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Kiln Maintenance Day

Today is Kiln Maintenance Day. Not a fun task, but essential every now and again. The batt wash on my shelves is the stuff that came with the kiln, and when I put it on, I had no idea what I was doing. It was mixed too thick, and applied too thick, and left an awful mess when it started cracking and flaking, and has just got worse and worse. So, since we just bought a few new shelves that needed a fresh coat of batt wash, I decided to refurbish our existing shelves too.

The new batt wash is a zircon based batt wash (from Scotclay) and it paints on beautifully. I have this on a small shelf that I’ve been using for about a year, and there is not a flake or chip in sight, so I’m looking forward to many years of use before I have to do this horrible job again!

Essential safety equipment!  Nasty stuff coming off of these shelves, not good for your lungs, so a respirator is essential, as are safety glasses (or, in my case, glasses)

Essential safety equipment! Nasty stuff coming off of these shelves, not good for your lungs, so a respirator is essential, as are safety glasses (or, in my case, glasses)

Flaky old shelf, with craters caused by dripped glaze.  Lots of grinding required.

Flaky old shelf, with craters caused by dripped glaze. Lots of grinding required.

Close up of flaky old shelf

Close up of flaky old shelf

Essential tool - Dremel type tool with coarse grinder wheel

Essential tool – Dremel type tool with coarse grinder wheel

Kiln shelf after grinding

Shelf after grinding

Newly batt washed kiln shelf, ready for loading the kiln

Newly batt washed kiln shelf, ready for loading the kiln

 

Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2015.

We’re full of resolutions and big plans for the year ahead, and look forward to having you join us on the way. Mo’s been doodling her excitement about it all…

2015 New Year Doodle

Mo’s been doodling. It’s going to be a great year.

We had a lot happening in 2014, although we didn’t blog about much of it. The biggest event in the MoKa calendar, after the West End Fair in Edinburgh, was our move to a dedicated studio. The Shedio in the back garden at home was just too wee for two full time ceramicists and is now given over to Mo’s painting activities, and random crafty bits and pieces of mine, and all clay work now happens in our studio.

Historic Cultybraggan Camp

Historic Cultybraggan Camp – our new clay home

The new studio is based in Comrie, Perthshire, in the historic Cultybraggan Camp, a former WWII POW camp and latterly an MOD property used for training of, amongst other organisations, the Territorial Army and Cadet Forces. I spent many a chilly November night huddled round a pot bellied stove during TA Military Skills Training weekends there, and it’s quite bizarre that our studio is now in part of the long Nissen Hut that was formerly the Junior Ranks Dining Room! It’s a beautiful part of the country, and the camp itself is fascinating for a visit, with lots of info in the new Heritage Centre.

Our part time jobs making clay are also in the Camp, so it makes it easier to be in the studio every single day, which is good, because things are picking up and we need so many more potting hours in the day!

Here are a few pics of the inside of the studio before we managed to get settled and messy! We have three times the space we had in the Shedio, and now that the kiln and wheel are also in there, we are already complaining about needing more (some people are just never happy lol), although we do also have a separate stock storage/packing room, which keeps everything nice and dust free once it’s out of the kiln.

Empty studio

The studio with no flooring or much of anything yet


studio with shelving

Much more room to work, with dedicated clay workbench (to the right out of shot) and lots of shelving

Glazing area

A dedicated ‘clean’ area for glazing, doodling and taking photos.

So, that’s the new studio, our biggest pottery milestone of the year.

On a personal note, we also converted our Civil Partnership to Marriage, backdated to our wedding in June 2006, so we’re completely official now.

Marriage Certificate

The official piece of paper

Wedding Rings

Our gorgeous bespoke rings from Judith Kenny Jewellery

I think you’ll agree I’m not the most frequent of bloggers, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because I’m so busy doing clay stuff, I forget to stop and write about it.

So, here’s my New Year’s Resolution for 2015. I’m going to write more and I apologise in advance because this will probably mean random cat stories, pictures of our kitties, what we’re reading (we’ve got a whole book challenge thing going on in 2015, but I’ll save it for another post), what my latest unfinished knitting or crochet project is and, maybe occasionally, a note about what’s happening in the studio, or what’s new on the Etsy shop.

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple. Seasons Greetings from both of us and all the best for 2015!

I hope you’ll join us for this year, and look forward to seeing you at one of the many markets we have planned from the summer onwards.

Kath (and Mo)
Mrs & Mrs Gibson-Kelly

Exciting new developments

I’m going to make a midsummer resolution to stop apologising for lack of blog posts…. And actually start writing more blog posts!

It’s been a turbulent time (personally) for us over the last two years and MoKa Pottery has suffered a wee bit because of it. But I’m pleased to say that things are starting to even out and we have some big changes on the way.

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The main change is that, since Mo has now given up her full time job, we are now both fully committed to MoKa Pottery as our main business. This will hopefully free up time, head space and energy to allow us to develop the studio as a business, do more promotion, create more stock and generally ‘up our game’. It will give us time and space to grow, to develop creative themes and to hopefully improve our creative offering. It may not provide us with a great income, and initially we’ll both keep part-time jobs to help towards household costs, but it’s definitely a move in the right direction for both of us.

In conjunction with the development of MoKa Pottery, we will be launching a new venture, MoKa Creative, which will be an outlet for paintings and other non-clay creations. More news on this to follow soon.

We hope you’ll stick around to see where we take this, and enjoy the ride!

Little Birds Market on Mothering Sunday 10th March

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We will be returning to the fabulous Little Birds Market upstairs at Sloans in Glasgow on Sunday 10th March 2013.

Since this also happens to be Mothering Sunday in the UK, why not bring your mum along (or have your kids bring you along) for some lovely gift shopping from wonderful makers. It’s also just a couple of weeks before Easter weekend and we’ll have some cheeky Easter Chicks available too.

While you’re there, Sloans do some lovely meals and, on the first floor, you can even have a fantastic vintage style Afternoon Tea.

Sounds like the perfect Mother’s Day treat to me.

Moo!

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Spent a lovely evening in the studio with my wee herd of Hielan’ Coos getting their new coats glazed on. Can’t wait to see them fired and see the actual fur brown colour on them

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Shop-tastic

We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes this week, preparing our wares and working on our business plan for the pottery. Next up is some product photography and then a mad frenzy of listing on Etsy (and Folksy possibly later on).

To get started, we’ve listed a few items on our other Etsy store – the non pottery one – at MoKa Crafts on Etsy. Just a few neck scarves for now, but our LGBT greetings cards will feature there soon, as well as any number of other crafty bits and pieces that we’ve worked on over the last year or so with the intention of taking them to craft fayres.

A photography session next this afternoon, for the glazed pottery from last week, and the bisque fired eggs that are coming out of the kiln this afternoon.

Onwards and upwards!

The Master at Work!

I’ve long been a fan of Simon Leach’s video channel on YouTube.  He’s incredibly generous with his time and talent and shares so that we all can learn from him.  I’ve watched nearly all of his 441 video clips on YouTube, and I just came across this one today.  Not only does it show his throwing talent, but his great sense of humour!

Enjoy and, as Simon Says…  “Keep Practising!”