suppose they look classy!


Friday, 23 April 2021

A visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park

 We are so lucky to have this enormous sculpture park within an hour's drive. It is just off the M1 at Wakefield.

At the moment they have exhbitions on by Joanna Vasconcelos and Damian Hirst, but the grounds of Bretton Hall are full of other artist's works such as Anthony Caro, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth to name but a few.


A ring made by the artist Joanna Vasconcelos. It is made from wheel rims and whisky glasses.





I like this one by Damian Hirst.  It is actually made from bronze and then painted.






This is Gerry next to the "Grandad" of the Family of Man by Barbara Hepworth.

Sharp, square and solid shapes indicate that it is a man, and the complexity of the shapes of an older adult contrast to the simpler "younger" persons!





Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Top tip! (for making large slab pots)

This is something I do a lot when making things in the pottery, and Gerry said today I should share this idea! 

When I am making a large slab pot I use a former to help support the sides.

I get a sturdy cardboard box and cover it with cling film. The box  becomes a template for sizing. Then I roll out the clay for the sides and bottom, allowing enough overlap for joining the seams.

I dry the clay out a little before sticking everything together. But what happens is that the box provides support for the sides and bottom.  

I leave the box in while putting patterns on.


When I have done this, I cut the box open and pull it out from the cling film, leaving the cling film behind. I then remove the cling film. 

I reinforce the seams on the inside at this point, using coils of clay slipped on.

And that's the pot finished....

Monday, 19 April 2021

What - a week off?????

 We've actually packed more into this week than we ever have..... This is because we have had our grandchildren staying with us. In the week we have been to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park - fantastic, but take a good pair of walking shoes, Burnby Hall, Bridlington, Jubilee Park in our village - lots, and York for clothes shopping.

The children have had goes on the wheel, glazed their pots, painted pebbles collected from the beach, baked cakes, played ball games outside and ridden their bikes.


What a week!

Saturday, 10 April 2021

A Nation of Litter Louts.....

Whatever happened to the "Keep Britain Tidy" campaign? It's disgraceful the amount of litter that is thrown away out of cars - strewn along the hedgerows. 

 

 In our village we are having a litter pick and because we can't make it tomorrow, we were asked if we could do 300m along a hedge in our village. We took two big rubbish bags - not expecting to fill them. How wrong we were! The bags were filled - mainly with discarded  beer cans, wine bottles and plastic drink bottles and crisp packets. We also picked up a wrecked camping chair, a bag of cement and a smashed up  road sign.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Three's a crowd!

 

 

Three squirrels were in the garden today under the bird feeder. These are meant to be squirrel proof, but the squirrels wait until the birds have knocked the seeds out and then collect them from the ground.

Today I put some stale hot cross buns out and the garden was full of rooks - but they didn't even scare away the squirrels!

Any tips?





Monday, 5 April 2021

Not reducing in the gas kiln

 We fire our big gas kiln to 1280 and in the last part of the firing we normally do a period of reduction, before finishing off with an oxidising atmosphere. During the last few firings we had a lot of pots spoilt because of the over reduction - the oatmeal/blue glaze had come out almost brown and all the aqua pots had turned red when not needed. Also, we had a large sculpture to fire that someone had given us and didn't want to put it under too much stress, so we decided in the last firing NOT to have any reduction and have got some lovely pots out!



The oatmeal/blue colour has turned out great - blues, lilacs and pale green patches.

It is something we will do more often.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

Happy Easter.


 This is a wall plaque that a student has asked us to fire for her. It's quite large -50cm across and is made of crank clay.

It has just come out of the kiln today. It is always scary firing something for someone else. You worry if the clay will withstand our high temperatures - will it crack? It didn't.

She has made a superb job of it so I am sharing it with you now.

 

HAPPY EASTER.


Thursday, 1 April 2021

Easter Customs

 When we were youngsters my parents would take us up to Kelso in the Scottish borders to visit my great grandmother and participate in the "pace egg" rolling which took place there every Easter Monday.


We would prepare our pace eggs in advance. These were eggs that we put leaves around and wrapped  in old stockings (tights hadn't been invented)  and boiled them in onion skins to dye them. The liquid went through the stockings but couldn'r go through the leaves, so you were left with a pattern on the outside.

This is my modern day take - not so good because it is difficult to get white eggs now, and I used red food dye. 


There is some debate about where the name pace egg originates. Some say it’s from the Old English Pasch meaning Passover, others that it’s from the French word for Easter, Pâques. Or it could be derived from Latin – some claim it’s from Pacha, which means Easter.    

                                                                                      
Then we would take a picnic with lots of other people and go to the old site of Roxburgh castle, just outside Kelso,  next to the River Tweed. Then we would roll our eggs down the steep bank and hope they wouldn't fall into the river below, or crack open.

