Champneys.

My Mum has always been a devotee of “well being” when we were small in the 1970’s she was constantly dashing off to aerobics in draughty village halls dressed in a turquoise shiny cat suit and leg warmers. Any small children in tow would be put in a wooden pen at one end of the room and left to ‘play’ whilst the exercises went on energetically at the other end. In the 1980’s Mum was Obsessed with The Green Goddess Diana Moran on Good Morning Britain and would be prancing about in front of the tv whilst we were burning toast in the kitchen..... And in 1990 my Mother discovered Champneys.


0joO2aEYT8SmM2yDTCxM7w.jpg



If you haven’t heard of Champneys’s of Tring it is a health spa in Hertfordshire. I would argue it is the leading health spa in the UK. When my Mum first came to Champneys it was a “proper” health farm. When you arrived you saw a doctor and a nutritionist and they took your blood pressure and weighed you and measured you. They then informed you if you were to be eating the Light Diet menu or the regular menu at mealtimes. At the end of your stay you would be weighed etc again and you were sent off with a suggested meal plan to take you forward. I was coming up to my 21st birthday when my Mother first suggested she would take me to Champneys. I was living a most unhealthy lifestyle in London. Although I was vegetarian at the time I couldn’t see much beyond cheese or beans on toast. I was driving a van a lot and was snacking on countless chocolate bars throughout the day. And my evenings were spent drinking Guinness. The result was I was very overweight with terrible skin. It was most at odds with My Mothers view of how her daughter should behave or look. I was put on the Light Diet menu and in the week we were here I think I lost about 8Ib. I was thrown into a whirlwind of activity and it was also where I fell in love with yoga. 

In those days at Champneys you had a massage included on every day of your stay. It wasn’t quite the aromatic delights we experience today and it went something like this: Exfoliation, wearing paper knickers one of the team of ladies who worked in the spa would rub a salt solution vigorously all over you. Following a shower you would then be put in a steam cabinet which was a little pod that you sat in with your head sticking out of the top. After that one of the spa ladies would collect you and take you to the relaxation room which was full of rows of beds with freshly laid sheets and heated pads and blankets. It was pitch black and you could only detect other beings by their breathing. Once tucked in you would lie waiting for the massage therapist to come and collect you and take you for a twenty minute massage. It was here we met Pauline who was an excellent masseuse and who became a life long friend at Champneys. She worked here for 40 years before retiring last year.

Another place that doesn’t exist now at Champneys, sadly, is The Art Room. I loved spending time in the art room drawing and painting and playing with clay. It was a relaxing and restorative place where you could try new mediums and I felt it completed the holistic circle of the idea of well being.

RPnCIgA5QMeFirAOYZNZ9w.jpg

Following my initial “life changing” visit I have been back to Champneys with Mum virtually every year since. There have been many changes over the 26 years I have been coming. When we first came Champneys was run by a wonderful couple called Tanya and Allan Wheway. Their philosophy was that one should see immediate results from their stay at Champneys that they could build on once they returned home.

They used to sit on The Champneys table ( A wonderful table you can sit at if you are staying alone and would prefer to eat in company or if you are in a couple but would just like to talk to other guests. ) at lunch and dinner times and chat to guests. They always looked incredibly healthy and glamorous and were excellent representatives of all that Champneys can offer. Sadly The Wheways were unceremoniously dispensed with when The Guinness family took over for a short while in 2002. But great news Tanya Wheway has been reinstalled by the current owners, The Purdew family, running her own brand well being retreats. And as for The Champneys Table, that is still there too……These days the wonderful nutritionist Rachael Robinson sits there and dispenses advice with kindness and humour.

%EYhHclWQACcp209TJ5K0g.jpg

Food is an intergral part of Champneys. Everything down to the plates is geared towards healthy eating although this doesn’t mean measly portions. The food is laid out at breakfast and lunch so you can help yourself and dinner is chosen from a menu and you can order wine. Everything has clear guidelines about nutritional content and allergens and I have learned some unlikely pairings from my latest trip….. A little Hoummus goes with virtuallly anything including eggs. Rocket, Spinach and Kale ( dark green leaves basically) is a wonderful food for those of us peri-menopausal ladies. Cashew nut butter is highly addictive although a teaspoon goes a long way when sparingly added to slices of banana…….. Kedgeree is a delicious and perfect breakfast for those of us who don’t like porridge and museli….. just add rocket!

