Easter collections

19 April, 2014

After assessing the test pieces and the rejected ones (see yesterday’s post), the ‘finished’ pieces from my latest firing are now being mulled over. I’m now thinking about which ones will be taken forward as part of my new ‘collection’ and, if so, where they’ll go next…

Easter surprises

18 April, 2014

I’ve just unpacked my kiln after a reduction firing. The firing contained some pieces intended for the Contemporary Craft Fair at Bovey Tracey in June; some are for a couple of galleries right now and some for a very exciting teabowl exhibition I’ll be taking part in later on in the year (more info to follow soon).

Elaine Bolt stoneware and terracotta

Stoneware and terracotta vessels from the firing

This latest firing was a mixed affair. Along with finished pieces, the kiln also contained numerous test pieces where I’ve been trying out some new ideas and finishes. So it’s understandable that the work that emerged was a bit of a mix of things.

Firing can be a touch-and-go process, and there are often disasters along with the triumphs. That was the case with this firing - some pieces I was really keen on, that had potential homes to go to, just weren’t good enough or just didn’t make it at all. There were a few issues with the glazing on some pieces, and one of the larger pieces had slumped over, taking out a few other large pieces with it, which was very disappointing. Having said that, there were some nice surprises too, and lots of tests to take further in the next firing. Here are images of some of the work and tests. Let me know what you think!

Some of the tests I’ve done are to do with trying out different glaze finishes. Sometimes the simplest glazes can be the most interesting. But this can be a slow process – first identifying what I’m after, then trying different combinations of raw materials. There’s also often lots more work to be done after a glaze test comes out of the kiln – something that looks great on a small test tile can be terrible when scaled up.


White lumpy glaze test

Some of my tests were about combining different clay bodies. Clays all have different shrinkage rates and porcelain shrinks more than most. So combining two that are going to shrink by different amounts can be really pushing the tolerance of the materials. My tests so far with combining porcelain and stoneware have come out surprisingly well. But more work needs to be done here.


Piece combining porcelain and stoneware

Some of the tests I’ve been doing are about how different materials can be combined after firing. Making compositions is something I like working on and I’ve been wanting to combine ideas I have about the ‘objects‘ I make with my vessels for a very long time. But I’ve not made a piece I’ve been totally happy to take forward yet. I expect it will slowly emerge as an idea, but maybe it will pop out and surprise me one day!


Test piece – combining ‘objects’ with vessels


Migrating Spoons

12 April, 2014

My spoons have been travelling. The surprising adventures of the ‘curious utensils’ has taken my spoons all the way to the USA.

One of my spoons has been selected to be part of an exhibition entitled OBJECT:SPOON 2014 organised by  Vipoo Srivilasa at Harvard University. The exhibition will feature 25 ceramic spoons of all different shapes and varieties, from 16 different countries. The show will run from 17 May to 27 June 2014.

Elaine Bolt spoon group


Thanks to the lovely Ioneta gallery in Maine, a selection of my spoons are also now available at the gallery and are currently featured as Item of the week on their website. My spoons sit happily amongst a selection of fascinating craft objects and antiques for the home, sourced from Japan and the US.

Elaine Bolt spoons at Ioneta


Its a strange thing, my tiny fragile spoons making their way around the world.  When I sent the spoons by courier to Ioneta, I was able to follow them online using the parcel tracking service. It recorded the parcel’s various stopping points from Sussex to Stanstead airport in the UK, to Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris, to Newark airport New Jersey and finally to Rockland, Maine. It was a curious, and slightly nail-biting experience, like tracking migrating birds perhaps, willing them to reach their destination safely.


29 March, 2014

I am delighted to say that my work is now available at the very lovely Ioneta gallery in Maine USA.

Sourcing items from Maine, Japan and the UK, Ioneta brings together a select range of beautiful objects in a variety of media, featuring ‘a blend of found objects, works on paper, vintage and new textiles, and pieces crafted, by hand that make everyday use a joy.’

Visit their online shop, or tumblr site to see more of their beautifully curated collection.

Elaine Bolt vessel at Ioneta

Elaine Bolt ‘Dark Vessel’ at Ioneta

Pebble Beach

19 March, 2014

I take a lot of inspiration from the beach. Sometimes it’s oblique; things catch my eye and then filter through in unexpected ways. Sometimes it’s as direct as the things I find on the beach becoming part of a mixed-media work. The beaches I take inspiration from aren’t the idilic ones with golden sand, they’re the ones with pebbles and a line of seaweed and flotsam, or with concrete harbour walls and ferry ports. I often go to Newhaven and Seaford nearby. They’re not glamorous places, but they’re beautifully empty, with only the occasional dog walker or brave surfer to share the space with at this time of year.

