Anyone for Seconds?


Working alone is something I quite enjoy, I like to be able to switch off, focusing only on the job in hand. Working alone however is very isolating and when things go wrong there’s no one to turn to for advice, support or even just a shoulder to cry on.

Since starting my business properly just over two years ago it has grown steadily and I now supply a number of wonderful galleries and shops. At the end of last year as some of you will know I had issues with the clay I had been using without problems for years. After persevering for some time, my stock of seconds started to increase and my poor stockists started to run low on stock. I then spent several weeks researching and testing replacement clay bodies and finally settled on another clay with very similar properties to my old clay.

I threw myself into production, the new clay was working well and I had a lot of catching up to do and with increasing enquiries from new outlets there was a lot of incentive to work hard. So it came as quite a kick in the teeth when I opened the kiln recently to find that once again my mountain of seconds had grown. Most of the pieces in the kiln had an ugly bubbled surface although others were fine. What made things worse was that I had another load still to fire and sure enough I had exactly the same results on firing that.

My first reaction was that I must have done something wrong, I don’t have years of experience to draw on and it seemed unlikely that I could be so unlucky. My firing schedule was exactly the same and as some of the pieces in the first kiln load had been fine it suggested that the clay was to blame.
On speaking to my clay supplier he agreed that it seems like the problem is with the clay and he has very kindly replaced the clay.

The main thing that struck me about this whole affair was how alone I felt. It was bad enough that I had worked for weeks with nothing to show for it and once again I had to apologise to stockists for yet another delay. I now felt truly isolated to the point of throwing in the towel. I had to stop what I was doing, I had tested my remaining supply of clay and found that all of it was faulty so until I got the replacement clay there was nothing I could do.

During this time I was able to re-evaluate my situation. The time away from the studio meant I could indulge myself in my new hobby of spoon carving; something my son and I have taken up as a bit of fun. Sitting carving I realised that I couldn’t give up making pots. I am predominantly a maker and despite the setbacks I’ve had and all the dissapointment, I can’t stop making.

So today I’m back at my wheel.

As for the seconds, maybe I’ll have a big sale in the summertime or perhaps I’ll just take hammer to them, Either way I’m moving on and hopefully leaving my problems behind.



Going Batty

For some time now I have contemplated different ways of attaching batts to my wheel head. I don’t usually use batts for the small items that I throw but sometimes find once fired they can be slightly misshapen, probably due to being knocked when lifting them off the wheel.
My wheel although reliable is rather ancient and although I planned on drilling the wheel head it has proved impossible to remove it to do so. Until now I had been attaching batts to the wheel with a thrown pad of clay but my problem with this method is that sometimes the suction between the batt and the wheel head is so great that it takes some time to remove it!

I was then told of a clever way of solving my problem……


First I took two of my large batts, measured out a central square on one of them and cut it out, leaving me with the square (from which I removed a small corner) and four “edges”.


I then glued the “edges” to the other bat leaving a square recess in the center.


The square that had been removed from the centre can now be used as the “working” batt that is easily removed from the “master”batt.


The master batt is then easily attached to the wheel head using a thrown pad of clay but then multiple square batts can be simply dropped into place and removed as required.

Multiple Choice

I’ve seriously neglected my blog with my last post being way before Christmas! Time seems to be flying past and I still feel like I’m in holiday mode.
I thought I’d set myself a little project to start off the year. My birds sold well over The festive period and I found it a bit difficult keeping up with demand at times, so I decided to try making a plaster mold to allow me to produce them a bit quicker.

I started by making a master copy of the bird that I wanted to cast, I added a cone shaped “stalk” to the base of the bird. This is known as the “spare” and is the opening where the casting slip is poured into the finished mold. My master was then left to dry to leather hard.

As I needed to make a two part mold I then marked a line around the middle of the bird where the two halves of the mold would meet. The next step was to submerge the bird in soft clay up to this mark.


I smoothed the area around the bird to make it as neat as possible, then I added a “wall” of plastic to contain the plaster, sealing around the base with a coil of soft clay. The surface of the clay, mold and the inside of the plastic were then all coated with soft soap which acts as a release agent.

