Monday, 25 June 2018

June at Lilli Pilli

There is a real Blue Mountains chill in the air now but it is warm in the studio.

As usual it has been a busy time here.
I have now done 14 firings in my new kiln and I love it to pieces.

I have just competed the next 18 units in my MA Vis Arts with a series of figurative sculpture.
It was great to sculpt for a change and I will certainly be following through the remainder of my degree with work that builds on this new series of work.

Heading back from Canberra from my assessments 
I stopped at 'Balmoral' Studio to participate in 
one of Sandy Lockwood's workshops.
Sandy has probably been the teacher who has had 
the strongest influence on my ceramic practice.
Her workshops are my soul food.
I have been attending her workshops (whenever I can) since 2014.
Although I have have had various esteemed teachers, 
over my 43 year association with clay,
who have taught me so much (see my bio),
  I think it is Sandy who has been the mentor who 
has influenced me the most in my making practice.

Spending time in her studio is my clay retreat.

                                                  It's great to catch up with other potters too.


                           Unfortunately I had to miss a couple of days in the workshop this time
                                          due to a very special shared 90th birthday of my in-laws.
                                          These two people are a wonderful inspiration.
                                           They are kind and broad minded, wise and humble
                                          I am so fortunate to have them in my life.

                                         For these two beautiful human beings, I was happy
                                         to miss some of Sandy's workshop.
                                         But only for them!

I then returned to the Southern Highlands to finish my work on the last day.

Then back to the Blue Mountains to prepare for classes.
This next term of teaching I have almost doubled my number of students.
So I am busy getting organised!
While I will still only have three students at a time I will now be teaching 5 days a week.
The major consideration is storage for students work and materials.
So I have been building shelves and racks

My aim has been to get everything off the work benches.

The traditional containers for pottery tools is ceramic pots 
but in my modest sized studio I find that they take up far too much bench/work space.
So I have been putting everything on the walls, in various ways.
Easy to find and access and students will get to know where to return them to.
Hopefully it will be good for me too!

I have also been mixing large quantities of glaze 
With 23- 24 students we are likely to need it.

                                                And..... I have been stocking up with clay.
                                                I am keen to give my students a chance
                                                to try a variety of clay this term.

                                       I stocked up on Walkers white hand building clay
                                                            while I was in Canberra

I also made a special trip to Keans in Gosford 
for some of their lovely clays.
1/2 tonne! 
(Just made it down the drive with only a bit of scraping)

 there is more Blackwattle, Feeneys and Clay Works clay 
being delivered in early July.

                                      Down the track I hope to get a pug mill and a dough mixer
                                      but space and finances are not on my side at the moment
                                      so, for the time being, I have to buy packaged clay and recycle by hand.
                                      But that works fine for us for the moment.

                                    The lack of TAFE institutions that teach creative courses in Australia
                                     over the last few years has meant that there has been a huge increase
                                      in the demand for private studio classes.
                                     I love teaching from my own studio with my own style of teaching
                                     and seeing the creative work develop in such a variety of ways from my
                                    students, but there is only one of me.
                                     I recycle the clay, mix the glazes, fire the kiln, keep the tools
                                    renewed and sharp, wash the floors and keep everything up to
                                    OH and S standards.
                                    It is a big job.
                                    So I only teach 6 week terms and I have at least 6 weeks off
                                    between terms (depending on other life demands).
                                    Most of my students have been coming to classes for a few years.
                                    Almost daily I get email requests for classes but there is only one of me
                                    and my studio is not vast so I am limited in the numbers that I can take on.

                                   Here is the link for current classes
                                    Lilli Pilli Classes

                                    My apologies to those eager clay practitioners
                                    who I have not been able to accommodate this time around
                                    I do keep you all on my waiting list but you could also contact
                                     Robert Linigen who is another great studio pottery teacher
                                    in the Blue Mountains.


                                     and for something completely different.....

