25 July 2019

The Irish Odyssey - Part Two

After leaving Waterford we skipped over to Cork to meet up with family friends for a few days.
I love the way the old buildings are still well used - for example the Jameson Whisky Distillery just outside Cork is housed in this distinguished building and includes tours (not this time for us) and a shop and cafe.

Our next studio visit took us to the small village of Shanagarry to visit with Ron Barrett who trades under both Shanagarry Potters and also Stephen Pearce Pottery.  On Facebook look for Ronald Barrett Pottery  (click names for links)

Ron took over running the pottery and has kept the Stephen Pearce range while also developing his own, a very wise marketing move I would think. It keeps his past customers happy while bringing new customers to his own range.

Here is Ron making a vase on the wheel. It was so good of him to take time out from his working day to show us around.

I think every ceramics/pottery student should visit a working production pottery early in their training.  To see what is possible and to understand the process from the dug clay to the finished beautifully transformed pottery is inspiring.
Freshly thrown ware boards stacked on a trolley

Trimmed and drying wares, the next stage
Ron undertakes the most of the process himself, though he does have a few part-time colleagues who help in different areas when required...."it's small team effort too.
One of those is a man called Paddy Fitzpatrick who has been making pots for 60 years now...yes 60 years...amazing!!"
*quote from Ron

 The work involved ranges from digging up the clay from a nearby creek bed, removing debris such as rocks, soaking it to make it malleable, and then putting it through the press filter and pug mill.  The clay is then stored for a few months before use.

1. the raw clay is brought in for the start of the process
2. soaked and readied for debris to be removed 

3. the slurry goes through a series of sieves

4. rack of press filters to bring clay back from being slurry to a workable clay

5. pug mill used to prepare clay for use
6. storage of pugged clay

bisque ware waiting for glazing

the glazing stage

Ron has made his own glaze tongs to use on plates - brilliant!
a close up of the plate glazing tongs

a whole room of kilns ready to be packed

There is a wonderful showroom setup with dining settings displayed and shelves of all types of pottery from plates, mugs, bowls and even table lamps.

If you go at the right time there is a cafe too.  It wasn't open the day we went but the menu looked inviting.

I purchased a bowl as a gift for my Irish based family and my husband purchased a Stephen Pearce cup that he liked.

Ron and I did a swap too so I now have one of his little Irish Wolfhound dishes at home.

Thanks so much Ron for your generosity and a fabulous studio/workshop tour.

There was so much to share I have made this post just about this visit.  Watch this space for more on my travels in Ireland.

23 July 2019

A Potters Irish Odyssey - Part One 2019

You might have noticed this blog has been quiet for the last month?

Well I have been on a grand (as they say) tour of Ireland and incorporated many studio visits along the way. There were eight in all and so I have decided I will do a series of posts... here is Part One.

I contacted the potters before I left Australia to see if they were happy to have me visit and fortunately for me they made me very welcome.

We visit family in Dublin so that is where we started.
A potter can be found almost anywhere - even at a garden show. We attended the Bloom Festival the first weekend and came across the stand for Ceramics Ireland. (OK so I saw their Ad on Facebook and looked for them when I knew we were going to be there).

 Bloom is a regular event with attractive garden designs, gardening type stalls and commercial stands. A nice family event with plenty of food to choose from too.
Ceramics Ireland were offering a clay experience with several wheels setup inside the tent.  Children were booked in for the rest of the day to be shown the basics by local college students.  They gave out some old editions of the magazine which I managed to bring home to share with my Aussie pottery friends.

My first studio visit was a lovely afternoon tea with Kathy at her charming home studio in the Dublin suburb of Dumdrum.
Kathy has hosted me before and it was lovely to catch up with Kathy and her husband once again.  I have one of Kathy's little brooches, however she is best known for her happy little foxes and chooks. You can find her work at several outlets around town, the latest being a new gallery near the Dalkey DART station called "Southshore Arts".

Check out Kathy's Facebook page for more: Pottery by Kathy

While still in Australia I made contact with Martha Cashman who is a member of the Society of Cork Potters.  We were going to meet up and maybe even have some hands on clay time however Martha had the opportunity to go to a conference in Tunisia which was sad for me but a great experience for Martha.  And just by chance there was an Australian potter there too.

the world is shrinking.

Although Martha and I didn't get to meet up we did do a swap - this bird feeder made it all the way back to Australia with me, and Martha now has a couple of my small pieces.  Thanks to the staff at the Nano Nagle Gallery and Museum, Cork who after some initial confusion with my unusual request found the parcel Martha had left for me and put my swap aside for Martha to collect on her return.
Martha, this one hasn't made it into the garden just yet... it will be interesting to see how the local birds find it.  Our cockatoos are much larger than the Irish birds.

These are made as part of a project that Martha runs for More Clay Less Plastic Cork City.
I would have loved to have helped to make more bird feeders but this one will be put to good use.

Martha suggested I meet up with some other Cork based potters and we managed to make a time to visit Charlie Mahon.
Charlie is both a potter and a sculptor.  His work is in several galleries around Ireland and it was lovely to see his work in various ones as we travelled around.
Here is a link to his website and it includes a blog with some interesting video clips.  His work has a real fun element to it : Link: https://charliemahon.ie/about/

I was very surprised to see our visit on the local papers Facebook page a few days later.

One of his trademark Mackerel bowls came home with me.  
Thanks Charlie for taking the time to show myself and my family around.

That's part one... watch this space for further accounts of my odyssey.