Michelle's week-by-week report

Michelle's Week-by-Week Report

Week 1 - Commencing 19th December 2011
This week I have mainly been settling in. Emma has given me a tour of the studio,
explained the health and safety aspect to working in her studio and she has
taken me to some events. The first event was the Oxton Art Fair, held at Williamson Art
Gallery. The event was a collection of work from local artists, from
sculptures, painters, jewellery makers and textiles.
The second event was at the Cornerstone Gallery at Liverpool Hope University. The
event was a charity auction with the proceeds going to The Artist General
Benevolent Institution. This charity assists artists who are no longer
able to earn through illness, injury and old age. The charity also assists the
families of artists who have been widowed or orphaned. The auction
consisted of 76 postcards created by artist both from professional and amateur
backgrounds. Emma herself had a postcard in the auction. This is
something I hope to take part in next year, as I believe it to be a very good

Week 2 - Commencing 26th December 2011
Whilst working out a new layout for the studio that would allow me and Emma to work
side-by-side, I also assisted Emma with two of her commissions. One of the
commissions included learning about scaling work up.
We were also lucky to have two ex-racing greyhounds in the studio for an entire day. This
allowed us to work directly from the dogs into clay. The beautiful nature
of the dogs allowed for a lot of petting! This was great because we not
only got to see the dogs and the way they moved, but also got to feel the
joints, the build of their muscles and their overall structure.
As Emma was smoke firing some of her work she gave me a lesson on the subject, explaining
different techniques, different material and different effects that can be
This week I got conformation of my place on a newcomer’s stand at Art in Clay at Hatfield
House. I am very excited about this event, not only with the opportunity to
have such a large audience to see my work, but also to meet up with other
ceramicist. I love the atmosphere of Hatfield, my time as a helper this year
was so rewarding and I am very much looking forward to getting back there as an
I also moved into my new flat that Emma arranged for me. Bonny (my faithful hound) and I love

Week 3 - Commencing 2nd January 2012
After rearranging the making area of Emma's studio, we have been working on the more
industrial side of Emma's studio. These are two separated rooms, the industrial
area contained the glazing station, kiln and tools required to make stands. As
the area is such an industrial area containing materials and equipment that
should be treated with respect, Emma taught me about the Health and safety side
of running a studio.
Assisted Emma in a one-day workshop. The workshop was with a lady who organises a lot of
community programmes for local people through the Tranmere Rovers Football club.
Not only did I get to see how Emma teaches, we also discussed about
volunteering for some community projects, which could entail working directly
from the footballers in there training sessions and then teaching people how to
translate it into clay.
Emma has arranged for me to be in a group show with her in Imagine Gallery Sudbury. The
title of the show will be Hare of the Dog with work based on this theme, at
this point I know other makers taking part are Elaine Peto and Paul
Priest. This is a fantastic opportunity and Emma devised the idea of the Adopt
a Dog for Adopt a potter. This week I started on the first piece for Adopt a
Potter; the piece entails a fox with a pack of hounds making up the tail.

Week 4 - Commencing 9th January 2012
This weekconsisted of working in both the studio and working in the Castle Fine Arts
Foundry in Liverpool.
Emma had a customer over to the studio to choose between several pieces. It was good to
see how Emma works with customers on a one to one basis. I also got to work on
my own work next to Emma as she worked on a commission for a pet Jack Russell. We
also did a lot of research for a joint show between Emma and Elaine Peto. The
show will be based on the tales of the Brothers Grimm. It was great to research
ideas and have the chance to bounce ideas back and forth with Emma. The
research has given me a few ideas for my own work in the future. This week Emma
has also given me a lot of reading material on other artists, and during any
quiet periods I have full use of the studio for my own work.
Over in the foundry we worked on a twelve-foot dancer. The piece is based on a woman who
became a saint after hiding a hare under her gown from a prince who
was hunting the animal. Emma showed me how to create the large hare for the
piece out of found objects and wax. Emma explained the process behind bronzing
and how to translated sculptures made in clay into bronze. We also cast up wax
pieces that are for a show Emma has in Paris.
Emma also took me to a meeting of local makers called “with these hands”. It is a monthly
meeting of local artists from all backgrounds to discuss different aspects of
art. From arranging group shows to sharing information for art funding and
discussing the general pros and cons of being a maker. There are also
possibilities of being involved in future projects and shows with some of the
group members.

Week 5 - Commencing 16th January 2012
This week was split between working in three different places: the studio, the foundry
and a local school. I should say four separate places as I have found that
office work is important to becoming a successful ceramicist.
In the studio Emma worked on pieces for a show based on heroes. Emma chose Darwin to da
Vinci. I have been able to see how she researches ideas and how she
translates them into clay. As Emma worked on her pieces for her show, I got to
work on my own pieces for my show.
In the office we discussed keeping accounts, and what I needed to know about tax and VAT.
Emma also gave me a new contact for a photographer who is very good at
photographing sculptures. We also discussed over emails the itinerary for the
filming of a documentary that will be based on Emma. We also answered emails on
possibly teaching a one-day workshop with age concern. The idea of the workshop
would be to highlight the issues surrounding the early onset of dementia. We
would be working with people 40 years of age and older. This is a great
opportunity to gain teaching experience and to help a good cause.
In the foundry Emma taught me how to work into wax cast pieces that would eventually
be cast in bronze. Emma often gives tours of the foundry to customers and other
people she works with. I not only get to see how Emma works one-on-one, but get
to meet people who I may be able to work with in the future. We also sent parts
of the large dancer to one of the sister foundries to be poured.
Emma has been doing workshops in a local primary school based on nursery rhymes. This
week I got to accompany her to set up a display of the work she has done with
the children for important visitors to the school. We also looked at a location
in the school to create an instillation with the children's work. We discussed
the possible layout and how we could accomplish Emma’s ideas for the

