A week with clay master - Eric Landon, aka @Tortus
I started the year with an intention: to play and experiment more with clay. I had previously become skilled at slip-casting and although I love this process I was drawn to the more personal and tactile process of making vessels on the wheel. Some time about March I slipped off the bandwagon and just started making things for other people - not that there is anything wrong with this, but it wasn't allowing me to grow as an artist.
Last week I went some way to returning to my original goal of experimenting more this year. Except up until then I didn't have the skills or the knowledge to be able to fulfill my goal.
I had been following Tortus for a couple of years and it had been a dream of mine to go to Copenhagen to do one of his courses. But with two young(ish) children I thought it was just wishful thinking. But, my very supportive partner agreed to take time off from home to be the stay at home afternoon parent.
So this blog post is going to be about my time in Copenhagen, it'll be mainly pottery but I'll do a few highlights about my time as a tourist here too. If you follow me normally you'll know that I normally do a round-up of what's been happening in my #createinsummer (formerly spring) hashtag. Its when I normally share how creatives are influenced by the season, this month the focus will be on just me for a change.
I hadn't intended in advance to write a blog post on my trip, but I know lots of people enjoyed my IG Stories so it seems good to have everything in one place, as well as serving as a record for anyone wanting to follow their pottery dream,
Behind the first floor windows is where the throwing was carried out, and the bottom floor is the Tortus boutique, displaying the beautiful shapes of our master craftsman. This stunning building is in the heart of Copenhagen, and is one of the city's oldest, dating back to the 1700s ( I think, don't quote me on that).
The workshop was divided into demonstrations, where Eric would share a lot of his knowledge of how clay works, how you can get the best out of it, and the extremes to how you can push your clay. We were also given lots of practical time where we were able to try out Eric's techniques.
Eric explained to us that the beginning of a good shape is all about how you treat your clay. Sometimes he wedges his clay up to a 100 times. If you are working with 2kg of clay - its important that all of it is malleable and workable.
He spent a lot of time talking about how to use the body effectively, rather than just muscle to be able to manipulate effectively large amounts of clay. We talked about the importance of 'coning' the clay - to make sure the clay is properly centred on the wheel, as well as being lubricated with water.
There was a lot of information to take on board, and there were times when I felt a little defeated. I'm used to working with very small amounts of clay, and all of a sudden I was being presented with maybe four times what I can normally cope with. Its a steep learning curve. And anyone who has worked with clay will appreciate that it is not an easy task. But I believe with dedication and practise anything is eventually possible. My work didn't increase in size considerably while I was there but I learnt techniques in shaping and have gained lots of inspiration which I'm sure will influence my future makes. And whilst Eric is a serious perfectionist about his clay, he was also a fun and relaxed guy to be around.
In the first two days we covered the basics of cylinders and bowls; and above shows the fruits our labour. On days 3 and 4 we looked at closed vessels and started to experiment with Eric's techniques. We had a fun glazing session on day 5 using the same glazes that Eric uses for his own work.
And on the last day our work from those first two days was unloaded from the kiln.
I was super happy with my little trio of vessels.
Every day we were presented with a fabulous vegetarian lunch, prepared by Eric's wife and business partner. It was nice to get the chance to chat with this very multi-cultural bunch of students - this week they were from America, Canada, Norway, Austria and even Rwanda. The conversations were also enrichened with Eric's apprentices who were always on hand to offer their brilliant technical knowledge on how to get the most out of the clay.
Adjacent to the workshop space is a lovely leafy courtyard, you would never know that you are in the middle of a busy and cosmopolitan city.
My first weekend I stayed near the original port area, Nyhaven and all its beautiful coloured original warehouses.
Bikes are super popular here, and the dedicated cycle lanes feel much safer to ride on than our scarey lanes in the UK.
I spent the weekend before the course exploring much of the city with my partner. And we hired our bikes through Donkey Republic, and you do everything through a neat app - so clever!
Copenhagen is such a spacious city with interesting architecture; it boasts all kinds of art and design museums, it has its own palaces, a Botanical Gardens; as well as a thriving and enviable restaurant scene - there really is something for everyone in this city. Those Danes are on to a good thing.
As a little side note, one of the highlights of the trip was meeting one of my dear instagram friends and fiber artist, Fanny aka @createaholic. She lives in Sweden and, along with her partner, made a special road trip over the bridge to come and hang out with me for the day. Really, its amazing what friends will do for you. She was as funny, and inspiring in real life as she is on screen. She even brought me some little purple plant cuttings which I am cherishing - as we are both plant lovers.
Since returning to the UK, I haven't had a chance to do much throwing as I've been glazing work and doing about a hundred jobs that mothers have to do, but I was pleased to see that I have come back with some of the skills I learnt.
I think the focus for next month will be creating little vessels to display garden blooms and I'll be sharing images from makers and creatives who join in with #createinsummer.
