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Deidre Chestney

June 14, 2021

I came across the wonderful work of Deidre Chestney on Instagram recently and was so pleased that I had, because it made me smile. I got in touch with Deidre to discover more.

Hi Deidre, I love the range of techniques you use when creating your ceramics. How much time would you say you spend in ‘play mode’ and how often do the findings from that experimental creative time lead to new ideas ?

It’s taken me quite a while to get my head around all the aspects of making and decorating clay objects. First you have to choose the clay and make the thing (earthenware, midfire, stoneware – handbuilding or wheel thrown – functional or decorative?) Then there’s the decoration (stains, oxides, underglaze, slip, glaze, decals and lustre) Since purchasing my own kiln in 2016 I have been able to explore all these techniques and it’s only been in the last couple of years that my focus is starting to narrow. I know enough now to achieve consistant results in the firing as well as knowing what work I enjoy making so the experimental time is becoming less. 

Can you tell us a little about your life before becoming a Ceramist ?

After studying Graphic Design in New Zealand I spent my 20’s and 30’s working in studios and freelancing in Wellington, London and Melbourne. After moving to central Victoria with my husband we had a child, rennovated a house and now we run a business in the counry. After my daughter went to school I finally had time to get back to being creative and signed up for a local pottery night class. In 2015 I saw the Grayson Perry exhibition in Sydney and it blew my mind on what could be achieved with surface decoration on ceramics.

What is your fav item to make and why ?

I do love birds. Wings, feathers, colour, form, standing still or flying, 2D or 3D. I’ll never get tired of them!

You create a mix of quirky and realistic animals. Where would you say your ideas derive from and how much time do you spend working in sketchbooks before going into the making process ?

I’ve always been drawn to animals used in stories to symbolise emotions and human traits – as a child I would devour any books in the library on myths, legends and folk tales from around the world.  I’ve always loved childrens book illustration, folk objects and outsider art.

Our house backs onto a forest and we have many furred and feathered visitors to the garden that are inspiring – Kangaroos, Echnidas, Foxes Hares, Cockatoos, Ravens etc. If I can add a crown, texture or pattern to these creatures all the better.

Also there are a lot of sheep in paddocks around where we live. I look at them as I’m driving along and they are not always heads down eating grass. Often you catch them looking into the middle distance, quite introspective. Even being part of a flock I think they retain their individuality!

I draw in sketchbooks and flesh out ideas with pen and ink, paper cutouts and guache studies. If I’m trying to work out a composisiton often I’ll scan drawings and shapes into the computer and play around with them in illustrator. 

I saw a small video of yours where you transferred coloured glazes to your artwork using paper of some kind. Can you please tell us how this process works and what paper you use to do this ? Is it at the green or bisque fired part of the process ?

Slip transfer is a process where the decoration is all created on newsprint – this allows for creating gestural drawings that are hard to create directly onto clay. Using underglaze painting, slip trailing, stencils or screen printing you layer up a composition working in reverse. When the underglaze is dry you paint a layer of slip over everything and once that that’s dry you rub it onto a slab of firmish but damp clay. The mosture from the clay sucks all the slip and underglaze off the paper and it’s transferred to the clay.  Then you use the slab to form a shape – platter, tile, vessel etc.  Jason Burnett’s brilliant book Graphic Clay shows the technique as does Catie Miller on her instagram @catiemillerceramics

Which of your processes that you use do you enjoy the most and why ?

I’m enjoying building layers of colours with stains, underglaze and slip – both with the slip transfer technique and also using wax resist. I’ve found that relying on glazes to “colour” the work are too fickle and I seldom get the results I want. By using underglazes and stains I feel like I’m more in control.

Where do you sell your work and do you have an online site where people can buy from you ?

I exhibit with group shows in central Victoria a couple of times a year as well as some local retail outlets. This year I was part of Open Studios Macedon which has been very busy. People contact me directly through instagram if they see something they are interested in. I’m always planning to get my act together with my website but am just too busy!

Where do you see your work in 5 years time ?

I’m happy just letting things work themselves out.  I’m really enjoying the process of applying images onto clay and I enjoy being part of the local ceramic community. I would like to do more exhibitions, have a range of work I’m proud of and hopefully  in 5 years time will have sorted out my website!