During my stay at Champneys this week I made an appointment to see the nutritionist Rachael as, although I know my diet isn’t appalling due to Matts magic food ( appropriate for fast swimming), I do eat at the ‘wrong times’ resulting in exhaustion, bad moods and poor nights sleep plus I wanted some dietary advice on preparing for the menopause…. oh and I am also growing up and kicking the Quavers addiction……..

I am also determined to cut down on sugar which comes into my diet and life via too much wine, random 3pm chocolate bars and strangely ( to me anyway) bread. I won’t bore you all with my optimistic new regime suffice to say if I make it through it’s trial month I shall let you know how I am faring and any vitamins and supplements I have started to swear by.

erwF3h9CSDemzBOW+%7HpA.jpg

Over the years in the evenings we have taken part in all kinds of workshops in the evenings. We have learned to juggle, diabolo and spin a plate on a stick ( My mothers favourite party trick.) We have had talks about CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy), finding the right colours for you and your wardrobe and everything from nutrition to make-up. The thing I love about these events is there are people from all around the world, all shapes and sizes getting together and laughing and trying out new things in an extremely friendly and supportive environment. It is really life enhancing.

Champneys does have its fair share of celebrities stay there, although I haven't seen any with plates on sticks……. We have often stayed there during one of Frank Brunos visits and I once had an in depth conversation with footballer Ian Wright and his wife about still versus sparkling water!! The most famous visitor has to be Diana, Princess of Wales.

w%Edc8AWS4iawJM4cdMlkA.jpg

The treatments at Champneys are second to none. Over the years my Mum and sister and I have tried everything from being wrapped in mud/seaweed/”clouds” which must have been a cream of sorts and I am sure hay(?) to sublime aromatherapy massages and facials leaving you feeling ten years younger but that …… I have also had hot stone reflexology twice over the years which is a very moving experience and today I had a shiatsu massage for the first time which was incredible and something I would love to repeat regularly.

Exercise is also a huge part and it is often the first place you will find many of the new crazes that hit our gyms and leisure centres. For me the pool is my favourite place. I swim up and down monotonously for hours. I also enjoy water aerobics with my Mum and her friends and often several rather large camel dealers from Saudi Arabia who book themselves in for months on end to lose several stones. I also do yoga on a daily basis which is wonderful and always makes me spurred on to go back ( only next door for heavens sake!!) to yoga in Saffron Walden as soon as I return.

ZD%XsYcySZi46ee8f6D42w.jpg

I am under no illusions about how fortunate we have been to have this relationship with Champneys and how lucky I am that I continue to go with my Mum to this day. “The Champneys Way” has become very much part of our daily vocabulary though and we are always trying to remember all the tips and tricks we have learned after each visit. This post was going to be written in my usual flippant humour and whilst there is a little of that here I am actually surprised at how much of an effect coming here for all these years has had on my life. I think it is definitely a place I use to guide myself back to how I ought to live rather than all the bad habits I am prone to slipping into and for that I am grateful.

All the views in this blog post are my own and all the references are my own memories. I have not been paid in anyway to promote Champneys and have written this blog piece purely out of my love for the place and to record my thoughts.




eR%9csJ8QZWK4YFWx1P8jQ.jpg


The January Day Retreat

Day retreat in Faversham with Hannah Bullivant and Ray Dodd.

“To set some gentle achievable intentions for the year. Lets start the new year as we mean to go on, and by that I mean in community, with delicious, nourishing food, You’re invited to show up as you are right now, look back and plan forward.” - Hannah Bullivant.

IMG_5943.jpg.jpg

Photo credit - Hannah Bullivant.

On January 5th 2019 under a grey sky I drove to Faversham in Kent to the home of stylist Hannah Bullivant. who, together with her sister-in-law Ray Dodd were hosting a Day Retreat to help us start the year as we mean to go on, reviewing the past year and setting some intentions for the coming days.

To be perfectly honest as soon as I stepped through the front door of Hannah’s beautiful home I knew one of my intentions was going to be to rush home and paint everything white…..

But first I was going to meet one of my long time Instagram friends whom I had only found out was also attending the previous day - Makiko Hastings. I speak to Maki virtually every day online and so I was very excited to be able to have a conversation face to face. We helped ourselves to a cup of tea in the kitchen and then went through to the living room talking constantly as if we saw each other every day….. The sounds of women chatting filled the air, some people knew each other and some people knew nobody at all. I had met Hannah before and had spoken to Ray online but other than the hosts I only knew Makiko.

