Fishinkblog joins forces with Sllipblog @parkgatefest

Hello everyone on this sunny Monday morning. I’m just freshly returned from a weekend at Parkgatefest, which was a fabulous event, although sadly not in terms of sales. My friend Sarah who I was exhibiting with and who runs Sllipblog, had designed and created such an amazing stand for us to display our ceramics on, she’s […]

via Parkgatefest 2018 —

Repairing my kiln door

Finally the bricks on my front loading kiln door gave up, they could cling on NO more!



Before starting with the hammer and chisel I took copious notes, photos and measurements. And off they came………………………….

kiln bricks removed Feb2017

There was plenty of old cement and rust. The cement came off quite easily, but the rust….if I clean it all off, will there be any metal left?


It’s back on its hinges again so that I could mark where the kiln aperture meets the metal frame. This will be a guide of where the outer cut edges of the bricks will sit.

The white paint shows the first poor attempt of marking the four corners. Using a thinner piece of card and some wet red acrylic paint on its edge it accurately transferred a mark as I shut the door. Repeated on both edges of all 4 corners it has mapped out the opening aperture.


Using the red marks as a guide I was able to wax on the “edges to be” of the replacement brick block.


Next is to decide on a suitable primer and paint for the metal. Have been looking at these two products:

Stove & BBQ Paint

Has anybody else used these 2 products, or got any better suggestions?


If any one out there can offer me any advice please feel free to comment or e-mail me ( e-mail form on Contact page) I would be ever so grateful.

Butterscotch survives

I blogged a little while ago asking for advice on how to fire my sheep. I was concerned that the feet may drag on the kiln shelves and cause the bodies to contort. As you can see the sheep don’t have an underbody to stabilize them.

Paper Clay sheep

I decided to make a few plinths the same thickness as their bodies to stand on during firing.

As it happens the sheep not standing on plinths fired just as succesfully. In fact a couple of the plinths distorted but thankfully didn’t have any adverse effects on the sheep, or throw them off !

Here is Butterscotch ( yes I’ve had fun naming them all!)   Butterscotch make up (640x427)
Butterscotch 001 (640x427)Butterscotch - Copy (640x426)

From speaking to a couple of my pottery friends from North Wales Potters, I do believe their success may be down to my choices of clay. (paper clay has it’s own unique properties: explained on the Scarva website : TS Flax Paper Clay E/S 400 )

I will continue to use this clay for my next flock of sheep.

Kiln Stacking on the Throw Down 2

I’ve had some great feedback from my last post, already.

My thanks goes firstly to Mike Bush from Aschcroft ceramics who replied : ” I think the upturned pot may have had a very heavy base and it was fired that way to even out the heating and water release? ” he also added ” Stacking near the elements is fine for bisc, I would think. But not too happy about glaze firing though! PS. The technician, Richard Miller, certainly knows what he’s doing-very experienced”

Secondly John Evans ( not only replied but had the bright idea that I should contact the technician from the Tv show……

……and so I did. And here is ‘Richard’s reply:

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for getting in touch, I really don’t mind at all (me contacting him and picking his brains!)

I’m afraid the answers to you questions are probably not as interesting or engaging as you may have been hoping. (Ah but they are) In terms of the little shoes on the bottom of the props, they are called prop setters. They simply stabilise the stack when you have a kiln pack which is tall (or using tall props) and it also spreads the weight out a bit if you are packing heavy pieces on a higher shelf. They increase the surface area of the contact point between the shelf and the prop. In this situation they were just providing a useful increase in height to allow me to fit particular bowls underneath the shelf. This is why there are setters on the lower shelves but not the upper shelves. I generally don’t use them day to day as I rarely use tall props which require additional stabilising.

