slipware pottery rabbit made by sarah monk from eastnor pottery herefordshire for easter bunny trail at puzzlewood

terracotta bunny rabbitt made by ceramic artist jon williams from eastnor potteryslipware pottery rabbit made by sarah monk from eastnor pottery herefordshire for easter bunny trail at puzzlewoodMaking ceramic bunnies is not Sarah and Jon’s usual bag, but when, Puzzle Wood asked Eastnor Pottery’s co-directors to take part in a Great Pottery Rabbit trail, they couldn’t resist the challenge!

Puzzle Wood is a magical ancient woodland in the Forest of Dean. It’s a great place to explore with the kids, as Sarah and Jon have done many times with their own children. It’s also a popular and famous TV and film location – Star Wars and Doctor Who to name but two!

All the local Potteries and Makers in the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley were invited to make a ceramic rabbit to be hidden in Puzzlewood over the usually busy Easter weekend.

The Eastnor Potters started making their contributions back in February. Sarah decided to hand coil hers – a technique she hadn’t used for over 20 years, as she thought it would be fun to do something different. She used terracotta clay because of its deep, earthy colour fitting for a rich, earthy forest environment. Once built, she covered the whole rabbit in white slip and scratched simplified flowers into the surface. She then added splats of cobalt blue achieving a classic blue & white ceramic effect.

Jon chose to assemble his bunny from eight separate throw sections made on the potter’s wheel. He too used terracotta clay but didn’t add colour or glaze, opting instead for the natural colour of the fired terracotta.

Unfortunately because of COVID-19, Puzzle Wood remained closed to the public over Easter. Undeterred, they published The Great Puzzlewood Pottery Easter Trail online as a colouring competition instead. Participants could download line drawings of each bunny (different one each day) colour them in and submit them for judging. Some of the marvelous entries can be seen on Puzzlewood’s social media. Check out their TwitterFacebook and Instagram feeds.

Ceramic easter bunny colouring competition by puzzlewood gloucestershire

 

interactive ceramic fish designed for water play by artist jon williams

Jon’s been busy making new work for an exhibition entitled ‘Making Histories’ scheduled to have opened 20 March 2020 at Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum.

He was one of seven contemporary ceramic artists from the across the Midlands, invited to respond to the Museum’s diverse collection of ceramics. All commissioned artists were to exhibit new work alongside some of the historical objects which inspired them. Then COVID-19 hit!

Needless to say, the Gallery closed and the exhibition cancelled, not before the exhibitions team had spent weeks installing the show.

Undeterred, the team at Leamington have been working incredibly hard to make the exhibition available online. And here it is! – a video complete with commentary by exhibitions curator Lily Crowther.

clay castle made from individual bricks made at the cheltenham science festival by lots of families and school children

families making clay bricks in the makershack at cheltenham science festival 2019

It was fab to be back at the Cheltenham Science Festival last month.

We’ve been involved in the Makershack since its inauguration in 2017. This year we encouraged visitors to make a press molded brick, using real brick clay from Coleford Brick and Tile Company based in the Forest of Dean.

The bricks were assembled into a giant castle and we worked with nearly 10,000 people over the x6 days of the festival! – that’s a shed load of bricks! The sheer volume of visitors meant we had to build a fresh structure each day, deconstructing the building at the close and re-claiming the material for the next morning.

Athough the Makershack was primarily aimed at Primary school aged students – (and man, there must have been very few Gloucestershire schools who didn’t visit the show), on Friday night grown-ups got to play with the technology in a special after-hours session between 8pm and 10pm.

Although it’s full-on, we love the #makershack and look forward to sharing the scientific benefits of engaging with clay, with festival visitors in 2020.clay castle made from individual bricks made at the cheltenham science festival by lots of families and school children

school children enjoying hands on making clay bricks at cheltenham science festival 2019

Earthenware bugs by ceramic artist Jon Williams

It’s that time of the year again when artists and makers all over Herefordshire throw open their doors, inviting the general public into their studio and homes.

Herefordshire Art Week (HArt) runs 8th-16th of September, with open studios and events all over the county – just keep your eye out for the pink signs!

As part of HArt activities, Jon will be showing a collection of new work at Canwood Gallery in an group exhibition called ‘Canwood – An Art Showcase.’

The Gallery will be donating all commission from sales to St Michael’s Hospice 

 

MakerShack frontage at Cheltfest

Nearly 10,000 people enjoyed tinkering with materials in The Maker Shack at the Cheltenham Science Festival 2018 – and nearly all of them designed and made a clay tile at the Eastnor Pottery station!

It was the second year running Olivia Clements requested the services of the Flying Potter so we knew what to expect in terms of sheer volume of participation….and we weren’t disappointed!

The event was exhausting and needed team Eastnor Pottery & The Flying Potter to work shifts. Sarah, Millie and Jon all did a couple of days but all agreed it would have been really, really hard work if it hadn’t been for the brilliant army of volunteer helpers.

Each station was designated a couple of extra hands who once had been briefed on the activity, set about their tasks with enthusiasm, initiative and understanding. They were brilliant!

 

participants display their clay tiles at science festival 2018

mark making in clay at science festivalpublic making clay tiles at cheltenham science festivalclay tiles at cheltenham science festival makershack waiting to be collected