We all sat in a circle and shared our names and what we do and why we had come to the day. Most people had children, many very small children. It struck me how once we are “Mothers” we define ourselves first by our children “Hello, I am …… and I have …. children ages ….. and I work as……” some people had babies they had never left before and spoke of leaving husbands lists upon lists and then had a little nervous glance at their phones….. We all so desperately wanted to be present and attentive and needed this time to be “ourselves” but I remember very well that time in the early stages of Motherhood when your baby is just an extension of your being and suddenly leaving the house without them can feel like you have left a leg or a vital organ at home!…… I was more worried about the potential chaos my dogs were causing but try and adopt an “Out of sight out of mInd policy” to anything not in arms reach…..

Many people spoke of needing more sleep and I did wonder whether we might find a couple curled up having a nap after lunch! To my horror I nearly cried whilst introducing myself and it was only then I really realised how much I needed a day to myself with no work, children, dogs or just life… just to press “reset” on yourself. It also made me realise how much time I spend on my own in my studio. Yes, I talk to people online all day long and over the Christmas holiday I have had many many wonderful face to face interactions. But even though I imagine myself as extremely sociable I realised there and then how much I prefer being able to see peoples faces and having human contact than the sometimes-hard-to-read-and-often-isolating-online-world. It sounds utterly bonkers to even have to write this but everything is so much more Real in Real Life!!

Hannah talked to us first about The January Book and journalling and how she uses these processes to help herself with everything from financial planning to mental health. I am doing Hannahs January Book e course I am such a practical and pragmatic person I am looking forward to taking the time to actually stop, plan, analyse and have tasks set for me whilst also creating a book to look back over to learn from.

Ray talked us through some exercises to process the past year. I have watched Ray’s online “Instagram Lives” many many times and absolutely love her style and honesty. I love her open nature and her enthusiasm. As I think many of us were so used to watching Ray “live” online we patiently sat and listened as if she were on our screens at first absorbed by her wildly gesticulating hands and listening to her experiences. Gradually we all began to share our experiences in life, of going back to work after children, money, Mothers ( sorry Mum you did feature quite a bit here!!) and Mother- in laws ( some of whom sounded terrifying) ……. We were set some exercises to work through in pairs and another where we looked at why “resolutions” often don’t happen and looked around breaking cycles and habits.

It occurred to me several times how hard it is for younger women these days with social media ever present in their lives. For some reason I haven’t applied this ever to myself. I think it because I had all of my babies before Instagram was invented and so I haven’t had to have them grow up with the picture perfect life. A couple of the women at the day retreat spoke of the pressures not only to raise “Instagram ready” children but also feel they are expected to have an amazing career/ home/ side schtick in photography/cooking the perfect cakes/ styling a beautiful home…… It must be exhausting if you are in your thirties these days with all of those added expectations. I simply don’t think I would have coped with all of those pressures when my children were small …(Although I do remember my friend and I discussing starting up a comic for Tractor Mad toddlers when our boys were very very small and it just seemed completely fanciful so we didn’t do it. Maybe if social media had been around we would have been able to take it further….. )

Photo Credit - Hannah Bullivant.

Photo Credit - Hannah Bullivant.

We then went through to Hannah’s kitchen where the lunch table had been beautifully styled by Hannah and the delicious smell of Vegan Perks Butternut squash and peanut stew filled the room. We sat together around the table and discussed our “word” for our felt banners we were to make later that afternoon. There was also talk of cake……

It was also at this point that I noticed that, on possibly one of the most Instagrammble days of my life ( Hannah isn’t a wonderful stylist for nothing you know) I had been having so much fun and been so absorbed I hadn’t taken my phone out of my bag once so had to ask Hannah of I could use some of her photos on the blog!!



After lunch had been cleared away and the kitchen transformed into the Craft Room we began in earnest to make our felt banners. Hannah demonstrated one first and chatted about her word for last year, Brave, and how it had come in handy in areas she hadn’t imagined when she had chosen it. I had been looking forward and dreading this part in equal measures. Looking forward to it because it was crafting which I love, in felt which I am very keen on and even though I make things all day every day it was lovely to make something “just because” and not for a commercial end. Dreading because …… “ the word” …… I have an absolute hatred of anything with words of affirmations on it. I can’t stand it on Instagram when people fill their squares with positive words in cursive writing. I am not sure why I feel this way, after all I am more than happy to string a load of words together for storytelling and I talk enough so I use more than my fair share of words there too…….

