Sunday 19 October 2014

Its that time of year....

It is definitely autumn (although the temperature yesterday was trying to fool us). This month we have been able to have our pumpkins out on display.
The Pumpkins are one of my favourite things that we make. If you haven't seen them yet....

Halloween is coming upon us very quickly and these are proving as popular as ever. So If you want to get your hands on them they are available at Dedham Arts and Crafts Centre or Creatively Crafty in Manningtree.
The pumpkins start out as a pinch pot (I will try to take some photos at some point of the potter making something like this) they are left to dry out until leather hard (so not fully dry but dry enough to hold their shape) and then carved just like a real pumpkin! They have a hole at the back to put the candle in, and are painted yellow inside so they have a spooky yellowy orange glow when the candle is lit
The Gourd is painted green inside and looks amazing when lit!
We also have some mini pumpkin Tlight holders which are 2D pumpkins and perfect for putting on the table for your Halloween party. You can see them lurking unlit in the top picture under the stand with the large pumpkins on.
The potter has returned from her holiday, confirming my belief that Stoke on Trent is the centre of the UK. It doesn't matter where she goes on holiday she always manages to come home "via" Stoke on Trent!! It just happens to be the "home" of pottery and the location of one of our stockists. So yes that means she went shopping!!
Just as well we are doing lots of shows in November......
Check out where we will be

Sunday 28 September 2014

Changes at Embar Pottery

No I haven't gone away, I have just been busy! and the potter is on holiday and hasn't been reminding me (hassling) to get the blog done!
The last month has seen some major debating going on in the Embar Pottery camp, which has finally emerged as a decision, and it has been about credit card machines.

As anyone who has seen us out at a show knows we have a portable credit/debit card machine which allows us to take card payments for things when we are in the middle of a field.
It looks a bit like this....

However we have to pay a (high) monthly charge for the privilege of having this machine, as well as a per transaction charge,  which makes its worthiness a little debatable. The months when we do a lot of fairs (May - Aug) it pays its way absolutely fine. Its the months when we don't even switch it on (Jan/feb etc) but we still have to pay the monthly charge that the debate starts.

A number of different companies have started to produce a new style machine which has no monthly charge just the per transaction charge. This seems perfect for businesses like Embar Pottery where some months we will use it a lot and others not so much. There is however some downsides to this (hence the debate).
1) They look nothing like a traditional portable card machine so will customers be happy to use it?

2) They link up via an app on your mobile and then use your mobile data to connect up (the customers card details are not stored on your phone tho, its all encrypted by the machine)
The problem with this is that if you get no signal in the field you can't use it.
The traditional card machine has a roaming sim card so connects to whichever network it can find.
The other problem is if you have a smartphoneophobe in your midst who is worried about using a smartphone!
3) The per transaction charge is higher than the traditional machine

So after much debating where for a while the only decision we could make was that we definitely needed to have the ability to accept card payments we have taken the plunge.
We have cancelled the contract on our old machine and the new one has arrived. So bear with us if you see us out at any of our November shows. Its new, It will take some getting used to!
Our locations for November shows are now on the website so check it out

Friday 8 August 2014

A Creation

We are at Sandringham Craft and Sculpture show this weekend where as is standard protocol for shows this season it appears to be raining!!

Never mind! The Potter is keeping her chin up by making lots of fab creations. Today has been Green Man making day so I thought I would share with you the making process.

We start with a scrunched up bit of old newspaper!
I say WE, but this is the royal "we" as I actually have more of a supervisory role!! Anyway the scrunched up bit of newspaper helps to form the shape of the face, making it protrude without having to add layers of clay, which would make the face both very thick and heavy. Both problems, one as very thick clay takes forever to dry out and causes cracking in the kiln and the other as it becomes very heavy so is more difficult to mount.
Once the clay has formed the base shape the potter starts to add facial features.

The potter has just looked over my shoulder at these pictures and told me not to include this one as the face looks "really odd" but I thought I would as it shows the progression the face makes from just flat clay with a small mound in the middle to a face. Each of the facial features are added individually and moulded into the base clay.

Once the face is complete (this is where I usually stick my head over the potters shoulder and tell her the nose is too big/small! or she should add a moustache!) The leaves are added.

The features at this stage always seem quite exaggerated, but once the leaves are over the rest of it, they seem to fade into the background a little.

And "ta dah!" a finished creation. Tomorrow the clay will be leather hard and the potter will scoop out some of the extra clay where it was added to make the features to keep a more consistent thickness throughout.

 This plaque along with the others made today (including one that looks a bit like a pirate.. complete with goatee and a colonel mustard moustache!) are going to be fired (in a week or so when they are fully dry) and then we intend to Raku fire them.

We are hoping it will be a bit dryer tomorrow, fingers crossed.

Monday 28 July 2014

Frog vases

So we are back from the garden show and it didn't rain (woo hoo!) however have you ever heard the phase "you should be careful what you wish for" ? as instead of the predicted thunderstorm we cooked very slowly in sweltering heat!!

Never mind! I have a day off today, before we set off tomorrow for Sandringham Flower Show (the show is on Wednesday but it is set up day tomorrow).

We had a couple of our new line trials with us this weekend and one in particular seemed to be a success and that was the Frog vases. No not (as I first thought) vases shaped like frogs! but vases with frog pins in them.