Many thanks Deidre, it’s been great to find out more about your ideas and processes. All the best for the future and I look forward to seeing your website, do let me know when it’s done : )

Vanessa Lubach Cutting the Countryside

June 7, 2021

Artist Vanessa Lubach studied Illustration at Brighton, graduating in 1990 and has been illustrating, printmaking and painting ever since.

She has three children, four cats and a chicken called Pumpkin. Living in Norfolk, her work, (which is mostly taken from observational drawings), is a mix of what appears to me to be, ‘The Good Life’ and a tribute to the beauty of the landscape and countryside that surrounds her.

Her cats often appear as the subject matter in her lino cuts, and with so many willing (or unwilling) models around, then why not !

She also has a passion for beautiful chickens and hens.

Company Elite Tins have a wide range of her work on their storage containers.

Vanessa shows her love and understanding for nature in these beautiful scenes.

Her work is multilayered and intricately carved into lino, sometimes using as many as 14 colours !

She has also had her work featured on greeting cards and book jackets.

Through images on Vanessa’s instagram account, we can see how her beautiful work develops, step by step.

This process demands a steady hand, patience and the skills of a craftsperson, artist and designer all in one.

You can only start to appreciate how much detail goes into each linocut.

Of course the colours Vanessa selects also have to blend together well to create such a pleasing end result.

Whether its the countryside or the sea.

She has also been featured in the 2012 National BP Portrait awards with her painting ‘Rosie and Pumpkin’ (below, top right).

I bought a selection of postcards from her shop on Etsy and you can also treat yourself to a limited edition print here too.

One of my favourites being this tiny lino cut for a Henry Moore sculpture, which is just so beautiful and serene with the light shining through the trees.

Those of you who visit Fishink blog regularly might recall that I also featured Vanessa’s husband here back in 2017. If not you can visit Peter’s work here.

You can follow more glimpses of Vanessa’s life through her Instagram account here, and do pop over to here etsy shop here and make a purchase too.

Thanks Vanessa for letting me show your wonderful creativity here in all its colourful delight.

Karl Erik Iwar Mid century Ceramics

May 31, 2021

Karl Erik Iwar (1920-2006) studied at Upsala Ekeby and then in the early 1950’s he opened his own workshop. He then worked for the company between 1936 and 1946. Karl Erik is today most known for his pottery animals from his workshop in Farsta and Åkersberga in 1953–1987. They are made of dark brown earthenware, with modernistic shape, and gently humorous expression. The figurines are partly glazed in earthy tones.

Here’s a selection of his animal based figures which caught my eye. Sadly I couldn’t discover any more about him or his work. His ceramics have such humour.

His giraffe is a firm favourite for me. I love the proportions.

Funky poodles and friendly lions in the mix too, he also made people, but I like his animals the best : )


Does anyone have any further info on Karl ?






Mari Simmulson Swedish Mid Century Ceramist

May 24, 2021

Mari Simmulson (1911-2000) is a familiar name when talking about Swedish ceramic design of the 20th century. Born to Estonian parents in St Petersburg, Russia. At the start of the Russian revolution in 1917, Mari’s family moved back to Estonia. During the 1930s, she studied at the State Art School in Tallinn and later further developed her skills at the nearby Arabia porcelain factory in Helsinki.

