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From Clay to Cotton

We will be swapping clay for cotton and making masks from this week.

The masks are double-layer 100% cotton, with a pocket for an optional filter, and a nice snug wire nose fitting (tested by both of us, great for avoiding steamy spectacles) which keeps the mask close to your face. They are washable.

PLEASE NOTE: these are NOT medical grade masks. They are for personal use in line with the Scottish Government recommendation to wear masks in shops and smaller spaces where it is harder to maintain a full 2m distance from others. We make no claims on the efficacy of our masks, other than to confirm that we are using them ourselves and feel they are of a decent quality. Please see our note below on the filters.

Our test masks have filters inserted and are still fairly comfortable for breathing and don’t feel too stuffy. I did a ‘test drive‘ during a 5 and a half hour day of errands this week. With over 3 hours of actual mask-wearing in shops, etc, it was still pretty comfortable, if a wee bit warm.

We have disposable filters to go inside the masks, available separately.
We have now run out of the charcoal impregnated PM2.5 filters, but have Nonwoven Meltblown Filter Fabric that we will be supplying as double thickness filters.

Here’s a great video explaining the benefits (and limitations) of hand-made masks. Worth a watch.

Our Meltblown filters have an element of particle filtration and are useful for trapping moisture and droplets. To my knowledge, the filtration is not fine enough to capture Coronavirus particles and we make no such claims, but based on some basic internet research, it should serve some purpose for droplet-borne particles.

Masks are £8 each.
Filters are an additional 50p per filter.
Shipping in the UK for up to 3 masks is £1.20. 4-6 masks is £1.70 and 7-12 masks is £2.20.

If you order early enough, you can choose your fabric for the outside of your mask. We’ll be working to order first, then making in random fabric combinations. Fabric choices are numbered in the images. Please note we may have to ask you to choose alternate colours if first choices are finished.

You can now order direct from our web shop.

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Unboxing and setup of our Peter Pugger

We spent some time filming the unboxing and setting up of our new Peter Pugger VPM-7 Deairing Mixer Pugmill, and you can now view this below or on our Youtube channel. Please do click LIKE on the video, SUBSCRIBE to our youtube channel and share our video to help us build our audience. Enjoy the video.

We will be uploading the next in the series shortly – with the first use of the mixer/pugmill and then another with the use of the extrusion dies, so be sure to check back for these.

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Our growing (equipment) family

Last year, we finally invested in a pottery studio tool we have wanted for quite some time (about 12 years, truth be told); a vacuum de-airing mixer pugmill. But not just any make or model of pugmill would do.  We wanted a Peter Pugger, which has quite a hefty price tag, so it had to wait in favour of other necessities (like food, rent, clay, a bigger kiln, etc). We had drooled over adverts in glossy pottery magazines for most of the last decade and beyond, and had decided on the smallest VPM-9 model and watched every available video on YouTube for this particular machine.

So, when we finally had an unexpected windfall last year, we knew exactly what to get (after we bought our big kiln, that is). When I checked the website of the UK distributor to order (www.scarva.com) I discovered there was a newer, smaller, model now available – the VPM-7 – designed specifically for smaller scale single-potter studios. Knowing that once our backlog (possibly 10 years or more) of clay reclaim was processed, we wouldn’t need anything too big, we opted for the smaller size and used the difference in cost to treat ourselves to a few optional extras. 

We added the pug cutter attachment because, having worked for a small-scale clay manufacturer and spent many hours a day processing and cutting pugs of clay, I KNEW it was worth the time it would save in searching for a cut-off wire that had disappeared down the back of the pugmill station for the tenth time in an hour. 

We also ordered three die attachments for extruding. One is for a set of various sized coils. Any of my previous handbuilding students will tell you, I hate rolling coils (mainly because, I’m the first to admit, I’m a bit rubbish at it) but I do find coil building to be a really meditative and enjoyable practice and I can achieve shapes I just can’t get with slab building or pinch pots. I’m really looking forward to experimenting with bigger coil pots.

The second extruder die attachment is for handles. The die has an assortment of handle shapes, as well as some small coil shapes, including hexagon and oval, and I’m interested to try them, but I will need to make a blanking plate to cover the ones I don’t want, unless I want to be continually feeding unwanted extrusions back into the hopper. I have been saving some containers with decent sized metal bases (coffee mate tins are ideal) so I think the blanking plate should be fairly achievable, with my limited DIY skills.

