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, 20 December 2012

My First (but not last!) Quilt

So, as promised, here is some Christmas cheer, or more precisely something to give you a good laugh!
I finished my first ever quilt and really enjoyed making it.  I started with a plan (above) of what colour squares went where and then sewed them together in strips. I love these rich earthy colours - so wintery and warm.

I then embroidered five of the central plain squares with our family names and birthdays and then sewed the strips together to form the quilt top. Then I sandwiched together an old flannelette bed sheet,(which has made it REALLY cosy), my wadding in the middle and the quilt top on top and laid it all out on the floor.                                                            

Taped it to the floor so that it didn't move and pinned it all together all over.  It helped laying it out on the kitchen tiles as I knew it was all straight by the edge of the tiles!
I really loved doing the embroidered squares - I haven't done chain stitch (or any stitch!) since primary school, but it somehow all came back and was totally relaxing.

Even the little lazy daisies were lurking somewhere in the recesses of my brain.  I decided to machine quilt the whole thing together using rainbow thread.  I love the idea of hand-quilting, but I knew 100% that I would never finish it if I went down that route!  I cut binding strips from a matching creamy yellow material and sewed those round the edge.  So pleased with the colour as it really sets it off beautifully - did mitred corners and everything!

Some of the quilting isn't completely straight - I went diagonally across each square - but it's not too bad for a beginner, and to be honest, I found pushing and pulling something this huge through the machine was an art in itself!  But ..... ta daaa!  Here it is - our Family Quilt - all finished.  Even sewed a label on the back giving it's name, date and maker.

Eldest child has already claimed it when I die (nice!).

I can honestly say that the whole thing was really enjoyable to do.  Thank you Lynne for your advice on how to go about it all.  Please note that this is IN NO WAY a tutorial!  But there loads of on-line tutorials and u-tube videos out there to help at every stage.

I shall now be snuggling under this to watch Downton on Christmas Day.  To date I have watched Jamie's Christmas, Mary and Paul's Christmas, Nigella's Christmas, Hugh Fernley do daa's Christmas, Kirsty's Christmas and many many more and I can honestly say that I now feel absolutely ready to have Cathy's Christmas!

Thanks for visiting throughout this year.
A Very Happy Christmas everyone!
See you in 2013!
x Cathy

Friday, 23 November 2012

Sunflowers and Dogs

This was a commission which I made a few weeks ago for two little boys to give to their mum for her birthday.  I enjoyed making it as there was nothing in the 'brief' that presented me with any real challenge.

You may remember that in the past with these kind of personal pieces, I've been asked to put racehorses, tortoises, packs of playing cards, piles of books, you name it, onto them.

But this was just .... sunflowers.  
Nice and easy and straightforward.

I spoke too soon though.  The next one was a Christening plate and they wanted ..... Dogs!  Not just any dogs.  Their dogs - to be done from photos of their dogs! 

I have done dogs before, and I can tell you, they are not as easy as sunflowers!  They ordered Olympic Rings and the County symbol for Essex too, but they were fairly easy.

But dogs!  Why do I keep getting asked to do dogs?

And, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I am ....  how shall we put it ..... not really much of a dog-lover. 

There. I've said it!  So shoot me.  I do know that in this country, that's not a popular thing to say.

I'll stick to creating them out of clay for now!

x Cathy

Thursday, 1 November 2012

It's a Personal Record .....

.... and not an achievement that I'm very proud of, but this is the longest I've ever gone between blog posts!

'What is this life, if full of care we have no time to sit and blog', as the poet said?  My excuse is that I have been busy doing this:
and this ....  at first I had WILD Blue Yonder, but the Mister corrected me just in time.  I think maybe we're both right, but I went with Wide in the end.

These framed wall pieces have gone to Potter and Dibble at Thornham in North Norfolk, along with lots of other goodies.

It seems strange doing sea-sidey things in November, but maybe people will buy them as Christmas presents for their coastal homes.

 And I have been turning this lot

into this lot, so that they could all be delivered to Anglesey Abbey along with some larger bowls.

It can be a bit tedious putting the finishing touches on to all these little bits, the hanging wire, ribbon, buttons, etc and then laying them all out to count and check them for delivery ..... all time-consuming but all now DONE!

And so, having finished all that lot and much more besides, (which I will post about in due course), it's time to get started on my first ever quilt!  Regular readers will remember back in August when I bought myself a little fabric stash from the Quilt show in Birmingham?  