After marrying, Mari moved to Munich where she studied sculpture. When World War II began,  she fled to Sweden on a fishing boat. She was forced to leave behind her family and relatives, with whom, sadly she would never be reunited.
In 1945, Mari began working at Gustavsbergs Porcelain Factory, where she was fortunate to work alongside the factory’s legendary leader, Wilhelm Kage (who preceeded Stig Lindberg). Mari’s creative output ranged from unique sculptures to small animal figurines.
Mari left Gustavsberg in 1949, taking a position at Upsala-Ekeby. Together with Hjordis Oldfors and Ingrid Atterberg, she completed a trio of influential female designers who set the tone for the company in the fifties. Mari would remain at the factory until 1972, designing a variety of dishware, vases, wall plates, bowls, and figurines. She often opted for bold, colorful decor, offering a clear contrast to dark, unadorned pottery.
The 1950s fascination with exotic cultures found its way into Mariʼs design. This stylistic trend influenced the form, decor, and naming of the objects. She often took a theme (such as a leaf motif) and explored all the possible ways to decorate a vase or pot using this idea.
The acclaimed grand sculptures depicting women from Africa and Asia are fine examples of exoticism. She often expressed admiration for the posture and demeanor of women all over the world.
Highly influenced by the air-themed paintings of Marc Chagall, it is no coincidence that birds are a recurring theme in her artwork. Mari’s daughter recalls that “Air was important for her. She said clearly that she did not want to be buried in the ground”
Women are ubiquitous in Mari’s artwork. They are often represented with almond-shaped eyes behind heavy eye lids.
The women typically have deep, thoughtful expressions, which contrasts with the playful colours.
Mari’s world was a contrast of light and dark, laughter and solemnity, all at the same time.
There’s touches of all these emotions in her ceramic ‘portraits’.
Captivating, engaging, faces with a fixed stare are a feature in Mari’s work.
Mari left Upsala-Ekeby in 1972, finishing her career with a few brief stints at other Swedish ceramic factories.
She is remembered as a prolific artist with a strong personality who held fast to her artistic integrity. At the same time, she understood that the objects she created should be marketable as well as beautiful. Interest in Mari’s artwork is at an all-time high today, and her two daughters give frequent lectures on her life and artistry.
Many thanks to Mother Sweden for the infomation on Mari. If you would like to buy some of her work, head over to their site for a large range of available ceramics here.

Charles Wysocki Midcentury Illustrator

May 17, 2021

Charles Wysocki was born in 1928 in Detroit, Michigan. From the time he was small, he always wanted to be an artist. His father was an immigrant from Poland who worked on the assembly line at Ford Motor Co. for over 35 years. His father was not thrilled about his son’s artistic aspirations. Most of his encouragement came from his mother. She fully supported his artistic tendencies.

Charles went to high school at Cass Technical High School and focused on their art program. For a time he worked as an apprentice in Detroit art studios. Then Uncle Sam snatched him up. Charles was drafted in 1950 during the Korean War. He should have been sent to Korea where he may have met his fate, but right before he was to be sent out, he was granted a leave of absence to visit his brother Harry who was very ill.

After he returned to hook up with his unit, the powers that be said, “You’re going to Germany.” He was stationed in Hanau, West Germany from 1951-1952. After his two-year obligation in the Army he decided to trade in his rifle for a paintbrush.

After leaving the Army, Charles attended Art Center in Los Angeles (it is now in Pasadena) on the G.I. Bill. After completing his studies, and majoring in design and advertising illustration, Charles joined the staff of freelance artists at McNamera Brothers in Detroit in 1955. He lived at home with his parents during this time. Charles moved to Los Angeles in 1959. There he formed an advertising agency with three other artists called “Group West” and was very successful doing freelance commercial artwork.

Some of his clients included General Tire, Unocal, Carnation, Chrysler, United California Bank, Otis elevator company, and Dow Chemical Co. to name a few. Here’s a poster he created for General Tire in 1960.

During this time he won numerous awards for his illustrative talents. Then he met Elizabeth, and she unleashed the primitive artist that was buried within him.

Charles and Elizabeth met at an ad agency in Los Angeles. She had just graduated from UCLA as an art major. She was working at this ad agency when she heard about a hotshot illustrator (Charles Wysocki) that was coming in to do some freelance work for them. Well, when they met, it was love at first sight. Elizabeth’s family was one of the first to settle in the San Fernando Valley.

Charles was enamored of the simplicity of this farm life and wholesome values. This influence is what started his whole primitive style that we all know and love. Charles and Elizabeth were married three months after they met, in July 1960. During this time they made several trips to the East Coast. They went antique shopping and visited places such as Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, Boston, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

In the early 1960’s Charles worked as a commercial artist, but his heart was in the primitive style. At night and on the weekends, he worked on his Americana/primitive paintings. After he did a one-man show at which he sold every painting in this style, he decided to leave commercial art for good and just focus on his Americana art. For most of the 1960’s he made a good living off of the original paintings he sold. He also published greeting cards, posters and a huge number of jigsaws, along with other licensed merchandise of all kinds. During this time Charles and Elizabeth had three children. David was born in 1965, Millicent in 1967, and Matthew in 1969. It is also during this time that they moved from Los Angeles to Lake Arrowhead.

