Friday, 30 December 2016

Bring on 2017, it can't come soon enough for me.

If You Know Me
You will know that I am a very positive and cheerful person.
But what 2016 has thrown at us has literally taken me to the edge
of the cliff.
I peered over the edge and didn't like what I saw.

I started the Year with a Double Heart Attack
which landed me in Hospital and lead to this picture of my legs 
in by hospital bedside gown. which caused quite a stir at the time.
I had a number of comments about them.
It took the wind from my sails and I felt as if I was drifting
without a rudder for a while. 
For me the only way to get back on track was to start making my basic core pots. 
 It took me a lot longer to feel at ease again on the wheel
mainly because it took me around 6 months of juggling my medication
around before I felt I was in full control again. 
 So I've been trying to get the balance between working and resting.
I pulled out of a number of shows we were due to attend to take the pressure off.

So now I'm trying to rest up but it just doesn't seem to be happening.
Sales seemed to fall off a cliff once the whole Brexit campaign trail
started rolling and we had major problems with the kilns
on the run up to our First Major show of the year at 
Earth and Fire at Rufford Abbey.
which meant we had to re fire the big kiln two days before
the show started. so we had to open the kiln at 4am
when it was 220 degrees. load them in the car
and we finally arrived at the show 45 minutes before it started.
It proved to be the day the vote was announced
I just could not believe it!
It had a huge affect on our sales and it proved to be our worst show ever!

Luckily for us we had a Holiday planned at our friends villa in Spain.
It couldn't have come soon enough
we were both totally exhausted
and we actually did nothing for the whole week. 

But we came back with renewed vigor and set about making some changes.

a new colour I had been thinking about for a long time
and we cracked on with a National Trust order
which was going to make up for the lack of sales in the showroom
and at the show. 
Thank God we took this on this year, we would never have survived without it.
( I put this bit in for all the purist's out there that think if you make pots for big orders 
you are selling out in some way. I know one thing, making this amount of pots
has actually made me a better potter ).
"It's not selling out its called survival in a very difficult trading year". 

Luckily we have great friends who give us encouragement.
and we have taken out more time from the workshop
to spend relaxing with them.
We also lost our Best friend Cadbury who's heart also failed him this year.
It's been hard to take
and even harder to start writing about it!
So we move on.
and we look to the future.
I have plans to start reusing my Gas Kiln in the back garden at home
So I've decided to build myself a new workshop
at Home. we started with dismantling the old shed.
and so far that's as far as I've got. but watch this space in 2017.
It would appear my new colour is spot on trend for 2017
and we hope to be able to show them off well at

Not everything in 2016 has been all bad
My Youngest Daughter Sarah gave us our first beautiful Granddaughter
into the Family to go with the 4 boys from Marion's Children
so that's been the highlight of the year!
Our National Trust order has enabled us to replace one of
our oldest kilns with a brand new one.
We Now have 3 fully working kilns. for now!
So for us it's been a strange year full of mixed emotions
highs and lows
and all we have done is keep our heads down and got on with it.
the past few months have been crazy busy and we are now
taking some time out to re charge our batteries for 2017
I Wish You All a Very Happy New Year.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Pottery Lessons for Beginners in 2017

We are Very Excited to be Launching our 2017
Pottery Taster Session
Full Day Pottery Lesson
Open Vouchers for 2017.
Each year we are amazed at just how popular these Vouchers are!
They make a great Christmas Present.

How many times have you heard someone say
" I'd love to have a go on the Potters Wheel"
Well now they can.
Our Two Voucher Options have remained at the same price
for the past 3 years, so they are excellent value as well.

We offer a Full Day Lesson which includes a Buffet style lunch
with Wine,
Tea & Coffee to start the morning, a short introduction to 
Slipware pottery including a throwing demonstration
by Potter Paul Jessop

Then you have your own wheel to learn upon

followed by Lunch

Then in the afternoon Paul will demonstrate again any points that you would like to see again
while you spend more time on the wheel
before stopping for afternoon Tea with Cake
followed by your final hour on the wheel,

at the end of the day you choose your best 5 pots that will be finished off
and fired and glazed by Marion
for you to collect around 4 -5 weeks later

Our pottery workshop is in the old stable barn
at Barrington Court the National Trust property in Somerset
post code TA19 0NQ

Or why not look at the two hour taster session option.

If You live a distance away then why not make a weekend of it
with accommodation available in the Village of Barrington Somerset
at the Local Pub the Barrington Boar.

Or in the next village you could try the excellent Duke of York Pub we Love them Both.

Monday, 10 October 2016

As Winter approaches we step up a gear!

At this time of Year our minds have been turning to Winter
and all that that entails.
The start of Winter is our busiest time of year.
We have been planning our production to make sure
we can make the most of this busy period.
I'm determined to have a fully stocked showroom.
full of wonderful pots for people to buy.
The National Trust have decided not to continue with the Mistletoe Fayre
this Year.
But instead they are incorporating an event in with the 
Workshop event we hold each year.
The other workshops will all be open late
but we always seem to be the last to close, one year we were pushing people 
out of the door at 9.30pm
only to join them in the pub for the rest of the evening. 

