Two weeks to the Min.

Once upon a time, with Miniatura looming I just got up and sat down and worked.  I can’t do that anymore.  If I don’t move around I seize up.  So I have been doing a bit of gardening.

This year I did zonal pelargoniums, commonly known as geraniums, in the bed that is beside the pavement.  Many people have commented while I have been in the front garden, dealing with the library or gardening.  The latest was a little boy, probably about six or seven, running up the road.  He paused briefly for a look.

‘Good flowers’ he said, ‘red.’


He was right.  They’re even redder close up.


Outside of the front door, they’re pink.


I wouldn’t want you to think I am slacking and just swanning around the garden, although I do have some plants that were absolutely free, arriving as seeds in my butternut squash.


This was a few days ago, they are now out of the bed and up the side path, I do love a free plant.

I have not just lived in the garden.  A lot of Miniatura work is occurring, but slowly.  It can take a week to dress a couple of dolls in twelfth scale, like these new ladies.


‘What are you going to do with him, Monica?’

‘I don’t know.  I was just standing on this doll stand, minding my own business and then he turns up and sits on my foot.  What do you think he is?’

‘Well, he’s got wings, so he’s not a dog.  I dunno, some sort of dragon?’

Back to work.  for tickets and information.


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Things for the Min.

I was going to think of a snappier title than ‘Things for the Min’ but as the subject matter is things for the Min, that might be the right title.

If you have found me via the link from Miniatura, hello and welcome.  Before the show I plan to show you my new stuff, if I get a chance.  I am a bit old fashioned, I take photographs with a camera (I know, so quaint) which involves a bit of work to get them on screen, it’s all time I could be making rather than showing, so there will be just a few previews.

However, some items are already ready and raring to go.  If you have joined me via the link you’ll be aware of the new dragons.  I had a bright idea, I thought we just needed dragons.  As it’s me doing the modelling and inventing, they are going to be cute.


You may have seen them in the Miniatura email, sitting on a plug.


The three on the pins and the floor have turning heads.  The one on the top pin is sitting on a pile of books, ideal for a library.  The one on the floor is very interested in everything,


and the one on the top was the first one I sculpted and he just came out very nice.  I think he might be a juvenile.


These little items are china painted porcelain.  They have had five firings in the kiln and will, consequently, look like that for hundreds of years.  If they get a bit dusty, wash them.

There is also a new thatched cottage, which is a box.


You could put it on your doll’s house mantelpiece and keep things in it.

Quite small things probably.

Like everything I’ve ever done, you can get to my table at the show, (I am M5, like the motorway) have a good look and then actually pick things up.  Please be careful with the dragons with turning heads (I may sticky wax them on) and the thatches off the cottages, but I know you are a miniaturist and love tiny things, so have a good look.  I do appreciate visitors who request their children who have sticky fingers, not to touch.  There will be a bottle of hand disinfectant on the table, please feel free to avail yourself of that.

Freedom to touch does not apply to all exhibitors, some people have glass cases, or do not like you touching their work. You should always ask before getting your itchy mitts on things.  Many years ago (about 35) I was at a different show, new and wet behind the ears.  I spied upon a stand the most terrific, tiny, three drawer chest.  As I had gone with someone and wanted to show it to them, without asking the stand holder, or even introducing myself, I just grabbed it off the table and made off into the crowd, crowing: Look at this!  This is amazing!  The poor stand holder aged about three years, had kittens and all the kittens had heart attacks.  Of course I went back and bought it, but she didn’t know I was going to do that, poor woman.

I would rather at my stand that you didn’t make off into the crowd, but you most certainly can pick things up and have a good look.  One visitor, when encouraged, remarked: You just want me to fall in love with it.  Whilst this would be a desirable outcome, I really would like you to have a good look.  In all the years I interviewed artists working in miniature I learned that the price has very little to do with the quality of the miniature.  Have a good look and ask yourself some questions.  1) How easy would it be to make this yourself?  Does it require special tools or materials?  2)  How good a miniature is it; if it is in period and you are shopping for a specific house, how accurate is it?  3) How durable is the material?  If you are making an heirloom house, how long will this last and 4) the most important – how badly do you want it?

