All seasons in one Weekend!

Hello everybody!

I hope that you all stayed safe n sound this Easter!  The weather was fairly horrendous for everybody heading out for the long weekend with gale force winds and torrential rain!  However, Easter Sunday was magnificent here in Christchurch with a truly superb warm Autumn day.  Sadly it is raining again today and I am loath to venture out to my studio to play with wet clay!

So instead I have opted for staying inside with a warm cuppa and my bevy of notebooks to do some homework in.  I have just finished my accounts and I am wondering how small businesses survive the Tax department…but I am happy that I am able to eek out a living doing the things I love best…teaching and pottery…even better teaching pottery!

I have been thinking about the small business person and the necessity of multitasking.  Whenever somebody says ‘I don’t know how you do it?’ I always nonchalantly reply with a shrug and smile.  But the reality is I have spent many years making myself many caps to wear and I rely on all sorts of advice from other cleaver clogs who know more than me but who are willing to share.  This is a major part of being in the creative industry and the term ‘Jack of all Trades’  comes up often to describe us small crafty business people.

When I look back over the last couple of years from going into business I realize that I have become a book keeper, advertising guru, more computer literate than most of us would wish to be (still don’t understand most of the gobildy gook though!), a negotiator, peace keeper, designer, sales person, contracts manager(most necessary if you want to be paid) a great PR…and a negligibly paid factory worker!  God Lord…its no wonder I’m sometimes exhausted!

However, in saying this…being a crafts person with a business is about lifestyle choice.  I can already see all the business advisers out there cringing about this statement.  Horrified about my lackadaisical approach to wealth!  I can’t help it!  I am happy with very little and dream of a nice holiday once in a while like most.

Speaking of holidays I am about to plan a trip with my lovely sister to Europe.  This is part of the fab prize from WOW last year.  So I have been narrowing the list of ‘must sees’ when it comes to my ceramic infatuation.

A couple of the studios that I would really like to visit are Kirstie Van Noort’s in Holland and Kate Malone’s in England.


Kirstie Van Noort is a ceramic artist who took my interest early last year from her beautifully shaped vessels.  She casts very simple shapes like flat plates with 1 inch sides and a straight sided tumbler.  They are finished off in very subtle glazes.  When I researched more about her I discovered that she was trained in casting porcelain ceramics and was inspired by the waste that this industry makes.  She went to Cornwall to the big mineral mines to work with waste materials that the industry leaves behind.  She discovered that for every 1 kilo of white porcelain there is 6 kilos of waste materials left behind in the mining landscape.   So she created a project called 6:1 where she uses porcelain and waste material in the ratio of 6:1 parts to create her works.  The results are amazing in the subtle tonal variations the left over minerals make to the porcelain body.  There are the most beautiful images of her test tiles for experimenting with mixes of materials.  In amongst all the material written about Kirstie I discovered that she had a self published book on her experiments in Cornwall.  It was unavailable through any shops so I emailed Kirsten and was delighted when she replied and I purchased a book through her directly.  I waited for a little over 2 weeks for it to arrive and have coveted it ever since!  She inspired me to start making a proper go of glaze sampling.  I love colour in all its subtle  variations and thought it was about time I worked out how to do this using ceramic materials.  It was well worth it and now I have started my library of index colour cards to refer to.  Thank you Kirstie Van Noort!

Have a look at her video through Vimeo…I know that it is in Dutch…but it still makes for great watching.  Yet another amazing studio that I wish was mine!

The other studio that I really want to visit is Kate Malone’s.  I came across Kate Malone accidentally on Youtube one day.  It is a little embarrassing to admit this as she is a giant in the world of ceramics!  Afterwards, again after a little research, I discovered that there are very few contemporary ceramic books without reference to her.  She makes the most fabulous heavily crystalline glazed pots based on nature and the natural vessel shape of the human body.  Lots of her pots she refers to as being a feminine figure…I love this when she speaks about the pots…instead of saying ‘this pot is bla, bla, bla…’ she says ‘she is…’.     Kate has been involved with the English pottery scene for many years and has many community installations to her name including her famous Pineapple pots.  They are enormous and if I had paid more attention at Art School I would have remembered sooner that they were discussed in lectures!  What I really enjoy about Kate is not only her marvelous touch when it comes to ceramics but her ability and desire to share with others information about process.  I her video diary, that I have posted previously, she has awarm and informative manner and projects her excitement with the project to the viewers.  I know I was hooked…I absolutely had to watch all the episodes immediately!  I have emailed her for a DVD copy of her video diary and (again a sharing artist) she will let me know when one is available.  Or maybe I can personally get one when I visit…yay!!!

So that’s it for the week…two artists who inspire me because of their ability to make beautiful meaningful ceramics and they way they are happy to share.  Maybe this is what I love about the industry that I am in…creating meaningful objects for people and sharing a skill that I really rate!

Have a great week and I will catch up soon!


Tatyanna a.k.a The Busy Finch

Term 1 finishes with some marvelous Pottery!

Hello all you clever little mud monkeys!

This has been our last week at class for term 1…and what a fantastic job you have all made of it!  Well done!

I have posted some images of the final kiln loads of work put together in colour groups.  They look amazing and when they are put together like this it is easier to get a sense for your own colour aesthetics.  This can be a bit tricky when you are faced with so many decisions and different processes for applying colour to your ceramic projects.  I hope that there is something inspirational in these pictures for you.

Next terms classes are already nearly full…so again if you want to come back or you are reading my blog posts and thinking “I want to give that a go too!” then get onto Risingholme’s website and get enrolled!

