Well lookie where I’ve turned up. Pardon the less than perfect photo but I was to excited to even try and take a good shot. Thanks so much Polly from the Manly Daily for featuring my botanically dyed scarf.
the potters have come to town for Clay Push but we’re such a polite bunch there was no pushing, not even at the bar.
Last week saw close to 500 ceramicists descend on the normally peaceful town of Gulgong, a 19th century gold rush town in New South Wales, Australia, for a week’s long ceramics event titled Clay Push. This mud extravaganza has been held every 3 years for the past 25 years and was the passionate creation of the late Doyenne of Australian ceramics Janet Mansfield.
Sadly Janet passed away earlier this year but that didn’t stop the event from going ahead. Over the years Janet had gathered around her a dedicated group of people from near and far who helped organise these events and with Vicki Grima and Chester Nealie at the helm the show went blazed brightly.
And what a show! 20 Australian and International Masters and Presenters took the delegates through workshops and presentations. There were yoga sessions with Kari from Queensland, exhibition openings almost every night, films, talks and many late nights at the local pubs. The event culminated in a dinner for approx 230 delegates cooked by an intrepid group of New Zealand Potters. My apologies I didn’t have time to get your names but your beef stew rocked!
Here are a few photos from that crazy, mad, wonderful, tiring week.
This was one of the venues. Now do you understand my reference to the circus?
The next few photos are just a few of the ceramic Masters.
Ane-Katrine von Bulow from Denmark makes fine slip-cast vessels on which she prints rhythmic patterns. Her technique requires the patience of a saint.
Greg Daly is the Australian glaze guru. Just click here and you’ll understand my statement.
I freely admit to having a potter’s crush when it comes to Kirsten Coelho from South Australia. Her work straddles the impossible line of being both solid and ethereal. Thanks Kirsten for teaching me a few new throwing techniques.
Marianne Hallberg‘s work takes everyday objects and gives them a Dr Seuss twist. Don’t be fooled by her serious face, there is a giggly little child that lives within and it comes out in her work.
Norma Grinberg got everyone in on the act.
No it’s not a bbq – just Paul de Jongh from South Africa dong a pit firing. I was the proud recipient of one of the pots and it’s gorgeous.
That Greg Piper will do anything for a great shot.
And finally just a few shots of the town of the Gulgong . I don’t think I mentioned it earlier but I was actually working the event so didn’t get a chance to take many photos.
Clay Push was a special event and what has really stuck with me is how important friendships and collaborations with like-minded folk can be to one’s artistic practice. For one week I had the luxury of time – to sit, chat, laugh, drink and chat some more. A special thank you to Ashley McHutchinson for keeping me sane and making me laugh and thank you to Vicki for asking me to be a part of the big crazy circus that was Clay Push 2013.
I have come to the conclusion (along with many notable philosophers) that expectations are the curse of humanity. No where is this more clearly illustrated than when a ceramicist opens their kiln.
You know what you expected when you closed the door (for me a black firing) and you know what you expected when you opened the door 5 days later (still a black firing). Then you unwrap the first sagar – not black, the second sagar – still not black, the third and fourth have some very unexpected colours which are beautiful in their own right but your mind is so set on expecting what has not happened that you cannot appreciate the magic you now hold.
So the next step (and the hardest) is to clear your mind of the expectation it holds and after a varying amount of time has passed go back and look afresh at the unexpected and judge your work with a clear mind.
So I now present to the you gentle reader the unexpected.
Forest Floor Series 2013
I’m a modern maker living in a world where the image rules. You send images of your work to prospective sellers, clients, galleries. The images of your work are your calling card and so there is a lot of pressure and importance placed on getting the best ones you can.
Now in a perfect world I would be fabulously successful and could just call up a fantastic photographer with a wonderful, designer name (I’ll leave it up to you folks to shout them out.) who would take beautifully composed, elegantly light images of my work. Whilst, I haven’t quite given up on that dream – it’s not my reality.
So you can imagine how pleased I was when I received a surprise email from Jennie Smith, Etsy Australia’s Seller Development Specialist inviting me to attend a workshop by Heidi Adnum a wonderful Australian photographer who has written this information packed photography book targeted at online sellers.
The day was a great mixture of fun and information. The first half was spent learning the basics of your camera and then we all went off to another room to start snapping like a group of Japanese tourists on speed. Heidi had enormous patience with us all as we bombarded her with questions on cameras and composition. A big thanks to all the girls who collectively showed me how to use my camera. Cheers ladies – those buttons aren’t so intimidating.
Of course it helped that we were in one of the beautifully light, stark white rooms at The School in Rosebery and that when we were starving we sauntered (photographers saunter) down to Kitchen By Mike and ate food for soul and body.
What we took away from the day was that no matter how basic your camera it is possible to take great shots of your products to send out into the world. Images that will do justice to all the passion and hard work that goes into creating our products.
Without any further ado here are some of my images from that day.
Coming home from our holidays last month was not the peaceful ending we had anticipated. The low pressure system hovering off the northern New South Wales coast had other intentions for us and the thousands of locals and tourist in the area.
