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Daily updates from a potters studio for August Craft Month 2016

By helenfaulkner1, Nov 7 2016 10:12AM

Just a little heads up to let you all know what we have in store for this Christmas. 1st- 24th December we will be running CRAFTED at Cotton Gallery (opposite The Merchant Hotel and beside 2Taps) on Waring Street, Belfast.

Along with 2 fantastic Northern Irish makers, Ghost and Bonesetter and Mottainai Textiles, we will have a great range of gifts available. Follow us here on Facebook to keep up to date with our plans which include demo nights and late night openings.

By helenfaulkner1, Aug 15 2016 04:00AM

The second person I'm going to introduce from the Making It programme is Malcolm Murchison

A graduate of the Ulster University (1980) 3D Design - Ceramics

I have enjoyed a busy career which included making creatively from time to time, though most significantly to date, I was responsible for the management and development of a Local Authority Arts Centre. One of my primary achievements has been in supporting life-long learning with a passion, through service on Boards , teaching, as well as facility and sectorial development.

Currently I am grateful to have a place on Craft NI’s “Making It” scheme as a full-time potter and artist, working with the ceramic processes. I am hosted by the Ulster University in the Belfast School of Art.

I endeavour to make remarkable ceramics that combine an aesthetic appeal with an entertaining quality. I like to surprise and amuse. I make functional tableware, teapots some of which are more decorative than functional and that often incorporate other materials. I have also produced decorative and sculptural objects such as fantasy inspired flying machines.

Like many or most makers, I follow a calling to make creatively. I have a restless curiosity and a desire to ‘play’ with materials. I love the unique individual qualities of metals, alloys, natural materials including timber, textiles, fibres and of course ceramics.

I have recently been throwing pots in stoneware and porcelain clay bodies for mugs bowls and teapots, however for the exhibition Alchemy, I have made a return to Raku pottery to explore some ‘universal’ themes.

(Raku pottery involves a firing process that requires red hot pottery to be extracted from the kiln at around 1,000 deg Centigrade, then trapped in sawdust before being quenched in water. It is fiery, smokey, steamy and dramatically surprising!)

By helenfaulkner1, Aug 14 2016 04:07PM

I’ve been very quiet over the last while, it’s amazing how quickly the days are going by!

On Thursday I went to a talk by Patricia Van Den Akker from The Design Trust. It was about marketing and selling online. It was a really good but tiring day, lots of information to process. I knew early on in the talk that it was going to be good, she mentioned having ‘an expensive hobby’, referring to making work but not making a living for it. That’s the exact term I use when talking about scaling up my work and trying to avoid taking on an unrelated part time job!

The morning session focused on marketing for creatives and you’ll all be glad to know advertising was at bottom of the list! None of us want to feel like we’re being sold to. The afternoon was about selling on line and how to let people know our work and trust us as a business. I think it was all things we know but it connected the dots and definitely gave me a kick start in what I hope is the right direction!

On Friday I had a bit of help in the studio from Clare, weighing out clay and glazing samples. Having the clay prepped and ready to go for me on Saturday was great, I got so much done. Though Sheva’s tail took out a pot when she got over excited when Aine, the previous Making It ceramicist, came into the studio.

So plans for this week include making lots of pots, visiting a client to finalise a commission and trying to fit in making a marketing plan!

By helenfaulkner1, Aug 9 2016 03:30PM

Wendy graduated in contemporary applied art and went on to complete an MFA in Multidisciplinary design, specialising In lighting design at Ulster University in 2015. Since then Wendy became one of the 8 makers on Craft NI's Making It Programme and has been artist in residence at Belleek Pottery for the last year and a half. Wendy has also worked on freelance design projects for Belleek Pottery and will join the design team at Mullan Lighting in August

Wendy designs and handcrafts bespoke porcelain lighting collections which include pendants, table lamps and tea lights. Wendy has previously worked on corporate award commissions and also provides a bespoke lighting design service.

The lighting collections capture the pure translucent qualities of porcelain and its interaction with light.

Wendy told me a bit about her work:

I have always used porcelain in my work as I believe it is the ideal material for lighting, creating a soft warm glow which adds a warm, luxurious ambience to an interior. The porcelain has a self glazing body giving the lighting a satin finish which is also beautiful to touch.

I love design and I believe great designs are based on great stories. Through my practice I strive to create functional, desirable products that are lifestyle orientated- seeing a product through from concept to finished piece is extremely rewarding.

The collections are all cast in porcelain and hand finished. Each design begins life on the lathe where a plaster model is carved and then a mould is made. Using a slip casting process the moulds are cast finely to capture the pure qualities of the porcelain.

The Woodland collection is inspired by the beauty of the Fermanagh Lakelands where my studio is nestled. This collection cast in porcelain and finished by hand captures light's interaction with the forests of Fermanagh and the beautiful patterns created through light and shadow, telling the story of the Northern Irish Landscape.

Find out more about Wendy and her work through her website

By helenfaulkner1, Aug 8 2016 03:30PM

All week we’ve been setting up for Alchemy, it’s been a very relaxed set up thanks to the staff here at Down Arts Centre. 6 of the makers from the Making It Programme run by Craft Northern Ireland are exhibiting work that has been developed while working on the programme.

Here’s a glimpse of the work on show, throughout the month I’ll be posting up guest posts from each of the makers about their work and process. Down Arts Centre have some nice images of the opening itself, I was too busy chatting to get many!

Wendy Ward
Wendy Ward

Wendy will be the first maker with a guest post about her work and inspirations

Andrew Cooke Ceramics
Andrew Cooke Ceramics

Andrews inspiration is found in his interests both past and present. I really love the carvings that he does on the helmets of these pieces.

Malcolm Murchison
Malcolm Murchison

Raku bowls with some beautiful copper reduction.

We had a great opening speech from Michael Robinson, who was the head of glass and ceramics in the Ulster Museum, he gave great advice for buying art or craft....if you want to steal it then it’s worth it!

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