The classes are due to start for the Monday classes on the 5th of May (1 week early because of Queens Birthday the 2nd of June) and the rest of the classes on the 13th May…one week later.

Now that day light savings has finished I always feel that it is time to be inspired.  Nature is a good source for this with the trees changing colour and the sky also becoming more grey.  As I don’t tend to be a very good Summer person I am always glad when it is time to get out all my nice snuggly warm clothes and this always get me thinking about textures again and how I can use old pieces of textiles in new ceramic projects.  Sometimes with the cooler months coming up it is harder to get back into the studio…cold wet clay is just not that nice!  But thinking about the projects that can make the cold weather more enjoyable motivates me.  Candle votives are quick and simple to make and when you use textile textures imprinted into the clay the impressions glow from the candle shining inside…very cool…or toasty as the case might be!.  Also SOUP bowls are a must.  These can be hand made, slab made, pinched and coiled or a great way to get repetition throwing under your belt.  Next term I will be encouraging you to produce useful items like this and also some quirky ones for our exhibition that we are planning for the end of August.

Right now I have been inspired by these two ceramic items this week.  One is a video that puts narrative illustration into action and the other is a wee article on pottery take-away cups in India.  Have a look and do a bit of “Oh and Ahhing” like I did!


RAMP Ceramics and Mike Patterson & Jim Le Fevre Film

Indian Takeaway Cups

Over the next couple of weeks I will be working in my studio and blogging about it…please follow along and send me comments!

Have a great weekend

Tatyanna a.k.a The Busy Finch

Finishing up Fabulous Pottery Projects!

Hello my Lovelies!

This week everybody was hard out finishing off their pottery projects!  With only one week to go until the end of term there was plenty of bisque ware to get glazed and a full glaze kiln twice this week!  A wee reminder that if you are bringing in something that you just made next week for the bisque kiln it will not be ready for glazing until next term.  This is all good if you are returning for another term, but if you are not you need to have a word with me about coming in to glaze next term.

I also have to mention that if you are coming next term please, please, please make sure you are re enrolled now!  Go to my course info page and find the class you want and follow the link to Risingholme enrollments…or go straight to Risingholme.

Next week you are welcome to continue working on your projects and it is a good time to talk to me about your goals for next term.  Remember to bring along enough pocket money to pay off the items in the pottery book and any glazing items that will be ready to take home.

Next term there will be an opportunity to work on some project work for a group exhibition. This exhibition will be titled SOUP and will be late August.  Have a think about this topic using a couple of different questions.  What utensils and items do we use when we have soup?  How does soup make us feel on a cold winters night?  What iconic packaging for soup exists in the advertising world?  These are great questions to spring board off when we look at creating shapes and forms, decoration and colours, and also emotions and meaning behind the items that we create.  I will be discussing this with you more over the next term and we will have a couple of class set shapes and tasks along with you creating your own unique fabulous creations!  Fingers crossed that we will have our new Community room built and ready as an exhibition space late August!!!

This week I wanted to leave you with a couple of book inspirations.  I am a sucker for books…people who know me think that my weakness is for shoes…but really it’s all about books for me!  Yesterday while I was having a wee wander around Scorpio Books in Riccarton I spied a couple of doozies.  One is by Simon Leach called Simon Leach’s Pottery Handbook.  He is the grandson of the famous English potter Bernard Leach.  Bearnard Leach was responsible for bringing Eastern style pottery to the western world in the mid 20th century.  He had a famous working relationship with Shoji Hamada one of Japans living treasures.  Hamada came to New Zealand in the mid 1960’s as a VIP by the Society of Potters and became a major influence on studio pottery here.  Simon Leach was brought up amongst the madness and mud of the Leach studios and has a formidable career as a studio production potter in his own right.  I came across him on You tube where he posted hundreds of videos on how to make pottery from his Spanish pottery.  This made me completely envious and at the time of working as a Design Consultant encouraged me to dream of potting full time! He is a fascinating and endearing teacher.  Somebody whom I recommend to my students to watch all the time…especially techniques in throwing and decorating.  Recently he moved to America and continues to post You Tube videos and now has produced a book with DVD!  So naturally I snaffled this wee treasure up and will be bring it along to class to share.  The book is clear and concise just like his teaching with good pictures and basic projects.

Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada

Simon Leach

The next book is a bit of a wind fall and boasts the title “George Ohr; The Greatest Art Potter on Earth”!  Fabulous how could I resist!?  A fantastic tale of an American pottery in the heart of Missisippi potting in the late Victorian era.  He had a ‘potions and notions’ selling philosophy when it came to his business and boasted the most outlandish claims to entice people to purchase from his pottery.  However, when you turn the pages there is a plethora of beautifully photographed pottery with the most unbelievable colours and varieties of gorgeous shapes.  I must say that maybe I am inclined to agree with Mr Ohr, he certainly seems to have been prolific and amazingly experimental for the time!  This book is well worth it just for the imagery and imagination of a wild pottery man!

George Ohr

As you are probably beginning to guess pottery is a huge subject.  There is an enormous amount of it out there from historical potters and pots to contemporary ideas and creations.  It can be a bit bamboozling, so my recommendation is to read as many ‘how to’ books that you can find.  What will happen is you will not only absorb techniques but also styles.  Many ‘how to’ books are packed with contemporary examples of artists interpretations of the ‘how to’ being explained and are great as indicators for your own style preferences.

Right… this week I leave you with some images of completed pots and projects from the cleaver mud monkeys at class!

Have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week!


Tatyanna a.k.a The Busy Finch