I could write you a very long list of all the great stuff I missed at shows because of things that did not fit with the house I was shopping for.  I have a lot of houses but, after over three decades in the hobby I have a little collection on my mantelpiece of things I love that I bought just because I love them and they are tiny and lovely and a very good little piece of art.  They were all bought at Miniatura.  Some were bought from artists who loved the show and made an effort to exhibit but then had to stop, for family reasons, or geographical reasons.  Some of the artists are no longer on the planet.  I love the miniatures in my houses, but these are special things, bought for love.

If you would love to be there and find things you will love forever you may wish to visit where you can buy the tickets.  I have been taking my grandchildren to various attractions over the summer and can tell you with great authority that you won’t get much change out of fifty quid per person for most of the good ones.  Now go and have a look at the ticket prices for the Min and be very pleasantly surprised.  Just like the prices of some of the art for sale, the ticket prices do not reflect the first class quality of the show.

It’s epic!


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It is 15 years since you were first able to read this column.  If you are a reader who has stayed with me for 15 years, thank you! was begun to help artists exhibiting at Miniatura.  At the time I was writing for magazines and had been abandoning my own table for over a decade to interview other artists for various publications.  The magazine articles were good for Miniatura, because you could see what was on show and if there was anything you were particularly interested in.  The articles were good for the artisans, because they were publicity; collectors enjoyed reading about their favourites.  They were good for visitors, both those who could get to the show, and those who could not.  There was one problem, which was the lead-in time for the magazines. It typically took six months from the interview to publication.  About a month of that would be my fault, I never published anything that the artisans had not approved of.  In the days before the Internet, that meant revised writings going back and forth in the post.  I was happy to do it; I didn’t want to make factual errors or represent the artists in any ways they did not wish.  Then there would be a couple of months of editing and fitting in the articles to different issues of the magazine, which always had to be varied and interesting, then the photographers did their bit and eventually the printers and binders.  Finally a lovely glossy keepsake magazine emerged.

However, the artisans complained that as publicity the magazines were failing them.  Not only did six months mean that they had moved on and were making something else, the latest and greatest was frequently bought without anyone but the buyer (and some buyers at the show were so fast off the mark at the opening they were just a blur – and still are), seeing it.

Up popped the Internet and email and suddenly I had a way of letting collectors see all the newest collectables, and makers show what they had made just a few days before the show.

Naturally this was a popular move.  It is still the case that if you are exhibiting at the forthcoming Miniatura, if you email me a picture and a few words, I’d be happy to tell the world.  This has fallen into abeyance somewhat over the last few years because of the lockdown and my ill health, but I am now up and running and ready to help.

Although the blog started for Miniatura exhibitors and visitors, readers of various magazines for which I had written, quickly found me and asked for writing on topics other than miniatures.  I was often asked for ‘something that lasts as long as a cup of tea, ideally free.’  As this is also my idea of fun, I was delighted to oblige, hence such items as Knickerbocker Glory and The Parrot has Landed.

I was happily writing for magazines, making my own porcelain items and exhibiting at Miniatura, when the wheel came off a bit.  My father died, so I became carer for my mother with suspected dementia, quickly confirmed.  As my adopted mother was a very difficult person anyway and lived a good hour and a half away in a fast car, the caring took over my life,  the magazine writing had to go, though I held grimly on to Miniatura, despite the best efforts of my mother, who was always extra difficult at show time.  I realised that my worst times were after a dreadful day caring for my mother when there was no one around to let off steam with, and all professionals had safely left the surgery or office.  Thinking that other carers might have the same problem, I began to blog the Dementia Diaries and got a response from all over the world.  If caring for someone demented is the dish filling your plate, you most definitely are not alone.  I initially assumed the Diaries would end with the demise of my mother, over five years later, but other friends and relatives became ill and so the topic continued.  Although this is not the most cheerful topic for a blog, I felt, as the blog was started to help people, it was justified.  When I became very ill when the stress of the caring job was over, I felt it was even more justified, especially if by writing, I can prevent someone else, lost in the trackless wastes of the disease, from getting sick too.

