14 May 2017

studio story 2

my current studio view

Last two weeks, my husband and I have revamped my studio floor. It was a big job as we had to move everything off the floor including the kiln and all heavy stuff. Like the photos here, we used all the shelves to store things temporarily and moved things out to the gazebo propped in the garden. 

So how come I’ve decided to do such a thing now? 

If you are my blog reader for a long time, you might remember where it started. All of my studio has been built by ourselves one by one going back to 2007! Yes, it was ten years ago when we first started! You can view my old blog post for what was like (→ read “studio story”). I wasn’t working as a potter, doing a totally different day job. The pottery studio was a big dream. 

I remember we laid the concrete floor and painted the surface in 2011. It was winter, which wasn't great to lay concrete. Also we had a tight budget, we used a rough surface finish, which was ok to start with but soon the problem has cropped up. Clay contains scilica, which is hazard to your health if you breathe in. So it is important to maintain the studio clean and free from clay dust as much as possible. Unfortunately the rough cobbled floor surface was very good at collecting the dust, no matter how much I tried to sweep or mop it. Even I mopped the floor, I felt dust in the air. I got lazier and lazier due to the lack of time so I neglected a proper cleaning. Over the years it got worse and the surface painting started to come off too. 

I know by then I should have chosen expensive smooth surface finish or asked a professional to do so, but I wasn’t working as a potter and it seemed to be a very luxurious option. 

Since my daughter’s arrival, I I’ve never brought her into my studio because of concerns over the dust. Now she recognises that her mummy works in the studio and makes pots. I really wanted my studio to be safe for her to pop in, so she can see what I do. That was it. I’ve decided to go for the luxurious option. 


So here are before and after view. Isn’t it brilliant? I was very pleased with the result. On the top of that, I spent little more time to reorganise the studio wall etc. Now it’s much easier to use, move stuff and most of all clean too (even for me!) My girl would be happy watching me working one day I hope. 

18 April 2017

Good plan?

Continuing one-day-a-week-potter’s life. 

Even that precious one day is not actually that long. Say you go in to the studio as soon as you are back from dropping my daughter off to the nursery and even leaving any house chores behind, it will soon the time for picking her up before you know it. I also usually prepare for tea as much as I can before the nursery run, as it seems to be working better with her because, one: I don’t need to wrestle with hot pans and a crying child on my knees at the same time, and two: mummy and daughter’s catching up time are suddenly available! (it’s a win win!) So considering the tea prep time as well, my studio time is VERY (please emphasise here!) limited. 

To make the best of time available, it requires really good planning. So how do I do it? Well, my current tactic is 

“not to plan too much”. 

I used to plan a lot in a day, trying to make the most of my studio day. This was actually much worse than not planning at all. Most of the time, I wasn’t able to complete it or ended up rushing. As a result, the quality wasn’t good, mistakes happened, breakage occurred, chaos in the studio and untidied tools left behind (which means I have to start with cleaning tasks when I next work, you know that dreadful feeling!). I became moody and most importantly my self esteem went down.

Due to the nature of materials, timing is crucial. Lots of extra care required too. Wrapping clay work here and there, checking every evening (as I cannot do this during the day because I’m working elsewhere) and sometimes night shift & weekend work comes in, which isn’t really ideal. All of this means very slow progress. 

Nevertheless, I think so far slow progress has been worth while after seeing some productions on my new “mazekoze”. Those layered bowls are much wider and shallower than before. I made them with a much bigger gap in between so that it gives a clear difference across the three sizes and hopefully gives each individual piece its own use, in a better way. 

I have also omitted the scraffitto surface design that I used to apply on plates and jugs. (photo below) Instead, I focused on its shape and glaze colour. Simpler version were quite well received in my Instagram, so I am pleased. 

I am currently working toward the forthcoming show in August and September. It seems to be a long away but it isn’t for a part-timer, so I must plan “reasonably” well and work hard! If you are a creative part-timer / mummy, and have got a tip that you are happy to share, I’m all ears! m x

2 April 2017

The best retreat ever!

My first ever flower arrangement in Sarah’s lovely cottage
Last Friday I had a rather special day attending the Cut Flower Patch workshop by Louise Curley & flower arrangement workshop organised by Sarah from Simply by Arrangement. My word, it was just a fantastic. I mean, everything - workshop, surrounding, food and people - was just perfect.

How it happened? Strange enough, it all started with Instagram. 

Since my daughter was born, our garden was the first thing that was omitted from our to do list. We were just too busy to look after one more thing. So the garden got tired and left to be gone wild. Three years on, as my little girl can possibly be a little helper (even for five minutes!), we decided it’s a time to pull our sleeves up and get back into the neglected chore. I then thought really hard what I really want to get out from our small garden and the answer for me was the cut flowers. I always like the idea of bringing some flowers from the garden into the house. Simple flowers give me a tremendous joy more than what you can buy from the shop. (and expensive!) So we restructured the garden patch last winter to suit for cut flowers and even bought a brilliant book called The Cut Flower Patch by Louise Curley. Just as I was thinking about how and what to plant, I’ve found this workshop information via Sarah’s Instagram feed just in time.

Sarah’s house in West Yorkshire were amazing, to almost overwhelmingly stunning. When I panicky arrived rather late after getting lost my way in the country lane unexpectedly, being served a cup of lovely coffee and handmade cakes to try calming myself down, my heart continued beating fast because of all that excitement from what I can see in my eyes. It was just breathtakingly awe. (and I wish I took photographs!) Between the workshop, we enjoyed a lovely meal made by Christie, Sarah's business partner. Their hospitality was beyond any arts & crafts workshops I ever attended. 