In 1979, Charles published his first limited edition print, “Fox Run”, with The Greenwich Workshop. His published numerous prints with them during this time from 1979-1993. He also traveled around the country and made personal appearances at galleries all over the United States. Charles won many awards for his work including the one he was most proud of, the medal of honor from the Daughters of the American Revolution, the society’s highest honor. Charles also published two books during this time, “An American Celebration” in 1985 and “Heartland” in 1993. He also appeared in People magazine July 7, 1986, and was invited to the White House Independence Day celebration in 1981 (for which he did a painting that still hangs there).

Charles painted his whole life, and up to his death at the age of 73. He died July 29th, 2002 surrounded by family. It was also his 42nd wedding anniversary. He will be sorely missed by many, but his artwork will live on. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth, his three children, David, Millie, Matt, and his two grandchildren, Emily and Jackson.

For me Charles earlier work from the sixties has much more life and vibrancy to it. I love his painterly skies and textures so much more than the Americana style he later adopted, which although they’re busier, they are also crammed full of people, detail and flatter perspectives. It’s almost as though they are the work of two separate artists.

What are your thoughts ? Many thanks to the the dedicated work of Leif Peng who tirelessly collates all this information on Flickr and who first introduced me to Charles’ amazing work. If anyone else has any other examples of Charles’ work from this era, I’d love to see them.




The Festival of Britain, 70 years on.

May 10, 2021

Last week marks the 70th Anniversary of The Festival of Britain. I revisited this post from my archives to remind us all what a spectacular event it was.

It’s a few years ago now that I was wandering alongside the Thames river and decided to pop into the Royal Festival Hall which is the heart of the Southbank Centre.

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Many of you who know me, will also know about my passion for the 1950’s era, so with a foyer display featuring information, advertising and models of The Festival of Britain, I was again, a happy soul !

The Festival was a national exhibition held throughout the United Kingdom in the summer of 1951. It was organised by the government to give the British a feeling of recovery in the aftermath of war and to promote the British contribution to science, technology, industrial design, architecture and the arts. The Festival’s centrepiece was in London on the South Bank of the Thames.

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The first idea for an exhibition in 1951 came from the Royal Society of Arts in 1943, which considered that an international exhibition should be held to commemorate the centenary of the 1851 Great Exhibition. In 1945, the government appointed a committee under Lord Ramsden to consider how exhibitions and fairs could promote exports. When the committee reported a year later, it was decided not to continue with the idea of an international exhibition because of its cost at a time when reconstruction was a high priority. The government decided instead to hold a series of displays about the arts, architecture, science, technology and industrial design, under the title “Festival of Britain 1951”.

At that time, shortly after the end of World War II, much of London was still in ruins and redevelopment was badly needed. The Festival was an attempt to give Britons a feeling of recovery and progress and to promote better-quality design in the rebuilding of British towns and cities. The Festival of Britain described itself as “one united act of national reassessment, and one corporate reaffirmation of faith in the nation’s future.” Gerald Barry, the Festival Director, described it as “a tonic to the nation”

Here’s a model of the site.

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It’s hard to imagine how exciting the site must have been for a society who survived World War 2, just six years before.

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Of course colour was everywhere and souvenirs appeared in all shapes and forms imaginable. Here’s a few head scarves.

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These tecnicolour shots give a hint at how wonderful it must have looked. Disneyland in Britain !

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I would have loved to have gone. I also remembered the Festival of Britain inspired ceramics and wallpaper by Mini Moderns that I’ve mentioned in a previous post.


More modern day items in the shop and a great display of goodies by Sukie.

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The Royal Festival Hall is a beautiful building. Full of natural wood, light and curves.

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I really enjoyed the experience of just being in the building. The views, the dinner jazz, the slow pace and unhurried business of it’s inhabitants and the sun streaming in and bringing it all to life.

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I managed to purchase copies of the original catalogues that accompanied the exhibition

The entire volume was in colour and on a high quality paper stock. must have been quite unusual for the fifties.

Happy Anniversary Festival of Britain, I feel we need another one soon : )

Just to let you know that Fishinkblog is now even easier to share with your friends, as we’ve dropped the wordpress bit to become just

More about Mary Blair

May 3, 2021

In a blog concerned with mid century art, the artist Mary Blair is bound to crop up a fair few times. I recently came across another book about her by John Canemaker. Entitled ‘Magic Color Flair. The World of Mary Blair.

