Saturday, 18 February 2017

2017 a new year with lots of potential


It has been an eternity since I last posted on my blog.
Life has a way of slipping through my fingers....(pardon my muddy pun)
2016 was very full with family and clay,teaching and learning.

*I completed my Grad Cert in Ceramics and started my MA/Ceramics at ANU
*We built a new chook shed ( Bwah hahaha foiled you Mr Fox!)

....and we did some landscaping which should make Open Studio's more pleasant in the future.
It has also created a nice space in the garden for the grand children to play.
A new pit was made on the next terrace pit firings and raku will happen down there.
* I participated in several Sandy Lockwood workshops- because there is always more to learn!
* My Classes at my home studio- Lilli Pilli Studio- have been going well.
I only take a small number as my space is limited and there is only one of me to do all the jobs connected to it ....such as recycling clay, mixing glazes, packing kilns.....
But we have a great time and everyone makes lovely work.
My students inspire me.

2017 looks like following suit!
The garden is doing well.

My Stanhopea orchid flowered this year
with the perfume of rich dark chocolate and a hint of vanilla
Got to be a good omen!
There is always so much that needs to be done in the garden, the studio, the house and with the doesn't stop!
 I am always wishing for more time to give to all the aspects of my life.

I have opened an on-line shop with my ceramics available to purchase as a start to 2017
So check here to see what it has to offer :)
It will be constantly added to as I make new work.

 I have only recently returned from a workshop with Christina Cordova which was pretty amazing really and totally out of left field for me in the style of work but I am fascinated!

How does she manage to look so groovy and spotless while she works with clay?
totally impressed with this woman....on so many levels!

this is what came out of me during the week
So different for me!

Classes here at Lilli Pilli Studio are near to full with only a space or two available on Saturdays
check my website for class availability
I have adjusted my terms this year into 6 week terms with a four week break between terms so that I can get work made for both uni and the on-line shop during the break.
A bit of garden and studio maintenance.
I hope it will also allow me time to visit my children and grand children.
If you are keen to join a class email me and I will let you know when a space becomes available.

I am planning to once again participate in several Sandy Lockwood workshops
 this year at her studio in the Southern Highlands.

Hopefully I will hold a pit fire and raku workshop here at Lilli Pilli Studio during winter.
Please message me if you are interested in participating in these.
These are mostly for my current students but I can offer a few extra places.
Spaces will be limited.

I am very excited to have ordered one of Steve Harrison's little mobile wood kilns
and I am looking forward to experimenting with that over winter.

Work will continue on my MA but at a slow pace as my family and my students take first priority for me. I will be mostly working on sculpture for my uni work while my on-line shop is more focused on domestic ware.

I will be part of an exhibition at Braemar gallery in April

 "Open Studios" this year will be in August with the Australian Ceramics Association
Visitors will have a chance to try their hand at throwing and hand building at this Open Studio.

This year I will also have an "Open Studio" at the start of December for Christmas
but there will not be hands on clay for visitors at this one.
It will be more about feasting the eyes and celebrating the festive season with some tasty Christmas treats. I will aim to have small and large pieces suitable for christmas gifts available to buy at this event.

Well that's a good start for planning the year....lets see how it pans out.....
I will also see if I can be a bit more consistent with my blog posts in 2017!

Sunday, 17 July 2016

2016 Pit Fire at Lilli Pilli Studio

It has been a busy year this year and as always studio time has its highs and lows through out the year.
It is winter here at the moment and that means it is time for cooking pots in wood firings, raku and pit fires. It has been particularly cold and wet in the Blue Mountains over the last couple of months but this weekend the kiln gods were with us and it was perfect weather for a pit fire.

Many of my students have been making lots of beautiful burnished thrown and hand built pots to cook in the pit. It is a fun process but you never know what will come out.
There are usually some casualties and some gems and lots of fun in the process.

This year we had some extra special additions to our pit concoction.
I sourced a lot of cow manure which I was able to dry out in time for our special weekend.
My daughter inlaw collected lots of sea grass that had washed up in the river near her mums house.
We had lots of coffee grounds and banana and mandarin peal which I dried.
It is a pretty magic mixture that puts colour on to pots with the help of a bit of alchemy and fire.



Woooo Hooooo!!!!

Time laps video of Day 1 - The Pit
click the link
                                                             Loading and Firing the pit

                                                 Time laps video of Day 2- The Opening
                                                                   click the link
                                                        The Reveal- Opening the Pit

I run these workshops as part of my teaching practice here.
I have a small studio and I keep my student numbers to just a handful so that we have space to work
and time to focus on everyones work process.
At this stage my classes are full but I do have a waiting list.