Well, I have pondered long and hard about hand-stitching the whole thing, imagining myself sitting through the winter evenings in my rocking chair by a roaring log fire stitching a square at a time, thinking of it as a labour of love to be handed down through the generations of little Potterjotters to come .....  and then I woke up, got real, and got out my new machine, which I was recently given as a present (Thank You!) and, now, once I have perused the Instruction Booklet, I shall begin.  
(Lynne - prepare to be pestered for online help!)

If you want to wish me luck, feel free, as the words 'out of depth' spring to mind here!  

The little sweeties in the top left of the picture are left over Halloween 'Treats', but I'm really not going to eat any, really I'm not!

x Cathy

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Victorian Colours

I had a meeting a few weeks ago with the buyer for the gift shops in the museums in Norwich, of which there are many, big and small, quirky and wonderful.  She liked my wares and has ordered some stock to be delivered in October, but she specifically liked the pieces in what she termed the "Victorian colours".
 Which is funny, because I've said here quite often that my personal taste is for the browns and greens and ochres that I use.
 But I never thought of them as 'Victorian' before now, though I can absolutely see what she means ...
 and if you look at any Victorian tiles in a period hallway, you will see these earthy, muted tones.
 So, I think they will look very at home in the Castle Museum, or the Bridewell Museum in Norwich.
 I'm beginning to think that I should be in a museum too, as I feel suddenly very old.  This little boy here with the sad look on his two year old ice-lolly covered face ......
graduated from university on Thursday with a First Class Honours degree in English.  Where did that time go?
The boy done good! 

So .... now that that is over, me and the mister are off to Italy for a few weeks, on a road trip up through the Chianti region and taking in Sienna, Florence and Pisa.  

See you in a few weeks.

x Cathy x

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Birds, Butterflies and Gardens

Sorry about my prolonged absence - have been having a little break from pottery and enjoying the slightly better weather. And being outside in our jungle, garden has focussed my attention on just what a mess it is!  I used to keep on top of the gardening years ago when I was not doing the pottery, but in the end something had to give cos I'm not Superwoman!  No, really, I'm not.

So, I enlisted the help of reluctant bored teenager, and slightly less reluctant hubby, to help me get the grounds to the estate back in some sort of shape.  Bored teenager's help didn't last long, but I think hubby, aka Mellors, is quite enjoying taking orders from the lady of the house.

So today I came home with these two little additions which may or may not thrive under our so-called care, as it's a bit 'survival of the fittest' on our humble plot, but you never know...

One is a Harlequin Buddleia, which I hope will attract the odd flutter-by or two, with any luck.

And the other is a Climbing Rose called Galway Bay, which I wish to see rambling round the front porch, please.  We built Potterjotter Towers twelve years ago, so quite why it has taken this long to get my rose round the door, I don't know!

And speaking of Butterflies, here is one I made earlier..... and measures 30cm across!!

This is it before it was fired, at the leather-hard dried clay stage.  And, unfortunatley, it flew off to its new home before I remembered to take a picture of the finished piece.  Silly me!!  All I can say is, it was EXTREMELY COLOURFUL and unlike any butterfly species known to man!

It went to a new (for me) outlet on the Norfolk Coast called Potter and Dibble, at Dersingham near Sandringham.  (Maybe the Queen will buy it when she's next there!)  Potter and Dibble is a lovely eclectic mix of all things beautiful for the home, so if you're out that way give it a whirl.

Now I need to do a belated whirl of my own visiting all your blogs! 

x Cathy x

Thursday, 26 July 2012

To Russia with Love

One of the things I love about blogging is that you learn about the way people all over the world live their lives - the small, perhaps unimportant, (but very interesting),  aspects of their daily lives that are lived out in a culture a little removed from one's own.  The thing that usually comes across is that despite all the differences, we are all so similar in many ways!

So I have enjoyed reading about Natalia's life in Moscow in her blog  She has a lovely blog, like a breath of fresh air, and the things she makes are gorgeous.

She wrote to me some weeks ago asking if I could make her some hanging teapots, all with different flowers on them and all in different colours. And then she asked for one with a special design, below, which I suppose had to happen sooner or later this year!

