Balnacra Arts by Vicky Stonebridge

2016 a year review

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.

JANUARY;
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. 20160113_142553It didn’t get above 4C for weeks !20160113_142606Sometimes Mr Bruno & young Lobo came to work with me. Lobo tends to wreck the place being a hyper Collie.

20160114_095833For a few weeks I couldn’t throw or make any pots because the frost was getting into them and they’d just shatter when they thawed. Very frustrating !

20160114_173058The 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.
20160116_120006But we like the snow ! Bruno couldn’t go very far in is last weeks, but he loved every walk. ❤

FEBRUARY;

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naughty puppy still wrecking the studio….

20160212_111211pots still freezing, thawing and breaking…

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…
20160218_130145 20160218_174916 20160219_122951repointing the stonework a patch at a time.20160220_140140building some shelving around everything else.20160228_103553Ice Ice baby20160225_102648

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!
20160227_162955
MARCH;

Got the go ahead to insulate the roof & order the electric supply, crowdfunding was amazing success, tonnes of generous support.

20160301_150308last order before stripping the studio out, 36 tiny smoke fired pots.
20160305_102651 20160305_132322Putting 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.
20160308_171417 20160309_130938 20160309_132631building shelves every spare minute I could between other people’s bits of work. I started off methodical & ended up whacking it with rusty nails.20160309_212026cold, lime, cement & timber, wrecked hands.
20160310_161607clearing the space to make room for borrowed scaffolding.20160311_165614plastic 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 !20160314_135359Had 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!
20160316_114656
20160316_120235 20160317_103240fuse box going in.20160317_164929messing 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…20160323_12334020160323_123405 20160328_1856202 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…20160329_151327 20160402_142118 20160402_142630Ta da !throwingPromotional shot for leaflets etc.
APRIL;
20160409_123820Had an official opening to celebrate the upgrade & refit.
20160409_135248got people having a go on the wheels, much fun ! here’s Roger my father having a shot20160409_151456New kiln installed and working20160420_165547a cracking display of daffodils on site this year. The ‘Marie Curie Field of Hope’20160414_153104A visit to the studio from an Inverness High School.20160412_122433
MAY;
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.
20160513_110739

Dornie craft fair has this view, so attracts a lot of visitors.

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20160528_130420

dsc00002dsc00081Building up the display in the studio, lots of visitors, working like mad to try and stock up the shelves and keep them stocked.dsc00555tidied up flower bed with willow deer protectors.

JUNE;
20160609_131759school visit from the primary 1 – 3’s great fun.20160614_132258Studio selfie.

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Yarn Bowls, best seller, struggling to keep up with demand.

dsc00116
heat wave and some hillwalking time.dsc00201

Prince Charles got to meet myself and some other local artists and producers, lucky man. I may have lectured him about rural economies.

13439153_10153684953095095_8651640542997010888_nimg_2119

JULY;
20160703_160707Had 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.20160711_140857Kiln 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.20160716_120541Assisted by my glamorous assistant selling at Applecross games.20160723_133546Pets win Prizes.20160723_185233Hare designs sell like hot cakes.dsc00277studio Garden growing nicely. Home veg garden rather more neglected !
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AUGUST;

dig

Children doing a bush craft course came to make pots.

edf

Then we smoke fired them together a couple of days later. Bit of a record breaking turnaround !

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.

cof

Morning and evening dog walks gave some tranquility and sanity.

dig

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.

cof

cof

edf

Here’s a visitor to he studio on evening, sheltering from heavy rains. Some of the sudden downpours were heavy enough to cause some flooding in the studio, luckily nothing was damaged.

There was always tonnes of cloths and aprons to keep washed, buckets of water to fetch and carry…

cof

cof

a bit more hill climbing, never enough leisure time.

cof

time to make big pots at last !

SEPTEMBER;

edf

cof

raku pots are coming out great.

berry crop is amazing this year. no blackbirds stealing the fruit for unknown reasons.

cof

did some small artworks for Inchmore gallery’s Christmas show, gold, wax and ink etc.

cof

cof

People enjoy my broken pots too.

cof

New clay supplies after running desperately low.

cof

Kiln was out of action for Weeks ! It took 5 weeks to get these new elements ! thankfully we were past the busy spell, but it was hard going !

OCTOBER;

dig

edf

starting to get really tired now. need my short walks more than ever ! classes have slowed down but craft fairs, shows and production is still full on.

dav

Someone donated some fleeces to help insulate the building, very helpful, but they were so nice i thought I’d try my hand at felting one of them.

cof

cof

success !

dig

Took one afternoon off work to have ourselves a summer holiday, a trip up to ullapool and down the coast road, so good to get away , if only for 8 hours !

cof

Had a weeks exhibition in Plockton Hall with some other lovely people, nice and relaxing & good sales.

cof

more flooding in the studio, it creeps in the back wall, drainage is a constant issue.

cof

Was recruited to help at a kids Halloween party in the treehouse. sat in a coffin for ages to give them a bit of a fright on their treasure hunt! Much fun and nobody cried.

bmd

NOVEMBER;

dav

The nights, and afternoons are getting dark.

edf

With the lack of daylight we started doing long night time walks to keep body and mind healthy.

sdr

Enjoyed the frosty mornings

cof

started having a go at painting again after a couple of years resting my gammy arm.

dig

First snows while the sunflower was still in bloom.

cof

working up a range of new stoneware pottery.

cof

The Christmas Craft fair season starts with The Arts and Eats Fair one in Lochcarron Hall, a tense, formal affair where my pots got knocked. Not really worth my while.

cof

Dornie Hall fair, much more fun and friendly, good sales too.

sdr

The Lochcarron IGallery Fair drove me mad as there was so much work to do to organise, set up and keep it running, Volunteering continues to eat far too much of my time, as it has done for years. But still, this was a good fair with nice people & worth doing.

sdr

cof

had a day off to go to loch Ness and met Tilda Swinton at the top of the castle. which was nice.

DECEMBER;

dav

Winter time and long dark nights means lots of watching films- we don’t do television. But Lobo enjoys documentaries about dogs.

dig

We had a flying visit one night in London to see the Cure, utterly exhausting, but great !

cof

London museums obligatory, but i’m taking a walking stick next time, hard going !

mde

cracking views from the plane as we left London city.

edf

time to get all Christmassy,

bsh

bsh

so much to do !

dav

still working away though, mixing up ice cold buckets of glaze dominated this month.

mde

glaze splattered boots, wearing carrier bags in shoes most days as boots all full of holes. soggy wet feet. urg.

bsh

night walks.

edf

still in production, still doing classes, right up to today, the 31st, literally the last day of the year

edf

a quick family visit east and detour to Clava cairns.

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 !

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One comment on “2016 a year review

  1. Pingback: Adult sizes – Iona’s Heima

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This entry was posted on December 31, 2016 by in Blog, Pop-up Pottery and tagged .
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