Skip to content

Dorothy Clough An English Ceramist in Sweden

June 14, 2022

Dorothy Clough (1930-) is one of the well-known representatives of the illustrious Swedish ceramic design of the 20th century. She was one of the leading designers for the Upsala-Ekeby and Gefle factories in the 1950s and 1960s. Growing up in the United Kingdom, she received her education at Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland between 1948-53.

With the help of a travel scholarship, she moved to Sweden in 1954, receiving an internship at the Gefle Porcelain Factory in the central Sweden city of Upsala. Dorothy was hired as a designer at the factory Upsala – Ekeby the following year and stayed on until 1957.

After leaving her role at the factory, Dorothy continued her work as a freelance ceramic artist and designer for the Gefle factory and the Upsala-Ekeby factory. She worked on ranges like this ‘Around The World’ set and created work that portrayed life in different countries like Africa, Mexico and Norway.

Dorothy is best known for her playful sculptural figurines, particularly her depictions of animal and female figures. She worked on sculptures for The Flintstones and the infamously popular Pippi Longstocking.

Her body of work includes some 50 different figurines, as well as decorated tableware, and hand-made reliefs and wall tiles.

I love this fab plaque of two fishermen hard at work hauling in their catch.

The work that Dorothy completed in Sweden was signed “DC,” “Dorothy Clough,” or simply “CLOUGH.” She also designed some great Cats !

If you have any more info on this fab designer, do let me know. Which piece is your favourite ?

Fumiya Watanabe Wood Sculpting Dreams

June 6, 2022

Fumiya Watanabe is a Japanese young creator who has been honed in traditional woodcarving. I feel that his calm sculptures are almost beautifully dreamlike in their style and presentation. Hence me wanting to share them with you.

He presently lives in Gifu prefecture and was born in Machida, Tokyo in 1985.
In 2003 he entered the Kyoto Traditional Crafts College, working in the wood carving department and studied Buddhist altar sculpture in Kyoto. After graduating, Fumiya became a disciple of Mr. Ryutsuki Iguchi, a traditional craftsman of Inami sculpture, in Nanto City, Toyama Prefecture, and studied sculpture. He is now independent and active as a sculptor.

Through the magic of google translate, I got in touch with Fumiya to ask some questions, I’m so pleased that he was happy to take part in today’s post.

Who / What inspires you?

Nature, family and people. Take a walk in the garden, go out with your wife, and look at the people in the park. Pet dogs and cats too. I also like zoos.

Where do your sculptural ideas originate?

The idea of ​​the subject comes from what I feel in my daily life. Coexistence of the everyday, life, seasons, nature and people. Ideas come from such things. Regarding the sculpture itself, I think it is more important how to make it than what to make. The shape of the sculpture is important. Light and shadow. Texture. Emotions are transmitted from there.

I love these angelic leaf people.

Do you draw your ideas first, or do you dive into a piece of wood with your ideas in mind?

I draw a picture like a scribble in a sketchbook. From among them, select and carve what can be engraved.

I love the idea of ​​people sitting on animals, where did it start?

Thank you. I don’t remember when, but I have a habit of making myself smaller and imagining being in different places. Sitting on tree branches, ride on leaves, and confront insects. I think that such play came out naturally. Also, the animals on board express my feelings. It feels like it’s floating when it’s a fish.

Do you know the work of artist Michael Sowa ?, I feel a connection to your work.

I knew of it, but I hadn’t seen it properly. I think his work has an association with words that I can’t express.

How do you feel your work may develop in the next few years?

I would like to make a bigger pieces, and I think it would be fun if I could have a solo exhibition in various countries. What you make is shaped like what you feel in your daily life, so I think it will change depending on your age and where you live. But I don’t think it will change much.

Is there a possibility that you will sell your work online someday for those of us who cannot go to Japan?

Sadly no, I’m not thinking about selling online right now. The appearance of the sculpture is different from what you actually see in the photograph. I want people who buy it to actually see it. But my way of thinking may change.

Please tell us a little more about what sculpture and your work mean to you?

I think the work is like a piece of my heart. It reminds me of daily records and feelings at that time.

Did your parents always support you in your work?

Yes my parents support me in what I do. They helped me to go to school and to become a disciple. Now that I can live on my own, I wish I could return something to them.

Do you sculpt all day or do another job to survive?

I work half time on my own work and the rest with other work. It’s all about finding that balance.

It looks like Fumiya has had a couple of exhibitions already, what a beautiful gallery.

Thank you Fumiya for your time in answering my questions. I look forward to following your sculptural journey and seeing what wonders appear next.

What do these sculptures say to you ?