It was created for the Walt Disney Family Museum 2014 Mary Blair exhibit, of the same name, and is an authoritative collection of Blair’s life and work including the precocious paintings she made as a student at the renowned Chouinard Art Institute; the enchanting concept drawings she created for numerous Disney films; her lovely illustrated Golden Books, which are still treasured today; and the rarely seen but delightful advertisements, clothing designs, and large-scale installations that she devised later in life.

Curated by Academy Award winning animator John Canemaker and annotated with fascinating information about her artistic process, ‘Magic Color Flair’ is a bold, lively look into the work of an equally bold and lively creative, whose invaluable influence and keen eye helped shape some of the world favorite Disney experiences.

As I’ve already got the ‘Art and Flair of Mary Blair’, I may have to place this one under ‘future investments’.

After a little research I stumbled across this piece below which was sold at auction originally from Mary’s estate and dated 1966. It is said to be an early study for Mary’s tiled murals called ‘Tomorrowland’.

Here’s what the murals turned out to look like.

Such a wonderful array of colour, movement, style and well plain joy to be honest !

She had a great talent for bringing design and illustration to a large marketplace, in a friendly and creative way.

A few more snippets of Mary’s work I’d not seen for a while.

Some old favourites for Alice in Wonderland,

Peter Pan and Cinderella.

The classic rags to riches story.

I love Mary’s great sense of colour, style and application of paint.

Some mid fifties advertising and an early sketch for some Indian and African inspired designs.

You can also see a short sixties film about the making of the tiled murals for Mary’s designs here. I’ve also created more posts about Mary which you can see by clicking on the links under Mid Century Artists on the right side of my blog. Thank you.







Fishink Ceramics

April 30, 2021

Good Morning/Evening everyone.

It is that time again when I host another Fishink Ceramic Sale on my Fishinkblog page on Instagram

There are many different Cats, like these…

And these

Some Angels.


And a whole range of Magic Trees.

But don’t take my word for it pop over today at 10am UK Time until 5pm or the same times tomorrow to see for yourself ! Many different ceramics at affordable prices, and I can ship worldwide, or send a present to someone on your behalf.

Hope to see you there, or if there is something you have seen that catches your eye, drop me a message at and if It’s still available, you can purchase it securely through Paypal.

Catch up soon, thanks Craig

Mid Century Airline Posters Part 2

April 26, 2021

Welcome back to part 2 of my blog on Mid Century Airline Posters.  If you missed part 1, you can find it here.

These posters (below) were designed by the artist Jean Carlu. I like his crayon-like lines.

Relax in style, retro-style with Lufthansa.

A few more from BEA.

The Spanish poster above was created by John Minton.

From BEA to BOAC and a graphic style and some quirky animals.

The amusing animals continue into these great Quantas posters.

Simple yet inspirational !

Finally we come to the Golden Gate Bridge and a splashdown at Niagra Falls with American Airlines.

More from Dong Kingman (above) in another post.

If you enjoyed my posts then do check out these similar ones about Pan Am, B.O.A.C Part 1 and B.O.A.C Part 2 and Braniff.

Also please leave me a comment with your thoughts and most of all…. Have a fun start to your week !

Mid Century Airline Posters Part 1

April 20, 2021

I’ve covered many different Airline Posters on Fishink blog in the past. There’s Pan Am, B.O.A.C Part 1 and B.O.A.C Part 2 and Braniff to name a few.

Here’s a great collection that I came across and haven’t seen many of before. I make no apologies if they have appeared on here previously however as they are all rather special!

Let’s begin by flying TWA.

Some wonderful posters, which make me want to hop on a plane right now.

Great use of colour, space and design. They are visually captivating.

Many of these wonderful posters were designed by David Klein. Such a talented artist.

From TWA to BEA.


Followed by some fresher United Air Lines posters.

That Miami Sun is fabulous don’t you think.

The San Franciso poster below, makes me think of Miroslav Sasek. Or perhaps they’ve just picked the same elements.


A little more structure from American Airlines.



From Braniff to Japan Air Lines.

A few Pam Am specials to finish for today. Is that Cilla ?

More Mid Century poster madness next week.