A friend asked me last night by text if I had enjoyed the day and she had wondered how I had handled the ‘Life affirming’ parts as she said my approach to life ( which she admires) is more “straightforward and pragmatic’ than some…. maybe thats just it….. Maybe I just want to “get on with it” than have a word to hang my hopes off…….

Anyway after a lot of procrastination and laughing with Ray I narrowed my words down from my list of “Magic, First Aid, Bonkers and Fuck Off” to just First Aid. Everybody else made lovely banners with lovely words that meant some thing to them - Breathe, Calm, Kindness and Ease were all popular choices. I think my First Aid banner suits me just fine though and is just on the “me” side of life affirmations.

My reasons for choosing it aren’t only personal to me so it’s not fair to share them here but I know I will be needed as a supportive friend to several of my dear friends whose year may not have got off to the easiest of starts and I want them to know I am here….. Also I need to improve my own health as I am now on cold number 3 since November and not feeling at all my best so some personal First Aid is definitely in order. Plus I think our home could do with a little First Aid this year as we have a small hole in the roof and seem to have mislaid a bathroom a couple of years ago that I feel it’s high time we reclaimed. Life affirmations must also be transferable to DIY I’m sure!

Photo credit Amanda Banham - Arm Model Anna Banham.

Photo credit Amanda Banham - Arm Model Anna Banham.

We then finished the day with tea and cake and I am sure none of us really wanted to leave the warmth of the kitchen and new friends we had made. All the way home I felt energised and positive having spent a happy few hours with lovely women. Finally meeting Makiko and just spending time in Hannah’s beautiful home with her would have been enough of a lift to start the year…… but combined with Ray and her enthusiasm and wisdom, delicious food, new friends and The January Book I feel I shall be floating on my own cloud of positivity until about March ( when I hope there may be a Spring day retreat around the corner to have a tingly top up of joy…..)


2018 A Bit of a Blur....

Whilst updating photos on my website it occurred to me that most of 2017 and ALL of 2018 had passed by without me writing a single blog post. For someone who loves telling stories so much this was not a good sign……

This post was going to be a quick round up of 2018 - partly as I am aiming to be much more regular with this blog in 2019 and didnt want a whole years gap in the chronology plus, aside from some sad moments personally 2018 has been a great year for my ceramics and I wanted to remember the fun parts.

In January I optimistically began my “Pour” project in which I made a teapot. The plan was to make a pouring vessel ever month but I am not sure I got much past January….. best laid plans……

My teapot when it was first made.

My teapot when it was first made.

Fired and amongst some other vessels

Fired and amongst some other vessels

I was fortunate enough to go to Fforest to teach at Glow in March 2018. I taught house building and took part in activities such as printmaking with Kathy Hutton , paper clay ceramic spoons with Katie Robbins , axe throwing with Leah Parkyn, yoga with Lynsey, Words to Live By and singing with Lizzie Everard ,foraging with Jade, floral art with Alice Calcosa and lots more besides. I cannot wait for this Spring when I return.

IMG_0997.JPG
Workshops in Printmaking with Kathy Hutton and Ceramic Spoons with Katie Robbins.

Workshops in Printmaking with Kathy Hutton and Ceramic Spoons with Katie Robbins.

Axe throwing.

Axe throwing.

Houses made in my workshop.

Houses made in my workshop.

Foraging with Jade.

Foraging with Jade.