Next, things started to get messy! I measured out two pints of water and weighed out 3lb 12oz of plaster. Slowly the plaster was sifted over the surface of the water and when all had been added, it was left for a few minutes to soak. I then started to mix the plaster gently by keeping my hand under the surface to try to create as few air bubbles as possible. After a few minutes the plaster started to thicken and when a finger was drawn over the surface it left a slight impression. It was time to pour. In a smooth, steady action, I poured all of the plaster into the mold.


The plaster was then left to set for about 45 minutes. During this time it heats up and when it had cooled down I removed the plastic wall and gently loosened the plaster from the clay base, leaving the master now embedded in the plaster.


While the plaster was still fairly soft I cut natches into the surface, this was done simply with the aid of a penny.


The natches ensure the two halves of the mold will line up perfectly. Next the plastic wall was reinstated, the base was once again sealed with clay and soft soap was painted on all the surfaces. The plaster mixing process was repeated and the second half of the mold was then poured.


Once again I had to wait for the plaster to set and cool down before tentatively removing the plastic and tapping around the joint between the two halves.


The finished mold will need to be left for several days to dry out and only then can I put it to the test………….watch this space!


Visual Storytelling Made Simple: Storehouse for iPad

Jon Gill


Did you know that the very first version of Instagram (Burbn) was intended as a ‘Swiss army knife’ of an app… kitchen sink included. As development progressed went on, Kevin Systrom and his team stripped out feature after feature to arrive at the simple (but effective) photo sharing app that subsequently sold to Facebook for 1 Billion Dollars only 18 months after launch.

Storehouse is a new digital visual storytelling application for iPad and shares something of the simplicity of Instagram.

Positioned somewhere between Storify and photo book production, Storehouse maximises the intuitive interface potential of the iPad. Bring in pictures and video from your iPad’s photo albums, Flickr, Dropbox and Instagram to create (very quickly) a polished ‘story’ that can be annotated with text (again, limited to ‘header’, ‘quote’ or ‘regular’) and published on the web to the Storehouse community and to the world.


Experienced desktop…

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I’m new here….will you show me around?

Introducing………… other half!


Hello and welcome.

Well it started  30 odd years ago with a few Jacobsen series 7 chairs that my (now) wife bought me from a junk shop in Edinburgh, and it’s never quite gone away.

In truth, it started much, much earlier…

I’m David Walker and this blog is to share my love for all things Mid Century, as well as anything older or newer that is well designed and pleasing to the eye.

I live in Central Scotland, so there is likely to be a British slant to my rantings. Hopefully I can bring a few under-appreciated British designs to a wider audience.

I’m setting up an online shop also called c20home, so I’ll also have lovely furniture and homewares for sale.

Please pop back soon, when there will be more to see. Thanks for coming.

Meantime, here’s a picture of my house. (Not a very good one-Picture…

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Opening the kiln after a glaze firing is like opening a Christmas present, there’s massive excitement mixed with a lot of apprehension. Will it be the perfect book you have always longed to read or the dreaded novelty slippers that are impossible to walk in!

Unfortunately on opening the kiln this morning I was faced with the worst case of novelty slippers ever.  Almost every piece was damaged in some way, seemingly affected by some weird volcanic like eruptions on the surface together with in some cases large air pockets trapped in the walls of the pieces.  This isn’t the first nasty surprise I’ve had either, my last kiln load was similarly affected and now I’m desperate for answers.  I have trawled the internet for possible causes; the work had not dried sufficiently, the bisque was fired too quickly or maybe it was down to carbon coring (a new one for me), was the kiln packed too tightly and therefore there wasn’t enough oxygen present during the firing.

I reflected on all of these points and so when I put the kiln on for a second time I tried to address all these possibilities and act accordingly but alas the results are exactly the same.


So now I turn to you………to anyone who’s out there and may be able to help.  With Christmas orders to fulfil, this may be the difference between a new mug in someone’s stocking or some bath salts!

Give Weeds a Chance.


I find I feature the humble weed more and more in my work.

 I think its their tenacity I like, definitely the under dog in the garden, they still persist in trying to get themselves noticed!

Their names are charming: Horsetail, Lady’s Bed Straw, Ragged Robin and Shepherd’s Purse to name just a few.


One of my current favourites is Cleavers, or as we called it as kids, Sticky Willy. Great fun to stick on the back of an unaware sibling but also quite beautiful when you take a closer look.

Image So maybe next time your doing a bit of weeding, just take a few minutes to appreciate the weeds before you fling them on the compost heap!