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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Firing!

My little kiln stacked to go -
and this is now ready to glaze - it holds a lot for a small kiln so I know I will have two loads once I have thrown the glazes around. I am still deciding whether to keep throwing the porcelain while everything is clean and try and get another bisque load before I start the glaze process. That red bauxite gets onto everything so that lovely white porcelain will end up with the odd dot or two.

I love this Southern Ice porcelain and having two wheels allows me to throw and leave the form to dry a little while I play musical chairs and throw another chunk of clay before I return to stretch the form even further. Finally made a local porcelain body today so here's hoping it will work well. Threw a bowl out of local kaolin only and so far its holding together - worth a test in the kiln to see how it fares. Don't know why I haven't tried it out before???
Almost sunset time but just headed out my door and looked skyward as the clouds are building and the frigate birds are overhead. High above was an incredible line of birds - my brain of course saw the decorative conversion to a bowl - think they are pelicans but who knows, it was such a wonderful sight!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Three fabulous little boys!

I am having a break waiting for some cups to dry so I can attach handles. Thought I'd have a look at some mud musings. There are some interesting pics and thoughts from a young potter in China - what an experience - how I wish I was 30 years younger and able to traipse the world now. I wanted to bike through China about that long ago so the country has always been on a one day to do list.

The families went swimming yesterday so couldn't resist adding this photo. No wonder I spend a lot of time nursing and playing with my little grandsons.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

A day in clay!

This was yesterday's morning treat - the cormorants coming to land followed by several white egrets - a stunning sight in the early morning light I never get tired of. There has been a lot of bait around so the word must go round in the birdworld that a feast is to be had if you get in early.
Putts Palm's waterhole is shrinking and the outer edges have dried so it didn't take much for the fire to take hold. All night the air was smoke filled and this morning the town was covered in a smokey haze. Fires are a problem this time of year and I expect the beach to soon suffer the same fate.

At least the paperbarks on the edge of the waterhole managed to resist the leaping flames - it was still smoldering all along the outer edges when I took these photos this afternoon so a few of the smaller trees will not survive.

And here is the work for the day. With this hot weather the clay dries out really quickly so I can trim a few hours after throwing. I must say I am over the recycled clay but I have to stick with it and try and get rid of it all but it makes the process a lengthy one as I pull it out of the buckets and allow the dry air to do its work then the wedging and adding local clay takes ages. The dogs hate the sudden bangs as I work away at deairing. Bowls and beakers are loosening up the bones so another few days and I can have a change of clay and work on something a bit more creative. Don't get me wrong, I love bowls and have added the odd scratch here and there with my the trusty shells, marks to grab the bauxite and shino in the glaze process later on. After the break I have had from clay I know I need a good week working solidly to get in clay mode and start throwing the odd something special.
A walk on the beach alone after work was called for. The dogs were given a bone as enticement to stay home and I slipped away to walk and savour the sunset with not another soul on the beach. The soft coral I use for my handles is coming ashore with seaweed attachments and this one sits wedged in the sand catching the dying sun.
A fitting end to the day!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Work at last

The house is very quiet - seems so strange. Mum and Dad have returned home to the cooler southern temperatures. Time slips by when you are having fun with all the family.
The two little boys are growing - still keeping parents awake at night - this is why its so nice to be a grandparent - we can get a decent sleep!Finally got my hands in clay and it feels soooo.... good - working with recycled clay so lots of wedging which is a bit of a pain but its a start and sometimes the starting part is the hardest of all after a long break. Need another day to loosen up and then maybe I will get the porcelain out and do some more refined work. Had a few breaks, one for a snake of all things. The dogs decided a tree snake was fair game and poor snake succumbed before I could rescue it from three relentless pursuers. I am not a lover of snakes but if I know they are non-venomous I am happy to share my yard. The Torres Strait pigeons have arrived and their distinctive call is a beautiful wake-up sound and a reminder the 'wet' is not too far away and I have a shed to build!
I sent a dilly off to the city - I am sure it will stand tall and proud in its new abode. The paperbarks last night had the wonderful sun tinged hue and I was almost tempted to run back home and bring some of the porcelain pieces down for a sitting. I love this little stand at the end of the beach with its tangled roots making perfect seats to enjoy the setting sun.
This little insignificant bubble caught my eye as I walked the beach doing my usual eyes down to catch life in miniature along the foreshore. This was no bigger than my nail but it must be one of the first box jellyfish to come in on the tide - I won't be putting my feet in the water from now on as this little bubble packs quite a punch. November seems to be their month so this one took me by surprise. Now I haven't had time to mention the frogs from the last wet season - they are still hatching and hopefully by the start of the monsoons they will all be gone. I wonder how many have survived the garden and one of the large resident frogs living in my pot. They seem to wait for nightfall to make their escape so perhaps a few will add to the cacophony of calls when the storms begin.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The messy potter!

