Crannmor Pottery Blog

March 12, 2018

Celebrating 50 Cong Mayo Week 10

Filed under: Uncategorized — by crannmorpottery @ 12:49 PM

1993 was a big year for me. In April I got married and in July I started my own pottery business. Fergal was from Ballinrobe Co. Mayo and our main common interest were horses. There were three of us that invested in a thoroughbred stallion (Urlingford) and that was to be Fergals business into the horse world.



I had been keeping an eye out for a premises and found one in the quaint village of Cong, Co. Mayo that is well known for the film The Quiet Man and Ashford Castle. I had put together a business plan and managed to get funding from Leader to help towards equipment. It was a big step for me but I knew there was not much of a future for me working for other potters it was time to make it happen for me.

cong co. mayo

Cong, Co. Mayo

The shop was located at the top of Duck Lane just across from Ryans Butcher and Deli  so I called myself Duck Lane Pottery. My landlord Stephen Wall was very fair and would allow me to pay my rent on a percentage of sales that I made. Starting out was a very expensive business.

I started off with two different ranges using two different clays just to give myself more of a challenge. The red earthenware range was similar to what I had done in college. The stoneware range was a dark bottle green with a blue/grey spiral decoration sponged on . This later became known as the Moss Range.

Moss range

Moss Range


Earthenware Platter

Thankfully Cong was a busy place during the summer months with plenty of tourists and sales went well. I did a couple of Christmas craft fairs which also helped but unfortunately my landlord needed the premises for the following year so I was on the hunt again for a new location.


March 5, 2018

Celebrating 50 Galway Week 9

Filed under: Uncategorized — by crannmorpottery @ 1:11 PM

My next working experience was with Judy Greene Pottery . I was lucky to get a place here as in 1992 there were not too many production potteries in the west of Ireland. Her workshop was in an IDA industrial estate so not the most scenic and there were four of us churning out the pots.

Judy Greene

Blue Bell Judy Greene

The main thrower was Roger Harley  who could throw a board of 26 mugs in an hour. my specialty became oil burners.  Damien O Brien ,who. did the throwing skills course with me in Thomastown ,was also working there and the other thrower was Dave McLoughlin who had studied ceramics in Dun Laoghaire. I don’t see these guys very often but they are still all potting and some of them have diversified a bit and they are still great friends.

Roger, Me, Dave

Roger, Hilary, Dave

Judy used red earthenware clay which after a long time would almost become a permanent colour of your hands. I had used red earthenware for my work in college and I was developing my own range with this clay. I had bought a second hand wheel and was creating work at home in the kitchen . I was on the look out for a workshop to set up for myself as i knew it was not financially viable to remain working for Judy.

Roger Harley Pot

Roger Harley Pot

Dave Mc Loughlin

Dave Mc Loughlin Pots

I spent 16 months working for Judy and learnt a great deal. Not just production throwing but also kiln packing, glazing and the odd clay fight but I was now ready to start my own business.

Tin Range

Tea Pots

February 26, 2018

Celebrating 50 Connemara Week 8

Filed under: Uncategorized — by crannmorpottery @ 3:04 PM

Finally the studies are done and a job as a potter has started. I had done a weeks work experience at Roundstone Pottery with Seamus Laffan and Roesmarie O Toole. Their workshop was an IDA unit just outside the fishing village of Roundstone. The funny coincidence was that Seamus was originally from Thomastown. They were pleased with my work when I was with them for the week and decided to employ me for the summer and into the Autumn to build up their stock and to also take a long deserved holiday with their daughter.


Seamus Laffan

They lived about 2 miles outside the village in an amazing small cottage. The most memorable room was the bathroom which was at the end of a built on conservatory. So you lay in the bath looking out at the moon and the stars and the sheep were the only spectators.

