2016 will be remembered by many as the year so many famous people died and the voting disasters of Brexit and Trump shook everyone. We lost a lot of people in the community too, friends and colleagues passed way before their time. They are missed. We also lost my beloved and loyal Bruno-dog who’d been at my side throughout the up’s and downs of 14 loyal years. His loss wasn’t as painful as I feared, I think i was prepared for him as he’d had a couple of strokes and we knew his time was coming so we made them good days. I hit 50 this year, but this didn’t particularly put me up nor down, after the health rubbish of the previous couple of years which rumbles on, the age number is arbitrary to how much one lives, or the quality of life. 2016 was a change for me in one big way, in that I went full time with the ‘Pop-Up Pottery’ no more juggling 3+ other employers and casting my freelance net far and wide. Because I just get too ill and worn out from long distance drives to work, because 2015 and the part time ‘pop-up’ had worked so well in the Old Smithy Building, i kept going, put down some roots in the studio, and invested time, effort & money to make it full time. So 2016 for me wasn’t the terrible year many are talking about, it was a year of lots of hard graft, the usual amounts of stress, money worries and health hassals, but lots of focus on pottery, pottery teaching and knuckling down to push the new Pottery studio through it’s first year and make it as a full time Potter again.
I’d decided to work through the winter just to see how bad things would get in the building and to see how quiet it was or if there was demand for pottery classes in the winter months too. There had been some talk of grants for new electricity supply for lights & so I could install a better kiln. But despite me getting quotes etc back in October, these things take ages and often come to naught. It didn’t get above 4C for weeks !Sometimes Mr Bruno & young Lobo came to work with me. Lobo tends to wreck the place being a hyper Collie.
The Studio was also very gloomy in the darkness, which is most days at midwinter. When the moisture on the tin roof froze, then melted, it ended up raining indoors ! Any attempts to heat the room were hopeless.
But we like the snow ! Bruno couldn’t go very far in is last weeks, but he loved every walk. ❤
Permission came through to upgrade the electricity supply, clear out some more space- declutter the junk in the building. Realising time was running out waiting for grant funding etc, I launched a crowdfunding campaign, aiming to get some cash to plug up holes, build shelves, buy some essential tools etc. I started work clearing out the space while trying to coordinating work…
repointing the stonework a patch at a time.building some shelving around everything else.Ice Ice baby
I ran a Raku & smoke firing workshop and a course in February- the participants were very tolerant of the extreme cold, luckily the Raku day was perfect and bright. I had to wait until the course was finished on the 27th before I could really strip everything out, things were going to be tight for an Easter opening!
Got the go ahead to insulate the roof & order the electric supply, crowdfunding was amazing success, tonnes of generous support.
last order before stripping the studio out, 36 tiny smoke fired pots.
Putting the new electricity supply cable in meant digging a trench and me standing in it to find the main supply and junction- and trying to not let the digger snag it and kill me. not an enjoyable day ! it was several feet away from where we’d expected.
building shelves every spare minute I could between other people’s bits of work. I started off methodical & ended up whacking it with rusty nails.cold, lime, cement & timber, wrecked hands.
clearing the space to make room for borrowed scaffolding.plastic masking went up, insulation company were really fast & efficient at getting the roof sprayed, it looked like I might be on schedule again for Easter opening !Had a sunny day so managed to get a quick wash of white paint on the many many boards that were going up on the roof. On schedule!
fuse box going in.messing about up a ladder selfie.
some delays before work started to get the boards up on the roof, before I could clear the scaffolding & finish building the shelves & get open. Tourists were starting to arrive, behind schedule… 2 weeks later, still waiting for the boards to be finished. Going slightly mad with stress having not earned anything for weeks. Should have factored in loss of earnings and unforseen delays when crowdfunding.
as soon as the boards were up, I got on with building…. and half opened… Ta da !Promotional shot for leaflets etc.
Had an official opening to celebrate the upgrade & refit.
got people having a go on the wheels, much fun ! here’s Roger my father having a shotNew kiln installed and workinga cracking display of daffodils on site this year. The ‘Marie Curie Field of Hope’A visit to the studio from an Inverness High School.
Craft season is upon us, Dornie, Plockton, & lochcarron each month, always a lot of work and long day, sometimes very lucrative, sometimes not even paying for a cup of tea. Always good company though.
Dornie craft fair has this view, so attracts a lot of visitors.
Prince Charles got to meet myself and some other local artists and producers, lucky man. I may have lectured him about rural economies.
Had a day in Edinburgh to collect some clay supplies, see family & pop in for a quick rushed hour around the fantastic Celtic exhibition that was on in the museum.Kiln playing up, needs elements replacing. Have tonnes of classes and people’s work to fire.
Lochcarron games was a wash out, but quite entertaining never the less.Assisted by my glamorous assistant selling at Applecross games.Pets win Prizes.Hare designs sell like hot cakes.studio Garden growing nicely. Home veg garden rather more neglected !
At one point I was having up to 4 classes a day, plus visitors ; I had as many as 37 groups worth of pottery being processed, I have a system but it was getting hard to stay on top of firing. glazing, postage and knowing who’s Pot was who’s , exhaustion was setting in.
I help out with my Partner, Andrew’s business, he runs Antediluvian Miniatures a company producing lost world and fantasy gaming figures. Here we are at an Edinburgh gaming event, catching up with people and promoting the work.
There was always tonnes of cloths and aprons to keep washed, buckets of water to fetch and carry…
berry crop is amazing this year. no blackbirds stealing the fruit for unknown reasons.
People enjoy my broken pots too.
So 2016 ? not so bad, lots of pottery, lots of work. A few changes I plan on making for next year to work smarter and deal with less stressful people & situations , to put leisure, health & well being further up the list, and you never know, find time to blog again? because cramming a whole year into one is quite a mission !
thanks for reading , thanks so much to everyone who helped & supported the studio & us this year, I’m looking forward to seeing lots of familiar visitors and new ones next year, looking forward to making more pots and showing more people how to use a potters wheel. 2016 was a good one. I wish you all a much better 2017. Happy New year, Bliadhna Mhath Ur !