© 2016 by The Crafthood.  Newcastle & Durham, UK

The Crafthood Ltd

Co No: 11988590

Review - Ceramic Workshop from Cobalt & Lustre

February 14, 2018


We often describe ourselves as craft magpies and are always on the lookout for exciting creative workshops and events.  


We came across Megan Randall who runs Cobalt and Lustre through our connections with Thought Foundation.  Megan's work is sold in their shop and having bought a few pieces we've been long admirers; she then exhibited at our Thoughtful Night Market in December (We're hoping that she is available for the Summer Edit too)!  So, when we heard about the workshop 'Breakfast Mugs and Lovely Jugs' we were sold!


Megan has many strings to her bow; Cobalt and Lustre from which she sells beautiful products, teaches and leads workshops and also more concept lead work through www.meganrandall.com


The workshop was held in the Brain Space room at Thought Foundation.  Everything was well set up and ready for the workshop guests when we arrived, this immediately let us know that we were in safe hands and it was no mean feat given the amount of kit that was involved!!


Megan introduced herself and told us a little about the material we would be using.  There was a few examples of finished items to look at and Megan impressed on us that there is no right or wrong.  For me a great thing was that we pretty much got straight into working with the clay.  We decided if we were going to make a jug or mug and then chose from a choice of vessel's as the guide for our pieces. 


There was loads of choice and I went for a tall and pretty wide cylinder to create a big jug!  This meant that I needed to roll my clay quite large, I ended up with a strange cloud shaped piece of clay and should probably have concentrated on making it into more of a rectangle, the result was that Megan had to add a couple of pieces to ensure my jug would be the right size. Oh well, always learning!


The workshop was in stages so we didn't complete one full piece at a time.  This was to allow the clay to dry to the right consistency to work with it at the next stage.  Megan described the levels of dryness likening them to different cheeses - a woman I can totally get on board with #cheeselover!


 Whilst the clay for the larger piece was drying we started making some coasters and a small bud vase.  This allowed us to learn a little about decoration.  For this Megan had an enviable array of Indian Print Blocks.  As we run Block Parties (Block printing events) I was really keen to hear about them as they are an expensive commodity. Megan told me they are around 10p each in India; knowing how much we pay for them in the UK, I feel a Crafthood trip to India coming on!!


As with everything we did Megan highlighted that straight lines and 'perfection' are difficult to make in this type of ceramics. This completely suits my style (not being one for templates and uniformity); it meant that I had two differently shaped coasters.  I didn't manage to get them the same thickness throughout and if I were to make them again I'd definitely spend a little time on this as I ended up creating uneven coasters which aren't great in terms of function.  They look pretty though!


The bud vases we made were gorgeous and they gave us an excellent opportunity to practice some of the skills needed for our bigger piece. Specifically block printing, scratching, using slip and creating a join.  It was also where we first got to use the different glazes.  


Using the glazes was my favourite part of the workshop; I have previously done some glazing where the colour you are applying is completely different to the colour produced after firing.  With Megan's glazes the colour used was a pretty good representation of the final colour; this made it a lot easier to visualise what the finished piece would look like.


The last thing to work on was the Jug, it was a very similar experience to making the bud vase but on a larger scale.  I also got to make a spout! This was a cool experience as you see something moving from form to functionality, I was pretty chuffed with my spout and attaching it gave me a chance to learn some new skills around cutting out the clay and smoothing the join.

I decided that I wasn't going to attach a handle to my jug as knew that I wanted to use it as a paint brush pot.  However watching Megan make an example of a handle was amazing.  You realise the deft hands and skill that is required and next time I would definitely have a go at making something that needed a handle.  Finally we decorated our pieces, I used a palette of varying shades of blue across my pieces (blue and white are total Crafthood favourites).  As the jug was going to be used to store paint brushes I used a fork tool to create brush stroke style texture then went over them with the dark blue glaze.



From start to finish the workshop was relaxed, informative and practical.  Our finished pieces were ready for collection a week after the event.  Unfortunately one of my coasters had cracked and also my jug has a small crack which means it's not watertight; however my paintbrushes are now happy in their new home!


I'd heartily recommend Megan and her workshops; they are reasonably priced and an excellent way to spend a couple of hours.  



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