May 2019


May 1: I tend to worry unnecessarily before supervision meetings. Today’s was particularly positive – things seem to be moving in the right direction.

May 2: Exercising my democratic right to vote – this time in local council elections.

May 3: A glimmer of an idea for a paper for a conference.


May 4: I headed over to Printfest at Ulverston for some fantastic printmaking inspiration, and called in to see a friend for a long overdue cuppa.

May 5: The demons came, uninvited as bailiffs, to rummage round my head.

May 6: I’ve started a glazing class as part of my ceramics research, and we’re being encouraged to experiment. This was an observation from our instructor.


May 7: A first, very brief, attempt at using the potter’s wheel, in the middle of a ceramics evening class whose main focus is handbuilding. It’s much harder than it looks!

May 8: This one’s about sending my engagement ring back to its maker for a bit of servicing, and fretting about it getting lost. The joys of placing material objects in such high regard…

May 9: This one’s a funny one. I’d intended it to be children’s wooden blocks spelling out ‘play’ but I was embroidering it while someone filmed me for a visual anthropology project, and it feels very unsatisfactory. One of my somewhat arbitrary self-imposed rules for this stitch journal is that no unpicking is allowed!


May 10: Lino printing at Leeds Print Workshop.

May 11: Yet more ceramics fieldwork, again at Hive Bradford – this time, building raku pots ready for firing in a couple of weeks.

May 12:  I’ve normally planted vegetables by this point in the year but I’ve been so busy that it’s only now that I’m getting round to it. Today saw beetroot, runner beans, peas, onions, onions and yet more onions, and some new strawberries going in.


May 13: For several weeks I’d been wondering how other participants in my ceramics class got their tiles to be so neat. Finally, this week, I discovered this – a tile cutter!

May 14: Finally, a day full of sunshine.

May 15: To paraphrase Cyril Connolly, “There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the german shorthaired pointer in the hall”.


May 16: Leeds University run many courses for postgraduate researchers, few of which I’ve found quite as useful as those delivered by Dr Kate Taylor in the university’s Language Centre. This one was about structuring writing, which can trip me up gloriously.

May 17: A meeting of the new WRoCAH ‘Space’ network discussion group (forgive the very lazy image here!), which got me thinking about space in very sensory ethnographic/experiental ways – brilliant!

May 18: Cutting slabs to make a little raku house – the second image here shows it in its finished, unfired state.


May 19: A protracted moment of doubt.

May 20: These images are the wrong way round (serves me right for playing catch up!) May 20th was a Monday where, as I said on a Facebook post that first shared this image, I know #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek was last week, but unfortunately life doesn’t always coincide neatly with public health campaigns. Should be in craft class fieldwork but the gloom of previous days has funnelled into a steady drip of bleakness.

May 21: This one’s about how the best ideas always arrive when showering. This one was about camaraderie in craft spaces.


May 22: A day that went downhill.

May 23: I live in the countryside and, though seeing herons isn’t so unusual, I like to think that a day when I see one of these enormous, awkward birds, it’s a good day. On this particular day, I saw two.

May 24: Another downhill day of snappings and grumblings and silences.


May 25: Writing things… then editing them back into oblivion.

May 26: Despite the seemingly relentless rubbish weather so far this spring/summer, the delphiniums seem to be thriving, and it’s remarkable how, even if everything seems terrible, there’s still a great deal of pleasure to be had from admiring the things one has grown.

May 27: This one’s about using a lightbulb to burnish the surface of unglazed leather-hard ceramics. The result is a highly polished surface that remains even after bisque firing.


May 28: Difficult times. The low mood of the previous couple of weeks culminated in an entirely tangled head and thoughts of stopping the PhD. Thankfully I have very supportive supervisors, one of whom was available for a meeting, so I was able to express my concerns, and in return received some very necessary perspective. I’m not going anywhere for the time being!

May 29: Coffee and conversation about amateur making with a friend made through my fieldwork at Leeds Print Workshop. She’s about to start a PhD at Nottingham Trent, looking at home dressmaking, and I really hope there’ll be opportunities to collaborate somehow.

May 30: A much-needed pint. I’d said at the start of the year that my only New Year’s Resolution was to have a pint in a pub by the end of March; a half-pint of Guinness in a North Wales pub some time in March didn’t quite fulfil the brief. It took until the end of May, but this one, a pint of Okell’s Bitter, hit the spot perfectly.