Clay & Ink with Tom's Studio & Quill London

A little pot to rest your nib

The conversation where it all started with Toms Studio

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I’ve been meaning to write this journal post for some time now, but anytime I get I am most likely be behind the wheel covered in clay, listening to my favourite podcasts. Behind the scenes from producing my own work. Last year was a busy year for prototyping and collaborating. One of the most busy collaborations has been working with my Studio Neighbour Tom, from Tom’s Studio. He makes the most exquisite hand crafted calligraphy pens. Both of us had been wanting an opportunity to combine our handy skills, so over lunch we would discuss ideas for clay built accessories. But what we needed like most makers was a real project to get our teeth into, our wish arrived with the then forthcoming 2018 Modern Calligraphy festival created by Quill London.

Tom had already been wholesaling his pens to Quill London and asked me if i’d like to collab on an ink well. It was an exciting time, Tom would excitedly launch into my studio with fresh sketches of some ideas and I would then take them straight to the wheel. This went on for a few days until we were both happy with the initial shape. From there we spent a couple of weeks trialling the science and uncovered joys of different glazes.

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I’d not applied or used 22ct Gold Lustre so the first firing was beyond exciting. When the kiln lid was finally allowed to be safely opened, it was sheer joy to see a shiny array of sparkling tiny vessels. As the Ink Wells are so small they all have their own unique character, with the clay thrown so thin, you only have one chance to shape and indent, this really is where the magic of hand crafted lies, but also the heartache. So many processes are a double edge sword a fine line between success and failure. These little pots tiny in size have a long journey, from the initial throwing stage, drying, smoothing, bisque firing, glazing, glaze firing, lustre application and then final firing. At any stage these delicate pots can meet their end. One evening late at night I was smoothing them down and managed to crunch three in my hand their delicate shells turning back to their original state of clay powder. But this is I hope is what makes them so unique and precious.

Image by Toms Studio

Image by Toms Studio

Initially we were asked to make a small batch run for the Calligraphy festival, but the love for these little inkwells was overwhelming, so we are still making them. After the success of the ink wells Tom now sells his own colour range in his shop - Introducing a spring colour range of Blush, Corn Flower and Mustard.

Image by Toms Studio

Image by Toms Studio

Image by Toms Studio

Image by Toms Studio

The Water Jugs came soon after, I had been making some room incense holders and Tom popped in and said what would that shape look like if you made a little indent for a rest? I tried it and the brush Jug was born, as a collection they look like little penguins, singularly they look like a sophisticated desk accessory. The little brush pots are a useful vessel to either wash out used calligraphy brushes or to be used as larger ink vessels.

I would love to hear about how you use your Ink Wells and Brush Jugs. Tom and I are working on another range of calligraphy accessories which we will be launching in summer 2019.

Limited edition Ink Wells & Brush Jugs can be bought by

Toms Studio

Quill London



Image Quill London

Image Quill London

A pottery Pilgrimage to the Rif mountains hosted by Sumano

“Honour your knowledge”

Heard on the Rock of Ain Bouchrik

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I’m not sure where the last few months have gone, but things are speedily moving towards the crazy Christmas season. Before I fall fully into the festivities, I wanted to share with you my experience with Sumano, visiting Mama Aicha and her wonderful family in Ain Bouckrik, whilst learning all about the traditional methods of hand building morrocan ceramics.

During the last weekend in September three friends and I boarded an early flight to Fez. This was to be my first trip to Morocco. Earlier this summer I received a lovely message on Instagram from Marta, one of the organisers of Sumano, asking me if I would like to experience pottery making in the Rif mountains, with Mama Aicha and her family. My first response was that I would love to, but feared this beautiful well curated travel experience would be well out of my price range. After some curious researching I realised I could afford to go and was able to convince three friends that they really needed to join me.

The heat enveloped us as we passed through the city of Fez. We eagerly took in our new climate, peeking glimpses of the souks between the gates of the high town walls, small towns began to fade out as we took twist and turns onto beaten rubbled tracks, meandering dustily through the rif mountains. we drove higher toward the Rif, whilst the sun was setting. The final climb saw us right up a single winding track, into a tiny village. We passed two young girls laughing trying to persuade a laden donkey up to the village, chickens clucked freely around their feet. By the time we arrived the sun had nearly set. A tiny village of houses, with bright blue rims greeted us. The track ended and the last part of the journey was by foot, we walked around the peninsula of the mountain to reach Mama Aicha’s home. We will never forget the turn in the path lined with the most beautiful morrocan pots of all sizes, leaning against the prickly pear tree laden with fruit, we would soon get to taste.

Aleisha and Guillame, Mama Aicha, Mohammed, Samira and Yousef all came out of their house to meet us, with open arms. Mama Aicha is a tiny lady her warmth and kindness radiated instantly. I knew then that you should always trust your gut and intuition and that getting on that plane was the best decision. Our room was beautifully authentic, little beds with traditional throws and Moroccan rugs, with a shelf adorned with the Sless tribe ceramics.

We sat on the veranda making friends and sharing stories whilst drinking mint tea, whilst dinner was being cooked. We had the pleasure of sharing our experience with three other ceramicists: Ida, Andrea and Karina from the ‘Turning Earth Ceramic Studios’ in London. They had already been with Sumano for a week and we would share the end of their pottery experience with them. We ate the most delicious meal with the family and accustomed ourselves to a more simple life, one seemingly untouched by western cultures. One where families still eat together with no distractions. It truly is an off grid experience and one not for travellers looking for western luxuries, such as wifi, flushing toilets or power showers.