Well I had a pottery week at last. The wayward burner was fixed so I had no excuse not to finish glazing. I work in this mess - do other potters stumble over glaze containers with pots in varying stages of progress? Midnight, my four-legged companion, usually sits at my feet and often my neighbours two add to the confusion. The dogs all like to pinch the hard local clay and sit eating it then later deposit red telltale mounds on my lawn. I have been threatening to fire these pieces and hand them back to their 'Dad' - they would make a great talkingpoint especially if they were sitting on display somewhere in their house instead of in my backyard.
My poor shed is slowly feeling the effects of the heat and will be replaced soon, bigger and better, with the help of wonderful sons and son-in-law. I have a few months before storms but I am sure once work starts it will be finished in no time.

What a difference having all the burners going - the day went along without a hiccup - the flames worked some magic despite my lack of creativity. The porcelain is always so difficult to photograph to capture its beautiful translucency but these forms with their woven found soft coral handles caught some of the light. I need to head to the paperbarks on the beach and capture them in the incredible sunset light we have lately.

More porcelain - stained with bauxite - almost a cardinal sin to the beautiful Southern Ice body but I had to see what would happen with its incredible translucency and the contrasting bauxite dust rings and I know I will use it again.

There is something quiet and understated in this little bowl made with Weipa clay. I think it will find its way into my cupboard and be used every day. Some bowls seem to sing their own song.
And these two little bowls have snuck into a spot amongst the little gems I reserve for our dipping sauces - you can never have too many or that is my excuse!
And this multiple fired piece stays in the family. No 1 son was horrified it was to be sold especially after withstanding the flames not once, but three times, to achieve its final appearance.

Smoke in the skies are creating the most incredible colours as the sun sets. The light changes each second, catching clouds and tinting them delicately then the blood red colours stretch across the night sky before darkness finally sets in. I never tire of these incredible paintings Nature creates on my doorstep.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Etsy and Me

I have been busy setting up my etsy shop - such a great way to reach out to the world and although separated by distance there is a community both on etsy and the blog who are worth visiting. I have my favourites and marvel at the regularity of some of my fellow bloggers and their work output. I wish I could catch the disease as I have big plans which don't quite come together but I am having lots of little boy and babies' time so there are other compensations. Micheal Kline is a great read with a lively network of potter friends, and his pottery isn't too bad as well!

I thought I should put in today's photos. I mentioned the pandanus nuts in my shop details and here they are nestled in the fronds. The pandanus leaves are dyed and used for making baskets, headbands and armbands. There is a wealth of information in one of my favourite books, 'Thanakupi's Guide to Language & Culture', written by this very special friend and wonderful indigenous potter.
I love this image - imprints of early morning gatherings along the tidal mudflat, the shadows tricking the eye and giving the prints a raised look on the sand. There were two beautiful egrets feeding on the waveline, but the great egret stretching its slender head as it searched for fish caught my eye. I must try and capture his stance with a couple of quick line movements one day.

Now for the kiln - had a mucky firing so refired yesterday so hopefully the results will be an improvement on what confronted me on Saturday. Have to clean one of the burners as my trusty old firing schedule goes by the wayside once I am down to 3 burners. I didn't have too many nice words to say last night waiting for Cone 10 to drop! At least the porcelain pieces came through the first firing so I managed to salvage something after the time spent playing with that flame.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Shino and surprise beach pig

This is my fun glazing - always love seeing the end result of playing with the shino and bauxite. These are just two of my little pieces pre-firing showing the patterning worked with the deliberate movement of hands and layering of shino. The process is slow waiting for the shino to reach the point where the addition of colour can be manipulated, moved, shino reapplied, reworked, fingers outwitting the thick flow. Hopefully there will be a few gems amongst these to make the time spent worthwhile. I like the freedom the shino gives me to capture landscape miniatures of my surroundings. I love that familiarity with the piece and it is always difficult to let them go because of that attachment.