Remote Connemara

Remote Connemara

Seamus was the potter and Rose was the decorater. Most of their pots were made with stoneware but Seamus also did a limited range in porcelain that Rose decorated. They had a front loading gas kiln that they fired about once a month.

roundstone mugs

Roundstone Pottery Mugs


Porcelain Dish Hand Painted by Rose

I spent 4 months in Roundstone and discovered the beauty of Connemara. It was a perfect start to my potting career but unfortunately their need for me was not long term so the search began for my next work place.


In The Wild West

February 19, 2018

Celebrating 50 Thomastown Week 7

Filed under: Uncategorized — by crannmorpottery @ 3:34 PM

And so I return again to Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny for my final year. The Crafts Council of Ireland had started a Pottery Skills Course and I got one of the 12 places given. The course was initially aimed at training folk to become production throwers that were employable at the end of the year for pottery workshops. The course is still running but is now 2 years and produces very accomplished makers.


Me, Eleanor & Damien


We were a very mixed crew some who had come from college like myself, but not necessarily art college, some recently left school and others that had an interest and aptitude for working with clay. Even though I thought my final show was impressive with my large thrown pots they weighted a ton so I knew I still had plenty to learn.

Gus Mableson was our tutor and he is still head of the course today. Even though it was just one year spent in Thomastown on the Skills course I took a great deal away with me. Not just throwing pots but getting hands on with putting up shelves, building walls and making huge pots. Nothing was impossible and Gus encouraged everyone of us to achieve our potential.


Lidded Jars

I began to develop my own range and again I preferred the more solid shapes with straight lines no bellied pots for me. There was a lot of repetition throwing but that was what would be needed if we were looking for work after the course. I made roulette wheels from clay and cut patterns in them and I still use them today.

New Range

Early Crannmór Pottery

We had made large planters as a project in groups. Damien O Brien and Eleanor Curtain were my partners and we decided to be a little less conventional and were influenced by Newgrange. It was great to work on such a big scale. From that project we were all asked to submit designs for planters to go outside the Kilkenny Design Workshops which were know as the Crescent Workshops at the time. My design was chosen and we made six of them and I think there are two still there.

In our final term we had to do 2 weeks work experience. At the time my boyfriend Fergal was from Mayo and I was going to move Westwards after Thomastown so I looked for potters in the west. I did a week with Seamus Laffan in Roundstone and the other with Belinda Brayshaw in Churchtown Dublin. They were two great weeks and both potters will feature again in later posts.

Belinda Brayshaw Cosmos Bowl

Belinda Brayshaw Cosmos Bowl


February 12, 2018

Celebrating 50 Cork 3 Week 6

Filed under: Uncategorized — by crannmorpottery @ 2:17 PM

After a summer in Canada where I had a job as a security guard I returned to Cork for my final year with a bit of cash in the bank to fund a trip to Russia and to help towards my final show.


Hilary The Security Guard

We had two more visiting ceramic artists that again were to have an influence on my work. The first was Peter Ting who does fine china with delicate decoration and lustre.  I loved the richness of the lustre and began to use it on my work. The other potter was Morgan Hall who unfortunately is no longer with us. Morgan left a lasting impression and because of her work I used red earthenware clay and tin glaze, as she did.  What I liked was the red clay colour coming through the glaze on edges but the solid white of the glaze as a base for colour.

peter ting

Peter Ting Bowl

morgan hall

Morgan Hall Teapots and Jug


My trip to Russia was also an inspiration, the wealth and magnificence of the palaces and the amount of gilding in churches was overwhelming and a huge contrast to the general poverty of the greater population. In my final show my backdrop to my work was print and I used gold and silver inks to screen print with coloured etchings in between. My main body of work were large bowls, vases, pedestal bowls and lamps. I was very fortunate and a restaurant in Cork purchased the prints, a vase and platter. Another helping hand towards expenses.

Final Show

Final Show Display

Candle Holders

Candle Holders

I really enjoyed my time in Cork and came away with my Diploma in Ceramic Design but I still had another year of learning to do and next week will tell you where.


