13 September 2017

Wardlow Mires Pottery & Food Festival

show venue in the middle of beautiful Peak District (before the storm!)
A huge and belated thank you for those who came to Wardlow Mires Pottery & Food Festival last weekend despite the horrendous weather. You were all amazing! If you have seen my story clip from Instagram, you could tell the buzz of the venue. I was actually stunned how busy it was! It was wonderful to meet so many people, had a chat about work and life, and to see off many of my work to happy new homes. Thank you so much!

Here are a round up of this show and more of goodies from other potters at the end. Hope you enjoy! 

“A celebration of the table”

A keyword of this show by the organiser Pat Fuller was stuck in my head since I first heard about this event a few years ago. To me, pottery has always been to be used and enjoyed at the table, which was deep in the food-culture in my Japanese background. However, as you can find so many industrial ceramics out there, I guess it is not as easy as you think for people to bring “handmade” pottery to home. But actually I feel more and more people enjoy their home cooked meal with family and friends these days, and they are realising that a joy of the table can be brought with handmade pottery to serve the food. I’ve been holding this idea, which is quite a basic but easily forgotten, as the main reason that I love making pottery and love to share with people. 

So with a lots of expectation, I finally visited the event last summer. Well, you know what? It went beyond my expectation. It was bloody brilliant! Up until then, when it comes to ceramic event, tableware were not necessary the centre of focus. But this show was all about it, which was exactly what I was looking for. So you know how much I was delighted to take part of this show. I cannot thank the organiser Pat enough for being so kind and encouraging. 

my stand at the show (need more refining!)

Setting up with my display stand whilst you look around many established potters’s wonderful displays wasn’t an easy one. I kept feeling that my stand looked rubbish and amateurish. Not enough height, not enough impact. I was rather disheartened to be honest. The space in our car was limited with my daughter and camping gears, as one of my excuses. Yet the show like this is actually a good place to learn, too. I hope I will get better at it with practice over time.

As you can see, I displayed two of my recent work, “rakugaki” (blue and white series) and “mazekoze” (four coloured) in symmetrical way. The interesting thing from this show for me was to hear what people say about my work. 

my "rakugaki" mugs and jugs

Many mentioned that “rakugaki” has a sort of Scandinavian feel. I do love Scandi style myself, but have never thought about it when I was making these. It’s rather nice to know such taste comes out naturally not deliberately, so I am very happy.

"mazekoze" nesting bowls

As for “mazekoze”, the colours and the texture of glazes were well received. If you’re my blog reader for a while, you know it took me a long time to get these colours, so it is nice to hear such a good response. Some says “organic”, some says beautiful to the eyes and to touch. That made my day!

Many also mentioned that they can see Japanese-ness in my “caring to the details” approach, but there are also freedom in designs like Western. What a great compliment! Thank you everyone. 


Now, you know I cannot take my eyes off other potters as a pottery lover. There were many established and talented potters at the show. I would like to share some of my favourites with you. 

I have been a big fan of Isabel’s work for some time now as I posted in the past (here). Those colourful surface decoration are truly joy to the eyes and we enjoy having a cuppa in her lovely mug everyday. 

colourful stand with ISABEL MERRICK
bird butter dish by ISABEL MERRICK

Actually Isabel has been a great asset for me to come to this show. Always encouraging and giving me positive feedback, and in fact she was the one who persuaded me to apply for this show a year ago. It is so fortunate to meet someone like Isabel, as I feel like I have got a mentor! Thank you Isabel, as always. It was lovely seeing you again, (and your fabulous tent with fairly lights!) 

I have never met Margaret before, but she approached me to say that she’s been reading my blog. You know I share about my daughter’s condition etc in blog, talking to her felt like rather personal and intimate. 

an excellent owl bowl by MARGARET BRAMPTON

Margaret produces traditional slipware with sgraffito decoration, many of which are flora and fauna. I was instantly drawn to her owl bowl with a quirky handle. You know I could not resist! Happily came home with us. Thank you Margaret, it was so lovely to meet you. 

Fleen’s stand was directly opposite to me. I haven’t seen her work at first hand before but I knew from an article in Ceramic Review. Fleen makes wood-fired salt-glazed stoneware with stamped surface decoration, which is her unique charms. She also makes simple yet elegant porcelain pieces. 