Bauxite pebbles and a well travelled shell caught my eye tonight on the mudflat. Not a perfect specimen but its stained ridges and little barnacles made me look twice.
Now there is probably a black feral pig captured in this picture. He was digging behind the paperbarks and must have seen midnight and I coming down the hill but stayed put. On our return he decided we were too close and run onto the beach and off into the mangroves. Midnight was just as surprised as I was and just watched the antics of this thing before realizing maybe he should have chased it. This is the first time I have seen a feral pig on the beach. There must be something good to eat under the sand behind the trees as he has been digging little craters everywhere. They are so destructive up here and there are thousands roaming the cape. Turtle nests are often targetted adding to the myriad of problems turtles already face in their survival.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

setting sun and mud patterns

Tides are low and the mudflat is made for little feet to explore. To share this experience with one of my favourite little people comes close to pure bliss. Last night he had a sleepover and I don't know who had more fun - think it was me!
I always think there will be nothing really new for me to capture but again my beach surprises with its residents' patternings. Images like this remind me continually just how little I really know about my surroundings, even though they are a part of my daily life, and reaffirm my commitment to the environment's protection. I wish I could transfer all these wonderful etchings to my work with the confidence mother nature uses to wield her pen.

The beautiful photo of my porcelain piece amongst the paperbarks was accepted by AvantCard as a postcard image so there are opportunities to promote artwork and place all over Australia and bring attention to our incredible environment. Being a member of Artworkers keeps me regularly informed on happenings in the 'outside' artworld and this was one I am glad I pursued.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Two new bundles of Joy

Here are the two new little additions to the wonderful world of Nona. Each day is pure pleasure.This is Jackson getting the Nona bumpat - and below is Matthew in these expert hands of mine!
This is so much fun, even beats pushing that clay around but I did start and attack this table full of work. Didn't get too far, was dithering around mixing dried out glazes from months of neglect when family and friends rescued me. Tomorrow I will walk the beach and start early and hopefully my creative brain will kick in and that kiln will fill.
I had this work covered for two months to protect it from the dust which is such a problem in our dry spell so preconceived decorative ideas have long gone - the trusty shino will be thrown about liberally as that always conjures up my connections to place.

I can hear the mine's machinery at work as I write - the land is being changed forever and the future planned expansion is massive. Millions of dollars in earnings and revenue for all, but the scarring is permanent as revegetation can never be the same. The original forest relies on that bauxite layer to exist . This is a slash and burn operation so all is lost to the bulldozer and fire before the machines take their prize. These images affect my work and I try to capture the environment in all its forms, beautiful and scarred -reminders of what remains and what has been lost.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sunset Paperbarks

A lot has happened this past two months and now we have two more little boys to enjoy. Both born within 5 days of each other so we have three boys with birthdays in the same month. This grandparent thing is so much fun and I still get a full night's sleep not like two households I know!
As for the pottery - its been a long time since I dirtied my hands but finally yesterday the clay was working its magic. The morning walks have started again and sunset tonight with porcelain amongst the paperbarks was a wonderful way to end the day. Along the beach I always get a sense of the softly treading footsteps from times long gone and feel a sadness for lost cultures and environments all over the world. I know we can't stop progress and the mining boom is insatiable but I think we will not be looked on kindly by our children's children for the damage we inflicted on our Mother Earth.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Family treasure and new additions

This will be the last post for a month at least (unless two little people decide they want to experience life on the outside early) as Aleta and I are flying tomorrow and Janine and Nicholas are coming out on Wednesday to await the arrival of their babies. The little crotchet silk set was made by Biz Nona 57 years ago to bring me home in and the lacy number was made 36 years ago to bring Christopher home . It has a little story. In the 70's there were strange pants you wore with lacy legs - that was a time of some odd fashions. This little dress is from one of these strange pants I used to wear!!! We will have to see who comes home first in the family heirlooms.
More photos but these are inversions - I thought they were worth posting. The spear grass looks beautiful dressed in these colours, its seeds adding a delicacy to the image.
There are two types of mangrove seedlings here but the highlight is midnight fishing in the background with the mangroves behind.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Frog's Coming Out!

