Making, Making always making!

Hello my lovelies!

I hope that you have had a good week either potting or thinking about how fantastic clay and mud can be!

In class this week we are starting to see the beginnings of project work and there are some very interesting things being made.  Raewyn is making a Jackson Pollack Alice n Wonderland T pot.  It is her 2nd attempt at it after a disastrous breakage.  But it has made it through the bisque firing and will be glazed this weekend…we all have our fingers crossed for you Raewyn!  There are bird baths being made and very adventurous and keen mud monkeys determined to master the wheel!  All in all its very busy with the bisque shelves filling up fast…need to get on with glazing now!   A top tip for glazing is to remember what colours you like instead of being bamboozled by the array of samples and glazes on offer.  Collect some images from magazines etc of a look that you fancy this will help to filter out options that are not really you.  Harsh as it sounds, remember that a slightly dodgy pot will not be improved with glaze!  So start to get picky about what you decide to put into the bisque kiln…up until this point the clay can be recycled and you can make something more marvelous the next time!

All busy in the home studio with 5 of my large urns completed and 8 wall cameos drying as well.  Only 4 more to go and then I will throw some extra large black bowls.  I am looking forward to this but just need to make sure that the studio is clear of precious drying objects before I make a mess!   I recycled a bucket of dry clay pieces and some left over black sludge from making the WOW black feathers last year.  If you fancy doing this with your scraps make sure they are bone dry and then break them up into even sized bits, pop them into a bucket and pour over clean cold water until they are completely covered (important…resist the temptation to stir…this will mess up the water absorption).  Now leave them at least overnight and then tip or sponge of the excess clean water of the top then get your hand (arm) in for a wee mix around.  You should end up with sludge like a stiff muffin mix.  Now either slop it over a plaster bat (about 1 1/2 inched thick) and leave to harden off, or tip it into an old pillow case and leave hanging over another bucket until the excess water has evaporated.  Then wedge and knead, stuff into an airtight back and ignore for a few weeks.  An average household bucket of scrap will make about 10kg of plastic clay…so well worth the effort!

Here is a PDF on processing your clay scraps.

Recycling Clay

Well I am going to leave you with a couple of pictures from the market last weekend…which was fantastic…lots of lovely new faces, cheeky familiar ones and great weather too.  So good in fact I got a tad sunburnt and now look like a cookie monster or Elmo if you prefer!  Please visit to see a lot of the stalls that were there on Saturday if you need something special or if you would like to snaffle up something of mine at The Busy Finch shop on-line with Felt.  Thank you for your support if you saw me on Saturday! xxx

Carry on muddy mud skippering and have a great weekend!


Tatyanna a.k.a The Busy Finch

To market, to market to sell a wee Bowl!

Hello all!

This week everybody had their heads down creating various clever projects for the the rest of the term.  We had some lovely items coming in to be bisqued and some bisqued pieces now glazed and waiting for their glaze firing.  Well done everybody!

I have been busy over the past couple of weeks getting ready for the Monster March Market at the Palette Pavilion.  Making rings, necklaces and earrings out of my ‘rock’ beads and silver pins.  Throwing and making more 300 series vessels.  Casting more ‘china white’ bowls with blue rims and inky splatter.  And sorting out a more sturdy table for this out door market.  Over the Christmas period there were a couple of markets which I really wanted to be part off but due to the nature of outdoor markets ceramics don’t do well in windy weather!  So I have outlaid some dosh on a pair of sturdier tables and hopefully it will be a fabulous non windy day tomorrow!!!

In amongst the market making I have started to produce work for the Christchurch Art Show which I have decided to do this year.  It sounds like a great idea that these ladies have come up with to allow small South Island artists to come together and exhibit in an allocated space in the Wigram event center.  We each have purchased a space and now can set up a ‘mini’ exhibition in it.  This is scheduled for the end of June, so I am pacing myself and starting work now.  Some students will have seen me demonstrating how to put urn shapes together from multiple thrown pieces.  These will be the foundation for further decoration and should make a group of 5 urns.  I am going to decorate urn number 4 in the weekend and that leaves one to make…not bad going so far!

I also would dearly like to make wall cameo scenes for the show.  So I have been experimenting with background shapes and also finding images, patterns and objects that can become part of the bird dioramas that will be assemble on the cameo base.  I was saying to a group of students about what inspires me last night and about how I love the history of ceramics.  This comes out in most of my work, as I enjoy using historical shapes and motifs.  I am fascinated by the delicate work of Josiah Wedgwood and really inspired by his technical tenacity when it came to developing Wedgwood pottery particularly his Jasper ware.  This is where a white impressed clay image is carefully put onto a pot with a coloured back ground.  This is called ‘spriging’ and I use it all the time for decorating my pieces.  If you want to have ago you can carve images into a plaster surface, press buttons or other objects into clay and bisque to make a press mold, or make more complicated cast plaster moulds.  Then you just press some nice soft clay into the mould and hey presto you have a shape that can be pressed onto the the surface of a pot!

Wedgwood Jasperware

There a a million and one things that I am inspired by that I would like to share with you…but for now I would like to show you Kate Malone’s video diary that she did when she was setting up for her exhibition in 2010.   She is an amazing potter who uses coiling, stamping, press moulding and spriging to produce the most exquisite pots covered in lush crystalline glazes. I am posting the link to her week 1 video diary, follow the other weeks on You Tube while you are there.  If you have time please have a look and be inspired!

