Potfest in the Pens

In 10 days time I need to be ready packed and looking forward to setting up and selling my wares in Penrith on the 4th to the 6th August 2017.  It will be the first time I have ever done a 3 day selling event and competing or selling alongside  other potters. A real challenge. I am hoping to make my costs back at the bare minimum. Ideally I want to come back to the studio with next to no stock!

I have the usual worries of not having enough work but worse not having the right kind of work. It will be a learning opportunity. I wisely or unwisely took the time whilst making to experiment with printing onto the work. Something I have done before. I am happy with the results so far and want to develop the idea into a series for exhibition. Where and when that will be I don’t know. Also making my own shelves. Very little idea about what I am doing. Just hoping they can support the work and not collapse.

My indigo tyedye vessel came out looking like tie dye. Happy with the result.  Not convinced?  Hold it away from you and squint a little.. . #tyedye #print #indigo #cloth #clay #beendonebeforebutidontcare #anideathatihavehadforages #hopeitmakesmesomecash #happy #pottery #claylife
Indigo dye series. Love the west African indigo dying tradition. My good friend Fosuwa Ando artist has also influenced my indigo passions. Had the idea for years to try on my work. Done it now but have been beaten to the post by the likes of Ikea. Obviously Ikea got the design idea to transfer the design to ceramics from some other designer/artist or textile artist. Sobeit. Still doing it anyway in my style.
When a glaze you don't care about comes out better than expected on the one bit of porcelain that survived a throwing session. .  This is from my gash bucket. Do any of you potters have one of those? It is a bucket where I pour all my left over dregs of glaze and see what happens when I use as a glaze. It is unrepeatable but I like the one-offness of it. . . . . #porcelain #gash #glaze #surprise #firing #instagramissodemanding #cantbebotheredwiththehashtags #Leeds
This glaze was surprisingly good to say I didn’t expect it to have such a glow. I have been firing the work a little higher than I normally do and holding it for at least 40mins. It resulted in this. Really nice on porcelain.
Almost the last bisque firing from the kiln before #potfest2017. Nothing cracked so far.  Glazing like crazy and I have to admit that glazing is the part I like the least.  I realise that I really like the making the best.  Designing, constructing, finishing; yes I really like that bit. Can I fit in 4-5 stoneware (cone 8) firings before 2nd August?  Wish they could glaze themselves. 😊😒 #firing #glazing #potterylife #pottery #print #potfest #potteryinthepens #time #slab #miracle #needaholiday #adinkra #hairline #naturalfros #embraceyournatural #platters #kilncoolingdownsoslowly #whenwilltheyputinbrownemojisoninstaffs #
A successful bisque firing. Some of these are in a glaze firing as I type. Should be cool enough to unload tomorrow. Anxious to see the results. Have a fear that any warping will result in the pieces touching and sticking together. We will see.
Trying to be clever in a lazy way rarely pays off.  Tested 3 low fired stoneware glazes (1200 deg C) I don't have a functioning test kiln and have no test pieces. Used my well made vessels.  The results were certainly not as expected which doesn't always equate to failure. Biggest issue was the random, no rhyme or reason crawling. So annoying. Wanted orange and grey. Kinda got orange, sometimes, but the grey was green. Can live with it but not what I wanted.  Certainly not using those again in a hurry. The mix needs adjustment. Sticking to what I know in the immediate future.  #claylife #potting #pot #pots #successes #failures #eyeofthebeholder #orange #grey #willievergetthegreyiwant #backtothedrawingboard #stoneware #random #testing #testingtimes #needtogetmytestkilnupandrunning #lessonlearned #regroup #revisethemixture
Started a new series that has been on the back burner for about 15years + ....yes 15, not a typo. Using coasters as testers but will use other ceramic vessels to portray the work.  Calling all afro dudes, afro lovers, natural hair loves, kinky and curly, long or short, loose or tight, black, brown or red hair, locs, guinea, corn rows, plaits or twists. Send me your photos old or new. I will print them, in my style, onto clay. Inbox me if you are interested.  The idea will be ever evolving, like life. #tryingating #hair #naturalhair #afro #inyourface #locs #whatnaturegaveyou #respectthefro #don'ttouchthehair #print #Prince #bob #Diana #clay #cups #plates #tiles #plaits #cornrows #vessels #icanbecausetheydid #ifitoffendsyouohwell
Afro hair series. More to come as it develops.
More risk taking. Experimenting with printing and #adinkra symbols. Trying a ting.  @bertram_made Process reflecting life.  #greenware #printing #clay #slabs #vessels #potfest #3weekslefttofinisheverything #beenplanningsincejanuary #testingtimes
We all take risks but we need to choose the best times to do so. Used a brand new decorating slip and idea that I have not tested before. Fine, but this is work for #potfestinthepens if it goes pear shaped there is no time to make another.  Risk taking at its best or worse?! Working hard and neglecting all else. It will catch up with me I know. Supposed to be writing the mother of all funding bids. Rather be making pots.  Made some brand new glazes.... Fired on nice bits of work.... Not doing that again. Will post some images.  #risks #lifeisabouttakingrisks #adventure #glaze #potfest #feelthefearanddoitanyway #platters #clay #potterylife #18yearsonandstilllearning #movinginnewdirections #criticismonlymakesmestronger #makingupmyownhashtags #getbacktowork

Made in Leeds TV

The feature on The Lowdown was aired on the 13th June. I had forgotten about it….oops. Someone mentioned it today. Watched it on catch up and it is not too bad, Made me look good. Impressed with the editing. They made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear…. (Self deprecation is a way of getting the criticism in before some one else does.) I messed up so many times. I have lots to say but my speech impediment prevents all of that and my creative writing needs more practice. (Jeez,  I am so miserable!!)