Lucky for us the Mister is a great driver who enjoys a challenge and laughs in the face of torrential wind, rain coupled with fallen trees and swollen river. It took us 12 hours of sometimes nail biting action to get back to Sydney and I almost kissed the ground when I got out of the car except it was still raining and my nonchalant Mister looked at me with a pained expression which said “as if there was ever a problem”.
All the photos were taken on the road between Grafton and Armidale.
As for our holiday. There was no lounging around the pool working on the pathetic tan I had from one, yes one decent day, at the beach all summer. Instead we watched dvds, read our books, ate and ate and ate. But we loved the peace and that the rain slowed us down even more as there was nothing to do but be zen.
PS: Apologies for the late entry but we hit the ground running. Zen became zoom on Monday morning. Aaah the memories
At this time of the new year people are well and truly back into the routine of life. Work to be done, kids back at school and the beach is a place which is visited at the weekend or if your very lucky briefly at the end of the day.
For the Mister and I the opposite is true. The Mister owns two Howard Storage World stores; so being in retail means that December and January bring a rush of people into our store (not that we’re complaining). First, it’s the ones buying Christmas presents, then the new year brings the ones with resolutions which involve being more organised and finally it’s the Mums and Dads buying lunch boxes and drink bottles for their ‘littlies’ who are starting a new school year.
Before we know it, it’s February and time for us to hang up our aprons and tape measures; take a deep breath, pack the car with a few essentials and just stop for a while.
So it will be a little quiet here for a week or two but when I return look out! There will be adventures a plenty to be had and I’m looking forward to sharing them all with you.
Ps. I promise that this will be my last horse reference for a post title. Don’t know why I do it as I’m not even that keen on horses.
The world of online selling exploded into my world the moment I joined Etsy. With millions (yes millions) of sellers, Etsy is a department store on steriods. Not only do I have to compete with artisan makers worldwide all vying for the buyer’s attention but there’s a new language to learn – circles, favourites, treasuries, teams – it’s an overwhelming minefield of information overload.
Enter my first Etsy friend – Aggie from Memories Maid By Aggie. Out of the blue Aggie sent me a message welcoming me to Etsy and upon request sent through advice on how to promote my store. She even went so far as to chat about me on her facebook page. What a champ!
So thanks Aggie for such a warm welcome. Looking forward to getting you know you better even though you live ‘across the pond’ from me. Aaaah, it’s that the wonderous part of all this fang dangle technology.
and this little filly is practically shivering with excitement. My apologies to the ghost of Banjo Patterson; but for all you folk who have heard Australian actor, Jack Thompson’s deep, whiskey soaked baritone reciting this poem you will understand why I’m shivering.
2013 is here and I’m determined to make it shine bright. Adventures are afoot with a new shed being built by my beloved (and a wonderful group of friends who chipped in with a day’s hard work). A place for me to think and create my products.
A ceramic commission which I received at the end of last year needs to be started. The size is both scary and exciting and will test all my existing skills and force me to learn new ones.
Finally I’m expanding my empire. As well as PINCH Gallery, the little window gallery I share with @Vicki Grima and @Ashley Fiona at Bronte, I have dived into the word of Etsy. Etsy is an amazing online market place crammed full of handmade products from craftspeople and artisans worldwide. It was one of the first and has become the largest. Trust me it’s easy to get sucked into the ether when you go browsing on Etsy only to emerge hours later and financially lighter.
For the moment only my botanical scarves and cushions are for sale, but once the shed is up and my kiln running the ‘sky’s the limit’. To have a little peek go here and tell me what you think, especially of my new banner.
Thank you thank you Irene for my beautiful new banner. It really brings to life the essence of my business and my philosophy of using time honoured materials to produce contemporary products.
You may have noticed that a little photo has appeared prior to this post. Very cheeky of it to insert itself before asking but then again that’s life. Life has a way of interrupting a perfectly well thought out action plan.
This last month has snuck up on me and given me a pinch on the bum whilst yelling “Merry Christmas. Now move it and start organising food, presents and all that Yuletide jazz.”
So this will be my last chat with you all for the year. It’s been an interesting one with lots of time spent pondering where I’d like my creative business to go. All in all it has been time well spent as I am clearer now than I’ve ever been regarding the type of work I want to produce and how I’d like my brand to be perceived.
So thank you dear friends for continuing to support me and read my humble little blog. I wish you all a restful Christmas with loved ones and may you find the patience needed to smile at those you only have to see once a year.
May your turkey be fat and your bubbles never go flat. See you all in 2013.
PS The photo is of my present stack all ready for wrapping.
and a smile and a chat. That’s what markets are all about. Getting to meet new clients, catching up with fellow makers and making new friends.
Thanks to all for making it such a fun day.
All The Australian Ceramics Association members all lined up and ready to go.
Tony Schlosser practising his selling technique. Carlene does not look impressed.
The The Australian Ceramics Associaton table. No we’re not big drinkers. Hopefully the next photo will explain all.
I take full responsibility for the drinks trolley. My humble offerings were shot glasses and what better way to show them off. May I take this opportunity to say how wonderful alcohol tastes in ceramic glasses. Ceramic helps retain the pure taste of the whatever is your favourite tipple. Mine is Amaretto. What’s yours?
Offerings from some of the wonderfully talented makers on the day.