In case you were wondering a Frog pin is the heavy metal spiky thing that you see flower arrangements made in......
One of our friends who does lovely flower arrangements took pity on the Potter when she was setting up (without me!) and did a mini arrangement in one of our new designs (using some supermarket bought flowers) and they looked brilliant.
And to be fair made them look approachable even to the least floristry minded like myself. (I was taking notes as I have a feeling the Potter may be asking me to do this in the future!)

This must have been a thought that resonated with our customers as we sold all but the ones with the flower examples in. The Potter has added more frog vases to her list of jobs for the next couple of weeks! Unfortunately there is no way of making them ready for Wednesday, so we will have to keep them in mind for next week.

I know you are all desperate to see a picture now.........
Sorry the picture is sideways! That seems to have been happening to a lot of my pictures today. Mondays are obviously sideways days!!
The Frog has 2 functions. It is heavy so stops the vase from falling over when making it top heavy with flowers, and it holds the flowers upright without the need for tall sides to the vase.
I realise that my picture mostly focuses on the flowers, but the vase itself is leaf shaped. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of them on their own to show you, but we had 2 different shaped leaf patterns decorated in a variety of colours.
I will get some pictures of the next batch to be made.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

House Names

A few weeks ago we were asked to make a round house name sign. We have been making house names signs for many years and they are something that the potter enjoys making.

We started out making rectangular signs such as this very early example:
At this stage we were also having a very high fail rate with the signs cracking in the kiln. We quickly discovered that our mistake was how we positioned the sign in the kiln. Poor air circulation around the sign meant that it fired quicker on one side than the other and caused the cracks.

Once we had worked that out our fail rate was dramatically reduced to (touch wood) almost none. Looking back we really had no idea what we were doing and were figuring it out as we went! Kiln loading particularly seemed like a dark art where you had to work it out for yourself what worked and what failed!

Other things like if you pack items close together or far apart, it changes the colour of the glaze were also discovered during these early days! Thankfully we have got the hang of it these days so we have a better idea of what is going to come out of our kiln when we open it!!

Anyway back to name signs...... We moved on from rectangular signs to oval signs as the potter became more adventurous with her designs. The oval signs left much more space for decoration, and the signs became much more detailed as a result.

I am glad to say that the rectangular signs have also moved on in terms of decoration from those early days!

When we were asked to make a round sign, we spent some time debating what would be the right size for a round sign, to leave space for some decoration in the middle. The client we were designing a sign for liked the idea of the central design (rather than just a border design like the rectangular signs) so we needed to leave space for that.
We settled on a sign that is approx 30cm in diameter. We liked the one we made for that client so much we have decided to add round signs to our official list of options (
This is an example plate that the potter made at the last show we were at, so we could show people an example of a round sign.

Ta dah! as you can see it came out rather well. Of course what I was supposed to be doing with this picture is adding it to the website page before we go out to our next show this weekend not writing a blog post about it, So I must get to that...........
If you are interested this weekend you can find us at the Marks Hall Country and Garden Show at Marks Hall, Coggeshall Essex (CO6 1TG)
We shall be there rain or shine (hopefully shine... pleeeeeeese!)

Saturday 12 July 2014

It keeps on raining at all our shows!

The rain is a persistent devil! It seems that Embar Pottery at a show is a sure sign of rain. Tomorrow we are going to the Grundisburgh Art and Craft fair. A late addition to our show schedule as we had a weekend free and thought we would fill it with something local. However I have seen the forecast for tomorrow.......  Light Rain...... So it looks like our run is going to continue!

The last show we did was the Garden Show at Abbotts Ripton Hall. While it was raining (and thundering!) we had a trial of laying our stand out differently.

Although you can't see where my seat is (its on the left between the two tables) For the first time this season I haven't been hiding behind the house numbers board where I can't really see or speak to people. I have no idea if that made a difference of if it was a fluke, but in spite of the rain we had a better show, which made the potter very happy.......

..... although maybe less happy about having her photo taken! She was hard at work here making a winter lady (we sold the last one I told you about).

We also took the birdbaths out with us. In a previous post I took photos of them in the garden (on a sunny day) They made a statement on our fake grass stand as well!

They look a bit shiny as I had to take the photo with the flash on (all the black clouds made it a bit dark in the marquee!)

Fingers crossed the forecast I have seen for tomorrow is wrong and we have a lovely sunny day.

Sunday 22 June 2014

New ideas

It has been ages since my last post. We have been busy trying to dry out after our last show (at Woburn abbey where we got a bit wet!!) and feeling generally a bit disheartened (rain will do that to you).
Anyway today it is sunny and long may it last as we are at a garden show next weekend at Abbots Ripton Fingers crossed for some good weather, we will be there whatever but it does boost the moral slightly when you are not soggy!

Some of the plants I have been growing for the occasion are looking fabulous, and hopefully someone will love them at the weekend.

The potter hasn't been moping about the weather (well maybe a little) but has been busy experimenting with new things, I am going to give you a sneak preview of one of them. It isn't even fully dry yet......

So its a frog.... actually I think it might be a toad..... sitting on a lily pad. (My photo was photobombed by Gladys who sneaked into shot when I wasn't looking!)
This is the side shot....
So the toad could be decorational for the garden (next to a pond maybe) but he does have a hole in the top which the potter thought could be used for this.......

.... a solar light. I will update you with some pictures of it once it has been fired and glazed, and we shall see how he comes out. He is looking like a sentry in the last picture so maybe you need to have 2, one on either side of your front door!