Container Tin Glaze

February 5, 2018

Celebrating 50 Cork 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — by crannmorpottery @ 12:07 PM

After spending the summer in London working in a hospital I had funds to help get me through my second year in Cork. Yes I was happy with the course and my work was becoming more wheel based and less of the hand building techniques.

London Gang

London 1988

Throughout the year we had a few visiting potters and the one that stood out for me was Jane Hamlyn. Her work was functional wheel thrown pots with geometrical textures which were enhanced with salt glaze. What I also liked about her is that she wasn’t a sketch book person for her the wheel was her sketch book and she would let the pots evolve. I very much related to this.

Jane Hamlyn

Jane Hamlyn

The main reason why wheel work appeals to me is the instancy of it. One minute you have a big lump of clay and the next it is transformed into a vessel of some kind. I was also greatly influenced by the work of Hans Coper and you can see from these pictures below how I played with form and balance.

Hans Coper Style Pots

Hans Coper Style Pots

Hans Coper Style Pots

Hans Coper Style Pots

Walter Keeler is another favourite potter of mine. I have always been drawn to linear forms rather than the more traditional bellied pots. I think that comes from working with metal. Clay is such a fluid medium but when fired it takes on a strong rigid form like metal.

Walter Keeler

Walter Keeler

I also came to discover that I needed my pots to be functional in some way even if they were sculptural it had to be a from of container or vessel. I am a very practical person and the need to create something that has a purpose was important for me. Little by little I was moving in the direction of a functional potter rather than a ceramic artist.

Lidded Bowl

Lidded Bowl

Casserole Dish

Casserole Dish

January 29, 2018

Celebrating 50 Cork

Filed under: Uncategorized — by crannmorpottery @ 12:33 PM

So instead of completing my diploma in Craft Design in Dublin I had an interview in Cork at The Crawford College of Art and Design and was accepted but on the condition that I start in the first year of the 3 year course. Yes I have very understanding and supportive parents.

Crawford was a very different set up to NCAD it was smaller and you felt you were part of a big family. There was much more mixing with the different departments. It also helped that there were friends of mine from Grennan Mill and Letterkenny already in the college.


Moulded Platter

The course tutors were Roisin Collins and Les Reed and both of them would have been throwers so I was off to a good start. We also had to take a subsidiary subject and I chose print. I think I liked the fact that you create a template and can then produce varied multiples from the template. In other words less drawing.


Coloured Etching

The first year was about learning different techniques making slab plates on moulds and more refined coil pots. I chose a pepper to model my coiled stirrup jar. The decoration was terra sigillata which is liquid colouered clay painted on and then burnished with a stone or the back of a spoon.

I was also discovering more potters and ceramic artists whose work I admired. An influence on the coil pots was  Magdalene Odundo. Her work is beautiful and the fact that it is made with coils makes it all the more amazing. Her surface decoration is left simple but is very time consuming by burnishing the whole surface area numerous times to get the overall effect.

magdalene odundo

Magdalene Odundo

After completing the first year in Cork I knew I had made the right decision I had settled into the college and Cork city was a great place to be based. I had met old friends again and had new friends.


January 22, 2018

Celebrating 50 Dublin

Filed under: Uncategorized — by crannmorpottery @ 12:07 PM

After completing my foundation year in Letterkenny I had decided that metalwork was not for me and had received a place on the Craft course in NCAD. For me this was a big step as it was THE Art college to go to. I felt like a very little fish in a much bigger pond and this college was very fine art orientated.

Stain Glass Panel

Glass Panel

The first year of the 3 year Diploma gave you a taste of ceramics, glass and metalwork. Again the metalwork was more towards jewelry. The glass however was something new and it was the only college in Ireland that offered the experience of blowing glass. I had tried it once before when I was in Thomastown and had a visit to Jerpoint Glass. I really enjoyed the block with glass and did think of pursuing it further but the practical side of me could never see me affording to run and own a glass furnace whereas a kiln although an expensive piece of equipment was more affordable and much more economical to run. A glass furnace is on 24/7.

