Friday, 27 November 2015
Last year I had a rush of blood to the head (a bit like that other time) and I bought a pottery kiln!
If you've been following my clay adventures you will know that I fell hard for this new craft a couple of years ago when I took my first class and I've been trying to learn more ever since. (So funny to look back at those first pots, perhaps I have improved lol!).
The kiln wasn't expensive but what I didn't realise at the time was that I didn't have the right power to run it and it wasn't going to be as simple as plugging it in.
I hit a steep learning curve, wasn't sure how to fix it and then our renovation came along all the clay gear was packed away while they dug a big hole in our back yard.
Fast forward to this year and the moment I've been dreaming of finally came the other day. My kiln was wired in and I can finally fire my own work.
I'm very much a beginner, and there is so much to learn. But its really nice to have control over my own little experiments. I love that.
On the first day I plugged my little kiln in to its shiny new powerpoint, put some not so precious pots on the shelf and base of the kiln to do a bisque fire and turned it on.
I was hoping to fire to 1060c. Things started well, it turned on quite happily and the temperature climbed steadily for a few hourse. But then to my disappointment it stalled at 1000c and wouldn't budge. After a couple of hours I turned it off, disappointed but hopeful it had done enough to bisque fire the work.
Then disaster! Turns out the temperature gauge was faulty. The kiln had actually gone way past 1000c - high enough even to melt clay! The next morning I opened the kiln to devastation. All the earthenware pieces had melted into a glassy kind of substance and stuck like cement to the fragile firebrick floor and shelf of my precious, long awaited kiln.
You can imagine my feelings, but long story short, it was fixed. Turned out it wasn't too bad and with some advice and help from a few generous and knowledgeable people the kiln was fixed. Phew!
I now use pyrometric cones to keep an eye on the temperature which I look at with my new fashionable kiln sunglasses. In future I'm hoping to have a controller attached which will mean I won't have to manually turn up the heat every hour and the new temperature gauge might show the right temperature.
I've managed three successful bisque fires and one glaze load now. I've taken pots through from raw clay to finished piece, all in my own space. That blue bowl with the leaves was handbuilt, bisque fired, glazed and then fired again here. There's something really wonderful about making something from scratch. It makes me so happy.
I've set up my pottery wheel in the new garden shed and put a workbench in there too.
Combined with the handbuilding course I've been doing with Cath Fogarty from ChinaClay I am reinspired, out of my creative rut and looking forward to lots of potting and playing next year.
Thursday, 12 November 2015
Yesterday was my 8 year blogaversary! Can you believe it? I can't.
Eight years ago I wrote my first posts. I remember it was a sunny Sunday afternoon in November, and I sent them off into the world wondering if anyone would ever read them!
Since then my Flower Press business and blog, both of which I started on a whim, have become a big part of my life.
A huge defining part.
The online world was very different eight years ago, its changed a lot in that time. Nowadays everyone is a part of it, we are all on instagram, everyone is microblogging. Its great, I love it! People understand immediately when I say I'm a blogger, those blank looks are gone. Lots of us have little handmade businesses, people are making their own all over the place! Being creative is much more common.
It wasn't like that back then, we were pioneers in many ways looking to find other makers online and so happy when we found this likeminded community. I miss those lovely early days a little, when the craft blogging community was like a small secret society, sharing and inspiring each other in our creative pursuits. Secret crafters! Those other bloggers shaped my life, my work, my art. If you are reading this, and you were one of that gang back then, thank you a million times my friends. If you are still blogging, and there are less of us these days, then your blog is probably over there on the right and I'm still reading it.
Thank you too to all the lovelies that have come along in the meantime. You are constantly making me think and grow. I make my own soap, jam, pickles, sew my own clothes, grow my own vegies, make my own pots, print my own fabric, buy art, cook food, watch shows, raise my kids, live my life inspired by you!
I've had so many amazing opportunites come my way through my blog and shop, I've had the most amazing emails turn up in my inbox every year of its life. Thank you thank you thank you for reading and responding!
Connecting online is fun and rewarding in a million ways. I was shy to put myself out there at first. I didn't tell anyone in my real world about my blog for a while and then when I slowly did I only got positive feedback, and now my real and virtual communities understand, support and cheer on my creative life. That's such a gift.
My Flower Press Etsy shop turns eight years old in a few of days too. I'm going to celebrate!! I'm going to get my act together and have a sale. I've been a bit distracted this year, I haven't looked after the poor old shop, it has its own life though and looking today I see my recorded sales are up to 970! Time to go for the thousand I think!
Thanks for reading, Susie xxxx
p.s. The images above link to some of my most popular posts, just click on them to go there. Many of the tutorials have been viewed thousands of times, and I love to think of all the makers out there making, inspired and guided by my words!
Friday, 23 October 2015
Since moving to this street many years ago I've delighted in the open Greenway and canal that run behind us, bringing a huge range of birds into our garden and giving us a bush outlook.
So I was delighted to find the Backyard Bird Count which is running now - a nationwide public survey of birds in Australia. I'm looking forward to adding my observations to the count and sharing the range of birds who call this part of the world home.
I've downloaded the app and plan to do some surveys over the next couple of days, to record our local bird life. It takes just 20 minutes to do a survey, and you can do as many as you want. I think it will be a nice way to slow down, a chance to do something while doing nothing, a sort of mindful meditation.
I'm hoping some of our more exotic visitors plan to drop in so I can record what a truly healthy bird population lives here in the Inner West, so close to the CBD.
There is a page on the website too about bird friendly gardening, for hints to make your space even more welcoming.
Here are some photos of favourite locals who live in my neighbourhood.