With regards to the bowl that was fired upside down, this was a trick I learnt a long while back. Due to the nature of the filming schedule we were having to turn around the processes extremely quickly. In this situation we were going from making to finished articles (including making, drying, bisc and glaze firing) within a week. In the case of this bowl, it wasn’t fully dry as the base was fairly thick despite being turned. As the kiln had to go on, the bowl was fired upside down on props to allow air and heat to circulate the piece fully, but more importantly it allows the moisture to wick away from the surface of the pot. This reduces the risk of the base blowing out as the moisture is being released during the firing. It’s a fairly extreme course of action as you might usually prop it underneath the foot ring, but it was just an insurance policy really.

Hope that goes some way to answering your questions. (Brilliantly, thank you)

Best wishes, Richard Miller

(Richard is the MD of Froyle Tiles Ltd: they produce beautiful handmade tiles for designers, architects, high-end retailers and private clients in the UK)

By the way Richard your involvement in the show did not pass by relatively unnoticed, as you thought: I’m sure lots of “potters in training” will have their ears and eyes pealed throughout all of the series.

Kiln Stacking on the Throw Down

If you’ve a passion for clay, like me you’ll have been waiting patiently for the airing of the first episode of The Great Pottery Throw Down.

(If you’ve missed all the fuss on Social media – you’ll find it’s on BBC Two 9pm Tuesday’s , and it’s produced by Love Productions )

Whilst watching the show I was intrigued to see how one of the bisque pots was stacked. You can see it here siting upside down on two, perhaps 3 small kiln props. Being a novice Potter, I can only think it had something to do with the turned foot? I also assume because it was upside down: being lifted off the kiln shelf meant that as it shrinks during firing the rim won’t drag on the kiln shelf and distort? Good or bad guess: please let me know!

BBC2 - Stacking Kiln : Bowl placed upside down on kiln props
BBC2 – Stacking Kiln : Bowl placed upside down on kiln props

I also noticed that the bottom kiln props are set into little “shoes” , but they are not used further up the stack. Also the bowls are VERY close to the elements……….

BBC2 - tacking Kiln - kiln furniture
BBC2 – Stacking Kiln – kiln furniture

……….Should I invest in some “shoes” ?

And whats the rules for stacking pots close to the elements?

Hoping that my blog may have got the attention of at least one experienced potter, I’d like to ask you for some more advice……PLEASE.

I’ve been busy making a few sheep.

Paper Clay Sheep -sslipblog
Paper Clay Sheep

You can see from this photo that I’ve made them from slabs of clay and they’re hollow. I chose to use paper clay because of it’s unique properties. (All explained on the Scarva website : TS Flax Paper Clay E/S 400 )

In doing so, I hope the differing thicknesses of the body and legs shouldn’t cause uneven shrinkage during the firing! HOWEVER as the sheep have no bellies I have a feeling in my gut they might warp. So I have rolled out some slabs the same thickness of the bodies, and plan to fire them standing on these.

Sheep on slab - sllipblog
Sheep on slab – sllipblog

My hope is, that as the body of the sheep shrinks so will the slab. If both shrink at the same rate, then the legs of the sheep will move with the slab and not drag on the kiln shelf. Mmmmmm a plan yes, but is it a good one? I’ll keep you posted. But any thoughts please please do advise. ( Ooo and should I put some Alumina Hydrate on the bat washed shelf under the slab?)

I for one really enjoyed the first episode of The Great Pottery Throw Down, and will be glued to the couch next Tuesday for episode 2……will you be joining me?

Front loading Kiln – needs some attention

I know my kiln is old, so one would expect it not to look pristine…………….but this one does look rather sad. But how sad are they allowed to get before I need to get it some attention? Can any one out there offer me some advice? Being a novice I have only seen the inside of one other kiln, and that one looked almost new despite it’s age.kiln door cement sllipblog

The bricks on the door are just about hanging on. What is the best way to go about re-fixing them? All off…………..ooooooo scary , OR just some more cement? As you can see the previous owner had already had a go at filling the crack with some cement.kiln cement - sllipblog

