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Glazing over – How to glaze a beautiful ceramic trinket bowl

I’ve almost finished glazing the short series of tattoo pots! [Fanfare, please.] It has taken a lot of trial and error, lots of tests and LOTS of patience, but we’re nearly there. I can see the finish line, taste the triumph of completion, lick the face of victory… Umm… Moving on! Just one more firing to go. In the meantime, let me talk you through the glazing process…
You may want to grab the biscuit tin and replenish your cuppa of choice.

Step 1

Sponge off the bisque pot (‘bisque’ is the stage you’re at when the clay has been fired once and turned to ceramic) to get rid of any dust etc., ready to take the dreamy splendour of your glaze.



Step 2

Fill the stamped areas with a coat of chocolate-brown underglaze to highlight the intricacies of the awesome image – a proper beaut of a tattoo design by Kirstie at KTREW Tattoo in Birmingham (www.ktrewtattoo.com).

(Do not, I repeat, do NOT lick the chocolate-brown underglaze. It does NOT taste good, and it is NOT good for your innards.)

Step 3

Concede defeat in the fight against the awesome (albeit short-lived) power that is the Great British heatwave and go in search of cool, cool relief. Any breeze will do! It is so hot and humid inside the huts, sitting in the garden is the only option – under a parasol to protect my milky-white skin!

Now, forget to take a photo of the next bit, so decide you can take liberties and squeeze a double instruction in… Then realise you’re waffling and wasting the space that was intended for said instructions! You fool! Now you’ll have to rejig EVERYTHING!

Step 4

Next apply a coat of clear glaze (which currently looks like it’s a very, very pale minty green – oh, the majestic alchemy of ceramic glaze!) to the sun design, just to make it that little bit more gorgeous and shiny.

Once that’s dry, apply three coats of a fabulous glaze from Mayco called ‘Lotus Blossom’ – a pale turquoise-blue with crystal bursts of gold and amber.

INTERLUDE – GIVE YOURSELF A PAT ON THE BACK FOR GETTING THIS FAR! (There’s not much more. Promise… But maybe grab yourself another biscuit to see you through.)

Step 5 (ish)

Caaaaarefully apply two coats of yellow glaze to the raised areas in and around the sun. Yup. It’s tricky, and you may well find your tongue finds its way determinedly out of the corner of your mouth to aid focus. (Proven concentration technique.)

Step 6 (give or take a few)

Wallop a couple of coats of clear glaze on the outside of the pot. This will enhance the beautiful sandy red of the clay (Sanded Etruscan Red from Potclays in Stoke, since you ask!)
(Do NOT put any glaze on the base, or the pot will stick to the kiln shelf and be lost FOREVERRRRRR!)

Finally, sit back and admire your handiwork with a cuppa and another biscuit – you deserve it!

The pots will soon be available to purchase on the KTREW website; follow us on Instagram (@okartsuk and @ktrewtattoo) to stay up to date!

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Ten Tattoo Trinket Bowls Sitting on the Wall…

I’ll admit, I don’t often make thorough, comprehensive plans in life. Like, no Moira, I don’t know what I’m doing two weeks next Wednesday; I don’t own a diary. (Obviously, at the moment I know exactly what I’m doing. every. single. day…. But hopefully that won’t be the case for too much longer.) And the same applies to my pots. More often than not, I’ll go to the studio with only a vague idea of what I fancy doing that day – such is the luxury of not relying on my craft for an income.

But this project is different. I’m making a set of trinket bowls in collaboration with a lovely local tattoo studio, KTREW Tattoo (check out Kirstie and Ivy’s work at https://www.ktrewtattoo.com/), so there’s been a lot of consultation and planning, lots of testing of glaze combinations, clays, stamps and construction methods. Unfortunately, lockdown was enforced almost as soon as we’d finalised the designs, so there are a bunch of unfinished pots lounging around the locked-down studio like idle little terracotta walruses (Now THERE’S an image! Might have to make one of them next!) So, until I can get in and finish the jaunty suckers, I thought I’d give you the lowdown on how I’ve made them. CUE MOVING PICTURES!!

Here’s a little video of the throwing process.

I’m using sanded etruscan red clay, which fires to a lovely warm terracotta red. This is an electric wheel, which only goes anti-clockwise (i.e. best for right-handed people). Being an odd little genius, I am of course left-handed – but we’re used to adapting to survive in a right-handed man’s world. I can even use a can opener without decapitating anyone now! Mummy’s very proud… and relieved.

I must admit, the video is sped up. I cannot really throw a pot in twenty seconds. But I didn’t think you’d want to see a full-length video of me faffing about with rubber kidneys and wooden ribs and chamois gubbins – forgive me for my presumptions.