At various points other interests have popped up, there was an online shop for a while (and still may be if the S&H will kindly teach his mother how to operate the empty shop which he invented at the top of the page.)  There’s been a bit of verse – I was a published child poet, regularly won competitions and considered it as a career until common sense and the strong desire to eat and live somewhere intervened.

And there’s quite a bit of me being silly, and gardening, and things to make (because I feel very strange if I have a day in which I do not make something, though potting on and cakes count too.)

Of course the most important feature of Jane Laverick .com, and yes this is my real name, is not Jane at all.

It’s you!

It would be pretty pointless writing if nobody read it.  People from the UK, where I live, and all over the place have read and responded. Miniaturists, Miniatura visitors, carers, people who just like to read something free and funny for as long as it takes to drink a cup of tea and anyone who finds me by accident.  I have never advertised or allowed adverts on the site.  If you have found me by chance, congratulate yourself on your serendipity.

As always, if you have something to say just click on ‘leave a comment’ below and I’ll get back to you.

I enjoyed this fifteen years of writing for you, I am glad there are miniaturists, carers and people who still like reading, in the world.  If you are new to this blog, clicking on any of the categories in the right hand column will take you back in time.  There’s fifteen years worth of reading there, because this is the blog where you can time travel with a cup of tea without spilling a drop.


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The Min.

Unreasonable joy.  ’Tis a month to the Min.

If you go the the Miniatura website, you will discover quite a lot about the show, but you will have to wait until next week to see the floor plan.  We love the new venue at Stoneleigh but it has a few, very few, disadvantages.  We know from previous shows that any cash machines are in the banks onsite and closed and not accessible at the weekend.  We know that the antidote to that is A) the easy one – bring plenty of actual money (I am telling you this at the start of the month, very deliberately before you go spending it on unnecessary stuff like food.)  B) is – in desperate need, the Farmer’s Market shop at the entrance to the venue will give you change for a small purchase with a card, (but I didn’t tell you this.)  Long ago when I was just a visitor I used to arrive with emergency money in various underwear locations and the lining of my handbag.  I was  always surprised to get down to my socks which happened invariably.  It’s Miniatura, every exhibitor is selected, you are going to want everything.  I always did.  Still do.

The only other inconvenience is that exhibition halls on the site are limited, we’ve got hall 1, which is a big hall but has a limitation on numbers for safety reasons.  The show is growing again since the lockdown.  Tickets are selling, they always do.  It would be awful to miss out, so rush off to and get your ticket while there are some.  The previous venue had bigger halls, so extra people could be squeezed in but it also had car parks flipping miles away.  This lovely venue has car parking right outside the hall.  All on the level, flat as a pancake.  Car door to hall door in a minute, brilliant.

That’s it for now, I’m off to see to the kiln, I have a new range of porcelain ornaments about to have their fifth firing, I’ll show you when they are done.

Unreasonable joy!


Are you good at maths?  Visit and look at the ticket prices, especially the weekend tickets that give you entry both days………..for how much?


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A tad knackered.

Just a bit.  We returned the GDD to her parents yesterday and I am at the interesting stage of falling asleep when I sit down.

The night before she went home the GDD did not sleep because she didn’t want to go home, but knew she was going.  So I didn’t sleep because she didn’t sleep.

Earlier in the week her very ailing cat went the long journey.  Having received this news, she found sleep fugitive, so therefore, so did I.  Yet in the daytime she was still wide awake and full of questions of the ‘What are we going to do next?’ variety.

