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That was Christmas sorted

We don’t really “do” Christmas in our family. But we do make an effort to all get together sometime between Christmas and New Year at my parents’ house, to have a big family dinner and exchange stocking-filler presents. So I stopped off in Kent on my way back from Greece, and my sister and her husband came over to join us. We’re all frankly too old for “proper” Christmas presents, but puzzles, toys, and books always go down well. I was travelling back by train, so had to leave the heavier and bulkier presents with my sister, who will bring them up by car next time she comes to visit. That includes a frankly tasteless present from her – a tissue box holder in the shape of an Easter Island statue head! The tissues come out of his nose! It looks like the poor moai has got a cocaine problem, with his nose running the whole time…… I definitely wasn’t able to find space in my suitcase for that!

My presents to the family were marginally more serious than that – they were mostly pottery commissions I’d taken throughout the year. The most recent pots were ready the week before Christmas, and I packed them up well in bubble wrap and posted them down to my parents, where they arrived in time for me to wrap them up when I got back from Greece. Ethan, the new apprentice at Eastnor Pottery, took some photos of the pots when they first came out of the kiln, which I have shamelessly reproduced here.

Mugs and candlesticks

The candlesticks were a commission from my sister and brother-in-law. As a wedding present, they were given a rather striking glass bottle-stopper, and wanted somewhere to display it. My sister sent me a photo of it, with a tape measure also in the field of view, so that I had some idea of the size required. However, clay shrinks as it dries, by around 10%, give or take, which makes it very difficult to throw something to a specific size.  I ended up throwing seven candlesticks, all with the same basic pattern but varying in size. When I went back to the pottery to turn and decorate them, they had already shrunk a fair amount, and I was able to discard the smallest and largest ones. I painted (in plain cream, as requested) the middle five, and crossed my fingers that one of them would fit the bottle-stopper once they were all fired. I’d never thrown a candlestick shape before, but I had a clear idea in my head of what I wanted to achieve, and I think I got fairly close to it. I also rather like the green and blue stipple effect on the mugs – it’s very simply done, spattering on the blue with a toothbrush, but I think it’s rather effective. It reminds me a bit of duck eggs.