Please do leave me a message in the comments if you have questions about the process. Or if you just want to praise the massive moon face you see frozen and glorious at the end of the film. It is mine, and it is enormous. (Inflated Chipmunk is the look I’m going for here. I’m quietly confident I’ve achieved it.)

Once I’ve thrown the pots, they have to dry slightly so that the wooden stamp doesn’t stick when I press it in (Yes, I learned the hard way). The stamps, by the way, were lasercut by KTREW’s studio neighbour, The Maker LAB (https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/theMakerLAB), who also makes signage, teeny tiny dollhouse furniture and custom wooden whatnots.

Next, the lazy wotsits sit under plastic for a day or so (depending on the weather) to dry out enough for me to trim and tidy them up, removing any excess clay and finger marks. Then it is time to brand them!! No red-hot irons, mind; just more stamps. Far FAR less likely to injure myself this way…

Finally, the gorgeous little critters are ready to dry out slowly, then pop themselves (with some gentle persuasion) into the kiln to fire at over 1,000 degrees. As Paris Hilton would say, waaaay back in the Noughties, “That’s hot”.

I’ll leave you with this lovely, innocent picture of a few of the pots following this ‘bisque firing’. I’ll tell you about the glazing stage some other time – maybe after I’ve had time to recover from the unfortunate trauma that results from Googling ‘Paris Hilton hot gif’. *O_O*

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Trick or Tweet: (T)rolling with the punches

I’m not usually one for Twitter. I don’t see the point in getting heavily involved in debates with people you’ll never meet about things you’ve never really cared about – whether it’s okay to eat marshmallows on the eve of a blood moon (Answer: every day’s a marshmallow day!); how many doughnuts is too many doughnuts (Answer: Roughly eleventy-seven); which Kardashian would be the most buoyant if they fell into the middle of the Atlantic (Answer: Actually, this is something we should definitely investigate…).

But a few days ago I fell into the Twitter trap. I saw a ludicrously skewed political tweet, and I tumbled down the rabbit hole. Yes, oddbuds, I awakened the Twitter Zealot. At first, I gave myself an assured pat on the back for my finely crafted retort – surely, fellow Twitterers (Tweeters? Twitchers? Twonks?) could not fail to be impressed by my wordplay? Erm… nah. Turns out zealots are not fans of refined composition. In fact, they don’t seem to be particular fans of sophisticated rhetoric at all – who knew?

Anyway, the point is, I was swiftly trolled by a little gang of right-wing individuals. (I say ‘swiftly’; they’re actually still sending me little love notes now, three days later. I can’t fault their tenacity!) Now, I’ve never been trolled before, so it’s been rather a novel experience. I’ve never thought too deeply about online bullying (and let’s be honest; trolling definitely falls under this category, no matter how much your average troll will insist it’s ‘just banter’), but I’ve always figured the best way to deal with it is to not engage. Don’t feed the troll, don’t read their messages – or only read them if you’re sure you can handle it. After all, we know rationally that these people are strangers, right? They know nothing about you, so their opinions are baseless and irrelevant. So on that basis, you can read their tweets and comments and come away unscathed… Right?

Wrong. I picked up my phone, ready to be amused and aloof, untouched by any illogical, irrational nonsense anyone could throw at me – maybe I could actually have a good laugh at how pathetic people can be online? But I didn’t laugh. I actually felt wounded at the responses. Genuinely hurt, affronted and, yes, bloody pissed off.

” Look at her, she can’t help it.”

Apparently, the Chief Zealot has a special power: she is able to divine from someone’s profile photo (i.e. the photo at the top of this page) that they are stupid, delusional and absurd (her words, not mine). Quite a skill, I’m sure you’ll agree! Now, I’ll plead inexperience when I admit to you that I fed the troll. I pointed out how illogical it is to presume that someone’s face can serve as an accurate IQ reader etc. Funnily enough, she didn’t agree. She devolved quite quickly, hurling memes around like a pro. Then she went with this gem:

“Are you still talking? I’m sorry but I’m not a jackass whisperer.”

My final tweet (I know! I was so wound up, I just couldn’t let it lie!) was as follows: “I cannot emphasize enough just how cretinous your tweets are at this point. The irony!” I then prised the phone out of my own cold hands and managed to give Twitter a wide berth. I am the bigger person. I am the bigger person. I am the bigger person. This is my new mantra, and yes, I do say it with gritted teeth, but I am desperate to win this fight!

I returned to Twitter this evening to get the above quotes verbatim, and unfortunately the ‘conversation’ still appears to be ongoing. Yes, Chief Zealot really dug deep for this one:

“I cannot emphasize enough just how cretinous your face is at this point. It’s #vomitworthy!”