We did the castle, the park, the shops, more shops, visiting next door’s dog, visiting chickens, rubber stamping, going to the old church, clothes shopping, going back to the second shop to get another bag with a mystery thing in it different from the first mystery thing, shopping for clothes in another shop, the good sweet shop, the other sweet shop and competitive drawing.

It was quite a steep learning curve.  We now know why people in the middle ages did not live as long as people now.  This was because the toilets (which were a wooden board with a hole in them)  were over the same river the drinking water came from, and the doctors thought if you wore a special hat you wouldn’t get sick. We learned that if you can keep still and not bounce around, the dog will be less wildly excited and  not bark so much.  We learned a load of hints and tips for the Minecraft game we had left somewhere at home off You Tube and we learned to close the sun room door (now known as the sunshine room) because one of us is driven mad by the incessant commentary of the lady with the loud voice.  One of us also learned the folly of dressing a seven year old in a brand new, just bought, white top and then leaving her alone in the sunshine room with a packet of chocolate biscuits.

And we never stopped moving unless we were asleep and in between everything else we washed clothes every day because of the popularity of chocolate biscuits.  We also made cakes and iced them and stuck unicorns on top to take home.  One of us washed several floors quite a few times and we talked about everything, from doctors to dying, to washing your hands and the extreme importance of not pooing in rivers.

And now I would like to sleep and be very quiet for quite a while.


One of us used to take a hundred and twenty seven year olds on a Friday afternoon so that other teachers could get a bit of prep done,  and then stay up late because it was Friday night and therefore the weekend.

Long ago in history, when the world was young.


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It is said that the first casualty of war is communication – any form of dementia is an assault on the brain, and, true to the saying, loss of effective communication can cause numerous extra difficulties, as if having the disease, or dealing with a sufferer, is not hard enough.

SMIL (for new readers my step-mum-in-law, seventh family member or friend diagnosed with dementia) has lost her words over the last year and can now only make noises.  I still telephone her every day but it  is not just her inability to respond that causes problems.  The care home, a business run in a large old building with annexes, modern added wings and a variety of all-era features, is inadequately staffed, and the last manageress, who was profit sharing, left, taking the mobile phone with her.

Realising that SMIL is dependant on the good will and professionalism of the over-stretched staff, I have attempted to befriend anyone who answers the phone, not just for SMIL but genuinely because I believe anyone doing such a difficult job deserves courtesy and respect.  This ensures that the start of the conversation will be cheerful, polite and useful, even if it goes downhill later on.

SMIL was moved from a downstairs mixed gender wing, after several incidents when a man resident exposed himself and forced SMIL to touch him.  In turn this made her very aggressive, the cause of which she could not vocalise.  She is now up some huge Victorian stairs in a large Victorian bedroom of her own.  When I telephone, someone has to rush up the massive staircase to see what state SMIL is in, dash back downstairs and, when they get their breath back, report to me.  If SMIL is in suitable mode they will shepherd her to the lift, get her down stairs to the office and help her to hold the phone and listen.  On a very good day I can get her to laugh.  On a bad day she throws the phone, either away or at.

There is a walkie talkie system available so that a member of staff down stairs can ask a member of staff upstairs how stands the world with SMIL, but no one is allowed to use it until there has been staff training, which they don’t have time or staff for.

If you have got this far and you are a regular Dementia Diaries reader (hello, how are you holding up?), you know my views on placing a family member in a care home too soon.  Someone in their own home for as long as possible avoids nine out of ten of the above difficulties.  Care homes are full of people who need care and are often, aggressive, insane, hysterical and disturbed.  That’s why they are there.  Whatever problems your demented person has, placing them in a care home will undoubtedly add to them.