Susan Day Ceramics climbing walls

May 31, 2022

I recently came across the amazing work of Ceramist Susan Day. She received her early art education at BealArt in London, Ontario, later the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in Halifax, Nova Scotia as well as a residency at the Banff Centre in Banff, Alberta. Susan is a visual artist whose work is predominately constructed of ceramic.  She has an extensive exhibition history and her work has successfully straddled the worlds of contemporary craft and fine art. She is not one to be easily daunted by working on a large scale project, or a large surface for that matter.

Her work originates from personal drawings and ideas and then she uses numerous hand-made stamps to create many variations which accumulate in large numbers, ready to adorn the next walled commission. I love the scratchy delicate honesty in her work.

Fab to see these studio insights on her instagram feed of work in progress.

She has accepted huge scale comissions like the one at the London Clay Art Centre (LCAC) in London, Ontario, Canada. The building now sports one of Susan’s exquisite, large-scale mosaic created to celebrate the country’s 150th birthday in 2017.

A total of 650 individuals from 25 distinct groups participated in workshops related to the mosaic project throughout the spring and summer of 2017. In addition, 80 member-artists of The London Potters Guild (LPG), the charitable organization that owns and operates LCAC, volunteered 880 hours working alongside community members, teaching and encouraging them to tell their stories by building, carving, stamping, and painting images on the clay. Around the area of the Old East Village, Susan has taken on a number of other large scale projects such as the Wayfinding Mosaics..

and the Gateway Mosaics.

The image above is the floor of an elevator in the new London, Ontario Children’s Museum and the beautiful shop front below which is again part of the Old East Village.

Various clay versions of artefacts Susan remembers seeing around her home which her mother used for her health.

Here is a collection of some of her smaller work.

Various interior and exterior projects.

This amazing work is a residential collaboration with Skinner Architects, London, Ontario.

Needless to say that Susan has undertaken so many large scale building projects, that she now owns her own Cherry Picker !! Wonderfully inspirational artwork Susan, I am looking forward to seeing what will come next !

You can learn more about Susan and her working methods via this half hour video.

José Bort Gutiérrez Midcentury Record Covers

May 23, 2022

José Bort Gutiérrez, was born in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain in 1912.

Poster designer, book illustrator, record cover designer, etc. He completed his first studies at the School of Applied Arts and Artistic Crafts in his hometown, moving to Madrid at a very young age.

He worked for the Azor and Stentor agencies in Madrid, and Publía, in Barcelona. He held the position of Head of Studio at the San Sebastian company, Industria Gráfica Valverde.

He was the creator, together with his daughter, Ana Bort Rueda, of the television characters Los Lunnis.

He won several prizes as a poster designer and from his hand La Familia Telerín (1964) was born, as a result of a contest organized by TVE, for which the brothers Santiago and José Luis Moro created the well-known short film “Vamos a la cama”, a song with the that all the children went to sleep.

His activity as a designer of covers takes place between 1960 and 1964, the golden age of Spanish graphic design applied to the microgroove record, which was born in 1954 and disappeared in 1968.

He worked for the companies Mercury, Philips and, above all, Fontana. He is one of the few illustrators, along with Cañizares (Fontana), Sagalés and Val (Belter), Manzano (Zafiro), Ponce de León (RCA), León (Hispavox)… who accredit his work.

What a wonderful style in his work. Thanks to two sites for making this post possible. Images used mostly from here and translated text from here.

Fishink Ceramic sale this weekend

May 21, 2022

Hi everyone This weekend I am hosting my latest Ceramic Sale online and also with @gnccfonline #gnccf . It started this morning on my Instagram stories at @ fishinkblog or and is on until Sunday at 5pm. There will be many new pieces like this Three White Birds design featured here, all hand made and designed by myself. Please help spread the word by liking this, telling your friends and sharing the info, soooo very much appreciated and I look forward to seeing you all soon. Do pop over now and have a browse.

Willi K Baum

May 16, 2022

Hello everyone, just a quick reminder that my online Fair starts this weekend, featuring a whole range of new ideas and hand made ceramics. It will be live on the website from 8am on the 21st May and will be open all weekend on there and also on my Instagram page For an opportunity to buy work before the general public, anybody who signs up to the mailing list via the website, will get an exclusive invite to the Preview evening on Friday 20 May 2022 from 6pm.

The GNCCF champions and promotes high quality, cutting edge contemporary craft and promotes designer makers, giving them a prestigious and high-profile platform to sell their work to a discerning audience. Designer-makers, from across the country and beyond, are invited to apply to showcase their work including ceramics, jewellery, glass, interior and fashion textiles, wood, silver and furniture. The fairs are over-subscribed and an independent panel of craft industry experts select the makers to ensure a high standard and variety of work – more than 50% of applications are unsuccessful.