Kate Malone

I leave you with a few of my images…and hope to see you at the Market tomorrow!

Have a great weekend and be inspired…see you next week!


Tatyanna a.k.a The Busy Finch

All quiet on the Pottery Front!

blog week 4 pic 2

Hello all,

It was a quiet week this week.  There were some students finishing off glazing samples and some glazing their printed work.  This week was about working out what projects you want to continue with in class over the next 4 weeks.

Have a think about what you would like to be able to take home with you at the end of term. Do you fancy some new coffee mugs?  Or maybe some little bowls for the birds to splash around at the end of the garden.  Are you more a sculptural person and want to push and squeeze that clay into submission!  There is a myriad of ceramic ideas out there and maybe for you a good place to start is the pinterest page.  Little bowls and wrap vessels are an easy way to begin.  They just need to be personalized with your own unique touch.  Collect items together for impressing onto the clay, or find imagery that can be put onto the clay via the newsprint and coloured slip method.

If you have a rolling pin at home and a board to work on (MDF is ideal) have a go at some slab work at home and bring along to class. Or work out some patterns at home for cups, mugs, vases, jugs and bowls and bring these along ready for next week.

I am steering you off to see a couple of making exercises that show you how to make easy plates, hand build containers and easy throwing.

I am posting some images from the jewellery class as well today!

Enjoy your weekend!


Tatyanna 🙂

a.k.a The Busy Finch

Gail Kendall just about exclusively makes her ceramics by hand building with soft slabs.  Have a look at how she makes a plate.

Denise Buckley shows us how to make a slab pot similar to how we make one using a cylinder inside.  This is a free form one if you were wondering how to make different shapes and sizes from the cylinders we have at class.

This is a favorite video of mine with English potter Mary Chappelhow making wheel thrown beakers.  She has a very concise throwing method with the minimum of waste and movement.  A great ‘how to’ and ‘go to’ for throwing!

Woohoo it’s Glazing Time!

title pic 1

Hello all!

I hope that you are all well and safe after this weeks storm!  I would like to say lots of rantings about it, the Council, EQC, the Government etc…but really that would be even more depressing, I would probably run out of space…and you would most defiantly become board!

So instead lets talk about all the nice things that happened this week.  If you made it to class you would have mixed up lots of buckets of glaze and then dipped, poured, brushed or accidentally dropped them into the buckets!  Well after 48+ hours in a hot kiln they are starting to emerge like butterflies from a cocoon.  It is always a wow moment when you open the kiln and all the drab grey dusty pots you put in are all shiny and colorful.  Usually the pots go into the kiln at 145 degrees an hour until it reaches a final temperature of 1240 and then the kiln holds it at that temperature for 30mins (this is called a ‘soak’ time).  However, I have noticed that not all the pots getting lower into the kiln have been reaching the right temperature….so they are slightly under fired and a little dull.  So on the last firing I extended the soak to 45 mins and they are all looking lurvely!  Just one thing to note, the bottle green glaze and the manganese pink become a bit runny so when you glaze you need to leave a really generous unglazed foot.  An interesting fact…in Eastern pottery when the glaze just starts to slump and melt down onto the pots foot making a luscious roll of glassy glaze it is considered to make a pot sexy and very desirable!

If you missed a class this week we will make it up with another week at the end of term.

I mentioned to the Tuesday night class that numbers for this class in term 2 are already nearly full.  If you haven’t enrolled but really want to come back you have two options.  Those of you who can only come on a Tuesday night please go to this link now and enroll for Tuesday (hopefully they can squeeze you in).  For the balance of the class I have decided to extend the Monday night Jewellery Pottery class into a General Pottery class.  This class will accommodate both classes needs ie working on small projects and on more general pottery projects.  So if you can transfer from a Tuesday to a Monday please follow this link and enroll now! ( I know it says “Jewellery” but it will in fact be “Pottery”)  If you are already in the Monday class and would like to continue follow the link too.

A wee reminder to all my lovely mud monkeys…if you really fancy coming back next term to make more muddy things re enroll now because classes fill up super fast and I feel really bad if you miss out on a spot.

Righty ho all house work done we can get onto a few ideas!

This is a video from Bridges Pottery making hard slab boxes with imprints and slip patterns.  If you want to have a go at this make some slabs over the weekend or when you have some spare time and when they reach the right consistency wrap them up tightly in Gladwrap or plastic so that they won’t dry out any further and then bring them along to class all ready to go.  Use a flat board to dry them and transport them on.

For those of you just starting out throwing hearing my nagging voice saying ‘make sure you have well kneaded clay and enough to do repetition throwing!’…have a look at an old video of Issac Button last of the great production throwers in England.  Back when every pub served beer from a pottery mug and pitcher and glass was a posh thing to be used in a fancy dining room!  I love the pipe in the corner of the mouth and the way that there is virtually no exertion or mess!

And if you have some spare time to look and wonder at all those cleaver people out there have a wee peek at Alexandra Engelfriet working in a studio I can only dream of in the middle of a desert!  She shows an amazing ability to make a stodgy lump of clay grow wings and fly!

well as they say ‘that’s all folks’…go hand have a great weekend and I’ll see you all next week!



a.k.a The Busy Finch

p.s I will be appearing at you local Monster Market on the 22nd of March at the Pallet Pavilion.

March Monster Market