In dementia, when the first noticeable defect is memory loss, successful strategies throughout the disease often involve taking account of this defect and accommodating it.  For someone with dementia, something new is often very difficult to make sense of.  Old memories are stored in a different part of the brain from new memories and are more easily accessed and understood.  Therefore a very predictable daily routine helps the sufferer to know what is going on and be less aggressive in the face of bewildering new developments.  If you are the carer, aim for clockwork boring as soon as possible after diagnosis.

When I talk to SMIL I have a recipe for the one-sided conversation that is set like cement.  First there is a greeting, often repeated until the noises coming the other way indicate recognition.  Then there is a segment about the weather, because I’m British and so is SMIL, then there is a plentiful helping of what I’m doing currently, what family members are up to and finally a heaping helping of the grandchildren.  They are my grandchildren and therefore SMIL’s step great grandchildren.  They are seven and six.  Then there is an enquiry about SMIL’s  health.  I instituted a system early on:  I ask if SMIL is in pain anywhere and I ask her to make a noise if she is and then I wait. If there is a noise response I go through a brief list, based on my knowledge of what might be wrong.  SMIL has had a hip replacement and a knee operation, either of which can cause pain in cold weather, she has had a prolapse, caused by constipation (which is exacerbated by some medication and constant immobility) and is now incontinent, which can cause skin irritation.  I ask questions slowly and gently, in appropriate and polite language.  I ask if SMIL would like me to get someone to help and if she would take some medicine. If there is a response I never fail to report it to the office after the conversation and make sure by polite and non accusatory follow-up (bearing in mind the staffing levels)  that action has been taken.

Back at SMIL I end the conversation with expressions of love from all and sundry and say goodbye several times and wait; occasionally SMIL is able to say ‘bye for now’ back again.

The telephone calls have a couple of purposes.  First and most importantly they remind SMIL that she is not forgotten and still part of a family.  Imagine how you would feel if you discovered you had a worsening brain disease that was going to kill you, and then you were abandoned by your family or friends.  You can take half of that pain away by staying in contact, regularly, remembering that memory loss is part of the disease but that clockwork boring is the antidote to that.

The second important purpose is to find out if someone who cannot express themselves, is in pain.  The staff are busy and, in her right mind, SMIL was very much the sort of person who didn’t like to bother the doctor, or who would put up with a headache, hoping it would go, rather than take a pill. She is on permanent painkillers but changes in the brain could make them ineffective. To make this communication useful, and ensure SMIL has the confidence to tell me if there is a problem, I always follow up.  SMIL knows by boring repetition that if she tells me there is a pain somewhere, someone will do something about it.  This in turn makes her less aggressive and easier to deal with, which has beneficial implications for the staff caring for her.

I send cards I have made, family photographs and sweets every week. I am told the cards are all around SMIL’s bedroom, she has only to look to know she is not forgotten.

I find bad phone calls distressing sometimes.  I do breathing exercises to calm myself, I do a workout, I get out in the garden.  I am living with an alcoholic, on a bad day I can be upset on the phone, put the phone down and be verbally attacked in the house.  Anyone surrounded by difficult people needs to find ways of diffusing stress that work for them.  A hobby, something creative, physical effort, meditation, another place to put your weary head.

Helping demented people does not get easier, everyone is an individual, even in dementia, and and can react in unusual and unexpected ways.  I am told that SMIL bites and scratched the carers; she was the last person in the world you would ever think would do such a thing.  I always apologise to the carers on SMIL’s behalf, because she would do that in her right mind.

And that’s what it’s all about really, using your mind which is working right to help someone whose mind is working wrong.  Doing whatever beneficial thing you do as a habit so that your sick person knows that in a bewildering world they can depend on you.

If you read Dementia Diaries because this is your problem, you are in there bravely tackling the problem and haven’t run away.  This makes you a good human being.  Well done, good human, if you’d like to email me and let off some steam just click on ‘Leave a comment’ below.


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The dog days of August.

