We've had a busy few days but it's all been good. We left for The Hand of Flowers straight after work on Thursday evening, this was our room.

We meet Tom and had a quick chat before going in for dinner which was amazing and we got birthday messages on our puds!

After dinner we got to see the kitchen and meet this guy Nick who is the head chef and talked bowls and boards with him, nice guy.

Had our first lie in for months, still up at half eight but that felt like ages! And had my first day off for ages, actually did no work which hasn't happened for months, spent the day at The Cotswold Wildlife Centre which was fab, beautiful grounds and loads of animals.

They have this amazing giraffe house which you walk above the height of the giraffes so you get really close, close enough to touch if you were allowed!

And then home, straight back to work, set up the stand so could pack what is needed for The Bake Off at Brompton Cookery School, outside Shrewsbury with Marcus Bean.. 

Off for a lie down! Stroll on tomorrow!

We walked out in a moody early evening to take a look at the latest tree Jon has got for the business, I don't think you could get materials much closer to home, through the first field, cross two more and there it is.

A massive oak tree that came down in the winter storms. It's a beautiful piece of timber, really straight.

The dogs took the chance to have a dip whilst we were there

More of the length and branches, this tree will get planked and left to season before we can make it into products.

And home in a the last of the sunshine.

Here are some lovely photo's taken by my friend, I'll add his website details when he sends me them!
The set above as you know are available on Country Living's General Store.

I'll be adding the Condiment Set above as time allows, seem to have full days and nights right now.

Below are the breakfast/soup bowls in the 'soft blue' and 'cornish ware' glazes. I particularly like these bowls. I like throwing them and eating from them, the depth is bang on for me but I know everyone has their own idea.

 I'm finalising in my mind how supplying chef's and catering businesses could work.

If you look back through previous posts you'll see I make bowls in all sorts of sizes, dipping bowls, tapas, breakfast, vegetable serving and large salad/fruit bowl.

I'm going to measure the sizes again and offer businesses the opportunity to select the sizes they want in the clay and glaze finishes they prefer, this is exactly how Tom Kerridge orders and it makes sense.

They can then choose the clay body, buff, white or black and the internal glaze finish, soft white, shiny white, clear, blue, gloss brown etc. There's also the possibility to make specific shapes etc.

It's an idea that's brewing but when I meet my next Chef I'm going to talk it through more, but it's all possible,  I will have to have a minimum order number of bowls in any given clay, ten say, as the wheel will need cleaning each time I change clay but it gives everybody loads of options.

There's also the idea of small tokens when the meal is finished, like the smallest version of these Christmas hearts. There was a restaurant near us that used to give the ladies little presents at certain times of the year, Xmas, Mother's Day, Valentines etc and it was a great personal touch. I could make the small tokens for the same idea.

Any other ideas anyone?

 My Jon's been using one of the ammonite tokens as a key ring, maybe that could be a Father's Day present?

I've got the first half of Tom's order done and the second half is biscuit firing tonight but I'll either post that or take it down in a few weeks.

Whilst we are yet to have Christmas I found some time today to start on a limited run of Valentine day hearts. On the back of each one is Sytch Farm Studios and a number.

I'm only going to make a hundred of these and each one will be numbered. These pictures show them as still wet so they will change through the firing process.

For Valentines Day 2014 they are going to be made in the buff clay with white stoneware doves. The doves will really stand out once the oxide has been added.

I made thirty five today and will make more later this year but I wanted to get some ready for photos and promoting now I know how far ahead  magazines and advertisers work. I'll add finished photos when they are ready and number one is already reserved!

Meet Bob, he's a Brahma chicken, we actually think he might be a proper boy but it's too early to tell, more about Bob later.

I've had a busy few days throwing the last of the order for Tom, sore back and sore fingers but all done, after turning the last pot I had a really good clean out, including the wheel, it hasn't looked this clean for a long time! I'm practically out of throwing clay too so need to get an order in.

I've been using one of the tables from the stand to cope with the amount of work. Hoping to get loads of biscuit firings completed to move it out and get some space back!

I did have a little time off on Saturday morning to go and collect an few early birthday presses. It's become a bit of a tradition to have new chickens as a present, it started with 3 birds who we named after the people who gave them to us, Mandy and Barry, and for no good reason, Jeff. That was a few years ago and unfortunately they are no longer with us. Last year I got given Hattie and Milly, buff Orpington's and this year a real treat, we collected five Brahmas.

Brahams are the biggest chickens you can get, they will grow up to two foot tall! The little one below is small just because she's the youngest, I couldn't resist her for her colour and markings. I've called her Marilyn.

This pretty lady is Hilda.

And at the back of the pack in grey is The Professor, Jon's bird! 

They are settling in well, like sweet corn and are defending themselves against bossy little Mrs Jones who thinks she rules!

Country Living General Store is now stocking my products!  I've been teaching all week and making in the evening and after that getting work loaded up or ready to go. These are the first products up loaded and just emptied a kiln full of them ready, will prep them ready later. 

Here's a set of Christmas decorations, each one is hand made and hand decorated and because of these processes each one is unique. They're made from high fired stoneware clay and as a result will be a keep sake forever. I've used some before now as little gift tags too. You can buy a set for £10.00 from the store plus postage, mum, there's a set on it's way to you right now xxx

Below is a set before the red ribbon is added and they are packed in little bags.

This is what they look like before they go into the kiln for the second firing. The surfaces are treated with a secret recipe mixture of oxides. This brings out all the layers of texture and detail and enhance the look of depth in the pieces. They are delicate when they are being made and when drying but once they have had their first 'biscuit' firing they are much stronger. The final firing takes them up to 1260 degrees and gives them their 'stoneware' qualities. I've had some pieces of work I've made sitting outside for years, my mum's got a right mixture of bit's dotted around her garden so it goes to show how strong they are without being heavy.

Here's one of the larger one's ready for firing. These are all Christmas related and I've had some cute tags made to go with them but I'm hoping later today to get some good photo's of the floral pieces I make and up load those onto Country Living's General Store.

I've got a place booked in the Art cabinets at Shrewsbury Art Gallery and Museum for January to early February and already have designs for a range of 'Valentine' gifts with tags saying 'Be mine Valentine' which should hopefully go well and then it's on to Mother's Day. 

I'm also planning a range of  baby presents and need to get making the horse shoes again!

Here's a set of 'Cornishware' bowls fresh out the same kiln. These are already sold which is a nice feeling but I'm running out of space! Off now to pack, fire, move stuff, make and throw, lots to do in the next few days, all good!