For those interested in my work the shelves of my internet shop are a little bare, but I have recently fulfilled a small collection for @LewesMapStore, a gorgeous on-line store of beautifully curated gifts, homeware aswell as independent magazines and books. They will be available from Monday 2nd July.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed my little creative adventure. For anyone who is deliberating investing in themselves, or not having the courage to follow the dreams then I say to you - just do it! Who knows where it will take you.....
Well hello May! One of my favourite months for blooms, but spring is so mixed this year isn't it? From t-shirt to winter coat, this season is certainly keeping us guessing to how we should attire.
As for nature, the trees are gently saying goodbye and de-robing their blossoms now as new green leaves start to unfurl and many flowering bulbs such as tulips and bluebells certainly seem late this year. I'm just waiting patiently for the lilac in my garden to bloom which is normally on cue for my Mom's birthday mid May.
In this month's #createinspring blog I'm going to review what's been keeping me busy, unveil my latest guest judge and see who Sue, from @apetalunfolds, selected as favourites for the #createinspring hashtag photography challenge.
April seemed like a short month, by the time you take out the holidays, but I've been working on a new shape, I fulfilled some smaller and larger commission orders, and I've been learning to develop my photography skills. A particular highlight was seeing my incense holders launched at Honest Skincare (and they will be available soon online at Honest and in their Great Western Arcade store too).
Forever spring in a bud-vase with @apetalunfolds
t's funny how we talk about putting a spring in your step. It's so true that as spring approaches we can shrug off winter's heavy coat, swap boots for trainers and suddenly we feel so much lighter. The days are longer, the birds sing more (or at least they are waking me up earlier!), the lambs frolick in the fields. It's such a happy time of year.
I love noticing all the little details, and there seems to be a collective rejoice at the bulbs pushing through and the first signs of blossom.
In Japan, the arrival of the blossom season reaches epic proportions as it heralds the beginning of Spring, and there are regular news updates on the bud stages. The bloom lasts 1-2 weeks before the 'sakura snow' effect starts and they float down gently from the trees. In Japanese culture, the cherry blossom flowers are seen as a symbol of the transient nature of life. But would it be nice to capture their beauty forever?
You've probably realised the petals pictured are paper ones. This 'forever' paper blossom from Sue @apetalunfolds really deceives the eye with its intricacy; I never thought it would be possible for something made out of paper to resemble nature so closely.
I'm really excited to be collaborating with Sue this month for a little photo challenge on Instagram in the #createinspring gallery, (which coincidentally exploded overnight; evidently people feel very happy about Spring's arrival).
To take part in our competition to win 'forever spring in a vase', 3 beautiful strands of blossom in one of my new mint green porcelain bud vases, you need to be following both Sue and myself and show us how spring is influencing your makes and styling over on Instagram, using the tag #createinspring. We really want to know what a spring palette means for your creativity. I'll show you how I'm incorporating spring into my ceramics later, but first, let me tell you some more about Sue and her fabulous skills.
I think I'm not alone in saying that it was pretty easy to say goodbye to January. And whilst February doesn't exactly equal Spring, as I sit listening to the rain drum heavily against the windows, there are moments of sunshine with a hint of a promise of kinder months to come.
Like the arrival of the first snowdrops last month. They feel very symbolic, along with the hellebores, to be the first blooms to appear. When the clouds lift we are greeted by crisp blue skies and the sun feels so welcome on our faces. The first sightings of catkins and other buds on the trees have filled me with a childish excitement about our days getting longer and in turn more fruitful and creative.
Which leads to me announce that I'm retiring #wipsandblooms and replacing it with a year-long project, with a quarterly focus - starting with spring of course! I'm hoping that this new hashtag #createinspring, will encourage us all to use our creativity, and share how the season is influencing our making.
This morning I woke up to the first frost of the year, and its been replaced now with a crisp cold day and beautiful bright sunshine. Don't you just love those kind of days?
I always love writing this blog, as it gives me a chance to pause; to reflect on what I've been making, maybe have a think about what I want to make next and to review where I'm going. It's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day; the next little item on the to-do list, or the latest commission that I've been asked to make, that I can forget what the bigger picture should look like. Are you the same?
I love including lots of seasonal references to what's happening in nature amongst my making shots. So, there have been quite a few pumpkins popping up in my feed. Last week it was half term so I didn't set foot in my studio except to package up some orders. Instead, I was able to focus on some macrame and play around with a few new knot techniques, from @createaholic's new book (it's just peaking into shot) and start to work in more of the little porcelain beads that I've made especially for this project. I hadn't had a chance to make any planters for a while, so it was fun to get a few more ready for Christmas fairs and my open studio which start later this month.
There's definitely a distinct seasonal shift as we welcome in October. This morning was one of those crisp Autumn starts where the sun was low and bright, and yet felt warm on my skin, whilst I was wrapped up in winter layers.