FLEEN DORAN and her beautiful salt-glazed work

Fleen kindly shared her tips about online shop, mailing list etc and all was very helpful information for me, as I am hoping to build that up this year. She is now expecting her first baby and it was lovely to chat with her, and she also spoken to my daughter at the site. All the best Fleen and looking forward to hear if it’s a girl or a boy! 

Ben’s free, wild and somewhat primitive drawings on his work are just so appealing to many of us, I’m sure. They make us happy! It's a simple fact! 

BEN’s whimsical drawings bring us happiness
A man to watch! BEN FOSKER

His drawings fascinate me a lot. As I also draw my “rakugaki” series, it’s good to get inspiration from other artists work too. Having spoken to him over Facebook for some years now, it is strange to meet him this way because you don’t feel like a first time. He is indeed a lovely chap as you imagined and kindly shared the story about his family and his thought about the show. 
wonderful owl platter by BEN FOSKER

I always wanted his work one day, so this owl platter now sat on my bird wall looking at us everyday. 

As I was looking around prior to the show starts, Sheila’s pottery was the very first one that I was attracted to. 

 pencil drawings by SHEILA HERRING

SHEILA HERRING and her stand

She explores the surface design with pencil line drawings and sgraffito. I just love those techniques and tools. As you might remember that I used to use pencil line drawings on my old “rakugaki”, it brought a smile to my face when I saw her work. With additional colours and dark clay that she altered its shape and embossed pattern, her work brings to life. 

my fav jug of the day by SHEILA HERRING

I adore this jug with a flower handle. What a creation! Great meeting you Sheila. 

Finally I cannot thank enough for this opportunity to Pat the organiser of this wonderful event. Her friendly, welcoming and down-to-earth character is such an admiration to many of us, certainly to me and helped put me at ease at the show. 

beautiful teapot and cups by PAT FULLER

We returned home with a perfect memory too. We shall treasure them. 

Thank you so much for reading along! Hope you enjoy it and find your favourite too. You can click each name to visit the potter’s website to find out more. 

3 September 2017

Northern Ireland part 2: what the beautiful beach means to us

Continued from the previous travel post from our family holiday in Northern Ireland. Today’s post is about a little bit more personal issue about the beach and my girl. 

Northern Ireland landscapes were simply spectacular. They are truly beautiful and peaceful. We visited four beaches in 2 days, including the famous Giant Causeway, which was so interesting to see and we had a lovely walk down there in a fresh air. But all in all, we love White Rocks the best. It was such a calm and clean beach. I’ve never seen any beach that more beautiful than that before, certainly not in UK. 

During our stay, pretty much every night it had rained as weather forecast said, so we were expecting walking around in a rain coat. But guess what? We had so much sunshine during the day time! Hurray!

So we quickly changed the plan and drove toward the beach. At this point, we did not know about White Rocks beach but it was the first one we could see, so we decided to have a go. As soon as we walked down to the beach, our daughter Sabrina was absolutely excited. 

“Mummy, can I take my shoes off?” she asks. 
“Off course you can.” 

Off she went with her smile and giggles that has no end.
The best part of our family holiday it was.

Sandy beach must have been a family holiday destination. Children love sand and water, full stop. We all know that.

But we didn’t really do that up until now, due to the fact that Sabrina has had a doctor warning for sand playing.

As I mentioned before, my girl has eye condition called Peter’s Anomaly and has cornea transplanted on her one eye. Other eye's cornea is very thin. Although both corneas remain healthy today, the loss of sight from the infection and the risk of rejection of graft still remains too, which can be caused by the damage of the surface of her eyes by rubbing sandy eyes, so her doctor always cautioned us ever since. She was basically too young to be able to handle sand carefully due to her dexterity and also to follow our reminder of “not to rub”. So even at the nursery, she did not play with sand, unless closely supervised like 1:1, which wouldn’t be most of the case. I used to feel bad and maybe over protective, but we could not weigh the same as missing a fun play for a short while to her difficult start we went through and the miracle she had gained (her sight). 