Pathetic? Yes. Childish? Certainly. Did I reply, telling her that her face is “como un burro”? Well… I had to literally sit on my hands to prevent myself responding, but no, I did not. And I know that I’ll be lying in bed tonight with possible smart retorts swirling around my brain. But I’m resolute – I’m not going to dignify this puerile bullshit with another response.

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The Kick Wheel of Dreams

Reader, I married him!

Okay, that’s not true. But only because it’s not currently legal to marry an inanimate object in the UK. Or in any other country, for that matter. But as soon as that changes, I will be putting a (foot) ring on it!

I am, of course (yes, of COURSE!), talking about my new kick wheel. He’s actually a pretty old guy (yup, I’ve decided he is a ‘he’ – mostly because he’s stubborn, takes a while to get going, but does as he’s told in the end) who’s spent the majority of his working life in a secondary school. Sadly, it seems that schools don’t do much pottery any more, so Mr Turny McTurnface (proper name TBC) was about to be unceremoniously evicted. Cue me slipping into my trusty pants-over-tights get-up, and I was ready to swoop in and rescue him, with a bit of help from a few super sidekicks.

So, now that my darling spinny sweetheart is finally with me (in my back garden, until I can make space for him in the house or invest in a shed/studio/giant wooden box in which to home him), let’s take a look at his glorious majesty! (Don’t tell him I’m saying such nice things about him, btw – I don’t want him getting a big head.)

You will note a certain expression on my oddly chipmunk-ish face in the third image – this is the expression of ecstasy laced with the slightly crazed relief of a person who was concerned that the expenditure of energy required to operate a kick wheel would result in certain collapse, swiftly followed by the need for a large injection of cake directly into the face. (Obviously into the face; where else would you inject cake? Let’s not think about that one too deeply…) I’m pleased to assure you that this is not actually my best angle or my most attractive expression. I look MUCH better from a south-easterly position when conveying a sense of ‘I am judging you by your shoes – and your shoes offend me’.

I’ve only thrown one pot on old Kicky McKickerton so far – a lightbulb-shaped number. I wasn’t really planning any specific shape (I just wanted to see if I could throw anything on the lovely oldster!), but it’s got me thinking about future projects. Maybe a lightbulb jar, complete with lid? A lightbulb-shaped tealight holder?

Hmmm… Leave it with me. Or give me your excellent ideas in the comments and I shall STEAL THEM!!! (Hmm. Clearly not destined to be a very good thief… Ah well, back to the drawing board!)

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Eats, shoots and stays in

Hello, dear friends and fellow oddbods (FYI, I shall be calling you my ‘oddbuds’ from now on – hope you don’t mind!). I hope you’ve had a thoroughly OK week.

Times are tough; we’re all isolated – some more than others – and I’m sure a lot of us are feeling bereft of human connection. I’m a massive introvert, but I still can’t cope with long-term solitude; I need to be able to hear real-life humans chittering their way through life around me, or see real-life humans rolling their eyes when I drop a terrible (brilliant) pun. I guess I need to know that I’m real, that I have an impact on others… You know that age-old question: ‘If a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?’ Well, if an oddbud lives in a house and no one is there to see them, do they actually exist? Are they actually alive?

Well THAT got unexpectedly deep and philosophical! Apologies for that! Please don’t start having a profound existential crisis on my account! You ARE real! And you DO matter!

I’m lucky enough to live with other people, so I don’t need to ponder too heavily on that question. This week I’ve been busy taking photos of some of my ceramics, and my sister agreed to be my necklace model.

Note the *extremely professional* setup. Do not note the shoes/soft furnishings/gargantuan collection of wrapping paper. Or my barely brushed Lockdown Hair.

Despite the makeshift ‘studio’ and the complete lack of photography knowledge (or even a proper camera!), I’m really pleased with how the shots have come out. And I’m SO glad I had a willing model – my abnormally short neck isn’t exactly an ideal canvas for a chic neck-based product, and selfies are not exactly my forte!

These necklaces, and a host of others, will be appearing in my shop very soon – so stay tuned!

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Welcome one, welcome all!

“One of a Kind” – phrase: Unique.

— Oxford English Dictionary

Hello! Welcome to the OK Arts blog! I’m hoping this place will become home to the oddbods, the differents, the not-quite-normals. Home to the outstandings, the brilliants, the exceptionals.

Yes, I’m talking about you, honey: the girl who’s named all of the neighbourhood cats after various baked goods (Baroness Brioche von Butterworth is a personal favourite); the guy who has a favourite teaspoon (pleasingly weighty, unfussily plain); the one who laughs with their whole body whenever they think of that time…

You’re all welcome here. Make yourselves comfortable, take off your shoes, pop the kettle on and I’ll grab the biscuits.