The third is a set of dies and inserts for hollow cylinders. I’m particularly looking forward to trying these, as I have a number of ideas I want to play with. Their only limitation is the size of the Peter Pugger nozzle, which is 7.5cm (3” ) in diameter. This means I can only make smaller items, although I am hoping to purchase an extruder later in the year with an expansion box for larger output, to make bigger pieces in a new line of work. For now, the smaller form will not only allow me to make smaller maquettes of the first of these planned new pieces, but also can help with another exciting new project we are working on.

But I digress, so now, back to the Peter Pugger purchase.  Although you can select your model and all accessories on the Scarva website, you don’t actually complete and pay for your order immediately. This is to make sure that Scarva can check that you are aware that the machines are built to order, in the USA, and that you understand there is a fairly long lead time. So they called, we chatted, I confirmed I understood about the wait, and gave them my card details. We placed our order in February and had email confirmation from Scarva that it had arrived in the country at the end of May. It was delivered to us within a week or so and, yes, it has been sitting IN THE BOX in our workshop for the last 8 months because… life happens.

And now here we are in February, almost a year from our original order. We finally got the space cleared and prepped for our new baby in January but once we saw everything out of the box, Mo had the brainwave to do an unboxing video for YouTube. When I was pining all those years to own one, I was disappointed with how little online  content there is featuring this wee gem. So we came up with the idea to not only do an unboxing but also a ‘first setup’ video, and then a ‘first mixing’ video, and then a ‘first pugging’ video, and then, because some of the extras we purchased included extruder dies, a ‘first extruding’ video. And of course, I’m such an experienced vlogger (I’m really not) so this would be a cinch, right? I don’t believe in doing things by halves, ask anyone who even remotely knows me!

So, this post is the first of a series featuring our Peter Pugger VPM-7 Deairing Mixer Pugmill. We thought about naming him, as we have with our three kilns (Angelica, Eliza and Peggy, if you’re interested), but since he actually comes with a name, he’s probably going to be keeping that one. I don’t think I’m going to win the argument for calling him Alexander. (Give yourself a big gold star if you recognise our naming convention and can guess what the name of our future Extruder would be.)

We haven’t started the filming yet, but here is a still shot of his new home. Check back soon for the rest of the series, including video, if it works!

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Perthshire Creates: Christmas Design Market

We are delighted to be joining the lovely people at Perthshire Creates for their Christmas Design Market this Sunday, 24th November 2019, at the Civic Hall in Perth (2 High Street, Perth, PH1 5PH) from 10.00am till 4.30pm.

With a fantastic array of the best of handmade in Perthshire, there’s plenty to see and lots of lovely Artisan gifts for Christmas presents.

Hope to see you there.

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We Are Open!

nbow over the Nissan Huts. Showing address and venue number 107

It’s that time of year again! Creative Studios all over Perthshire and Kinross-shire are opening their doors to the public.

And, because we are mid-move, you get not one, but two venues from MoKa Pottery this year. We have our shop fully stocked – at our home for the last five years – at historic Cultybraggan Camp.

Our weekend “Make A Mug” workshops that were a big hit last year will be held at our new studio premises at Tullybannocher. We are located in the grounds of the garden centre, and there is a cafe on site as well as a lovely gift shop, so it’s well worth a visit.

We hope you will pop in and see us. We are open at Cultybraggan every day during the Open Studios period, from 10am to 5pm and we have Make A Mug workshops scheduled for 12 noon and 3pm (lasting approx 2 hours each) on both Saturdays and Sundays during Open Studios.

Make a Mug Workshop sessions are limited to four places, so do please book in advance to secure your spot. Normal price is £30 but we have a POS Special price of £25 per person, £45 for two people booking together.

We have some other great offers at Cultybraggan because of the move, so pop in and grab something special for your home, or a gift for someone else, this week.

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MoKa Pottery is on the Move!

Hot on the heels of our house move – the studio is also moving.

We will soon be located at Tullybannocher, just outside Comrie. Right next to the Tullybannocher Cafe, in the grounds of the Riverside Garden Centre. What a fantastic location to work in and, when you’re visiting, you’ll be able to treat yourself to a coffee, some AMAZING food (the scone portions have to be seen to be believed) and something nice for your garden while you’re there.

See you soon!

PS: Sorry there’s no image of the new place yet. Just saving it for next time when we can do a proper big Moving In launch. Or it may be a technical issue that I can’t upload right now… I’ll leave you to choose 😉

PPS: We WILL be having an opening event so watch our social media or check back here for details soon

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Strathearn Marathon 2019

Strathearn Marathon medal hand crafted by MoKa Pottery

We have been quietly working away in the background and are delighted to now introduce our latest custom project; medals for the Strathearn Marathon which starts and finishes right at the pottery in Cultybraggan Camp.

