Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Ceramics workshop

It was very exciting to get back to the ceramics workshop last week and find that a number of items I had made in the last few classes of 2017 were bisque fired and now ready to glaze. I was busy with a new project though, and didn't have time to glaze these things last week, but hope to do so this week.

When working with clay, whether hand-building or working on the wheel, it is important to wedge the clay heartily; i.e. knead it to remove air bubbles (so finished pieces do not explode when fired!).

This is a plain draped slab pot: after wedging and rolling out some grey (stoneware) clay, I trimmed the sides and draped the slab over a paper-covered block of wood. I created two small rectangular feet to raise the platter form.

This is a more free-form draped slab pot. It was created in the same manner as the platter above, but I wedged some terracotta clay with the grey clay in order to produce a marbling effect. This will be glazed with a transparent glaze in order that the marbling remains visible.

This design of tree branches was created by the sgraffito method. After wedging, rolling out, and trimming a slab of grey clay, I painted the slab entirely with a terracotta slip. At the leather-hard stage. I scratched out the drawing with a sharp tool.

This tile of tree branches was also created using sgraffito.

The stone designs of the following three tiles were created using the mishima technique. After wedging, rolling and trimming the slabs, a design is incised in the leather-hard clay.

At this stage the clay is still moist enough to accept a layer of slip painted over its surface. I used a terracotta slip.

When the tile is nearly dry,  the slip is scraped away from the surface uniformly such that slip that had filled the incised design, remains to show the drawing. I plan to tint a clear glaze so that the designs remain visible after their final firing.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Mustard fruit

A number of years ago, my husband was watching a cooking show on xmas eve, where the chef talked about a super easy recipe to make as an accompaniment to the xmas ham. This recipe, with origins in Italy, is so easy to make that he set about immediately to make it in order that we could eat it the next day! Mustard fruit is so delicious though, it should not be hidden away to have only once a year. This accompaniment to the xmas ham also makes a fabulous chutney to have with cheeses and the other usual party snacks year round. Here goes!

Use any and all of your dried fruit that happens to be in your cupboard or fridge but make sure you have a varied mix. Your chutney may actually have a slightly different flavour every time you make it, depending on what's available for your mix. This year we had raisins, dried apricots, maraschino cherries, dates, dried figs, and candied peel.

The recipe is: 1 cup chopped dried fruit, half cup brown sugar, half cup vinegar, at least 1 tblsp dried mustard (add more if you wish!).

Mix all ingredients in a pot and bring to a hard boil; simmer for 5-10 mins stirring regularly so as not to stick to the bottom of the pot.

As it cools, the mixture becomes fairly thick. Spoon generously over your ham. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Happy New Year 2018!

In my family we wait till after dinner on new year's day to set the xmas pudding alight and make our wishes before eating the dessert with warm home made custard. The fiery pudding is always a spectacular sight, as the lights are out and the flames light the room. The blurry picture can show only a fraction of the real thing.

Happy New Year 2018!