Posts Tagged ‘seasonal pots’

Waiting for the swallows

April 1, 2011

Now that Spring is really here, and in John Clare’s happy words

The trees still deepen in their bloom

Grass greens the meadowlands

And flowers with every morning come

we can really start looking forward to the arrival of the swallows and swifts, since the daffodils have already dared. I love the changing lengthening light of Spring, and the suddenness of the long-awaited transformation, when everything charges out at once.

I’m continuing work on my series of Books of Hours, or contemporary illuminated manuscripts, on the theme of the passing year, working with different forms of the book. Some of them are very large, but The turning year is made from a single sheet of handmade ‘elephant’ paper (70cm x 50cm), torn and folded not into my usual cyclic sequence of pages, but this time as a continuous flow, starting at one end and following a fluid timeline which pours off the other end. The full sheet, before tearing and folding looked like this:

and the sequence of pages like this:

This was a lovely sheet of paper to work with, as it had beautiful irregular deckle edges, with even a few tags of paper floating at the corners. I particularly like the lively uniqueness of each handmade sheet, and enjoy including its quirks into the book’s character. The torn and folded sequence of pages looks like this:

My preoccupation with rivers, seas and watery places is reaching flood level as I prepare for Watermark, my exhibition in the Ice House gallery in Holland Park, which is open daily from 7th to 22nd May, 11am to 7pm.

I’ll be showing waterfalls in clay, driftwood signposts, several kingfishers, fountains and storms, tall ships and circling seas, as well as Van Gogh’s clouds and swallows on the Thames – and during May I’ll be showing some of the works in the exhibition here in my May post.

Meanwhile, I have been doing some other work, including a very enjoyable commission for a portrait of a thatched cottage, in my ongoing series of architectural low-relief sculptures.

I’ve been making these for 25 years now (my first was in 1986), and I must have made many hundreds by now – I love the individuality of each subject, and really enjoy how a likeness develops through the process, so that the finished portrait becomes a very tangible image of the house. I made this one in terracotta – the same clay as the bricks – but I use stoneware for a stone-built house. I have made a portrait of a Swiss log cabin, but I did it in clay, rather than matchsticks. Some more examples can be seen on the Architectural reliefs page, and commissions start at £200. I welcome enquiries about commissions – you can leave me a note in the comments box below, or if you prefer, click on contact details for other ways to get in touch.

Glad Christmass

December 22, 2010

John Clare’s December poem from A Shepherds Calender is a special favourite, inspiring many of my seasonal pots over the years. I particularly like his spelling, and his greeting between friends and neighbours when meeting ‘their Christmass cheer to share’:

Glad Christmass and a happy year


Hail, sweet Autumn

September 23, 2010

Although we cling to the last of the summer, the Autumn equinox seems a good day to acknowledge the turning of the season, so in John Clare’s words:

Sweet Autumn I thee hail with welcome

But we have a few hot days left before the leaves start to fall, like yesterday, and these late summer days have brought an extravagant flowering everywhere, including on the pots. I had intended this month’s pots to be a bit more autumnal, but somehow they’re covered in flowers among the early Worcesters:

The text on this one is by Ben Jonson:

Then hath thy Orchard fruit, thy Garden flowers

Fresh as the air, and new as are the hours.

I like to make flower jars that look just as good empty, providing a reminder of the midsummer profusion even when filled only with the idea of flowers:

The morning glory jar on the left has a lovely text by John Clare:

Round field hedge now flowers in full glory twine

And the fruit bowls muddle the plums and damsons up with blue-eyed grass and larkspur:

The text on this one’s by Dryden:

Green fields and songful groves and flowers and fruit

and it’s decorated with blue-eyed grass and cornflowers for the green fields, larkspur for the songful groves, lavender (of course) for the flowers and plums and damsons for the fruit.

Perhaps by the time next month’s pots come out I’ll have accepted the idea of Autumn, and it will ‘come laden home with apples’ (Boethius, translated by Helen Waddell) – there’s always cider to consider, after all.

The Earth is making merry, and so I think must I

(Marbod of Rennes, translated by Helen Waddell)

All these pots are signed one-offs, and for sale, from £35 for the little buttercup jar, to £250 for the large Orchard bowl. If you’d like more information, please leave me a note in the comments box below, or click here for contact details and other ways to get in touch.

Harvest home

August 27, 2010

Considering what happened last bank holiday weekend (see a rather reckless post) I won’t discuss the weather this time. Instead, some more seasonal pots.

