Catherine Daniel Ceramics

Hello and welcome to my blog where I share some of the thought processes and textile/quilting inspirations behind my ceramic art, and occasionally other random topics!
For more details and pictures of my ceramic creations, please see my website -

Thursday, 16 December 2010

And the winner is ....

So ... into youngest son's hat you all went, and the two names he pulled out were . . .

Joan Hunter Dunn, and, The Mad House. Congratulations!

Please email me at with your address
and I'll get your snowflake off to you tomorrow.

Looking out of the window, we are now getting our second load of snow, as promised. The older two are home from University this weekend so ...

time for pottery to finish and Christmas to start (once their washing's been done!).
In case you're wondering, those little stockings in that picture are for big cheques.

And, yes, that is the weird snowflake youngest son made
- much rarer than any of mine!

So, its feet up by the blazing woodburner in the candle-lit lounge for me ....

and a very Happy Christmas and Merry New Year to all of you!
See you soon.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Great Snowflake Giveaway

My snowflakes, which started out as just a bit of fun,
have gone down a storm (so to speak!).

So, if you prefer the kind of snowflakes above, to those pictured below ....

... I have two left over from a massive batch I was asked to make, and ....

.... if you leave me a comment before next Thursday 16th December ....

.... I will get youngest son to pick a name out of a hat and send to you just in time for

(and I promise not to send the one youngest son made which is not only asymmetrical
but now glazed in yellow and green in support of Norwich City Football Club!)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

How to make an Impression

If you've looked closely at my ceramics, you will have noticed that I make a lot of impressions into the soft clay to give it texture, interest, pattern. I make these markings using a variety of tools, most of which were not invented for use with clay. They are all just bits and pieces you might find around the house, some of which are are pictured above.

Of course, I do make my own stamps (out of clay) to press into the clay, my most used one being the little six petal flower there.

And I quite like to use stamps from India (below) which were meant for printing onto textiles (as seen last night on Kirsty's Home Made Home).

So, I was so pleased and surprised to receive last weekend this package from eldest child away at University in the frozen north, with a note to say that each little parcel on the home-made advent calendar contained something she had collected, or bought from a charity shop, or whatever, which would be useful as a tool for making indentations into my pots. She is an art student and so has a good eye for such things.

Have to confess, it brought a tear to my old eye, thinking of the thought and effort behind such a gift. And it has made the horribly busy run-up to Christmas all the more do-able now that I have a little parcel to open each day.

Speaking of pre-Christmas busy-ness, I am taking part in a Christmas Art Exhibition next week - setting it up tomorrow. Details below. If you are in the vicinity at all, do give it a look. I do hope this big freeze doesn't put too many people off!

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Snowflake fun

I got some snowflake cookie cutters a while ago to make Christmas biscuits, but couldn't wait to use them, so I tried them out on clay. Sometimes, its just nice to mess around a bit and leave the larger, serious pots for later (not too much later though!).

We've had a fair bit of snow here and it all looks really pretty and feels really freezing! I've gone into hibernation mode and am enjoying cosy open fires, hot tea, candlelight, and making Christmassy things like these.

They say no two snowflakes are identical - well mine sure aren't.

A certain 15 year old boy had a go at making one of these too. I said the only thing to bear in mind was that every snowflake is symmetrical - so being a teenager with a mind of his own, he deliberately made one that is anything but. That one is still to be fired and so not shown here.

These are pictured hanging outside on my Rosemary bush, which is still covered in snow today - its going nowhere, it seems.

Am pleased with the way they turned out - only hope I can get all the clay off the cutters in time to make the biscuits in a few weeks!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

How to Mend a Broken Heart

These are the latest versions of my hanging heart decorations. They are purposely made in two pieces and then sewn back together again with thread. I like this idea as it is in keeping with the patchwork/textile influences at the root of the work.

If only it was that easy to mend a real broken heart!
I then veered away from the patchwork idea and made a few flowery hearts, using my own handmade stamps to impress the design into the clay. These little bits sell well and are quick and easy to make and fill all those little corners of the kiln so that no space is wasted.