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The first morning we woke up before sunrise and helped Mama Aicha build the wood burning fire that would fire the pots she and the girls had made during that week. We observed Mama Aicha’s almost ritual ways of building the fire, a process she has completed by herself for many years. The floor was lined with a circle of dry kindling, above this bigger pieces were placed and stones were laid around the outer circle. With a steady hand Mama Aicha made a pyramid out of the big urns and pots in the circle of the fire, building the kiln from the centre out. Smaller pots and vessels were placed in the cracks. More fire wood and sundried donkey pats were laid on top, with broken pots to seal the heat in. The fire was then lit, whilst we watched he sunrise from the mountain top we all looked at each other with faces of “is this really happening” pure potters delight.

Unloading of the wood fire kiln, such a magical moment

Unloading of the wood fire kiln, such a magical moment

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Whilst the kiln was firing, after breakfast we had the day to make pots and be guided in the expert hands of Mama Aicha. Hand building is not really my forte but the process was so enjoyable. Mama Aicha was so patient, her hands worked with ease with a constant smile radiating from her face. Her joy for making ceramics is contagious we sat for hours, communicating in smiles and sound effects.

The clay is locally dug from the mountain sides and water is added. No rubble or stones are filtered out, making the clay much more easier to mould and hold its form. We all made one of Mama Aicha’s signature water jars a sugar pot and a bossy, arms on shoulders vase.

My favourite part of the making process came the following day, when Mama Aicha taught us the art of glazing. The Sless tribe use a simple pallet of colours, using Terracotta clay glaze, limestone and manganese, the patterns are adorned with goat hairs. Mama Aicha may be old but her hands are agile and her glaze technique is so accurate, not a wonky line in sight. I couldn’t have been happier, every so often I’d take a peak out to the hills and take it all in.

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My new idol - Mama Aicha sat on a barn full of her beautiful ceramics - Ready to be exported by the Sumano Organisation.

My new idol - Mama Aicha sat on a barn full of her beautiful ceramics - Ready to be exported by the Sumano Organisation.

The Hand made Moroccan ceramics I made with Mama Aicha

The Hand made Moroccan ceramics I made with Mama Aicha

All of us with the wonderful family

All of us with the wonderful family

Our mountain adventure - Chasing the storm

Our mountain adventure - Chasing the storm

This experience should be preserved and kept for travellers wanting a truly authentic experience, with this wonderful family. I could write about our experience all night, but I feel my photos will communicate our pure joy of living with the family for too short a time. I can’t wait to go back to the rif mountains and learn more skills from this incredible lady. In total we were only there for three days but Mama Aicha’s family and Alisha And Guillaume shared with us experiences, sights and the tastiest food we will remember for a lifetime. On our final day we even got to experience a traditional Morracan wedding. Somehow perhaps their positivity and good luck was still on our side, as we all managed to get our unfired pots safely home, surviving the two day stop in Fez and being bundled into our hand luggage and onto the plane home. They are our little memories of an experience we will never forget.

Spring Healing


“Goods for the soul” 

Two Palms

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Hello All! Sorry I have been a little absent, 2018 is proving to be the year of change, bringing a few unplanned events, moving home and replacing my old banger for another old banger. Sometimes life throws us some unforeseen dodge balls, but change should always be welcomed. 
 

 I took a well overdue long weekend off this week to venture back to my home town in  Bristol to stay with my folks. I always treat it as a mini  retreat, an opportunity to slow down, walk the dog and relax. I have been dying to visit Sidonie Warren's beautiful new concept store - Two Palms, situated above Papersmiths in Bristol to peruse the lovely array of gems on offer and to see my ceramics in their new home. On Friday my mum and I ventured up to Clifton Village, the sun was beaming throughout the airy upstairs store, welcoming in the spring breeze, softly bellowing the incense of the newly lit Palo Santo wood, its fair to say we didn't want to leave. Kristin the shop assistant was so lovely and knowledgable and helped us find the perfect stones for mum's vertigo, a smooth piece of Jasper and a light bouncing Amethyst. It was such a pleasure to see my ceramics placed amongst such beautiful healing gems and stationary by People I've Loved which never fails to make me laugh and say an inner "Yes! That is so true!"  Our homes are now calmed by the smell of our Palo Santo wood branches, each of our palms now have a little gem that we can call our own. If you haven't been yet make sure to take a visit. And yes I did pick up a pen or two in Papersmiths, it would have been rude not to! Haha xx

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Frome Independent Market

It's hard to believe but it will soon be Birks (Birkenstocks) and Potting outside weather. Which means also Market Days!  

These are the markets I've got lined up so far in sunny somerset! I am delighted to have a suitcase stall at the bustling Frome Independent Market. I'm very much looking forward to meeting some new faces and hanging out with the regular makers. Please come and say hi and share with me all your locally produced finds. I will be selling my new summer range of Home Thrown Ceramics, including lemon squeezers, sip cups and jugs. 


6th May 2018

3rd June 2018

1st July 2018

5th August 2018
 

Join the Mud Throwers Club
 

Looking for some Mud Therapy - New friends and an opportunity to be creative whilst eating nibbles and sipping cold beverages in the sunshine? Then get in touch! 
 

Summer Dates for Beginners Mud Throwers Class

Thursday Evenings - 6.30pm - 9.00pm

4 week course - Model Making, slab building, coiling,
pinch pots, glazing &  basic wheel throwing techniques. 

May 3rd - 24th 2018 = £100  (1 space available)

June 7th - 28th 2018 = £100  (4 space available) 

July 5th - 26th 2018 = £100 

*Full time students 20% off*

Excited for the promise of warmer days, potting outside and sea swimming. 

Gem x