3GGNvu1OQGm7hk68005Xcg.jpg
IMG_1031.JPG
aJ3LPcFZTl2D3e+FRoaPRQ.jpg

The next exciting thing to happen was when we went on holiday to Suffolk where I have been holidaying since I was born and we visited Snape Maltings gallery . This gallery is somewhere I have been many many times throughout my life and was one of my Dads favourite places to buy paintings or my Mum jewellery. We went there for a visit and tea and cake and for me to see the gallery as it was on my list of “ambition galleries” to exhibit in. When we went in I knew immediately my work would fit in there as I loved most of what was on display. We had a good look round and then I said quietly to Matt that I was going to speak to the lady on the desk to see who I needed to approach about possibly selling work there. I have been working with galleries for four years now but until this point I had never approached a gallery myself, everyone I worked with had contacted me having seen my work on Instagram so I had no idea really what to say. Lucky for me I hadn’t long started talking when my daughter came and sat in the chair next to me. I was stuttering through showing photos on my Instagram and rambling on about stories to the lovely gallery manager when Anna suddenly pipes up “ My Mum is very fussy about where she sells her ceramics you know!” ………… I went bright red and Matt swooped in to usher her out of the way but luckily the lady who I now know as Michelle thought it was hilarious and soon we were swapping email addresses and selling through Snape Maltings has been one of the best things that happened to me last year. Exciting news for 2019 with Snape is that I am to be “Artist of the month for March.” where I have my own area in the gallery where I will be showcasing some new pieces.

EJtME3XtR%avvPhZAEsOkw.jpg
IMG_1461.JPG
4narYi7HRZmHp4lCJu0sfQ.jpg
uWitVRLkS1qeFFBlDuYJsA.jpg

May bought the Royal Wedding which was significant for me as I had been asked to make a piece of pottery for Meghan and Harry to celebrate their happy day. This commission was from a lady who was from my town and who had been invited to the wedding with her husband who is a friend of Prince Harry.

IMG_1944.JPG
Z7AJXLMcS9aI8gM%IflhKg.jpg

In June I had a lovely weekend at The Ceramics Festival in Barnstaple selling my work and staying with my dear friend Donna.

AktO+U+MRsCiCb8BopTAiw.jpg

June was also the first time I exhibited with Twenty Twenty gallery who were another of my “ambition galleries” I was so in awe and excited when Mary contacted me through Instagram. I went on to exhibit in the Christmas exhibition and am delighted to share that I will have work in the gallery in Much Wenlock once more in March for their Spring Greens exhibition.

IMG_3181.JPG

July was another first with my studio being open for Cambridge Open Studio. This is an event that goes on all over the country but each region does it a bit differently. Some places hold Art trails, others ask artists to be open at Weekends. We were open for two weekends out of four and we did have a steady stream of visitors. We did raku firing demonstrations and Anna did some throwing on the wheel with children. It was busy and fun but we have decided not to repeat it this year as I will be at Craft festival in June in Devon. Also as my studio is in my home my family found it quite intrusive to their comings and goings. Personally I think the opening hours are too long (10-6) which means you cant leave your studio at all for the whole weekend. It would be ok if you could choose to open on Saturday or Sunday for that length of time or open 11-5 or something that leaves a little more leeway for dog walking and meal times……….

In August we took our Raku kiln to Fforest Gather. We also joined in with many other workshops including Indigo dyeing……

In August we took our Raku kiln to Fforest Gather. We also joined in with many other workshops including Indigo dyeing……

IMG_3333.JPG
Raku firing at Gather. photo by Emma Donnelly

Raku firing at Gather. photo by Emma Donnelly

14RpuOVmSTK%bioeSrYMXA.jpg

In August we went to Fforest Gather In Wales for a week of family time and Crafts. We were doing raku firing workshops but were also excited to take part in all the other wonderful things Fforest has to offer such as woodland wood craft, spoon carving, smock making, tree climbing, bread making, cheese making, indigo dyeing, drawing, letter press printmaking, Plastacine model making with Jim Parkyn of Aardman animation and much more……

pILGXvmiRgez4%AYCiIqpQ.jpg
IMG_3416.JPG
IMG_3444.JPG
Amy of  Bug Clothing,  Seabass and Anna at Fforest Gather.

Amy of Bug Clothing, Seabass and Anna at Fforest Gather.

fullsizeoutput_309d.jpeg
Raku at Fforest Gather photo by Emma Donnelly.

Raku at Fforest Gather photo by Emma Donnelly.

James Greenwood and I at The Good Life Experience. September 2018.

James Greenwood and I at The Good Life Experience. September 2018.

In September Matt and I took my ceramics to The Good Life Experience for the third year running. We love this annual event of good food, great music and wonderful sellers. I was next to Ewe and Ply who are total babes with their wonderful Lucy and Yak dungarees and checked shirt “uniforms” not to mention their delicious wool and acerbic wit.

IMG_4247.JPG
All the while amongst all the monthly excitements of 2018 I have been working with some wonderful galleries and I feel proud and privileged every day to have them sell my work. For a full list of the people who stock my work please look at the stockist page on this website.

