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.
What I like about writing this blog is it really makes me focus on the here and now in terms of seasonanility. As each new blooms appear there is something to celebrate and cheer - the first bluebells, the first signs of lilac, the white frothy cow parsley. All of these are relatively short-lived which is the all the more reason to feature them in my photos.
As you know our IG challenge is to to focus on our work-in-progress. I have an on-going goal that 'one day I'm going to be good at throwing in porcelain' (which is more difficult than normal clay believe me!)- its not a very smart goal I admit, so it was really nice the other day to realise... actually I've made some improvements. I can give myself a pat on the back for the hard work that I've put in. Of course, I'm not going to rest on my laurels either as now I'm getting excited to think about what other new shapes I can play with.