If you are interested in workshops or classes please email me your contact details
via my web site
and I will let you know when a place becomes available.

You are most welcome to come along to my Open Studio on the 20th & 21st August
and check out exactly what it is we do here. :)

Happy potting

Sunday, 3 July 2016

2016 Open Studio

Yes I know it has been a year since I have posted ….so sorry…
I have been so flat out that I have been barely able to keep up with myself!
Here I am posting at that time of the year that means OPEN STUDIO is just around the corner.
Please stop by if you are in the area on this weekend and I can show you just how busy I have been.
Best wishes

See a web link below for a map of participating Blue Mountains Pottery Studios

Friday, 26 June 2015

Burning The Winter Fires at Both Ends.

With the cold months here it is time to make the most of 
the winter and cook pots with fire.
As we live in the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia, 
where summer fires are a concern 
I am extremely cautious about when it is safe to fire with wood.
I only work with fire between June and September 
so I have to pack the time with lots of firings.

They do scrub up nicely and I love the process.

I have been alternating between pit firing alone, 
for my own work 

and also with my students 
who have been making some lovely work.

The preparation is long and slow
as I am a one person unit 

but it is great to be able to use the old falling down palling fence 
and to clean up all the sticks and 
bits of wood from our well treed block before the Summer
while firing my work in a way that produces colour and individuality 
and speaks of the environment I live in
I do LOVE that! 


but it is great to recycle 
infact that is a very important part of why I do what I do.
Not much is thrown away here.
The chooks get their share and the compost heap is looked after
and pit fireing is a great way to use some kitchen scraps too.
Banana skins, citrus peel, coffee grounds, corn husks 
and many more elements help to create colour in the fire pit.

Then last weekend I went off to Sandy Lockwood's
Balmoral Pottery

for a group woodfire

I like to keep learning new things from different artists

It makes me think about my process 
and consider how, what and why I make things.
New teachers keep me excited about my work 
as a growing and living experience.

I have had about 6 or 7 influential teachers in my life. 
As I work, I recall different asspects of their teaching.
I strongly encourage my students and any creative person 
to keep learning from as many people that you come across
who's art and aproach to making art you enjoy.
Be an eternal student I say, 
not stuck on one teachers approach,
don't just stick with one technique that you feel comfortable with,
take yourself out of your comfort zone. 
Go on regular creative adventures and challenge yourself
it will add depth to your process 
as you find new ways to work.

Well, that my idea of fun anyhow :)

How sad would it be to feel that you had nothing more to learn?
That the learning had stopped!
No, there is so many wonderful makers 
who have so much to share, enjoy! 

My lovely niece, Frances, came along 
to the woodfire at Sandy Lockwood's studio this time.

My sister, Karin came down too, 
from outback NSW.
So great to spend this kind of occasion with people you love.

All the  above photos of Balmoral Studio are by my brother Chris

So now I will spend the next month 
on wood fired raku ware
and another pit fire while the weather is chilly and moist.
Then another wood fire at Balmoral Pottery in August
There is much to do!

Gems did emerge from the fires
but I am not going to show you these just yet 
as I like to keep them a surprise for the exhibitions.
Come and visit my studio on the weekend of
August 15th and 16th
when I will have an open day
with my new domestic ware
some older work  
and a seconds table
Come and play with some clay 
and share a cuppa.

Then  in October 
I will have my favorite pieces on show
at our 7th Family Exhibition
in Bowral at the BDAS Gallery.

For updates and opening times go to our 
2015 Donaldson Family Exhibition FB page

Thursday, 7 May 2015

A Pause to Ponder

I have to say that the older I get the bigger life seems to become.
Each year seems to be so full of excitement 
both challenging and engaging.

My adult life has been always full of children.
I imagine this will be my story for as long as I am on the planet.
It is a wonderful thing.
However that is not my only story.
Art has been the story of my life from the moment I was born.
My mum, an artist and primarily a painter, 
lived and breathed art and so did my 17 year old sister.

Sometimes my life gets so full of children and family events
that it is hard to find time to make art.

Sometimes my life is so full of art 
that it is hard to find time for children and family occasions 

Both ART and FAMILY insist on attention
and I HAVE to divide my time fairly.

I am glad about that.
It keeps me whole.
It keeps my heart warm and my spirit strong.
But sometimes when I feel a little pushed for time 
or I have a slight wobble in my self esteem 
I need to pause and reflect 
on how happy I am that my life has the shape it has.

I am now in the second year of my part time 
Grad Cert Visual Art/ Ceramics.
Since January I have been working on a unit of work 
called 'Designing and making for the Domestic'
It seems an appropriate unit for me to be focused on.
Amongst other things, I have been making 
cups and saucers and mugs and saucers.
I have made quite a few!