Week 6 - Commencing 23rd January 2012
This week Emma and I worked alongside each other on our own work. As we work we get to
discuss ideas and techniques, general running of the studio and different shows
and galleries that may be good for me to apply to.
Emma gave me a demonstration on how to pack work to ship both nationally and internationally.
She explained different ways of getting work to galleries and shows, and the
paperwork involved when shipping abroad.
This week we also placed an order for clay, Emma showed me the most economical way of doing
this. She also showed me websites for several other suppliers and explained
which suppliers were good to order from for speed and those that are good on
Through discussions with Emma, John Foley at Imagine Gallery decided to have me
headline the ‘Hare of the Dog’ show. My work will be used on the front of the
invites, for which I feel extremely privileged, especially as this is my
first show.

Week 7 - Commencing January 30th 2012
This week we received an order of clay, Emma discussed with me the different properties of
the clays, what clays were suited to different styles of making and how to
combined different clays to get a particular surface quality.
In the studio this week I got to work on a piece called ‘John’. The piece is based on
a dog that was swept away by a tidal wave. All the villages believed they would
not see the dog again, until one year later the dog arrived back home; he now
hated water and loved fish. I like the idea of making pieces with a story
behind them, I like how much more engaged one can feel in a piece and have
noticed through observing Emma and customers discussing work that many people
like to have some form of connection to the work.
This week I also assisted Emma in preparing the studio for a workshop, with the Baroness of
Notting Hill Sally Greengross and her family. I got to assist Emma in the
class, and see how she teaches a small class of people.

Week 8 - Commencing February 6th 2012
This week I have mainly been working on the 'Hare of the Dog’ show. With the assistance of
Emma and John Foley I have been making the final preparations for travelling
down to the private view. Emma has been teaching me glazing and discussing an
idea I have for using copper in the kiln. We have also been discussing more of
Emma's ideas for her future shows.
This week Emma took me to Mills Media to get our work photographed. She showed me how to
get the most out of the shoot, what preparations should be done to make the
shoot most economically and how to work with the photographer. The images came
out fantastic and John at Imagine Gallery was happy to use them on the front of
his invite.
At the end of the week we made preparations for Elaine Peto to stay at Emma's. Emma and
Elaine will be collaborating on several pieces for a Brothers Grimm Show.
With Emma's support I have also started driving lessons. I believe learning how to drive
will be vital for taking my work to and from shows and galleries.

Week 9 - Commencing February 13th 2012
This week I had the privilege of being able to watch Emma and Elaine Peto collaborate on
their joint show of ‘The Brothers Grimm’. It was great to meet Elaine and to
see how she and Emma brought their ideas together and how they combined their
own techniques to work on an individual piece.
Whilst Emma and Elaine where working together, I got to experiment with using copper as
decoration for my pieces, using this on porcelain to create the spots on
Dalmatians. I also experimented with smoke firing and using a few different
At the end of the week we made all the final preparations for the filming of the
documentary, and packed my work to be sent to Sudbury.

Week 10 - Commencing 20th February 2012
This week has truly been action-packed; Emma had three full days of filming with
Blackbird Productions. This involved filming in several different locations
across the North West, filming workshops with schools, demos and interviews. The
filming went great with only a few final scenes to be filmed in the near future.
Once filming was over, I packed my final pieces for the private view of the ‘Hare of the
Dog’. The Friday was spent travelling down for the show, meeting John in the
evening and getting my first view of the gallery and the way John had chosen to
display my work. The gallery is a fantastic space situated in a village
that has to be described as charming. John had displayed my work beautifully.
The private view started at 12 o'clock on the Saturday. The show consisted of work from Eleanor Bartleman, Christine Cummings, Jan Burridge, Virgina Dowe, Brendan
Hesmondhalgh, Christy Keeney, Elaine Peto, Paul Priest, Nichola Theakston, Georgina Warne and of course, Emma Rodgers.
I am very pleased to say that on the first day one of my English setters was sold to a
lady who showed the breed. In talking with her and a lot of others who
attended, I got many ideas for future work. I had a truly fantastic time at the
show. The Sunday was spent travelling back home, very tired, but very happy.

Week 11 - Commencing 27th February 2012
This week Emma and I worked on an instillation for a local primary school. The
instillation consisted of a mural based on Nursery Rhymes. We prepared the
walls, painted the background scenes, and made the lettering that would be used
for the rhymes. Emma has been teaching workshops with the children and it was
their pieces we used to create scenes from the nursery rhymes. We
attached the children's work over the background we have painted. The overall
effect was a fun, playful wall that all the children could be proud of taking
part in creating.
In the studio Emma has been working on upcoming shows; we’ve been discussing some of
her new ideas and some of mine. We also had a visit from Andrew at Cloud
Gallery in Chester. He had come to pick up some of Emma's work and whilst at
the studio had seen my work and requested some to show in his gallery. We also
discussed having work in an upcoming show.
We also had a day in the foundry this week, with Emma teaching me about patternation. We
also had discussion with the foundry owner as to how we would install the large
dancer. It was good to be able to sit in on these talks as there is so much
that goes into moving such a large sculpture and how to safely install such a
piece. Emma will be travelling to the site over the weekend to assess and
prepare the site for the dancer.