Yesterday was a big day for the first frog. He had his coming out with lots of visitors admiring his new green coat. I think we have all learnt something in the lifecycle of frogs and we checked out our little 4 legged friend all day long and into the night. He did some jumping and moved from habitat to habitat and was still sitting astride one of the trays at 11 last night - yes I went out to check with a torch!!! - said I was a little mad. This morning he was gone so hopefully he will survive the perils of larger frogs, birds and tommy roundheads in the garden. There are a few more siblings sporting back legs so we should see a little community emerging over the next few days.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Legs and toes

I am always told I am strange but I am sure Nicholas thinks some incredibly interesting things happen when he is with Nona. Several weeks ago Midnight's bowl was full of little wrigglies - mosquitoes I thought but on closer inspection they were tadpoles. Everyone scoffed at my suggestion of frogs - no toads they all laughingly proclaimed but I stuck to my guns and was on a mission of restocking the frog population. Anyway toads never got in that wonderful pottery doggie drinking bowl. The bowl was lifted up away from thirsty visitors, especially Gus! and rocks and plants added to make a home for this mass of taddies. They love lettuce and paw paw leaves said the net so the feeding began. Each morning Nicholas feeds the 'tabowls letta and pawpaw'. One bowl has turned into several low ones as heat matters and the sheer numbers made for a very crowded home so Midnight now has his bowl back and the bench is covered with several habitats.

Now you would think the detractors would ignore all this nonsense but oh no there are daily inspections of the progressing growth. It has been very interesting as I just assumed they would all develop at the same rate but this hasn't been the case so we have some looking decidedly huge against their fellow siblings. Back legs hang like little pieces of string for a couple of days then start moving froggie like across things. I think we have all learnt something from my madness - am I laughing?Now there are some other feet and toes - they just had to be painted. I think Nicholas did a wonderful job on my knobbly toes.
The Cooktown orchids are all over the citrus trees and are a delicate shade of purple but last night the pinks of the sunset gave them this unusual look.
The speargrass is bending over with the knock-em-down rains and the dragonflies are everywhere so its nearing rain's end. The wonderful wet season is almost over but the water is still patterning the shore with delicate etchings in the sand.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Sunset Romance


You must click on the image and get the full view of these two figures out on the mudflat under this incredible sunset. Mud underfoot but the absolute beauty of the setting sun against a backdrop of cloud hues makes for a romantic moment in time.
Midnight checking the occupants of the tidal pool, reflecting on his little slice of heaven.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hot Potato, Hot Potato

This has been the funniest morning yet. Nicholas and I danced for the camera and then we had the two preggie girls join in later at Nicholas's request. I promised I wouldn't put the last one on but its just too funny and I think all the rellies should have the privilege of just seeing what the rain and hot weather does to us all up here! Anyway Nicholas and I shouldn't be the only ones to act the fool should we? Beware all those who venture north of Cairns as this is what happens if you stay too long in the wilds of Cape York!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Still more rain and one particularly fussy bird

Well it seems our smart weather forecasting bower bird decided his first bower on the left wasn't quite up to scratch so he has built another female attracting construction on the right. The shell collection is not as impressive but a closeup of his new dancing place shows the attention to decoration is stunning to say the least. He tends to strut from one end of the bower to the other calling to the attentive audience of several females - he obviously knows he does himself proud!
I don't think we have had a dry day in February yet. 377 mm of rain in the last week is a lot of water dropping from the sky. The beach is awash with thousands of mangrove seeds piled in mounds changed daily with the tides but the almond trees are still hanging on, even flowering with some seeds already forming. These two wild almond trees have defied odds and survive along with several others I thought would surely die. High tides again gouged the shoreline carving new patterns......
pulling rocks away and exposing more of the beach kaolin layer, piling the mangrove seeds against it. For the pottery lovers this shows just how close the kaolin is to the ocean.
A couple of videos for the family. Looking up and down the road from the back gate - the kids all love to ride their bikes through these drains but school was in so it was quiet. And of course Nicholas scaring Auntie Aleta - he had just watched Monsters Inc. so was really into scaring us all! This is Nick's favourite movie even though he has watched it heaps and heaps - just ask mum and dad how often!

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