At this time of year I like to make pots to celebrate the last of the summer, and ‘all the summer’s fruitful treasure’ (Nash) – especially big punch jugs of the old fashioned kind that used to come round at the harvest home full of sharp new cider or hoppy beer. This curvaceous jug takes more than a couple of litres, and helps the jollity on with a lovely inscription from Herrick:

Come Sons of Summer – by whose toil

We are the lords of Wine and Oil –

Crowned with the Ears of Corn now come

And to the pipe sing Harvest Home.

I also like to make big bread plates with wheat ears, poppies and cornflowers – the inscription on this one’s by John Clare.

I love the combination of the glowing golden ochre and a clear azure blue that we (sometimes) see so much in August. One of the first pots I made in these colours (in 1993) was this open flared bowl with a lovely inscription by John Clare:

All these pots are thrown on the wheel in white stoneware and decorated with freehand brushwork in underglaze oxides, under a clear glaze fired to 1255 degrees. They are fully useable, waterproof and sturdy, and each is a signed one-off. Prices from £70

If you’d like to know more about these pots or any of my work, please leave me a note in the comments box below, or click on contact details for other ways to get in touch.

Now summer is in flower

June 17, 2010

Now summer is in flower and nature’s hum

Is never silent round her sultry bloom.

(John Clare)

Seasonal pots have always been a pleasure to make. I like to paint what’s in the garden (or in our case on the roof) – so sometimes that’s daffodils or bluebells, sometimes courgettes. Now the rosemary flowers have just faded, but the strawberries are here, the sage is in full bloom, and the lavender hedge is just about to begin – we only have to wait just a little longer for that heady delight. This June plate was a birthday commission; I often use lines from John Clare’s Shepherds Calendar or his Midsummer Cushion for seasonal commissions – his ‘wildfield catalogue of flowers’ never fails to inspire.

Also of the moment are strawberry bowls, cherry bowls and flower jars and jugs – just right for keeping the drinks cool in the garden (or on the roof). With an English summer you have to make the most of every sunny afternoon.

And with a profusion of flowers everywhere (thanks to all that rain), the pots tend to get covered too (and the car).

Summer pots for sale from the studio (each a signed one-off): strawberry bowl size from £60; little lavender bowl size £30; Joy and treasure plate (text by Burns) £120; flower jars from £80.

To enquire about or buy any of these pots, please leave me a note in the comments box below or click here for contact details.

All photos copyright Liz Mathews

Green be your woods

May 7, 2010

Green be your woods and fair your flow’rs

Your waters never drumlie

There summer first unfald her robes

And there the longest tarry

Burns’ beautiful lines always make me think of a sea of bluebells in the woods, so ravishing a sight at this time of year.  I’ve tried to catch the duskiness of that blue on this bowl, the glow in the shadows, by using a clay very slightly darker than my usual creamy white – this one’s like unbleached linen – with the bluebells painted in a similar tone. The text is lettered by brush in dark green round the flared rim of the bowl:

with the bluebells and their lovely strappy leaves spread out in a spray across the bowl’s expanse.  This pot was thrown on the wheel with 2kg of stoneware clay, the foot turned, and then I decorated the text and foliage with a brush in underglaze oxides. Then the bowl was fired twice, first to fire the colour into the clay body, then to fire the clear glaze into the clay’s surface. I made it with a group of other meadow pots, some with flowering rosemary and thyme, some with primroses and cowslips.

Signed one-off, 25cm across x 7cm high, for sale £70 now sold.

To buy or enquire about any work, please leave me a note in the comments box below or click on contact details.

Permission is needed for the use of any of these photos.

Jolly Spring doth enter

March 19, 2010

Earth now is green and heaven is blue Jolly Spring doth enter

Spencer’s encouraging observation is lettered in green and blue round the flared rim of Green Earth, an open shallow bowl of a good size for fruit or salad, as well as a cheering thing to look at and handle.  The flowers are flax, thyme, periwinkles, lavender and cornflowers, with some blue-eyed grass – a foretaste of the joys to come. I very much enjoy making seasonal pots, responding to the turning year. For some other Spring pots please see the Meadow page, and for some snowy works have a look at the Paperworks page. I’ll be featuring Summer, Autumn and Winter pots later in the year, including some special pots for Christmas. The Green Earth bowl is thrown on the wheel in white stoneware clay, lettered and decorated by hand with brushwork in underglaze colours, fired, glazed with a clear glaze and then fired again. It’s 27cm across the rim, and 9cm high. Signed one-off, for sale £120. To buy or enquire about this or any work, please leave me a note in the comments box below or click on contact details. All photos copyright Liz Mathews. Permission is needed for any use of these images.