Blown Glass

Blown Glass

In the Ceramics department we were tutored by Neil Reid  and Geoffrey Healy . We were totally spoilt in NCAD with a vast selection of materials , techniques and technicians. The projects were more challenging and there was a more vibrant dynamic within the class. I learnt how to make a mould from plaster and then to slip cast the form from that mould. We began to learn about glazes and the reaction of them within different kiln environments.

Slip Cast Sculpture

Slip cast sculpture

We were also learning more about the history of art and craft and we were encouraged to explore and find influences for our work. I was always drawn to the more practical pots rather that conceptual or sculpture. Two potters that stood out for me were Dame Lucie Rie and Hans Coper.

Lucie Rie

Lucie Rie Bowl

Dame Lucie Rie’s hand thrown bowls were so fine but her forms gave them strength and again her use of colour and glaze gave her pots an elegance. I loved the form of Hans Coper’s pots they way he played with balance. His glazing was very minimal allowing the form to be true to itself.

hans coper

Hans Coper Ceramics

I took a lot from my year in NCAD but I was struggling with the more fine art element of the college. Departments didn’t mix much and the Craft department was looked down apon as the poorer end of the art world. I also had to work at the weekends as Dublin was an expensive place to stay so the social side of college life was a lot less than before. I had some decisions to make if I was to continue in the world of art and craft.

January 15, 2018

Celebrating 50 Letterkenny

Filed under: Uncategorized — by crannmorpottery @ 12:58 PM

After completing the year in Grennan Mill I wanted to pursue my new creations in metal and the only places that did metalwork were Letterkenny RTC and The National College of Ireland . At the time I didn’t think my work was good enough for NCAD so I applied to Letterkenny and as they pointed out at my interview my drawing was weak and I should do the foundation year. It was a struggle but probably the best advice as drawing would always be an important part of my future studies.

However I soon found out that their metalwork department was more interested in jewelry which I didn’t have quite the same excitement as beating metal into 3 dimensional forms. The ceramic tutor Guy Stevenson developed my interest in clay. It was more hand building techniques than trowing pots on the wheel. Slab pots and tiles.


We had to pick two objects to draw through the year. I picked a camera and barbed wire!! Yes don’t ask me why but it was amazing how many different ways you could portray a piece of barbed wire.

These pictures below show my end of year exhibition. The large painting is paper mache barbed wire and painted with acrylics. The other boards are colour studies. You can see a vase that is based on the lens of a camera and then a few enameled pieces of jewelry.

I had a great year in Letterkenny and made a lot of new friends. We were a very mixed bunch and all of us sitting on the branch have managed to make careers from art.

Letterkenny 1987

Me, Kevin Sexton, Carissa Farrell, Paul Rooney, Robin Gill, Gary Robinson

January 8, 2018

Celebrating 50 Grennan Mill

Filed under: Uncategorized — by crannmorpottery @ 12:31 PM

This year I hit 50 and I thought it would be good to set myself a little project. For 23 years I have been creating my own pots and for 7 years before that I was studying art and ceramics. So my project is to tell my story through pots for 50 weeks of this year. It will also coincide with an exhibition of 50 bowls. Date and venue still to be decided.

In September of 1985 I began a craft course in Grennan Mill, Thomastown it was the beginning of my journey into the creative world. Initially my interest was in metal and under the excellent tutelage of Peter Donavon I made some pieces that I still have and am quite proud of.

Niall Harper was out tutor for clay and it was my first time to sit at a wheel and throw a pot which he made look so easy but when I came to try, it was a challenge. My first pots were quite small but I did enjoy the instancy of the process.

I also tried my hand at screen printing, batik, photography, weaving, candle making patchwork and some drawing. It was a very good introduction to the craft world and with only 24 of us doing the course we were like one big happy family. It was the perfect year to get me started on my creative journey.

A young me

Screen Print

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