                                     Here is my favourite recipe for this month

                                            Mushroom Soup

1 leek finally chopped
2/3 cup pearl barley
 30g porcini mushrooms
2tblsp olive oil
250g shitaki mushroom
100g button mushrooms
100g chopped oyster and enoki mushrooms
1 tbsp  fresh thyme leaves
2 anchovy( optional)
2 cloves garlic
2 cloves black garlic (optional) 
2 litres of your favourite stock
flat leaf parsley 
dill leaves
parmesan cheese

Soak porcini mushrooms in warm water for 30 min until soft. 
Drain,chop porcini mushrooms and keep the water separately.
In a heavy saucepan add oil 
on a high heat add fresh shitaki and button mushrooms
season with salt and pepper
fry 1-2 min until golden
add garlic and thyme
cook 1 min and remove and set aside
soften the leek in the pan with a little oil and anchovy (optional)
add barley and stock, scrapping the bottom to collect the flavours
add black garlic, porcini mushrooms and water
Cook 40-45 min until barley is tender
add cooked mushrooms,oyster and enoki and cook a further 5 min until soft

Serve with a mixture of fresh rocket,parsly and dill
and grated parmesan cheese.

mmmm enjoy :)

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

May be in May.....

                                                                 Waiting........ Waiting.....
                                                                        AND THEN!

This week my beautiful new Rohde electric kiln was delivered!
It is a heavy bundle at 500kg.
The transportation has been a substantial task!
I would advise anyone considering making such a purchase
to sort out the delivery before ordering such a big, heavy, 
precious treasure just so that there are no surprises. 
While the transport was costly it was well looked after and arrived without a blemish.
Several people have also asked me, 
"how difficult will replacement elements, thermocouple etc be to obtain?"
Perhaps Paul Good from Interdec could leave a response
 to that question here for those who are interested?

This kiln has come all the way across the water
from the Rohde factory in Germany
to Interdec in South Australia
where Paul Good 
put it on a truck bound for NSW
and then Wildman Cranes delivered it 
to me at Lilli Pilli Studio, Hazelbrook.
This kiln is better travelled than me!


I had to get organised before it arrived 
as once in place this 500 kg beauty 
would not be easily moved so
I have been modifying shelves with wheels 
and making storage for kiln furniture so
that it can be easily accessed when loading the kiln. 
(I love being organised like this when I can manage it.)
These shelves can fit behind the kiln 
and can be moved out when needed.
 It is important to me that everything is flexible in my studio
so that the space can be adjusted 
to suit different making needs and numbers of inspired students.

The crane guys were amazing.
They came and checked out the drive 
and the studio with its special requirements for delivery  
prior to bringing it to Lilli Pilli Studio.


                                                       (double click video for full screen)


The kiln has a pull out draw/floor 
so that the kiln can be packed outside the chamber 
and slides in when fully packed.
This will make loading a much easier process for my old back.
I am hopeful that it will be more efficient in energy usage too.

                                                      (double click video for full screen)

Now I need to brace myself for another learning curve 
as I explore how this new heart of the studio/ friend /studio assistant works 
before I start teaching again in late July.

I have named this kiln "Betty" 
because it was given to me by my dear mother-in-law, Betty.

I would never have been able to have such an amazing kiln without her generosity
Now every time I open a new firing I can say 
"Thank you Betty"
I hope this "Betty" will be as strong, beautiful, efficient, 
generous and productive as the Betty who gave her to me.

Thank you to all who got her here safely

 All classes are now fully booked at Lilli Pilli Studio
for Term 3, July 23rd to Sept 1st
         but please email me if you would like  
to go on my waiting list
for Term 4, 2018 or 2019

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

April is breathing new life into the studio

                                    Life never seem to slow down around here!

                          Harry kiln was taken to his new home at the start of April
                          which ended up being only in the next suburb

I packed him up safe and sound

and with the help of Steve and friends Bree now has a big kiln 
and once a few renovations are done  she should be cooking

I managed to get my little mobile wood kiln, "Rocky",
firing with gas for the first time this month 
and it is very efficient.

 I started with a bisque fire 
but I quickly discovered that
this little guy is just a bit TOO enthusiastic
to comfortably fire a safe bisque!

After watching the first load explode
I ended up repacking and firing to 300˚ with the lid off.
Can you believe it got to 300˚
in about 2 hours with the lid off ???!!!!
(With the lid on it was about 20 minutes.)
Keeping it open was the only way I could slow it down
in order to stop things exploding.

