Author Archives: Debbie Barber

About Debbie Barber

Potter/Ceramic Artist at Debbie Barber Ceramics. This is a blog about my business, design and development.

Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

I took my camera for a walk along the hedgerow this week. Here’s a random selection of berries ready for the birds. No wonder my bird table has been abandoned!

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I’ve been playing with a new design over the last few weeks. I’m calling it ‘Berry Tree’ – so appropriate for this time of year don’t you think? As I look out of my studio windows I see all the hawthorn trees covered in bright red berries, so beautiful! I’ve decorated 3 or 4 of these bowls now and each time I add more berries and I think I’ll be adding yet more as the season progresses.

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Having shown you around my rather messy studio here is my equally messy Raku area.

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My set up is pretty compact and is on the base of an old greenhouse. Everything (gas, kiln, tools etc.) are all stored in the bin at the back and it takes me approximately 5 minutes to get everything out and going. As you can see my Raku kiln is one of those do-it-yourself jobs and suits me just fine. The disadvantage is that it is fairly small and does restrict the size and the number of pieces I can fire at any one time. On the other hand to fire too many pieces in one go would be difficult to handle as you need to transfer the work to the sawdust fairly quickly in order to get the best results. I put up the gazebo in the early summer to shield me from rain showers. It’s fine for spots of rain but I can’t work in heavy persistent wind and rain. I still have to keep an eye on the weather forecast and plan my week accordingly.

 

 

Autumn Catch Up

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Vase – Falling Leaves

It’s been a few months since I last updated my blog. As usual it’s been a very busy time with plenty of work to be getting on with and not a lot of time for sitting and reflecting and well….. catching up!

From the minute we finished the studio and I was able to move in it’s been non-stop so I haven’t been able to show you round so to speak. I love seeing other artist’s workspaces so I nipped out and took a few photos to show you just how it is – no tidying, just how it is in all its chaos. Oh dear I feel ashamed but then it is a working studio not a showroom!

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So what you can see – along the back wall I have racking containing finished work, drying pots, decorated work awaiting Raku firing and my moulds. Next to the racks is my very useful casting table. It’s a good height and nice to work at, much better than a normal desk or table. Along the front I have my work bench and this is where I spend most of my time. The windows overlook the garden and the field (along with resident cattle!). At the far end I have a Shimpo wheel which is now accessible and which I am determined to start using regularly. So out of all this untidiness comes some good work I hope. This is the challenge, this is what I strive to do, this is the fun!

Here are some recent pieces.

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Small Thrown Bottle – Seeds & Leaves

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Small Thrown Bottle – Flowers & Leaves

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Medium Bowl – Seeds & Leaves

Are we there yet?

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That’s how I feel at the moment! I have been working hard but there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. There’s such a lot going on.
First of all a quick update on the studio. It’s up, yay, thanks to my hardworking husband!
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The electrics are due to be put in within the next couple of weeks (I hope!) Actually moving in and better still working in it seem to be a few weeks away. Patience!

Meanwhile in the studio …….. trials and experiments are over and now I have to move to ‘make’ mode. Here are some of my favourites.

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I will be showing at BCTF (British Craft Trade Fair) in just over a weeks time. I am looking forward to getting some feedback. Fingers crossed for a good show!

Photo credit to the lovely Joanne Withers at http://www.joannewithersphotography.co.uk (deck and woodstore)

 

 

 

 

Rain stopped play

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Rain, wind, storms, what a winter we’re having! Sadly I’m struggling to get the base of the new studio completed. First of all the builder miscalculated the size and the amount of materials, bricks and stone he’d need. The reason being the slope of the garden made it deceptive and the back wall of the base is some two and a half feet high but level at the front.

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So in desperation on Friday my son Sam, Bryan the builder and I shifted 6.6 metric tonnes of stone and gravel and it’s still not full! It still needs compacting and a topping of concrete. The cabin comes on Tuesday. Oh dear!

In the meantime the studio is filling up with pots waiting for their final Raku firing. Yes the weather’s to blame again.

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Here are some birds all lined up ready.

Progress on new things like these striped bowls is progressing slowly and they’re keeping me cheerful. I love playing with new ideas and at least here, rain cannot stop my play!

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Fingers crossed for better weather soon!

 

Cabins-a-go-go

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Work has started on the Studio/Cabin! OK so there’s not a lot to show yet but I feel pretty happy. This is just the base which has to be level and as you can see our garden is on a slope. I hope I can show you more next week.

I haven’t fired anything this week, it’s been a bitty week. Forging on albeit slowly!

Learning, thinking, planning

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I have been doing all three –

Learning – I have been listening to recorded webinars from The Design Trust. I met the Director, Patricia van den Akker at a Design Factory meeting and she came across as a very knowledgeable, enthusiastic person with a lot of very valuable advice. At the time I was too busy making to top up my business and marketing knowledge but this time of year is the perfect time. The great thing about the webinars is that I can listen as I work and I can stop the recording to make notes and have thinking time. It’s been great, a real eye or should I say mind opener!

Thinking – yes a lot of thinking is going on. Thanks to The Design Trust topics I am starting to focus on certain aspects of the business plus I am experimenting with different products and designs. Things are starting to come together.

Planning – I would rather not be caught on the hop the way I was last year. So I have already ordered the studio (work starts on Monday) and I’m looking at kilns now. I’ve been looking at shows too but I’m having trouble deciding……back to the learning and thinking I suppose! Who said it would be straight forward. 😉

The only other piece to come out of the studio this week (apart from the experiments – see top) has been a commission. This customer wanted a bowl redesigned as a tree-form bowl. It came out rather well I think. I hope she likes it.

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Out with the Old and In with the New

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Hearts for Valentine’s Day

Happy New Year and let’s hope that it will be a happy, energetic and successful one for everyone.

I had a particularly hectic run up to Christmas and to be honest I ran out of steam a little bit towards the end but I’m happy to say I think I managed about 95% of the work I needed to finish by that time. I am hoping that I will have a couple of quieter months to regroup, plan and prepare for the year ahead.

What a year it’s going to be too! First and foremost a new studio. I need the space. I am falling over myself in my converted garage so I have put a deposit down on a log cabin and we take delivery in a couple of weeks or so. Oh I can’t wait. Next will be a bigger kiln. I love my little workhorse but it has limitations. I would like a controller, mine has a kiln-sitter and secondly capacity, it’s just too small. I will keep it though as it’s very useful for drying pots and warming them up prior to Raku firing.

I have been working on new shapes and designs. The first few are coming through the studio now. This is a small bowl. I have deliberately left off a foot ring.

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These are the first couple I’ve taken through to Raku firing.

My first two Raku firings of the year have been taken up by Hearts for Valentine’s Day (see the top) and already the time is starting to accelerate. Hold on to your hats everyone!