Packing a kiln tightly is an art in itself. Its a bit like a giant game of Jenga or Pick-up-Sticks (do they still make that game?). Anyway, sometimes accidents do happen and the large Christmas angel below suffered a bit of a blow to the head ... which basically decapitated her. So, she didn't get fired and is just sitting there with her head tucked underneath her wing!

I can mend broken hearts but this is quite simply a write-off.
Hey Ho ... some you win, some you lose.

Talking of winning and losing, check out Driftwood's Blog to win a fabulous give-away. I hope I win as I need cheering up after my angel lost her head.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Local Flavour

So, imagine my delight on returning from our half-term jolly to find the above catalogue on the mat, featuring my little bits and pieces inside!
Jarrolds is an independent department store, local to Norfolk only. Earlier this year it was voted by readers of The Times as the UK's favourite department store, and personally, its always been a favourite of mine, even though I am not a Times reader!

Jarrolds now run The Forum Shop, which focuses on products made in the region or which capture the region's unique character. They sell a lot of my little hanging decorations and thought they might sell well over the Christmas period.

Speaking of which, the lovely legs below belong to a larger version of the little angels in my last post. This larger angel will be part of a Christmas Exhibition which I hope to take part in during December - of which more later.

I particularly like the message on the ribbon and hope she will eventually find a home with 'someone special'.

I also finished this Christmas piece destined for the same exhibition. I got a bit fed up with Christmas Trees, so I went for old-fashioned building blocks instead. Am quite pleased with the outcome.

Am not pleased with my new camera, though .... so apologies whilst I get used to it and find out quite what all the 'menus' are about. I think they are about 'progress', but am yet to be convinced!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Sing Choirs of Angels ....

So, here are the girlies ... they survived 1040 degrees and their true colours are shining through. My 'army' of angels, as I called them out loud the other day. We then all tried to work out what the correct term is for a group of angels. A 'flock' of angels sounded ok, but I knew that wasn't quite right. Then I remembered the above words from 'O Come All Ye Faithful' and before I knew it we were singing carols in the kitchen before October's out!

But actually, the correct collective noun for a group of angels is a 'host' or 'chorus', apparently. I remember learning all these oddities of the English language, along with my synonyms and antonyms, back at primary school. I know - giving my age away there - they don't learn this stuff these days.

I always liked 'a gaggle of geese' and a 'parliament of owls', and 'an embarrassment of riches' was an oft heard phrase in our house as a child. But I digress ....

There are patchwork angels -

and Flowery angels (below), and stripey ones, dotty ones, zigzaggy ones, plain ones and many more. All are now on my site in the 'Christmas Gallery'.

They look so sweet all sitting here dangling their legs over the edge of my stock shelves. Very cute ... speaking of which, I meant to publicly thank for doing a feature on my work in their blog back in September. Its a delightful blog and will be great for tracking down unusual little Christmas gifts. Have a look.

I do wonder if I should really concentrate on my more serious work, but the galleries did ring to ask if I do anything especially Christmassy, and of course, little bits like the angels fit into all the little gaps in the kiln around the large pieces, so no space is unused, keeping firing costs down.

Larger pieces like this one below, which came out at the weekend. Its my own contemporary take on a patchwork, and was commissioned by someone who visited my Open Studios back in May. They've had a ridiculously long wait for it, so hope they'll think it was worth it!

So, what do we think the correct term for a group of Bloggers should be? Don't think there is one at present. I like a 'babble', but that is already used for a group of .... Barbers .... believe it or not!

Friday, 15 October 2010

Pieces finished, in progress and just ideas ..


So, the above picture shows work in progress ... armies of Christmas angels waiting to go into the kiln this weekend, after which their true colours will shine out. They will then get their ribbon legs and little slippered feet attached and can fly off to their new homes. Will let you see the finished results next week.


Below is what I bought at the Norfolk Quilters' 30th Anniversary Exhibition held at the Assembly House in Norwich this week. It is officially a 'table runner' but as there is never a table clear enough for long enough to put it on in this house, I have just draped it over the back of our old oak settle for now. I loved the colours - very Christmassy - and had the idea that I might make a quilt bowl to match it. I should of course have asked what the quilt pattern is called - but I forgot. Just as I forgot to take my camera with me, as the quilts on show were quite staggeringly beautiful, and I would have liked to show some more.