Is it suppose to go that colour? He is a glass artist and I am not sure if he has used a cement suitable for Ceramic Kilns but not Ceramic temperatures? (I hope I am correct in thinking glass artists do not fire their kilns as high as stoneware firings)kiln door - sllipblog

Above the door the metal casing is badly corroded, what should I look out for here. Heat doesn’t seem to seep out of here!kiln elements - sllipblog

I have tried to remove as much debris that was sitting under the elements.  Having hoovered it a number of times, I gently tried brushing the debris off…..but that was not very successful as I couldn’t get much past the coils. I am concerned the brick is very discoloured: is this a sign of corrosion?kiln roof - sllipblog

There is a large section of brick that has clearly blown off………….do I need to replace this? Will it cause a cool spot?roof of kiln - sllipblog

The top of the metal case looks a little warped …… is that a result of a heat loss?

If any one out there can offer me any advice please feel free to comment or e-mail me ( e-mail form on Contact page) I would be ever so grateful.





First visit to Didsbury

Tomorrow is the first of the 3 day May Bank holiday Northern Potters Exhibition/Sale at the Old Parsonage in Didsbury.

Here’s my work…………….

Sarah Lynch - sllipblog
Sarah Lynch – sllipblog

The Old Parsonage and it’s gardens were bequeathed to the city of Manchester in 1919 by Fletcher Moss, and was known as Fletcher Moss Museum and Art Gallery.   Since then the Didsbury Parsonage Trust has kept up the mission to encourage local artists to exhibit their work in their community spaces.


I have just discovered the house has in the past exhibited Turner paintings and several prestigious exhibitions including Goya etchings.

There are two solo art exhibitions on at the moment along side ours: Simon Plum and Helena Hulova-Wall


The Old Parsonage is set in it’s own tranquil gardens.

Heucheras - sllipblog
Heucheras – sllipblog

With plenty of benches to sit and rest for a while. ( They all appear to be memorial benches)


I really liked the fact that the plants have been labelled.



Here is some more photos of the Northern Potters work on show this weekend.

Norma Nield - sllipblog
Norma Nield – sllipblog

Clive Weake oxides - sllipblog
Clive Weake – sllipblog

Hazel Higham- Sllipblog
Hazel Higham- Sllipblog

Janet Halligan-sllipblog
Janet Halligan-sllipblog

Barbara Chadwick - sllipblog
Barbara Chadwick – sllipblog

The house also has an Alpine garden that is open on Tuesdays.

alpine house - sllipblog
alpine house – sllipblog

After setting up the show I thought I would grab some lunch before I set off home. I headed off to the park: Fletcher Moss Gardens, just around the corner to find The Alpine Tea Room that was recommended to me.


This homely tea room is set just above the tranquil beautifully planted Alpine Garden.

Fletcher Moss gardens - sllipblog
Fletcher Moss gardens – sllipblog

The tea room has been in the same family for just under 30 years, and I had the pleasure of meeting the present owner Louis. He offered me a choice of 48 teas to go with my fab chorizo n sundried tomato Panini…………………yum yum. It was he that suggested I mustn’t go home with out nipping down the hill to see the garden.

Fletcher Moss gardens - sllipblog
Fletcher Moss gardens – sllipblog

Fletcher Moss gardens - sllipblog
Fletcher Moss gardens – sllipblog

If you do plan to visit The old Parsonage, you need to look out for the fancy stone gateway with this ugly creature at the head of it.


Another reason to visit Didsbury I believe is the Didsbury Dozen!!!!!

Didsbury Dozen
Didsbury Dozen



New SlliP work coming to Didsbury Parsonage Trust

I have been invited to join a small group of Northern Potters to show our ceramic work at the Didsbury Parsonage Trust on the Whit Bank holiday weekendNorthern Potters at Didsbury Parsonage Trust Flyer 1
I will have the pleasure of sharing the exhibition with seven other ceramic artists. Clive Weake, Hazel Higham, Barbara Chadwick, Gill Mcmillan, J Melzack, Janet Halligan, Sue Harding, and me Sarah Louise Lynch ( SlliPblog)


Clive Weake makes functional and decorative ware. His decorative patterns and images are applied to his ceramic pieces using a variety of techniques making considerable use of coloured slips and also oxides. Forms are either thrown on the wheel or hand-built.