(I won't be trying to bisque in this kiln in the future!)

Once it got to 300˚  I put the lid on
and it was all done a couple of hours later.

I look forward to doing some cone 10 reduction glaze firings in the near future
and also some raku with my students.
It is a fabulous little raku kiln.

This week my beautiful new Rohde electric kiln left Adelaide 
on a truck bound for NSW it is a heavy bundle at 500kg.
The transportation is a substantial task! 

In anticipation of its arrival 
I have been getting organised. 
Once in place this 500 kg beauty 
will not be easily moved so
I have been modifying shelves, attaching wheels 
and making storage for kiln furniture so
that it can be easily accessed when loading the kiln. 
I love being organised like this when I can manage it.
These shelves can fit behind the kiln 
and can be moved out when needed.
 It is important to me that everything is flexible in my studio
so that the space can be adjusted 
to suit different making needs and numbers of inspired students.

Hopefully the new kiln will arrive in early May 
and I will make a special welcome post about it.

The garden is doing its Autumn Zygo thing

                                After an immensely busy start to the year with family and travel
                                 I have been feeling the lack of time in my sacred creative space.
                                   It is great to now be settled back into studio work full of ideas.

                                            Here is the link to my quiz master husband on
                                                         Million Dollar Hot Seat 
                                                                    aired last week,
                                          filmed when we were in Melbourne in February

Monday, 9 April 2018

March March Marching through March

                                             Back in home territory and lunch with family

Visiting Sandy Lockwood's PhD exhibition
at Wollongong University left me 
totally inspired

May Barrie
'Viva Solaris'

Lovely to catch a glimpse of this sculpture by my mums dear friend May Barrie
in the grounds of the uni.

It was lovely to have a visit from Benjamin from Melbourne 
and it gave us a chance to show off our wonderful Blue Mountains 

Thanks for visiting Benji :)

                         Then time to hit the studio and knuckle down for some serious uni work.
                         I am  sculpting with mixed media at the moment.
                         This way of working is full of surprises...some good ...some not so good.

                                                     Then a little time at a wildlife park
                                                  followed by a trampoline extravaganza
                                                          for my eldest grand daughter
                                                         who turned 7 !!!!  this month.
                                        Mara and I took her out for a birthday treat while
                                                       her family where busily moving house.

                                                    Everything always happens at once!


                                           Then off to do a residential in Canberra at ANU

A life drawing class using wire has taken me on an unexpected journey 
I am out of my comfort zone and I am trying to get my head around a new way of working
but I always love an experiment onward and upward!

The sculpture came through a bisque in tact 

but the hair was quite brittle after glaze

THEN..... the day that I took this out of the kiln

I fell over!

If I was superstitious I may have seen this as a premonition 

Yes.....I know....
I don't do things by halves

2 weeks later it had made its way down my face 
and I just looked my usual muddy self

After Canberra we headed North to visit family 
and attend the Blues Festival in Byron Bay

It was a highlight to see my mums dear friend Mieke
At 90 she continues to paint and draw every day 
and enjoys being a life model in her painting group.
She is a total inspiration.
Love you so much Mieke xxx

Then off to my sons house to visit his awesome little family.

Then to the Blues Festival.
This was a very new experience for me.
I tend to be a classical music person with a bit of world and jazz thrown in.
So the numbers of people and the huge sound from various tents 
took a bit of time to acclimatise to.
My husband and my daughter are musicians
so I am keen and love to do this kind of thing with them.

My favourite bands were

The California Honey Drops

Afro Celt Sound System

and we got a little bogged on the first night 
but a bit of a push got us on the way
though the mud did fly a little


                               All in all it was precious time spent with our wonderful family

A quick drive home ( 13 hours) taking in very small amount of appreciative site seeing

                      The long drive was all made possible thanks to the wonderful treats
                                 that my daughter in-law Suse had supplied us with.

                                         Once home it was time to emerge my self in clay

                                   Here is a little bit of inspiration for the clay lovers to check out

                                                   Lisa Hammond: 'A Sense of Adventure'