I have to chuckle about how excited we all become with little autumnal treasures gathered on recent walks: the shiny conkers, jewel-like berries, mushrooms and of course there's always a lot of leaf play both outside and styled over on Instagram. It always makes me smile to see a new take on creativity, on how people arrange their makes, or how an image has been put together. In the month ahead #wipsandblooms will be focusing on creativity, but more on that later....
Why is a ceramacist posting a picture of a flower wreath I hear you ask?
Well, it's simple. I kindof failed this month to get into my studio and make any of the long list of commissions, or fulfill any new ideas that are burning a hole in my sketchbook. It's tough to admit defeat- but I always knew that with two holidays planned and the long school summer break I wouldn't be making much during August, or be able to give much attention to #wipsandblooms.
Fortunately, I was able to top up on creativity when I attended the www.hillviewmoments.com/Hillview Farm Creative Festival, organised by @takingamomentintime.
The retreat was a good balance of wool based and other creative disciplines including indigo dying, macrame and mobile making. At this retreat I met a whole heap of lovely ladies, and was able to take part in some fun workshops, allowing me to stretch my creativity in a different direction, as well as having the reward of making something that I got to keep. (which makes a nice change!) The photo above was from @olgaprinku's workshop, who I met for the very first time - such down-to-earth
creative lady! As well as Olga, it was great to meet other makers to talk about running your own business, the joys and downfalls of social media, and reflect about our priorities in how we manage these tasks as well as being a mother, or partner.
#wipsandblooms - June and #leaf_ladies_habitat
I really hope I'm not going to jinx our chance of sunshine with the title of this blog!
Before I launch into what I've been up to and my summer hashtags I wanted to share an observation. I've noticed two interesting things going on with Instagram recently. Firstly all the new people who have joined are really loving the sense of community, and finding like-minded people who share their aesthetics and interests. Then, there are the people who have been using the app for a while, who seem to have lost some of their passion, since the algorithm no longer shares posts like it used to.
We are living in a world that is constantly changing therefore you have to adapt and go with a new flow, or work harder to find your community. I loved seeing @Allison_sadler's take on this with #freeupyourinsta, which encouraged people to post more of the things that make them happy.
I'm asking something similar, but in a more niche way. I'm encouraging all the #leaf_ladies (and lads) to show off their green spaces, a corner of their homes and gardens which they are proud of, their maker space, or anywhere there is some lush greenery for the hashtag #leaf_ladies_habitat. And then, go and say hi, make friends with these people, be inspired by their use of greenery, exchange plant care tips and advice.
Hello and welcome if this is your first time reading this.
Although its titled #wipsandblooms June 2017, in this blog you'll find what I've been up to as a ceramic artist in the last month, some plans for the month ahead, as well as favourites from the tag and next month's theme too. I'll talk more about the tag in a bit....
June has been a funny month hasn't it? Not quite four seasons in one day - but we have had a few extremes in weather conditions. We've had intense summer heat, as well as cooler days when I've needed more hot tea, and snuggled under a blanket in the evening. But despite differences in temperature I've still been enjoying longer lighter days, the peonies have had their own hiatus, the wild grasses are in seed and there have been brighter colours blooming in my garden, in particular the roses.
I spent the first half of the month preparing for a local market with the Paperdolls Handmade. It took place on one of the hottest days, but there was a lovely ambiance with live music, lots of workshops and such a highly creative and talented mix of sellers. I had quite a few visitors who came to the market just to buy from me, either because they already follow me on IG or they had seen the blog post about my studio tour (see here) and that made me feel really quite privileged. For more of a flavour read this this review from Aliandher.com who said that " [my] hanging planters were one of [her] favourite items in the whole market'. Thanks, that's the best compliment I could ever hope for!
May has felt like a particularly busy month. Either that or I've been more productive than usual.
It was a month of gentle goodbyes to Spring, as the days become warmer and longer and Summer finally beckons. A month of playing with soft sweet smelling lilac, and beautiful bold peonies, in my studio for styling opportunities, as I stretched my throwing skills further and experimented with new colour palettes with my porcelain slip casting.
Of course I had a brilliant collaborative month with Folksy and found myself hosting #Folksyhour, a hilariously fast-paced Twitter chat (Tuesdays 8-9pm). I wrote a follow-up blog for them all about how I came to the #wipsandblooms tag and how to use hashtags to tell a narrative, in my case a maker story. It's here in case you missed it.
In the same month I was also asked by my etsy team to talk about my Instagram account and the way I have grown my followers, which was less nerve-wracking than I thought it was going to be. Though I still hated seeing myself on the video that was filmed of it.
And... I was really lucky to have the lovely ladies, Jo and Carolyn from the Paperdolls Handmade Market do a studio tour and write a glowing blog about my work and inspirations.