In theory ended two days ago.  They have nothing to do with dogs being hot, or hot dogs, or your dogsies barking because they are hot.  They are to do with the rising of Sirius the dog star and were named by the ancient Romans, who were accustomed to leave Rome in the dog days, not least to escape the mosquitoes swarming from the marshes around Rome.

It’s amazing that a name gifted to us by people who brushed their teeth with urine and goat milk has stuck and better that the name should stick than the urine and goat milk, though what do we know?* It’s a mere half century since the television adverts enticed us with: You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.

Covid is on the rise again.  The doc next door has it and the S&H is trying to get over it. Apparently it is thought to be linked to stress.

Stress, now there’s a thing.  I don’t remember anyone having stress when I was a child.  I do not remember my father ever saying he was stressed out, despite being married to my mother.  I think stress must be a modern invention.  Quite recent, I believe.  I don’t think I had any stress as a young teacher in the Seventies.  I worked for five years in a school that was designated as being in an Educational Priority Area, just as I was leaving.  Then the staff were given extra wages to persuade them to stay, which most were going to do anyway, mainly because they lived nearby.  My first teaching practice, in a really difficult area, might have been called stressful.  One day a child pulled a knife on me and held the point an inch above my hand.  I just took it off him and asked what the problem was.

I’m not currently stressed, I’m lethargic.  Maybe I’m sickening for something.  Perhaps I’m annoyed that my skin, this summer, is too waterlogged to get a suntan.  There’s a load of stuff I could get on with but I just can’t be bothered. On the other hand the OH is off all day doing archery, so maybe I’ve just relaxed.  There are things I need to do.  There’s a load of miniatures needing china painting.  I should get out between the showers and garden.  I should write a blog, oh, I’m doing it.

Read a book?  Write a book?  Make some cards?  Have a cup of tea?

Can’t be bothered.  It’s the dog days of August, you see.  Well, it was.  Now it’s the hangover of the dog days of August.  It’s a week to the arrival of the GDD.  It’s the S&H’s 42nd birthday.  It’s the time in between.

Nothing is happening on the news, either.  Of course it isn’t, the politicians who make so much news by being objectionable and annoying are on holiday. The papers are full of silly season rubbish.  What ever happened to the mystery newspaper person who would haunt the traditional British seaside resorts, who you had to approach with the relevant newspaper under your arm and say: You are Mystery Harris of the Daily Trumpet and I claim my five pounds!  Remember that?

I should perhaps have rolled my elastic bandages up my legs, tucked my dress into my bloomers and be standing ankle deep in the sea.

That’s what the dog days are for!

Bit tricky here inland.


*What I would really like to know is: your urine or someone else’s?

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One of us is exhausted.  Who is it?  Is it you or the other one…me.  Me, I’m the other one.  What was I on about?  Let’s of us..

Oh yes, one of us is absolutely knackered, gone, had it.

Once upon a time when I was a teacher of seven year olds and team teaching, upon a Friday to let other teachers prepare for the next week I took a class of 120 seven year olds, some of whom would grow up to be criminals (it was that sort of area, nothing to do with the teaching), all on my own, for over an hour.  All perfectly behaved, interested and busy.

The world was young then and it was long ago.

Now one six year old, highly intelligent, to whom I am related, is exhausting.

It wasn’t meant to be a week, it was meant to be a few days to see how he got on far from Mummy and Daddy but then Daddy got Covid badly so we kept the GDS here for a week and took him back today.

It has been a great week and I have loved every minute.  I was responsible.  I did not do as my Uncle Harry did, who had perfected the art of winding up any kid until it was on the verge of being sick with excitement and then handing it back to the parents, who were under the illusion that they had had a little time off and were rested.

We did a lot.  We did the castle, the park, the good sweet shop, the toyshop, the park, walking next door’s dog, cartoons, making cards, more park, clothes shopping, sending postcards, the nice big food shop, the even better food shop, getting up at the crack of dawn, and sleeping alone in a bedroom.  (Especially me.)

