Tag Archives: terracotta

Just In Case….

2 Jun


ochre 1

I have been out on field trips up along the course of the River Tawe recently, with colleagues from Swansea University’s FIRE Laboratory project. We spent some time examining culverts under the road that runs alongside the Tawe near its source up in the Brecon Beacons. There were differences between the culverts; different plants, different environments, different creatures. Most of the stream beds were made up of plain grey stones but I came across this one, towards the end, which glowed with speckles of a vivid terracotta orange.

ochre 2

I pulled out a few pieces and rubbed them against a dry grey rock and the soft pigment marked the surface easily. I collected a few to bring back, checking them for little creatures, and then a threw a few coins into the stream, as a token to appease any Gwragedd Annwn who might be hanging out in the crystal waters. Just in case …..

Mucky Little Kid

20 Mar

Ink and graphite sketch.

When I was little, Swansea beach used to be packed all through the summer. there were no cheap package holidays and most people couldn’t afford to go away; a bus trip to Barry Island if you were lucky. So there’d be thousands of kids on the beach, changing into those funny little shirred swimsuits behind towels and we’d run screaming down to the water with our Mams shouting, “Don’t go in the Granny’s Custard!”. Of course, we all made straight for the Granny’s Custard. It was black, cool, silky and squelched between your toes. Once it dried on your skin it was really hard to get off. I remember Mam scrubbing me with a nailbrush in the bath trying to get me clean. It hurt, but it was worth it.

When I grew up I went to Art College and on our Ceramics module we had to go to the beach and dig up …….. the Granny’s Custard. Turns out it’s a lovely smooth terracotta clay. We learned how to clean and process it and we made small pots, fired with a white tin glaze.  I did this sketch for someone yesterday and didn’t have my nice digital camera so used my phone camera for the first time. It’s rubbish. Won’t bother again. It’s little Me squelching through the Granny’s Custard with a look of ecstasy on my face 🙂

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