Looking forward to seeing you over the weekend, please put a reminder in your diary and help spread the word to your friends and family who also appreciate exclusive craft. It would mean so much if you dropped by.

All the very best, Craig (@fishinkblog)

For further information on GNCCFonline, visit:-
Facebook : Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair
Instagram @great_northern_events
Twitter @GNCCF

Ok now onto today’s fab creative. I came across the fabulous work of Mid Century Artist Willi K. Baum but could find very little written about him, apart from this self-penned C.V. If he is with us still, I believe he should be turning 90 this year. Happily Remembered Mr Baum !! In his own words…

Adventures with pen and brush and camera, and traveling the world, would describe my life.

Born in Switzerland, my school years in Dresden, surviving the city’s destruction in WW2, I was fortunate to spend a 4‑year apprenticeship in Graphics in Switzerland after the war. At age 20, I won the national competition for the design of a poster for the Swiss National Philatelic Exhibition, also chosen among the best Swiss posters of 1951. It is now in the MOMA collection of N.Y.

After 4 years, adventure called, so I accepted a job as Art Director at South African Advertising in Cape Town.

My earnings there allowed me to discover S.Africa and eventually roam East Africa on a motor scooter, with a stint at East African Advertising in Nairobi. On safari with my Lambretta. I developed my love of wild life photography. Life was as interesting as the magic images on the stamps of my boyhood collection. Many exciting adventures alone in the bush living in a pup tent, got me as close as possible to amazingly tolerant wildlife.

Before returning to Europe, I earned my seaman‘s papers on a Panamanian tramp steamer in the Indian Ocean.

1956. Back in Europe and in need of income, I joined Unilever as Art Director in Hamburg and London.

1958. Left for the U.S., touring the country in a used Ford. Ended up in Denver, finding plenty of work in design free-lancing, and most rewardingly designing and illustrating national ads for “Martin- Denver” Space program.

After a short-lived marriage, took off for a 10-month trip to Japan, S.E. Asia and from there, overland to Europe, recording with sketchbook and camera.

1961. Return to U.S., freelancing for advertising in San Francisco. Discover kayaking on the beautiful bay. In 1962 start many fruitful VW trips to Mexico, drawing and water-coloring.

A long sojourn in San Miguel Allende offered a chance to study mural fresco painting, and a chance at learning horse jumping.

When the savings ran out, I returned to S.F. and on to N.Y.C. where good freelance work was to be found. From there a passage on a large ore-tanker to Rotterdam, drawing and painting on board.

1964. Again in S.F., design and illustration shifting to illustrating for the emerging creative national schoolbook market, launched by the most prominent publishers.

1969. Move my studio from Pier 39 to a house in Mill Valley. Work lead to illustrating children’s books and eventually writing around a dozen of my own picture books mostly for European publishers. Many story ideas originated on travels. Observing dance drama in Bali lead to a visual translation in the form of a large portfolio of 32 hand printed and hand colored linoleum cuts, the “Bali Ramayana”, still looking for a book publisher for the collection.

Having my own letterpress, allowed for an output of private linoleum cuts over the years. A home dark room allowed for printing my own b/w travel photos.

A very creative relationship with a book publisher in S.F. allowed for steady work in book dust-jacket design which allowed for continued travel, now with my shutter-bug wife Kimiko, who shares my love for Africa and it’s wild animals. The backyard of our home in Mill Valley is a favorite hangout for the local wild life. Willi Baum

What a great designer and an impressive range of artistic skills.

Walking in Wales

May 9, 2022

It was a wonderful weather day yesterday, so to make the most of it we drove about an hours journey into Llangollen, Wales. We had heard of the the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen Canal World Heritage Site and were keen to have a walk around the area.

In the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, north Wales was at the centre of a tourism boom in Britain. A growing middle-class made money in the industrial cities but also wanted to escape them and find peaceful, unspoiled countryside.

The canal was built as an industrial development, but it quickly became known as a pleasant route to walk, with views of the Dee valley. The two aqueducts and tunnels drew admiration from visitors. Many commented on how well the structures fitted into the natural surroundings, while at the same time praising the engineering feats.

Artist Anthony Lysycia created some of the sculpture at the site using bricks and tools used in the building and maintenance of the Bridge.

At the visitor car park entrance to the Trevor Basin is a sculpture (above) showing a narrowboat propeller. It represents setting off on a journey from Trevor. There are six sculptures by Anthony Lysycia around the aqueduct, commissioned in 2003 as the bid for World Heritage Status was beginning to be considered.

