The Kiln in Mille's Workshop

I work in the old smithy and the kiln is housed next door in the old forge itself , the kiln nestles on the original fireplace complete with the huge leather bellows, looking as though it has been there forever, it hufts and beeps its way through my day and night. I am kept company all day by a large insistent black cat (Digby), a faithful languorous Spaniel (Bubbles) and my two granddaughters’ (Tabitha and Matilda) on their way through to investigate my fridge and food cupboards whilst they think I am not looking.

All my ceramic pieces are individually made by hand from a ball of earthenware clay. Having finished the piece, it is left to dry a few days and then fired to 1020 - 1040 degree centigrade and then cooled slowly. This takes a minimum of 24 hours. Now it is time to decorate with three to four coats of glaze and then kiln fire to over 1020 degrees as before.

It is impossible for two pieces of my work to be the same, the beauty of owning an original piece of the work is the same as the beauty of nature, consistently unique. I take my inspiration from all that grows around me. The hundreds of foxgloves that now line our field, the Buddleia bush harbouring scores of butterflies and the hazelnut tree overlooking the stream nearby. I am often seen wandering down our lane with handfuls of finds, with our Shetland pony and his goat family following me with bemused interest on the other side of the fence. The hedgerows bordering Strawberry Lane are full of ferns, Chestnut trees and ancient Oaks. I don’t think I will ever run out of ideas with this all around us.

I just love using leaves pressed into clay. My son in law brings me handfuls of cabbage leaves (at speed to avoid the great interest of our goats from our kitchen garden), so my work space is often over flowing with clay, paint, leaves and flowers freshly delivered over the course of the day.

The glazes used and non-toxic and food safe. I have managed to produce so many experiments we eat off them every day and our house is filled full of my vases too; I would recommend washing them by hand, my granddaughters my not agree but it is a safer and kinder way to treat any special work even when used on a daily basis. We eat from my plates, serve food on my platters and our home grown cutting garden flowers fill my vases to the brim. So I can assure you that they are beautiful and practical at the same time.

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