It has been a great process.
I am inspired to make and make and make……
(in amongst the rest of family life.)

I have also been teaching beginners pottery classes 
in my little
Lilli Pilli Studio.
I do love my classes.
I have delightful students….so much so 
that I haven't been looking for more people to fill the class 
because the class dynamic is so enjoyable as it is.

I am such a bad business woman,
if I was clever I would only run full classes 
and everything would be run like clockwork, 
But the joy of creative pursuits 
is difficult to team up with good business in my mind.
So we just have a great time making and creating….
and I manage to keep it all ticking over
 but I don't make what anyone could ever call a living. 

It has been a bit mind bending to embrace 
sharing my studio with 5 other adult creatives.
I have always been a bit secretive of my work process
and now it is watched and questioned all the way.
I will have to hide my exhibition work,
 at least in the final stages,
 so that they can look at them 
with fresh eyes when they are in a gallery.

This year is my family exhibition year.
My siblings and I have been exhibiting together every 3 years 
for the past 17 years.
This year it will be in Bowral in October
(we always have it in October)

That means that it is an extra busy year for me this year.

Last year I started having an annual Open Studio 
in co-ordination with the Australian Ceramics Association
This event sees all its members across Australia opening their studios 
to the public to raise awareness of local pottery production and classes.
It is called the Australian Ceramics Open Studios ( ACOS )
It is a great event to be part of.

I like to make these two exhibitions unique from each other.

For ACOS I will have my 'Domestic Ware' for sale 
and a few sculptural pieces for the garden.
I will do demonstrations and have clay available for people to play with.
I will have my hand made paper for sale and perhaps a "seconds" table.
A display of my students work.
The day is about community.
Mark your calendar for the weekend of 15th and 16th August
come and visit , have a chat and share some tea/coffee and cake.

Our family exhibition will be quite a different selection of my work
I will  show my raku, pit fire, 
wood fired work and larger vessels.
Some basketry and mixed media Incorporated with my ceramics.
Stitched work and drawings.
My sister, Karin, will have some ceramics too, along 
with her paintings, prints, pastels and mixed media sculpture.
My brother, Chris, has been travelling with his wife, Anne,
 to exotic and fascinating places and he has so much
 to share in his Silver Gelatin and digital photography.
My brother, Mike will have extraordinary photos 
of the Kimberley region to accompany his fabulous books on rock art.
These exhibitions have been a great bonding experience for us.
They combine family and art in a very positive and heart felt way.
We look forward to sharing that with you in October.

If you are interested in having an invitation sent to you please email me

It is only May and I already feel like I have done enough for 2 years.
Apart from working on my uni work and teaching
I went to Perth for a weekend in March for my brothers 70th
I had a lovely time, though very short,
eating oysters and enjoying family connections

 and caught a bit of Sculpture by the Sea
 I must enter this some day.

and checked out my niece Julia's boutique
If you are in Perth go and have a look.

and they are on line too

Then home 
and back to work to prepare 
my work for end of term assessment 
and keep making for the rest of the events 
that the year seems to be expecting will happen

April brought my son and his family for a visit 

lots of cuddles with grand kids

and auntie bonding times

and everyone got busy with clay

and we just like hanging out together

and we all attended the wedding of my much loved niece, 
Frances, to the delightful Cory.
Sorry I dont have the bride and groom pics 
but these guys are nice :)
What a stunning wedding in an autumn Bilpin

Then back to the studio
recycling lots of clay 
and turning it into pots

my busy life dealt me an important lesson 
in the midst of all the merriment 
More haste and less speed!
 I fired some big work before it was quite dry 
with disastrous consequences

I wiped my tears and pulled my self together
to dash off for
another quick plane trip to Ballina where 
my son is a fireman at the new airport there.
 Grand Ma GoGo duty for a day
while Suse was modelling 
at the Byron Bay Fashion Festival.

Quite a treat to see him at work

and I am always happy to sample 
Suse's yummy German cooking 

a quick look at the beach

a bit of salt air

Then back home 
pack up my work 
and off to Canberra for assessment

Life never stops.
It is all good fun.
But there is so much of it!!!!

I am lucky to have family and friends
and potters are a fabulous community.

For some people things are not so full and happy 
Nepal has suffered dearly over the last weeks.
I am proud to say that the potting community 
has gathered together to create a fundraiser 
steered by of Vipoo Srivilasa, Adriana Christianson
and Vicki Grima
Take a look, if you are a collector, 
it is a great opportunity to give and receive