The canal brought water borne transport from the English lowlands into the rugged terrain of the Welsh uplands, using innovative techniques to cross two major river valleys and the ridge between them. It was built between 1795 and 1808 by two outstanding figures in the development of civil engineering: Thomas Telford and William Jessop. Through their dynamic relationship the canal became a testing ground for new ideas that were carried forward into subsequent engineering practice internationally. It was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2009.

For more than 500,000 visitors a year, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a source of awe. It is the highest canal aqueduct in the world. With an open railing on one side, so crossing is not for the faint hearted lol

The Vale of Llangollen is considered an especially beautiful area to visit. The landscape is a mixture of lush, green lowlands and high yet accessible mountains. There are some stunning walkways through both forests and higher plains.

These impressive Limestone hills jut out at irregular angles, adding to the whole drama of the area.

During the British Iron Age, around 600BCE, a large hillfort was built on the summit of what was to become Dinas Brân by a Celtic tribe named the Ordovices. You can just see the remains of Castell Dinas Brânin in the photo below. Dinas Brân has been variously translated as the “crow’s fortress” or “fortress of Brân”, with Brân as the name of an individual or of a nearby stream.

For a welcome stop for good food and beverage, I could readily recommend the Sun Trevor Pub, with great views of the Welsh countryside whilst you eat and sup !

Seven hours later, with sore knees and feet from the walking (and that’s just the dog) we headed home, alongside the canal to finish up back where we had started our day.

So lucky to be able to do this walk today. I’ve a feeling we will be returning again soon.

Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair online

May 4, 2022

Hi Everyone.

I have exciting news today. I have been selected to take part in the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair online, which will be live from 8am on the 21st May and will be open all weekend on their website and for my work, also on my Instagram page For an opportunity to buy work before the general public, anybody who signs up to the mailing list via the website, will get an exclusive invite to the Preview evening on Friday 20 May 2022 from 6pm.

The GNCCF champions and promotes high quality, cutting edge contemporary craft and promotes designer makers, giving them a prestigious and high-profile platform to sell their work to a discerning audience. Designer-makers, from across the country and beyond, are invited to apply to showcase their work including ceramics, jewellery, glass, interior and fashion textiles, wood, silver and furniture. The fairs are over-subscribed and an independent panel of craft industry experts select the makers to ensure a high standard and variety of work – more than 50% of applications are unsuccessful.

Looking forward to seeing you over the weekend, please put a reminder in your diary and help spread the word to your friends and family who also appreciate exclusive craft.

All the very best, Craig (@fishinkblog)

For further information on GNCCFonline, visit:-
Facebook : Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair
Instagram @great_northern_events
Twitter @GNCCF

UK Stamps

May 2, 2022

Happy Bank Holiday Monday, those of you who are lucky to enjoy it as a day off. I thought I would delve today into the colourful history of Stamps in the UK.

As one of the oldest organisations in the world, the Royal Mail Group can trace its origins back over 500 years to 1516. The ‘Penny Black‘ (above) was the world’s first adhesive postage stamp used in a public postal system. It was initially issued in the United Kingdom (referred to in philatelic circles as Great Britain), on 1 May 1840, but was not valid for use until 6 May. The stamp features a profile of Queen Victoria, and last year, one was offered at auction for 4 to 6 million pounds !! But failed to sell.

In 1837, British postal rates were high and complex. To simplify matters, Sir Rowland Hill proposed an adhesive stamp to indicate pre-payment of postage. At the time it was normal for the recipient to pay postage on delivery, charged by the sheet and on distance travelled. By contrast, the Penny Black allowed letters of up to 1⁄2 ounce (14 grams) to be delivered at a flat rate of one penny, regardless of distance.

The total print run was 286,700 sheets, containing a total of 68,808,000 stamps. Many were saved, and in used condition they remain readily available to stamp collectors. The only known complete sheets of the Penny Black are owned by the British Postal Museum.

As no other country at the time was issuing adhesive postage stamps, the country name was not used. For their distinction of being the first stamp issuing country, to this day, Great Britain is the only country in the World that is NOT required to print their country name on their postage stamps.

In 1966, Queen Elizabeth II approves Arnold Machin’s design of her to be used on postage stamps. Her image has since appeared on more than 180 billion copies of the stamps. Some early ones below alongside those of Queen Victoria.

I love the intricate decoration of these above. Below, a few notable designs celebrating different Jubilee’s throughout the years, up to the present day 2022 Platinum Jubilee stamps of the Queeen celebrating 70 years in service, (bottom left).

