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