On a recent trip to Norfolk I took some close-up photos of a concrete harbour wall. I loved the textures, colours and lines. The images are now floating around in my head, nagging me to do something about them. I’m not sure what will emerge yet; maybe nothing, but maybe something some way down the line.

Bircham Gallery Exhibition

22 February, 2014

The next show I’m gearing up for is at the fantastic Bircham Gallery in Holt, Norfolk. They are holding a ‘Newcomers’ exhibition “showcasing new artists and makers at Bircham Gallery taken on during their anniversary year“. Exhibitors in the show include:

Paintings: Stephanie Lambourne, Sally Tyrie, Stephen Robson, Helen Terry.
Ceramics: Katharina Klugg, Lowri Davies, Sarah Jenkins, Patricia Shone, Elaine Bolt, Alison Graham, Vicky Shaw.
Jewellery: Mariko Sumioka, Emma Goward, Stacey Bentley
Textiles/Paper: Matthew Harris

The show runs from the 8th March to the 2nd April 2014. More info on opening hours and directions can be found on their facebook event page.

I’m delivering the work there next week as I’ve created a few new utensil pieces and these are always a delicate affair. The delivery also gives me an opportunity for a mini ceramics road-trip to Holt via a few museums and galleries, including hopefully the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, at UEA.

Bircham Gallery Newcomers exhibition 2014
Textiles by Matthew Harris



Sea Change

11 February, 2014

I have just opened the kiln to inspect my first reduction firing of 2014. I had been very nervously waiting for the kiln to cool down because the firing itself hadn’t seemed to go particularly smoothly. So this morning, when it was cool enough to open, I inspected the results and found there were some winners and some losers in there, as can often be the case in any firing.

In this case, the terracotta pieces came out the best. The reduction process transforms the soft orange of the bisque fired terracotta to a dark purple-brown-black, without the addition of a glaze or engobe, just using the iron in the clay body itself. The temperature I fire to also pushes the clay to its limit, creating small bubbles on the surface in the process. I enjoy the texture it gives to the vessels and like the way it enhances the ‘metalic’ quality of the pieces. Here is a ‘before and after’ shot of some of the pieces in Sunday’s firing.

Elaine Bolt ceramics, terracotta in reduction

I also put some stoneware tests in the kiln. I’m exploring some new ideas with different clay bodies. It’s very early days yet, but I like how some of the results look so far, particularly how they look in combination with the dark terracotta.

Elaine Bolt stoneware tests 2 Elaine Bolt stoneware tests 1

A Spoonful of Sugar

7 February, 2014

There’s something a bit fascinating about spoons. Their pleasing shape can be played with and distorted to create at once familiar and yet subtly altered objects. For a little while now I’ve been making a range of delicate willowy handled spoons like the ones below, in porcelain, stoneware and terracotta, and grouped together in clusters and sets.

The people at the excellent Craft Finder website, smitten with romance, have run a lovely feature on spoons this week, including my pieces along with beautiful silver and glass, spoons; all offering up their charms in tiny doses.

On the weekend of the 15th and 16th of February I will be exhibiting at Aspex Gallery, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth as part of their Contemporary Makers Fair 2014. I’ll have a range of my work there for sale, including some new designs fresh out of the kiln.  The event will be open from 11-5 on both days and will showcase a selection of designer makers from the South East including fellow Crafts Council Hothouse participant Jelka Quintelier. Aspex will also be running workshops for children and adults across the weekend.


Designer Crafts 2014

30 December, 2013

So 2013 has been an exciting year for developing and exhibiting my work. My first full year of business since completing my MA has been a pretty busy one. I got back in the studio today after a short break and am busy working on some new ideas and pieces. There’s lots to look forward to in 2014 and it’s starting well, with the first Crafts Council Hothouse event next week and a fantastic show in London starting soon after.

I will have a selection of my work available at the Designer Crafts 2014, ‘Shop within the Show’, organised by the Society of Designer Craftsmen. Come to the Mall Gallery from the 10th January to see ceramics, furniture, glass, jewellery, metal, mixed media, textiles and wood by both established, and emerging, designer-makers.

My pieces will include a selection of celadon vessels and some rather cute sets of tiny pots and spoons.


The show will be at The Mall, London SW1 and runs from Friday 10th to Sunday 19th January 10am to 5pm (closing at 4pm on the 19th).

Designer Crafts 2014


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