Books of stamps used to be stitched down one side with a decorated front cover.

More painterly stamps from the sixties to the eighties.

Stamps depicting nature are always a popular choice.

In the nineties, stamps were sold as part of a presentation pack, often with a header and a theme that linked them together, like Messages, Magic and Smiles.

In 2004, Royal Mail launches the UK’s first digital stamp with an online postage system called SmartStamp®. It is aimed mainly at small businesses. Today’s stamps feature Migratory Birds, DC Heroes and Harry Potter. How styles and tastes change over the years.

A new set of stamps has been launched to pay tribute to David Gentleman, the designer credited with changing the face of the British stamp. David has been hailed as the most prolific and influential British stamp designer, designed more than 100 stamps for Royal Mail between 1962 and 2000, and provided many more designs that were not used. Royal Mail collaborated with him to choose a selection of some of his most famous and influential images, seen here.

The tribute to Gentleman is notable as it is the first time Royal Mail has dedicated an entire issue to a designer of its commemorative stamps. David Gold, a spokesperson for Royal Mail, said Gentleman was “one of the foremost artists involved in British stamp design”.

“For over half a century, he has made an enduring contribution to British stamp design. His work continues to influence and inspire designers today.”

The first designs of Gentleman’s that were successful were for National Productivity Year in 1962, and used symbolic arrows.

Three years later he wrote to the new postmaster general, Tony Benn, in response to a general invitation for ideas about stamps, recommending more interesting subjects than had been featured previously. He also proposed a new size of stamp and introduced a small cameo of the Queen, based on her profile as depicted by Mary Gillick on coins from 1953.

Gentleman said: “Stamps were fun to design, though squeezing a lot into a small space wasn’t easy. At first it was difficult to fit in the Queen’s head until I turned it into the simple profile which is still used today”. A recent exhibition showed some of his original artwork.

Over the years UK Stamps have seen quite a few colour variations.

If you enjoyed this post, you may find it interesting to visit The Postal Museum. If you should wish to start collecting stamps for yourself there are some tips from the world famous Stanley Gibbons and if you are looking to know where to start buying your stamps and their value, then have a look at Albany Stamps for some guidance. Finally a wonderful site called Collect GB Stamps, has a dated collection of stamps from past to present. Do you have any favourite stamp designs you can share ?

Bob Peak Mid Centuary Illustration for Advertising

April 25, 2022

Robert M. Peak (1927–1992) is an award-winning American illustrator , born in Denver, Colorado, Peak grew up in Wichita, Kansas.

At an early age he displayed a talent for art, and had an interest in becoming a commercial illustrator. While attending Wichita State University, Peak took a part-time job in the art department of a local printing and graphics firm, McCormick-Armstrong.

After serving in the Navy during the Korean War, he enrolled in the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, California, where he graduated in 1951.

In 1953 Peak moved to New York City and worked on an Old Hickory Whiskey advertising campaign, followed by numerous assignments in such major national magazines as Time, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, TV Guide, and Ladies’ Home Journal, among others.

In 1961 United Artists film studio hired Peak to design the poster images for the film West Side Story, the success of which began a three-decade-long career in designing movie posters for such big-budget films as My Fair Lady (1964), Camelot (1967), Superman (1978), six Star Trek films (1979-1991), and many others.

He is credited with having a major impact on the development and style of subsequent movie poster artists and was in great demand by film directors throughout the 1980s. Here’s some more of his sixties work.

Very clever how he depicts communication through these illustrations.

Peak won more than 150 awards, from numerous organizations, such as The Society of Illustrators, New York; The Artists Guild, New York; Art Directors Club of New York; Art Directors Club of Philadelphia; Advertising Club of Boston, and The Hollywood Reporter. In 1977 the Society of Illustrators elected Peak to its Hall of Fame.

For the 1984 Olympics, the United States Postal Service commissioned Peak to design thirty stamps.

He also created thirty-one watercolors depicting various sports events in the history of the Olympics for the book entitled Golden Moments, commissioned by the United States government.

Throughout his prolific career, Peak created cover art and illustrations for a wide variety of magazines. In addition, he taught at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles and at New York’s Art Students League. However he is possibly best known for his thirty year contribution to the film industry, creating vibrant and exciting designs for modern movie posters.

Peak’s work has appeared in numerous art exhibitions and solo shows. His paintings of Anwar Sadat, Mother Teresa, and Marlon Brando hang in the Smithsonian Institution’s permanent collection. Sadly his career ended abruptly and tragically in August 1992 after he suffered a brain hemorrhage in a fall.

What an amazingly talented Illustrator, any thoughts readers as to what you liked best ?