All the while amongst all the monthly excitements of 2018 I have been working with some wonderful galleries and I feel proud and privileged every day to have them sell my work. For a full list of the people who stock my work please look at the stockist page on this website.

I also teach children and always feel so lucky to be able to do so. I love their creativity and enthusiasm and above all their imaginations.

I also teach children and always feel so lucky to be able to do so. I love their creativity and enthusiasm and above all their imaginations.

More beautiful work by Children at Clay Club.

More beautiful work by Children at Clay Club.

Raku Firing Houses….. the orangey glow of the kiln.

Raku Firing Houses….. the orangey glow of the kiln.

Raku firing on the beach at Dunwich in August.

Raku firing on the beach at Dunwich in August.

Clock making Childrens Class Summer 2018.

Clock making Childrens Class Summer 2018.

In the Autumn I was also asked to do a very exciting project with a school in Ashdon, near Saffron Walden. This was to make ceramic poppies to celebrate 100 years of the end of the first word war. The headmaster of the school contacted me to ask if this could be possible as a whole school art day and I imagine he had got the idea from the ceramic poppies at The Tower of London which to my shame I didn’t see. We decided that in order to have every child make a poppy from reception to year 6 we would make them so they laid flat on the floor rather than on stalks. The total was 83 poppies which was an enormously fun day and then took a couple of weeks to dry and fire them all.

v5uc%NVXTKiDzdMeWcHy9w.jpg
vOMsfJk%2BQL%2BWIeCeIcnKDg.jpg
LzSS9C84RDGwblFEkL4%tQ.jpg
fullsizeoutput_3364.jpeg
Photo credit Julia Perry from the Facebook page of Ashdon Parish Council.

Photo credit Julia Perry from the Facebook page of Ashdon Parish Council.

IMG_5637.JPG

During December I had a couple of online sales and attended a few fairs which were great fun. One was at Hill View farm in Buckinghamshire with the lovely Natasha who I look forward to working with next summer for her retreat.

PZmvisnsTHS6CR2db6a1Xw.jpg
IMG_5750.JPG
IMG_5830.JPG

If you have actually read this far then thank you and I look forward to sharing my adventures with you next year. It all begins in earnest with a window display take over at Cambridge Contemporary Crafts in February followed by an exhibition at Twenty Twenty Galllery in March and Artist of the Month at Snape Maltings. Along the way I have had an influx of orders for people who wish to have their own houses recreated in clay….This is a recent commission I did for some one of their house. I am now taking commissions for 2019 of real life houses. They start from £150. If you are interested in having a raku fired replica of your house please email me: hello@clay-club.com

Silver Pebble Workshop...... In a beautiful village with home made biscuits too... what more do you want?

I have been waiting for this day for a long time. I treated myself to a place on one of Emma Mitchells workshops to celebrate finishing my degree...... I had been invited to spend the weekend at Grayson Perrys " A House for Essex" but had turned it down in favour of this workshop so I had high hopes indeed...... and as you will hear Emma didn't disappoint....

We bought found objects and natural objects to use for our pendants.

We bought found objects and natural objects to use for our pendants.

We were welcomed into Emma's beautiful home with fresh coffee or tea or even a home made infusion. Lots of science of silver was discussed as well as parental blogging ( Penny Alexander had travelled all the way from The Peak District.) The other ladies were lovely and Emma is so generous with her knowledge ( her botanical wisdom is astounding ) and she was so enthusiastic about all the treasures we had bought with us to use.

Emma also has the best turn of phrase of anyone I have met and I could just listen to her talk for hours ( which after the workshop I did as we found we had lots of common ground so I was lucky enough to have yet more rosehip / goji berry tea....) Everything good is met with " thumbs" and a thumbs up sign, something which I am aiming to carry through to my own workshops.....

 

We made molds of our found objects, possibly one of my favourite things I have ever learnt and am planning to buy at least a ton of blue and white squish to make molds from...... 

We made molds of our found objects, possibly one of my favourite things I have ever learnt and am planning to buy at least a ton of blue and white squish to make molds from...... 

When we had made our molds and oohed and ahhed at each others wonderful intricate designs... ( one lady bought the most amazing antique lace with her which was so much more sophisticated than my creations but I am a simple soul....)  We were then let loose with the silver clay........