Apparantly, this tradition goes back hundreds of years and was popular in the Northern Counties of England and the borders of Scotland. Sometimes "pace" plays were performed in the towns where the hero was killed in a mock battle, but brought back to life. Is this a familiar theme at Easter?
 


 

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Making planters

A few days ago an order came in from Robert Thompson's Mouseman - a famous furniture maker in Kilburn, North Yorkshire. Going back over a hundred years, Robert Thompson made furniture characterised with a little mouse hidden somewhere on it. His furniture can be seen in churches, pubs, and lots of other buildings and is much sought after now. 

 

A visitor centre was set up in the original workshop including a lovely gift shop. Because we were making things with mice on, the owners asked if we could supply their shop and we have been for over twenty years.



 

 

 

 

 

 




Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Pottery@Home - project 2

Following on from the last project which was very popular I have devised another one. This time people will be making little bowls like in the photo.

To get the pattern, the clay is rolled onto a piece of embossed fabric until quite thin - then pushed into a cereal bowl which has previuosly been wrapped in cling film.

It's left to dry and can them be removed. I put some cobalt oxide on the pattern and wipe it off so that the oxide stays in the incised pieces. The whole pot is then dipped in a white glaze and fired.

 

I only just launched this yesterday and have already sold 8 kits! I do wish I had thought of this at the beginning of lockdown and not now!


Monday, 29 March 2021

Water Street Gallery, Todmorden, Yorks.

 




If you live in West Yorkshire or near Manchester, this is a new exhibition being put on by Northern Potters.

It will be online at first and then opening to visitors on 12th April - hurrah!!!

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Repeat throwing - a rant!!!

Sometimes known as production throwing, this is a technique which involves making pots all the same size and shape  as quickly  as possible. It's the way all pots would have been made (other than handbuilding) right from the Roman times.

 

 

It takes a lot of skill and practice. Gerry has been throwing pots on the wheel for over forty years, and still gets a kick from looking at a batch of recently made pots. He can make other more "arty" pots and has more time to persue this now he has semi - retired. But why is it that "production potters" are still regarded as second-class potters in the ceramics world?


 

 

Even in today's society when you can buy mass produced mugs and bowls it is still nice to wrap your hands round a truly hand-made pot. Yes - a pot - not a ceramic creation!


Thursday, 25 March 2021

The Plant Swap....

Following the success of last year's plant swap, our village is going to repeat it this year.

The idea is that if you have any spare plants, you take them to the pub garden and swap them for something else. 

So today I split up the Campanula, Thyme, Rosemary, Chives, Mint, Poppies and something else that I don't know the name of, and repotted them.

At the moment they are in the porch until it gets a bit warmer to take down to the pub....
 

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Not getting lost!!!!

Today we delivered to Art and Soul in Beverley ready for their re-opening on April 12th. While we were in Beverley we decided to try and find the walk that we did in November with friends, when we ended up taking a wrong turning and having to turn around and walk the same way back. 

I think we must have been talking too much because it seemed quite hard to miss the turning! It took us through some marsh land where we saw some sand pipers, then onto the track that we had walked along in November.

It is a lovely walk but still very wet despite not having had any rain for a week. I don't think it would have been passable in November when it had been very wet.





Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Counting sheep?

 Well  - all the pots have been made for a little craft shop we supply at Muker in Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales. The type of sheep that are kept up in the hills on the moorland are named after the valley  - hence "Swaledale" and are characterised by their black faces.


The craft shop is in the old Victorian school.

We supply them with mugs with a special emblem on featuring the Swaledale sheep and the placename of Muker. We also make sheep ornaments - we get the thick curly wool by pushing the clay through a sieve, candle snuffers, little "titchies" and fridge magnets. They are all very popular with tourists.






Monday, 22 March 2021

It's all black.....

No - not the news. It's the pots that have come out of the kiln that we are making for a candle company in York. He wanted everything in black.

     

 We made a Wee willie winkie type candle holder, a small tealight holder, a filigree candle pot and a Yorkshire Rose mug.      They all look very stylish.              























Sunday, 21 March 2021

Keeping an orchid going...

 

Two years ago I was given an orchid by a craftsworker who was sharing our pottery as part of an Open Studios Event.

The orchid flowered for  three or four months and then the petals fell off. I kept it though.  Some of the leaves withered and died but I still had it on the windowsill.

Then after Christmas I noticed a vertical shoot growing. At first I thought it was one of those misleading roots - they look like stems but aren't.

Gradually it developed buds and now it has flowered. It's quite small and I don't think the flowers are as big - but they are a lovely colour and I am so proud that I managed to keep it alive!

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Snowdrops

 

A few weeks ago the grounds of Fangfoss Hall were a carpet of snowdrops.

 

Gerry and I thought it would be lovely if we could transplant some of them to the Park in Fangfoss, so with Geoff's permission we dug some up, put them in a barrow and took them down to the Park.