The presenter, James I think, was a lovely young man. Natural and unpretentious.

Don’t know how the feature was perceived but I thought it was OK.

Here is the link to the feature: episode 262 The Lowdown on Made in Leeds TV. I come on at 11 mins and 44 seconds in.

Talking about being on the telly, James, Pottery vet, from The Great Pottery Throw Down Series One, is in a new TV programme called The Pets Factor on CBBC. Started today not seen it yet.

I say what I like because no one is reading this. Well not to the end anyway.

Laters. x


Arts and Craft fairs

I have learned over the years that choosing any craft stall  to sell your wares is not a sensible strategy. Just because it is cheap and close by doesn’t mean you should do it.

I do a farmers market once a month. It can be the most disheartening experience. It can also be a a huge success. One can never tell. Are market stalls the way to go? I think it is time to go for the bigger and more prestigious fairs and shows in the country.

I am about to apply for the Christmas market at The Hepworth in Wakefield. Not hopeful that I will get in but will give it a go. It seems they have doubled the the stall costs from last year. That can be a good sign. I have nothing to lose.

My life is more than making ceramics but this is one of the things I am quite passionate about. Had the Made in Leeds camera crew for The Lowdown in my studio this week. They did a feature on me. I didn’t even take a photo or tweet it or anything. Not very prepared or that enthusiastic. Stupid of me really. What a great opportunity to plug the business. Scared to see what they do in the edit. Didn’t even put a bit of lippy on.

Image result for Lips



Getting a foothold in the market

I know this is obvious and I should have done it 8years ago but I don’t have a business plan for SAZi!!!!!

How do I continue making ceramic pots when I am not commercially viable? Answer: Write a business plan. I don’t feel like writing a business plan. Response: Life might get a little better if I do get one together. I will think about it.


Latest out the kiln.


That green glazed bottle (top left hand corner) is my latest glaze test. The recipe came from Linda Bloomfields book on glaze recipes. I don’t even like green much but I love this glaze. I think it is the texture. So silky. Getting my colour palette together for the next big show and  it will definitely include that green.

In other news

Middleport pottery have  A Great Exhibition on till  the 2nd July. Check the website for updates about Where are they now? You can visit and see the works made from the show for both series.


Bye for now.


Workshops, making, finding a steady income.

My life is busy trying to find an income that leaves me free to do as I please. Looking for income does not give you freedom. Fact of life. In the meantime I am making and running workshops. Workshops are the way to go I think if people book places on them otherwise it is a futile, demoralising venture. Got lucky this month. 2 out of 3 workshops booked up. Now to set dates for May. Fingers crossed.

Getting ready to start making for August Pottery in the Pens. Excited and a little anxious.

Want to make lots of these little vases below. I like making them. Will make about 50 for the show.  See how that goes.

Latest out of the kiln

The following images are not actually the latest out of the kiln. The stoneware firing (cone 6) I did last week was the last thing out the kiln, for me, they were a disaster.  So much so that it makes me question why I do this pottery/ceramic thing. I am slowly getting past it and realise that I was trying too many new glazes on really well made work, not taking notice of the firing temperatures and the soak times, making them unsaleable and ugly. A stupid thing to do. I ought to know better.

One positive is that I think I made a grey glaze that I can live with. Using an adjusted recipe from ‘The Glaze Book’ by Stephen Murfitt:

  • Potash Feldspar         45
  • Dolomite                     22
  • Quartz                          16
  • Zirconium Silicate    11
  • China Clay                   6
  • Cobalt Carbonate       0.5
  • Nickel Oxide                2

Also bought Linda Bloomfields  ‘The Handbook of Glaze recipes’ . There are grey glaze recipes in there I am yet to try.

Some earthenware pieces that are out on display in  The Summerhouse The Corn Exchange Leeds. What do you think? (I don’t know why I ask.)

SAZi images March 2017 044

Building up stock

I am rubbish with this blogging thing. Just need accept that it is not part of my routine or habit.

I have been pretty busy in the studio making, making, making.  My stock, diminished to some rejected pots sitting idly, taunting me on the shelf, needs replenishing. I set off with great feats in mind. The cold and the damp stopped me in my tracks because nothing wants to dry in the winter and the studio is like the antarctic. Currently drying time is 9-10 days! Normally 2-3 days on non winter day. That’s a potters life.

Just realised that I have already written about drying pots and plates. How dull. Well they are still drying….. -_-


Bisqued and drying pots. Feb 2017.

Series Two – Great Pottery Throw Down

Did anyone see Episode 1 of the new series of The Great Pottery Throw Down shown on BBC 2 2nd Feb 2017? I did. Really enjoyed it but I know that there was so much more going on that was edited out. Meaning that the experience of my time as a contestant in series one taught me lots about TV and editing.

I enjoyed watching it and felt for the contestants. To make a 16 piece dinner set in 4.5hrs for the first task was a big ask. See an extract on the link.


Brought back happy and anxious memories.

I wondered about the judges choosing to kick out Carole over James. James’s throwing skills were dire whereas Carole’s were far superior. James had a huge hole in his plate! The favourites have already been identified. My guess as to who will get through to the semi finals are Clover, Elaine, Ryan, Freya or perhaps Richard. Some of my friends from the first show already know! I don’t want to know.

I started to make a dinner set last week Monday but the winter damp and the cold means that nothing will dry in a hurry. Will take about a month to finish. I am determined and I will finish it. Also added side plates, bowls, cups and saucers.  Using red earthenware with slip decoration. Will colour with underglaze and a transparent glaze. It is not what I had originally planned  but it is better than doing nothing. I will stick to my original plan in the next dinner set. Off to go and trim then start on the next thing.