Pottering on

Eli in her pottery studio at Wiltshire Ceramic Studio

I had a marvellous hour with Eli on Saturday at her Wiltshire Ceramics Studio in Foxham where we had a play with rolled clay and cutting out shapes then adding coloured glaze ready for firing. Eli took on the studio the weekend just before Lockdown began (timing!) and she was only able to start offering taster sessions like the one on Saturday recently. As you can see we masked up for the occasion, everything was sparkling clean in the studio, and I was offered fresh clay to work with. She also supplies clean aprons, but I was pleased I'd taken my own as it'll save her some work afterwards. 

My clay cut-out shapes ready glazed for firing

Eli hails from the States and her bubbly personality is full of enthusiasm for her craft. She encouraged me to try all aspects of the process, from cutting the clay to work with from the large block, bashing it down with a large rolling pin before using the the large roller to produce the final flattened piece of clay. I then transferred it to a board, gently smoothed it out with a scraper + water and then painted it with some preparatory slip. Then came the fun part: my selection of various cutters to produce the shapes ready for glazing. 

Saturday's session was billed to make buttons using various leaf shapes, but if you look closely at the photo above, you can see I sneaked in some others. I also used a carving tool to add veins to the leaves if they weren't part of the cutter's design. Each cutter was dipped in a mix of cornflour and glass fritt before using - I found it was much harder to get the clay out from the cutter when I forgot this simple step! Then I had the fun task of choosing which glazes to add to my pieces. They needed some drying time after this, so Eli will add the button holes before she fires them in her kiln and I'll collect the finished pieces in a couple of weeks.

It was a lot of fun and a great way of lifting my mood after the recent gloomy news. I've decided to try and find regular sessions like these plus visits outdoors (and lots of walking!) to keep going over the coming months. A large box of craft supplies arrived last week - including some new-to-me crafts to try - to help tide me over the winter when the weather's too miserable to go out.

Eli has some further Saturday workshops planned - the pottery Christmas tree one looks fab!

What are your plans to get through the coming months?

Me and my clay


  1. Rather like making biscuits - which reminds me of my plans for the next few months... that and building a new writing studio of course!

    1. Yes! Especially as I used cookie cutters for the shapes. You've reminded me that biscuit ware is a type of pottery (unglazed) too. Can't wait to see what you do for your writing studio!

  2. Looks fun VP. Do share the finished versions 😄 I have much in the way of reading material stored on my computer, may dig my water colour box out of hiding and will no doubt get even more pleasure than usual from my collection of potted snowdrops. After that spring will be on the horizon!

    1. I didn't mention the pile of books I have waiting to be read - both real and digital. I'm hoping that the lady from another class I took recently (coming soon on the blog) will do a botanical clay class with snowdrops, you'd love the results Anna.

  3. I think I need to plan to make some plans! You're providing plenty of inspiration, Michelle.

    1. Well, I had a few days wailing and groaning about the latest grim news plus the dying of the light Helen and then realised I had to make some plans for my own sanity. I've also held back on some gardening jobs so I can spend some time outdoors tackling them.

  4. I'm pottering along with you, it seems. Rolled out clay last weekend to make new clay napkins for the China Terrace at Glen Villa. The old ones -- made a dozen or so years ago -- were chipped and cracking so it was time to make more. My 'Eli' is named Lucy and while she could easily have made them for me, making the napkins and decorating them (which I'll do this coming weekend) was much more fun. How do you plan to use the large oak leaves?

    1. It's much more to make them if you can isn't it Pat? Some of the leaves will be made into magnets and I have some earmarked for other craft projects over the winter :)


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