But that slowly has changed. As I wrote last summer (in this post), Sabrina had a little “sand debut” at the age of three. It was the moment that she experienced the sand for the first time and was also the moment that I almost cried. Thereafter, we visited the beach near us for several times to let her experience more sand plays at the beach, the feel of waves and the smell of ocean. She loved it of course, but we still remained as careful as we always did. For that I guess I may not have been freeing her as much as I should. 

The thing is that this girl learns by herself all the time. Through a little experience of her world. Risk taking is always there in order to have fun. So this time, I let her go. Wild and free as she can be. Oh, she was ecstatic! Running around with her barefoot. Splashing the water. Stamping the sand and wetting her bottom. I can still hear her laughs and giggles when I see those photos. As normal kids do. She was having such a great time. 

The beach gave us the most beautiful memory of our family. 

2 September 2017

Northern Ireland part 1: collecting a hot pot by Adam Frew

gorgeous blue swish surface decorations

Hello September.  I can already feel autumn in the air. But before I anticipate my love of autumn, I’d like to share a bit of our summer holiday in Northern Ireland. As it is my travel post routine (is there such a thing?), I would like to share in two parts. Today, part 1 is about our journey to collect a gorgeous pottery!

If you work with clay, it’s natural to fall in love with many ceramic work by other potters and artists all over the world. I have so many that I admire even just in UK, but with my hands down, my top favourite has always been Adam Frew.

Adam and shelf-full of his wonderful work 

I’ve blogged about his pot before (click here) but my actual first sight to his pot was almost decade ago. His massive thrown pot with his celadon glaze and his quirky surface decoration instantly caught my eyes as I was passing by a gallery in York. I remember I was feeling too timid to go inside, so I walked back and forth by that window to try to see more of his pot.

I’ve admired his wonderful work ever since. What I love about his work most is the beautiful surface decoration. Unique, spontaneous and lively. His decoration has changed and evolved over years, for which I thoroughly enjoy viewing, more so with Instagram today. I have slowly collected some of his tableware with old and new designs, and we absolutely love them and enjoy using them. I adore the recent cobalt painterly decorations so much and I guess his inspiration comes from the seaside, which I can tell why after visiting beautiful beaches in the area. (I will write about this in next post) 

we had lunch on Adam's handmade plate at babushka cafe

Luckily I had several opportunities to meet Adam and his wife Catherine (glass artist but currently on maternity leave with a gorgeous baby girl) who both used to exhibit at BCTF, where I was taking part as my degree course at local college. He also came to the college to demonstrate, so I was lucky enough to see his skills and insight much closer. 

So, what is about our trip to Northern Ireland and Adam’s pots?

Well, it was before last Christmas that we started to thinking about this. Although celebration is not really our thing, as this year is our ten years anniversary, we were thinking about having something special to us, more precisely to our loving home. A bit personal choice of mine but I suggested Adam’s moon jar. I’ve been watching how he make them, they are totally blowing my mind, but also easily blow your budget too, so I’ve never thought I could have one. Then my kind husband actually loved the idea! He thought it would go so well on our new dining cabinet, where we can see everyday.

Adam’s studio view

I contacted him to see if he would do a commission for us. The answer was yes! What’s next? A trip to Northern Ireland, to collect the commissioned moon jar AND to view his studio. My absolute dream plan has begun. Together with my parents fiftieth anniversary and they are coming from Japan this summer, it was perfect reason that we all go to Northern Ireland for a holiday. 

sneak peek of his drawings

Actual visit was lovely. We met their baby daughter, who also welcomed us at the studio entrance. Adam was shying out about his studio being messy, but I always love looking artists work place so it was truly enjoyable. Adam kindly prepared several moon jars for us to choose from. Everything looks gorgeous, but my husband and I loved the same one, (thank god!) so we’ve brought the piece back home happily. 

As we had a little Sabrina, Catherine kindly suggested to go a children’s play gym all together after our studio visit. Sabrina had a wonderful time, as well as we chat about work and family life, which was also lovely. 

the moon jar happily sits in our dining room today

Thank you so much Adam and Catherine for having us and giving us such a precious time.

Go check his website and his Instagram for more beautiful work.