Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bees, Birds...and Big Pots

We had to stop potting for the afternoon yesterday when a bee swarm showed up out of nowhere. According to this fascinating article in  Wikipedia, 'the bees are usually not aggressive at this stage of their life cycle' but I wouldn't want to test it - they sound intimidating enough. It's incredible the way such tiny animals can communicate with each other so effectively that they behave like a single organism.

The swarm buzzed around the house for a while looking for a way in (fortunately we remembered to shut ALL the doors and windows) and then settled in a branch of a tree above the woodshed. They stuck around there in a big humming ball until lunchtime today, when they swarmed off again in search of their new home... but where did they go?!?

Katherine also took a photo of a white-faced heron this morning, trying to blend in with the buttercups:

We get a lot of interesting birds out here in Ocean View, from introduced English species like swallows and magpies, to natives like bellbirds, tui, Paradise Ducks and even a couple of  kahu, or harrier hawks, which have been circling each other high in the air lately, doing their courtship dance. An amazing thing to watch.

To get back to the pottery theme - here's a photo of a couple of big planters I've been working on. They are made with local terracotta, in a combination of coiling and throwing techniques:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Clay Preparation Videos

I put up a video on YouTube here of the process I go through when making my own terracotta clay body, using nearby clay. (Apologies for the quality, the video was filmed on an old digital camera, but you get the idea!)

First, I dig up the clay, dry it, break it up with a sledgehammer and seive it through an old bed frame. Then I put it into buckets and saturate with water.

I 'blunge' it with an electric drill attachment and seive it again through a mouli seive. Then I pour off the excess water once the clay has settled. I put the clay on plaster bats to dry, then process it through a pug mill. (You could also wedge it by hand if you want). Finally, I store it in plastic bags.

Another YouTube video I like:  The Potters of San Marcos, showing a more traditional method of preparing clay from raw ingredients, by the potters of San Marcos Tlapatzola in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Glenfalloch Potters Cottage

We went for a trip to Glenfalloch Gardens on Saturday for a family celebration, had a wander about while we were there, and took some photos:

The old homestead is no longer lived in, but the gnomes seem to have the garden under control

Another gnome, by the fountain...
A mysterious package....
The gallery has a lot of nice crafty stuff for sale

The Potter's Cottage runs classes and sells work by nine Dunedin artists. Note the gorgeous old terracotta urn on the porch

Just some of the work for sale in the Cottage - a good range of well designed, functional pottery with a genuinely New Zealand feel  - definitely worth a visit
Filtered sunlight on a nikau palm

A Japanese style pond

A canon dated '1914'

The ride home along the Peninsula road is always an adventure....