I have to say, I had never sent anything to Russia before, but I thought I'd give it a go.  The package cost £6.00, which I thought was very cheap,  and off it went by Airmail.  The post office chap said it might get inspected and even opened at Customs, so I was unsure what might happen next!

Three weeks later and Natasha had still not received the package, so I went down to the village post office to complain to the post man!
And what do you know .....  the very next day Natasha emailed me to say it had all arrived safely and that she was delighted with the contents, which she was giving to members of her family!

So all's well that ends well.

Have a lovely weekend all.  It's the Cambridge Folk Festival for us this weekend ....  so I'd better find my wellies!  I reckon the ideal Festival gear would be those really long wellies that fishermen wear that turn into dungarees and allow them to stand in the middle of a river to do their fly fishing!  I can just see me in some of them!

(Lynne - bet your Jim's got some he could lend me?)

x Cathy

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Paintings, Fabric, Quilts and Pots

This one could get complicated so bear with me ....  it's worth it!   A lady called Em made a fantastic quilt for her old school friend Liz.  Liz looked for some special way to thank Em and, on seeing my Quilt Bowls out there somewhere, she had the brilliant idea that a quilt bowl based on the exact quilt Em had made for her would be uniquely appropriate!

She contacted me and of course I jumped at the chance - what a brilliant project to work on!  I asked for photos of the quilt and these came back ....

The quilt is a tribute to time spent in New York, with the individual blocks representing city blocks and the leafy central panel representing Central Park - you quilters are sooooo clever!!!
I know all you fabricaholics out there will instantly recognise this wonderful fabric based on the paintings of Gustav Klimt.

It made the project even more enjoyable for me as Klimt is one of my all time favourite painters - which is no surprise really - it's obvious from my own work that I love colour, pattern and ornament, and you get this in spades with Klimt.

So, I got to work.

is the bisque-fired piece.  The design is impressed into the clay in most areas, but the darker sections showing the swirls and flowers are painted on with wax, so that once I brush glaze over them, the wax will resist the glaze and remain the pale cream colour.

The above shows the central block all glazed and once the border is done it will be fired a second time ...

and will come out of the kiln the next day looking like this!  Obviously it's not an exact copy of the quilt, but is my own representation of some of the key elements in it.

I have to say, I was really pleased with the finished piece and would gladly have kept it for myself, but Liz was delighted with it and had me dispatch it straight to her friend, who instantly recognised it from the quilt and thought it was stunning.
It find it uniquely satisfying that someone did a painting, which someone years later used to design fabric, which someone later used to make a quilt, which someone later used to make a ceramic bowl

Am not sure what Klimt would have made of it all - it was the 150th anniversary of his birth last Saturday!  It's only fair to include something of his here too, so here is a section of his portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, in which you can see the same patterns and colours of the quilt and bowl.

Have a lovely rainy weekend!

x Cathy

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Ancient and New

Ancient, as in the quote on this second 'Poettery' piece I promised to show you, which is taken from Coleridge's 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner', and New as in new friends made through blogging.

"Nor dim nor red, like God's own head,
The glorious Sun uprist:
Then all averred, I had killled the bird
That brought the fog and mist.

'Twas right, said they, such birds to slay,
That bring the fog and mist.
The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.'

I shall not type out all the verses as I risk 'repetitive strain injury' (this poem spans 18 pages in my poetry book).  And you will note that my scene is a bit cheerier than the picture Coleridge paints ... I drew the line at including an Albatross!

And talking of cheery sea-sidey things, the lovely Lynne from Textile Treasury came over yesterday to pick up some ceramics she had commissioned.  She had been over once before to have a look round the studio and decide what she wanted, and yesterday she brought her friend Sue with her and we had a fine old time chatting away over numerous cups of tea and lemon drizzle cake, about textiles, quilts, pottery, and a hundred other things.

I had seen this cushion Lynne made on her blog a while ago, so I asked her to bring it over for me.  Isn't it absolutely gorgeous?

So clean, crisp and pretty! 

I have been up to North Norfolk coast today and seen lesser cushions in the posh shops up there selling for £50 and upwards!  So thank you Lynne - I LOVE it!

Lynne also showed me a quilt she has made which was absolutely stunning and I hope she will show it on her blog, as I forgot to take pictures.

My new cushion is sitting on the chair in my studio, where I have other sea-sidey bits and bobs like shells, pebbles, anemones, etc. so it blends in well and reminds me of the good friends you make through blogging!

x Cathy x