But now I am tired.  I am so tired I may fall asl


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Upcoming radio silence.

There is going to be a bit of upcoming radio silence.  You can tell because it’s in the title.

The grandson is coming to stay on his own for a little while. The duration of the visit is up to him.  His parents will deliver him and when he wants to go home he will say so and we will take him.

How the interim will pan out and for how long, I will let you know in time.

I currently think it is a very good idea for children to stay with grandparents away from home as part of their developmental skills set and a confidence builder generally.

If I still hold these views after the visit, I will let you know.

A trip to the castle is on the cards, it’s a very good castle.

Everything else we will decide when we decide it.  What we decide I will let you know.

It is a little more difficult when grandparents live far away.  I never stayed with my far away grandparents, who were very strange.

We might be very strange.  I will let you know.

I do know I loved staying with my grandmother in the same town, a few streets away.  I stayed on a Saturday night and we went to church on Sunday.  She was very good at keeping children entertained with the simplest of things.  Flour and water glue for scrapbooks.  Walking in step and then suddenly breaking step to make you laugh.  Telling stories of her childhood.  I found a boxed set of Little House on the Prairie that I gave her and I read with her Lark Rise to Candleford because they were the era in which she grew up.  Her aunties had massive bustles under long dark dresses, she wore a white pinafore.  Every little thing about her childhood fascinated me.  She was a very good grandmother.

Will I be as good?  I will let you know.

Right now the kiln is on.  Will I be delighted to return to quietly doing porcelain in a few days?

I will let you know.

The only circumstance in which I will not let you know is if I am too knackered to tell you.  In which case you can email me to see if I have survived, and I’ll let you know.


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Pouring over my work.

Seasoned readers (hello) know exactly what that title means.  I am indeed pouring porcelain.

It’s one of those activities that you forget the difficulties of, when you haven’t done it for a while.  Once upon a time, thirty years ago, I would pour all day and do a last pour, which still had to be demoulded, after ten at night.  These days tend to be days.  I’ve had more than enough of standing in the kitchen by six o clock.  By then my dodgy knee is complaining, my feet are freezing, my hands are starting to crack and I’ve just had enough.  I stop because if you carry on when you are tired, the work you produce is not very good, so you end up chucking it anyway.

The things I am making are exponentially better than those I made thirty years ago.  The only thing better than thirty years of experience might be thirty one years of experience, I’ll tell you when I get there.

I am very aware of the perils of continuing beyond your physical limits.  I have interviewed very senior miniaturists who just got better and better, and a few who should have stopped some time ago.  I know my own work, prior to having my cataracts done, was not that wonderful.  Miniatures are small, you know.  Happily now I can see what I am doing.  I have seriously wonky fingers, which is mostly due to a lifetime of writing, but they work OK.  Ideas keep coming and I still enjoy the delight of being able to make a thought manifest.  I couldn’t do that at first, or indeed for some years.  One of the questions I used to ask craftsmen when interviewing them was: can you think of an object and then make it?  About half of them could, I  can in porcelain.  Strangely this works against you wanting to make things.  If you know you can do it, the interest in seeing your idea come to life is not quite the same as the early delights of, say, making all the joints on a doll work, so that the finished assembled doll did actually look like a doll and stand up.

I remember the first few times I opened the kiln to gaze at artefacts of my own imagination and manufacture.  Distortions from outer space just about covers it.  Fortunately fired porcelain, when attacked with a hammer, makes very good crocking for the bottom of flower pots, for drainage.

These days I make more than drainage.  Poured this week are three new dolls and several ornaments in a series of dragons.  I am really looking forward to china painting the dragons.  I do have a tendency to veer into the mythic, so one of the dolls is a new fairy.  Not this time, the sweet, little, play with the children, type of fairy; this is more the sort who would make you ring an exterminator, if you found you had them at the bottom of the garden. Less Cottingley, more pokingly and bitingly.

Right, enough chit chat, I have a date with clay.


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