This Year will be the best event we have ever laid on!
We simplified our Leaflet but once again we have
kept well away from the standard local leaflet design.
We are what we are and not one of the pack!

as the nights draw in it's time to put away the garden furniture
for another Year.
But the good weather just keeps coming
so we are making the most with short darts to the coast!

Finding the balance between making orders and making my 
signature pieces has been easier this time.
as I have changed my approach to certain aspects of my working day.

It's a rare event to see the kiln empty at the moment
and I finally feel as though it's doing what I want it too!
( I probably shouldn't say that ).

The second batch of these mugs came out of the kiln yesterday
and one sold whilst still warm!
The same with these Soup Bowls
I still love the Pancheons especially when the sun catches them
whilst still in the kiln.

The Bread Pancheons make great presents for people who 
love to make their own bread.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

"Fall seven times stand up eight" - Japanese Proverb

This Year feels like it's been the hardest one of all
this is my eighth as a full time potter!

Retail sales seemed to have fallen off a cliff earlier this year
not just for us but for all of our friends in business as well.
It's at times like these that you have to re asses what is going on around you.

We decided we needed to play to our strengths and concentrate
on what we do best.

the run up to the Earth and Fire show at Rufford Abbey showed us all of the signs
that we should have pulled out, The small kiln failed
so I replaced the elements, it failed again,
Then the big kiln went bang mid firing, 
I called the electrician, only to find he had died suddenly four 
months earlier, I called our kiln engineer, only to find
he has cancer and is only working two days a week
but he dropped everything and came and fixed it.
so we carried on.
We worked until late in the night and I was up at 5am the next day sorting the big kiln out.
"The view at the workshop was stunning at 5am"

We then set off at 4.30am the next day to make it to the show on time.
on the way up the radio said the country had voted
out of Europe
we couldn't believe it how ridiculous!

we took some new pots
all with a bit more decoration than usual. 

I was very happy with the pots we took, some of my best yet.

But we had the worst show we had ever had, 
and we were both Totally Exhausted.
So Luckily the show was quickly followed by a weeks holiday in Spain.
What did we do in Spain?
Absolutely Nothing!
we didn't even talk about the pottery for the first 4 day's
what we needed was time out. 

Then we focused on the pottery and how we were going to
make things happen but still find time for a life outside of it.
Here is a good time to introduce Steve
Steve worked for Johnny Leach for a couple of years
some time ago.

and he comes in to help us out with our National Trust orders
he only comes in a few hours a week
but it takes some of the pressure off my shoulders.
We also have two people Les and Anne who will look after the showroom
for us when we are not in the workshop.
Turned out the first event we were invited to that we decided we would go to
Les and Ann had also been invited
I think you can put that one down to
"sods law"
But it gave us a chance to make that work life balance
and we loved it.

So we think we are now starting to find the right balance
between working hard but not letting life slip us by in the process.

above is what 300 Devon jugs look like all packed up
waiting for collection.
and the link below shows them now available
on the National Trust web site.

This was my favorite picture of a kiln just been unloaded
ready to be glazed and re loaded.

Here is the latest delivery of clay another tonne always feels good.

and we still find time to enjoy our life.
The moral of the story is
"just keep getting back up."

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Inspiring the next generation at Barrington Pottery.

Each Year for the past Five Years
Marion has been running 
"Play with Clay"
during the summer holidays,
a chance for children and parents to get their hands
on and explore the joys of clay.
She has just finished for this year.

It takes a lot of planning and preparation, not least as we are 
a full production pottery that uses Red Earthenware clay, and we continue
with full production whilst Marion runs the sessions
in the school room attached to the main workshop & showroom.
This year we have used over half a tonne of grey air drying clay
in only a period of five weeks for 4 days per week.
We chose to use the grey for a number of reasons, first of all it is easier for the kids to paint
their creations once they have dried, secondly it washes of the cloths without staining.
Although it costs slightly more it does mean we are sure none gets mixed
in with our red clay used for the production of pots. 

 Marion provides a board to work on, rolling pins, shape cutters, 
pencils, small pots of water, brushes and a plastic apron,
and if stuck for ideas a few printed sheets of ideas and creations of her own. 
The children love it with many of them returning a number of times over the weeks.
This year the kids have been especially creative and the atmosphere in the room
has been great on a daily basis.
While all of this is going on

 I'm still making pots in the main barn,
 I love the sound of the hustle and bustle and watching the kids faces
as they proudly come to show me what they have made.

 Marion say's that for her one of the nicest things is watching the adults and kids
interacting with each other, bouncing ideas of each other
and getting really creative is a joy to watch.

 Pencil holders have proved to be a big hit this year.

 along with Dinosaurs! 

 Allowing the kids to make what ever they want allows for their creative mind
to take flight, and that is what we like.
 It's a nice way to introduce the kids to the craft world
as well has having a go themselves they can also see
a professional potter at work in his own environment. 
They each get to take their creations home on the day
to finish off or paint at a later date.
This Year Marion had over 700 kids being creative
and that meant dealing with parents and grandparents.
That averaged out at 33 Children per day.

 Marion does all of this on her own for the five weeks
I personally think that takes one very special person.

She deserves a medal or some kind of recognition from the Crafts Council
to put so much effort into making sure kids have a great time exploring
the joys of clay.