Louise showing us pricking technique
The first session was Louise’s cut flower patch workshop. As a reader of her book, I really wanted to get my hands on practically. I really liked her approach, very friendly, down to earth and no silly questions to be asked, as I guess all beginners have so many little things that you are not sure (don’t you?) and I had many. Lots of practicing seeding, pricking out and potting Dahlias (yes dahlias!). I must say I do enjoy touching soil, like clay I suppose, more than anything. Can’t wait to transfer these into our home garden. 

Sarah’s effortless flower arrangement
The second session was Sarah’s flower bouquet making. Sarah’s workshop was filled with gorgeous selection of flowers and foliage. She first showed us how to make a bouquet more free and spontaneous way within a hand without using any structural materials. I’ve never done any flower arrangement, certainly not without a vase. Well I must say it is not easy! She did it so effortlessly but I was finding it really hard to keep the shape in the air. Sarah eventually rescued me and my flower bouquet has managed to take a shape, Phew! 

The people attended the workshop were so lovely too. All came from different areas and different background but had a common interest to talk about. Strange in a way to meet people from Instagram but actually quite nice to share what we love in this way. Quite a buzzing experience I think. 

All in all (apart from the panicking morning), it was a wonderful retreat for me to spend such a lovely day with special people. Thank you Louise, Sarah and Christie. If you are interested in any workshop like this, please check out their site - you can almost smell the goodness and I am sure you will love it. 

18 March 2017

Clay College Stoke donation

Hello everyone. Today I donated one of my small porcelain lilypad (as pictured) for the fundraising auction towards Clay College Stoke, which was aiming to be opened this September. As you may know, sadly so many pottery courses were closed down in UK today, hence most of colleges have lost “hands-on” teaching method as they are more focusing on “concept” or simply destroyed “arts & crafts” departments from education as they were considered as “not important” in our life! Well, it is of course! 

Clay College will be a great opportunity to train required skills to a professional level. In order to keep our craftsmanship, those skills and knowledge need to be passed on to next generations now more than ever. (If I were younger with no baby, I would love to apply!) 

If you are interested in bidding, not necessarily my work but also there are so many wonderful work in this site, or even just to donate £10 or so, please go and check out the Facebook group called, Potters For Clay College (Pot Auction). Auction will run up to 10th April. 

Thank you so much for reading!  m x

25 February 2017

February round up

It’s nearly the end of February and I have not written one single blog post this month, so here is a bit of round up. 

Well, life has been busy as always, like everybody else with children, juggling your working days, house, kids and your own creative work, which for me is something has been left to the minimum at the moment unfortunately. Nevertheless, I have been working in the studio one day a week, practicing and refining the existing design of my work to make them more economical and effective to the time I can have now. Designs are now much more simple but still individual as “rakugaki” (spontaneous doodling) originally means. I hope you like my new larger size of mugs and side plates. It is still challenging to refine your skills within a limited time but I do enjoy a lot. 
(more work can be seen in my Instagram and Facebook)

As for my ever growing girl, things are brilliant health wise, all doing so well. Her speech is coming along so fast, in English of course but also in Japanese, which she has never been that pushed but seems to be soaking up so quickly! 

cardboard box is the best!
Keeping her occupied all day is a hard work for mum but I am also learning how to make your day best each day, by listening to her coming out with lots of affectionate expressions and her own story telling. It is such a magical time of her life, I must say. And of course, for me too. 

Spring is almost here. I can’t wait to see those bulbs to bloom! m x

30 January 2017

Thank you for your help!

I just wanted to say thank you again for those who visited my open studio earlier this month and made kind donations. I have recently received an official receipt from the hospital so I thought it’d be only fair to share with you. 

It’s difficult to decide which organisation you choose to donate money to, as there are so many worthy causes. The reason I decided Manchester Royal Eye Hospital was from my personal experience through my daughter’s medical history. It is personal but hopefully will be a little help to many other families like us in the future. 

As some of my regular blog readers might be aware of this, but our daughter Sabrina was born with a very rare eye condition called Peter’s Anomaly, for which there is no cure. She was basically blind. Doctors at the local hospital could not identify her condition, until a specialist diagnosed her later on. Sabrina was immediately put on drugs to control her eye pressure and referred to Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, where specialist doctors and equipment are in place. 

She had two major eye operations including a cornea transplant at the age of three months. This carried very high risk of loss of her eye but thankfully she was one of the lucky one and has developed some eye sight. Sabrina will continue to carry the risk of rejection and pressure controlled medications for her life time, however, with support from Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, she is maintaining her good condition today. 

Manchester Royal Eye Hospital trains doctors in special area such as hers. People’s kind donation will help them bring more doctors on board. Thank you again everyone! m x

8 January 2017

New Year Open Studio & Sale

Thank you so much for those who came to my first ever Open Studio & Sale this Saturday. 

It was lovely to catch up with some old friends and meet new faces. It was such a great turn out. Having been so busy than I expected, I’d completely forgotten to take any photos on the day! Instead, I have collected some images from the day before to share with you, especially those who could not make it. 

3% of sales will be donated to Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and Children’s Hospital, in the hope of helping children who require specialist doctors and equipment to treat rare but severe medical condition, like our daughter.

So many pots happily went to new homes and we have raised lots of donation, so thank you so so much! m x

2 January 2017


A Happy New Year to you all! 

Unlike my usual state, last year’s resolution “reopening the studio door” was happily achieved, so I am well chuffed. 

As for this year, I’d love to say “concentrating in the studio work more”, but this will come with life balance and negotiation with other commitments, so for now let me say “a little more moving forward”. And “good health”, that’s everything! 

How about you? 

Today I emptied the shelf and the cabinet top, getting ready for Open Studio & Sale this Saturday. It'll be held in our home, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire. If you are near by, please call at. For more info, please email me to makikohastings@gmail.com 

m x