Emma showed us how to stipple and get the most from our impressions in the molds.

Emma showed us how to stipple and get the most from our impressions in the molds.

We cautiously rolled out the clay and had been told we had approximately ten minutes to get it pressed into the molds before it would dry out.... Ten minutes suddenly seems like a really short amount of time but we all got out impressions done and out 3 D creations secured. The pieces then went into the oven for 15 minutes whilst we relaxed with home made biscuits an tea infusions and of course endless conversation - only bought to a halt by the delicious anticipation of our makes coming out of the oven in what Emma described to me as "The leather hard stage"

Emma then took the 3D creations off to het little kiln and we all gathered around the hob in her kitchen to fire the flat pieces.

 

Emmas kiln is so sweet.... I wonder if I could sneak one of these in unnoticed.... I would have more kilns than pairs of shoes!

Emmas kiln is so sweet.... I wonder if I could sneak one of these in unnoticed.... I would have more kilns than pairs of shoes!

We all gathered around the hob and watched the alchemist at work......

Emma explaining gauze and how to get it ready for firing.

Emma explaining gauze and how to get it ready for firing.

The moment where the silver clay turns to silver.........

The moment where the silver clay turns to silver.........

We then polished our pendants and ooohed and aaahhhed again at how beautiful and intricate everyones designs were... 

My silver man.... I have yet to create the button but I will......

My silver man.... I have yet to create the button but I will......

My beautiful crab apple, found by chance this morning whilst walking the dogs anticipating the day........ Who would I meet? Would I fit in? What would I make? Had I got the right pieces? Oh look there is a lone crab apple.........

My beautiful crab apple, found by chance this morning whilst walking the dogs anticipating the day........ Who would I meet? Would I fit in? What would I make? Had I got the right pieces? Oh look there is a lone crab apple.........

Thank you Emma for an amazing day. I have learnt so much and best of all feel I have made a life long friend.

Open Access Clay Club

Today was the first Open Access clay club. This class is for those of you who wish to let your imagination run wild and you can create what you wish. I was so impressed with the wonderful creations made today I am sharing a few photos here. I will add finished photos after the glaze firing so you can see what these talented people did next.....

 

Beautiful screenprinted and layered bowl.

Beautiful screenprinted and layered bowl.

This is a Bird Bath made using crank clay. There is a screenprinted beetle inside and a little bird which is going to perch on the edge.....

This is a Bird Bath made using crank clay. There is a screenprinted beetle inside and a little bird which is going to perch on the edge.....

Wonderful planters which are going to have an interesting twist when finished.....

Wonderful planters which are going to have an interesting twist when finished.....

Open access is exactly that - my studio is open for you to have a go at everything - wheel throwing as well as handbuilding.

Open access is exactly that - my studio is open for you to have a go at everything - wheel throwing as well as handbuilding.

The most enormous bowl made on a hump mould with screenprint inside....

The most enormous bowl made on a hump mould with screenprint inside....

Ceramics on the Isle of Eigg

I am on holiday on the picturesque Isle of Eigg in the Scottish Small Islands.  We have seen dolphins and eagles and as I type the sun is shining. Yesterday we walked around the headland from Laig beach where we are staying to The Singing Sands cove. My daughter, aged 7,  was amazing at scrambling over the rocks and identifying which rocks would be slippery and which would be safe. All the while during this, at times treacherous walk, I was taking photographs of my small ceramic boats on the rocks, in rock pools, among seaweed for my Shipping forecast Project which is a book I am creating for my University degrees final major project. 

Welcome to Clay Club Blog

Many years ago I had a blog. It was called Just Herding Cats and was like a private diary of my families life. The trouble I found was that I spent so much time writing about my family and our life I sort of forgot to live it, so I stopped writing, forgot the password, changed email addresses 100 times and Just Herding Cats is now just out there somewhere floating about. It was set to private too so you might find it but you wont be able to read it..... Anyway what was all that leading up to? I am now braving a new blog - documenting bits and pieces I find interesting and hopefully sharing some of the happy times that happen at my workshops and with my ceramics.

You are welcome to comment, I especially hope to hear from people who have been to a class and are now sipping tea or eating crisps from one of their creations...... 

Welcome to my new home and I hope you will join me and my dogs and radio four in the studio soon.

Photo 11-02-2017, 12 54 50.jpg