Clive Weake
Clive Weake

This is one of my favourites which you can find in Clive’s gallery at

Hazel Hingham has designed the Exhibition Flyers. Thank you Hazel. The Fruit bowl on a blue background in the flyer below is one of Hazel’s lively decorated terracotta pieces.Northern Potters at Didsbury Parsonage Trust Flyer 2
Janet Halligan started making her Trompe l’oeil sculptures of every day objects during the 1980’s. Inspired by Claes Oldenburg’s sculptures and Rene Magritte’s paintings of shoes with toes. These stacked retro suitcases show her skill in making clay into non clay like forms. I have admired her creativity since first seeing her work first hand at the Potfest in the Park Ceramic Show – one of my favourite Pottery Exhibitions-Sales. ( I can highly recommend this show. Each year I make a 2 1/2 hr car journey with the Family and Picnic in tow.)




I hope to take some photos of the work on show by Hazel Higham, Barbara Chadwick and Jo Melzack, and post them soon after the show…………..assuming they all agree!!!!!  Perhaps you might take the opportunity to see for yourself, if you pop down to the Didsbury Parsonage Trust this coming May Bank Holiday. By the way the Old Parsonage is a Grade II listed building dating back to 1650 making it one of the oldest houses in the village and is set in it’s own tranquil gardens – so here’s the postcode for your satnav: M20 2RQ (Stenner lane – Didsbury) hope to see you there.



It’s now 00.28am and I need my bed…..

Not so long ago I decided to buy a kiln.

A local artist is planning on relocating and didn’t want to take this kiln with him, so I jumped at the chance. It was only 1 1/2 miles away, so transportation wasn’t too much of an issue.

It was made by Kilns and Furnaces and badged up as a Podmore kiln.


It is rather old, as you can see from the photo. It’s electric, and came with an Auto Fireman controller. BUT there was no manual with it.

The previous owner was kind enough to give me a copy of his notes, but there isn’t much detail.






So having come home at 5, impulsively I decided to have a second attempt at sussing out the controller. My first attempt was only to see if it powered up, as it hadn’t been used for about 6 years. It did, but I thought I had it set incorrectly as it ramped to 100’C too quick for what I thought would be safe for my work.


Here I am sitting at the entrance to our garage where the kiln is located. The old sheepskin rugs offered some shelter from the breeze, but I soon needed a few more layers.
As the garage is at the end of a short drive I do get some inquisitive looks from the passers-by.

I decided I would plot the rising temperature at 15 minute intervals, and check if it could get up to 1000’C (bisque temp) The biggest test was to decide what number to set the bottom right dial at, so as to get the correct degree/hour increase in temperature for the first ramp.

I wanted to ramp the kiln up faster than I plan to for a standard bisque firing, as I didn’t want to stay awake till 5am. ( I have read a 12 hr firing would suit my hand-built stoneware) However as I haven’t actually had any hands on kiln training I wasn’t sure how fast this very old kiln could safely heat up after 6 yrs of dormancy.

I started at 40 on the dial, but it was looking far too slow for today’s quick test. At 8.30pm the temperature had only reached 300’C.
Moved the dial to 50 and waited 45min, but still only 360’C. Then tried 60 and by 10pm it had reached 400’C, so deciding I needed some sleep that night I put the damper in, and turned the dial-up to 100.

10.30pm it reached 600’C the first ramp stage, but I still had a long way to go.
Eventually at 1.06am………success, it reached 1000’C

Mmmmmmmmm clearly need to plan the next firing. If you have advice on how to use the controller I have……please feel free to offer it.