Anyway, I also bought a book of raffle tickets to win a full size quilt, so maybe I'll show you that one when I win - ha ha!


The piece below is the finished commission I blogged about earlier for a couple with five year old twins. The pattern is called "Crazy House" and whilst they absolutely love it, they are almost too frightened to put it out for fear of two sets of little hands getting hold of it.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

And Pigs Might Fly

Well, these look as though they could! Thought I may as well make the pigs fly since all my other hanging decorations seem to have wings. The baby birds are learning to fly ...

and the owls can swoop ...

and a heart can take flight and even soar, once in a while ....

Mine certainly fluttered a bit when these were given to me earlier today.

What was the occasion? There wasn't one.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Full of Care !

I feature on the UK Handmade blog today.
Have a look if you have a few minutes.

The definition below of the word 'handmade' is simple and to the point.
The crucial words there, I think, are 'with care'.
That's what makes handmade products so special.

And whilst I often feel like a machine when I am really busy,
a machine could not put its heart and soul into the finished product,
cos it aint got one!

The 'craftsmanship' is for the end-user to judge.
But I like to think that it is something which flows fairly naturally
out of all that 'caring' about what you make.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Handmade Lace and Handmade Pots

This lovely old lady above is one of a small group I saw recently demonstrating the tradition of making lace by hand, as it has been done down the centuries.

I was in Bruges and, it being famous among other things for its tradition of handmade lace, I made a beeline for the Lace museum and gazed in awe at these wonderful works of art.

The fine detail was quite staggering. I then went into the Lace-making demonstration and watched it being done for real. I found it quite mesmerizing; this group of 'little old ladies' sitting over their work, their hands whizzing around at the speed of light, moving numerous bobbins under and over each other, producing the most delicate and intricate work, as if it were second nature to them.

I love lace - not to wear, I hasten to add, as I am not really a 'frilly' person - but to impress into soft clay, as above, in order to reproduce the lace pattern onto the finished piece. It creates a great effect, and is especially appropriate for my pieces as they are mostly influenced by textiles anyway.

And then I drop glaze into the lace imprints to get a border for the quilt-block design on the bowl.
It would be nice to think that the tradition of making lace by hand (and anything else by hand, for that matter!) is kept alive and passed onto the next generations. It would be sad for it to be just something to be seen in a museum.

Speaking of Handmade, I think my little article I contributed to UK Handmade is being published on Thursday this week on their blog - so do have a look and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Personal Touch

Yes, I know ..... you're thinking ' They're not very colourful, not her usual style'. That's because they are only at the first stage of making - the wet clay is dried hard and now ready to go into the kiln for the first firing. Then I shall glaze them in wonderful colours and fire them again.

These two are recent commissions and I so love to do commissions, because they are so special and its so much more gratifying to make things for people who have particularly asked for them, and if you actually know the individuals personally, so much the better.

The one above is for a friend who is Irish. She asked me to make something for her, but was happy for me to choose the design. So I was able to choose something specific to her and the quilt-block pattern marked out on her bowl is called 'Dublin Steps'.

This one is for Michael and Alison, who have a very busy life with twin five year olds. They were specific in their colour choice - this has to be eventually glazed in blues and greens. The design is for me to choose, and so I went for a quilt-block pattern called 'Crazy House'. I know them well and they will appreciate the gentle humour in that choice.

This, of course, is not a bowl and was not a commission, as such. It was for the Hubby for a Big Birthday. He dreams of owning his own bookshop, and now he does, thanks to me. It was great fun to make and he loved that so much time, effort and creativity had been put into his present - something you just don't get with a shop-bought product.

We are off to Bruges this weekend to celebrate our Silver Wedding Anniversary, but being so busy with orders for other people, the only thing I have made for him this time is his card! But it is good one, if I say so myself.

Am looking forward to getting back next week though, just in time to see an article I wrote for the autumn issue of UK Handmade published, I think, on Wednesday 1st September. Crikey ... can you believe its September already? Have a look at it next week and let me know what you think.