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

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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!

Thank You Santa!

We have a new kiln, and an impressive boost to our glaze supplies, thanks to Santa (and a day-job bonus!)

So excited (and a little bit terrified) to get started with it. 🙂

It’s a Potterycrafts Aurora kiln and an electronic Mitsco controller. Not massive at 40 litres capacity, but it has wheels and fits into our studio setup for now and totally flexible on a 13amp domestic supply. A bigger studio will allow bigger kilns in the future but this is perfectly adequate for our needs right now and we’re delighted with it.

…and here it is, all laid out to check against the delivery note. We have some gorgeous Amaco Potters’ Choice and Sahara stoneware glazes, and a selection of Terracolor engobes. Lots of experimentation and glaze tests to come.

Now we just need a name for her…

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Caution: I Throw Things!

For the first time in two long years, on Sunday I turned the switch on my Potters wheel and started throwing. I’d prepared 4 wee balls of clay and had a 50% hit rate. First pot collapsed as I took it too thin and too far, second attempt, I threw a reasonable bowl and altered it off the wheel – ok, so it slipped coming off the wheel and decided, itself, to be oval, but it still looks nice. I shaped it slightly more to even it up and may make more alterations when it gets to leather hard to make it more deliberate. Third pot, I put my thumb through the base, and the fourth came off the wheel exactly the size and shape I hoped for and remained that way.

So, after two years, not too bad a result with just an hour’s work (with lots of faffing about before, during and after the actual throwing. I plan to get back into the studio tonight to trim and finish the leather hard pots and just potter about (pun intended). Just becuse I can. 🙂

Mo brought her sketch pad in and, with the gorgeous view for inspiration, drew out a couple of tile designs. We both have so many ideas of things we want to try. We’ve had two years of planning time!

The workbench is actually a couple of Ikea trestles that we bought in 2005 and then didn’t have space for a bench so didn’t build them, so it was good to finally see them in position and being used for their proper purpose. When extended up to their full height, they made a good high level workbench. Just need a couple of stools now so that we don’t need to keep pinching the kitchen stools.

Freecycle, here we come!

Birthday gift

Well, first week back after a week off of work, and a lovely surprise waiting for me on my return.  Flowers, card and a lovely birthday gift (I celebrated my 40th while we were off) from my colleagues.  They weren’t sure where to get gift vouchers for ‘pottery stuff’ so they gave me cash to spend on the studio.

I spent quite a long time last night online putting together an order, including a few handbuilding tools (particularly a coiler tool that I’ve wanted since I did Jane Kelly’s summer school last year), some throwing necessities, Glaze spraying kit, glazes and, most exciting, some porcelain.  As I look through the list of goodies on my order, I’m rather pleased with everything.  Can’t wait for it to arrive and get started.  

The studio is coming together.  No photos today as the rain came down just as were moving the wheel in and we had to run for cover, but we now have our bathroom back, and the wheel, clay and tools are where they belong.  It now has everything but the kitchen sink – literally.  I’ll be moving the sink unit and the shelves next weekend and then we’re done.  By that time the clay and tools order will be here and we’ll be raring to go.

Slow progress

 

It doesn’t look like it, but we made quite a bit of progress today.  Our total time spent so far is 19 hours, and our total spend is £13, because we decided to get some chalkboard paint to make a feature of a wooden panel on the wall covering a couple of holes.  We also decided to use it on part of the inside of the door, which meant we needed undercoat (hence, £13 and not £7 for the paint).

 

Now with added floor covering!

Now with added floor covering!

 

 

We have to keep the bikes in there, until we build a separate bike store and I think at the moment it still looks a bit like a shed and not so much like a studio, but hopefully that will change when we move in the wheel, sink, shelves, workbench, etc.

Todays jobs included finishing the floor and the skirting, painting the inside of the door, renewing the sealant on the window to hopefully stop the rain getting in and soaking the window sill, and finishing the painting of the outside.  The outside paint job was a bit tricky as we think there might be some eggs in the bird house – the great tits who hang around our garden at this time of year were going a bit ballistic when I was up the ladder doing the area round the house.  We tried to get out of their way quickly to minimise the stress, so hopefully all will be fine.

It looks VERY shed-like from the outisde, and there’s not much we can do about that, but we’re planning some custom paintwork (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘Mo’)  which will jazz it up a bit.

 

Not a shed

Not a shed

 

One of the things I’m most looking forward to about using the studio is the view we’ll have when we’re working in there.  I know it’s the same view we have from the kitchen, but I’m hoping it will inspire our work (which won’t happen in the kitchen till we plant and harvest the veggies) 🙂

studio_refurb_06

Anyway, we’ve finished all the little jobs on the top half of the list that we made, which means that the next stage is moving stuff in.  Unfortunately we’re back at work Monday, so we’ll have to just do little bits in the evenings and finish off next weekend, but I’m hoping by next weekend we’ll be making stuff  🙂

Day 2 update

Just a quick update with pic of the painted ceiling from last night.