If you’re looking for something to do next weekend, Sunday 9th June 2019, the Marathon finishers will start coming in from around 11.30am.  We will be at the finish line excitedly cheering on the athletes as they complete the gruelling 26.2 mile course and are awarded their completely unique, hand crafted medals.  We are also providing, for the second year, the trophies for 1st place finishers.

You can keep up with all the action on the Strathearn Marathon Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/StrathearnMarathon

Hope to see you at the finish line.

Kath

 

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Make A Mug Workshops

Over the first few months of 2018, we have been lucky to host a number of groups participating in our ‘Make a Mug’ Workshops.  From two groups of 8 teachers to a 21-person hen party (bizarrely including 1 stag!) as well as private family groups, we have had quite the variety of participants and each group has been a lot of fun to work with.

We have decided now to open up these workshops on a more regular basis and will shortly be releasing a schedule of planned ‘Make A Mug’ sessions over the next few months.

Each session will be 2 hours, and in that time we will demonstrate and instruct in hand-building with slabs of clay, including surface decoration with textures and an explanation of the firing and glazing process.  At the end of the session, each participant will have completed one mug and chosen a final glaze finish from our wide selection of glaze sample tiles.

We will then take the mug through the remainder of the process, drying slowly and into the kiln for first firing, applying the glaze finish and then into the kiln for second and final firing.

The price of the workshop is £25 per person and covers all tuition, materials, firings and 2nd class UK shipping for one mug.  If there is a large group, a single delivery location will be agreed, or mugs can be collected from the studio by arrangement.  Contact us if you have a specific date in mind for your party of 6 or more, or watch this space for details of the dates of the open workshops.

This is such a fun workshop, a real event and a fabulous day out in historic surroundings for you and your friends.  A fantastic workplace team building event, birthday or hen/stag celebration, and with your own hand-made BY YOU mug to show for it.  When dates are released, we will also be releasing Gift Vouchers for sale for the open workshops, or for a 6-person (or more) private workshop.

UPDATE: Here’s the link to buy a gift voucher for one person to attend a Make-a-mug workshop and here’s the link discounted for two people to attend a Make-a-mug workshop together. Buy a gift for your favourite person and insist that they bring you along!

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

Only 12 sleeps to go, apparently!  (My brother-in-law does a daily count-down on Facebook so there’s no getting away from it!)

We will be helping out with your last minute Christmas shopping by opening the shop at the studio on Christmas Eve Eve (Saturday 23rd) from 2 pm till 7 pm for those last-minute, one-of-a-kind, hand-made gifts that you just can’t get in the big stores.

There may be mince pies and mulled wine.

 

 

 

In other news, we have been working hard in the background on both the studio and the website (this is our excuse for the appalling lack of blog posts, although we did manage to slip in a wee motorhome holiday too).

In the studio we have new exterior doors (so no more draughts), new interior walls (so we can heat smaller spaces in the studio easier), we are currently working on a pretty new fireplace in the shop for displays and rumour has it there may even be a wood stove on the way! Also, very soon we will have a loo (albeit without running water and drainage for now, so technically just a small room at the back of hut where the loo will eventually be situated. But it will have walls and a door, so that’s something.

 

 

 

 

We are also now launching into a major making bonanza to get the shop and web shop stocked up for the New Year.  Also in the shop, we have a snazzy new credit card processing and point-of-sale system that will make checkout faster, and help us keep control of our stock levels.

On the website front, we have been making all the necessary preparations to set up our online shop.  From the techy WordPress self-hosted site with Woocommerce selling platform, we are able to host all of our own online selling.  We had the first of a couple of sessions of product photography this week, and once we write up all the descriptions, we will have everything in stock up on the web for your shopping convenience.

 

We will keep our Etsy store for now, but everything you can get there, you’ll be able to find on here too. Soon. 🙂

 

(GeekSpeak Alert!) Woocommerce has lots of bells and whistles, including the fantastic ability to connect up our online stock levels to what’s actually IN the shop, so we’ll have a proper grown-up joined-up selling system.  On top of that, I’ve just worked out tonight that I can send all our sales info from the web AND the shop direct to our accounts system.  Which is great, as I’m no longer working as a bookkeeper and want to minimise what we are doing in our own business to give me more time and head-space to create, without upsetting the tax man! (End of GeekSpeak)

So, there we are.  We have been quiet, but with good reason.  We hope you can come along on Christmas Eve Eve for our last-minute shopping night.  If not*, we would like to wish you and your families a very merry Christmas and all the very best for 2018.

 

*This doesn’t mean this is the last blog post of the year, but given our track record, I’m covering our bases!