I colori di guardia sanframondi

Im now coming to the end of my residency, time to review and reflect on what I’ve learnt and look forward to taking new skills, ideas and contacts home with me to Scotland.

We sent out the invites, got everything ready and laid out the nibbles and wine and waited until the rainstorm finished…..and everyone appeared! Thank you to all who came along, you made it a fabulous end to a wonderful residency.

Images are taken by clare galloway of Arthouse Guardia




















Painting with stones and metal – part three

It always surprises me that when I actually watch someone and then have a go myself, how much easier it can be than my initial thoughts of doing it. Painting with egg tempera is one of those skills…once I was shown how to do it I was off!

Gather everything together…..pestle and mortar, eggs, bowls, paper, minerals, disposable palate and painting equipment

Separate egg yoke from egg white and prepare egg yoke.

Whisk egg yolk with a little vinegar.

Mix egg yolk with mineral powder on palate

A small amount of water may be required to prepare the mineral, use of a muller and stone would have been useful here, to reduce the size of the particles for painting to get a smoother finish.

Amounts of paint required need to be estimated prior to making up as the length of time the paint will keep is restricted due to the natural nature of the ingredients.

Natural colours found around guardia from stones, metal and found objects.

I colore di guardia – colour wheel.

It will be a while before I can test the other stones and soil samples in the kiln, but i’ll post an update when I have one. In the meantime, this technique will be useful for a couple of projects I have coming up in the next few months….watch this space.

Painting with stones and metal – part two

A couple of the techniques I was hoping to explore, before I came to Italy, were casein painting and egg tempera and I was delighted when Helena said she taught egg tempera to her students and she’d be happy to give me a demonstration.

During the first couple of walks, here in Guardia, I collected a selection of stones and soils as well as some oxides from around the town.


In the process of walking about i found out that the mountain Guardia Sanframondi is built on used to be an island and the surrounding land a lagoon! No wonder it is so lush, the romans and greeks made it their ‘garden’ and is where the area got its name, Campania, from the Latin, Campania Felix or fertile countryside.


We visited the paleo-lab at Pietraroja, where we had a brilliant tour through time, learnt about fossils, got to make our own ammonites and see the dinosaur found in a stone by a young boy. The baby dinosaur, looks like a velociraptor (like the ones in jurassic park) and is almost fully intact with its internal organs clear to see!

Outside the paeleo-lab.

Anyway, back to the stones…i was able to collect a few samples of limestone with iron oxides flowing through them, some interesting vitrified stones and some fossilised stones that had the most amazing molluscs and shapes in them. My trusty mini microscope came in really handy.


In Naples we bought some natural pigments from an art store to compare colours, texture and ease of application with the ‘found’ pigments. Lastly, I collected some charcoal, which i think may be from grape vine wood, found at Forre di Lavello e Grotte near Cosano mutri, a popular picnic place full of lovely walks, grottos and a huge river. All great materials and inspiration for making paint!

Stone and metal oxide pigments mixed with water and applied to watercolour paper.

Painting with stones and metal – part one

View from Matese national park

As a ceramicist I’m interested in the colours in the earth, and when I travel I’m curious about the colour of soils and stones; from the rich reds of South Aberdeenshire, Angus and Perthshire, Scotland to the white soils in the South of England. I always wonder how the land is formed? what gives it its colour? and what makes it change?

Pietraroja – matese massive

When i walked the length of the River Deveron I collected samples of earth and clay, I’ve collected some bedrock soils from recent archaeological digs, soil samples on walks with Helena and Vittorio during this residency and people are now donating samples to me as well (I recently received some clay soil from The USA!)

Collection of soils and stones from Pietraroja.

Eventually when i get a pottery workshop back up and running I’ll explore these materials in the kiln, in slips and glazes. In the meantime, I will explore these stones down a microscope and make them into paints.

Mineral samples ‘painted’ using water.

Artichoke paper – part three

The last instalment of the paper making adventure finishes with transforming the pulp into paper with a little help of some mesh, sun and patience.


Once we were happy with the mesh coverage we then went into full production. Leaving the paper to dry out a little….


Before transferring it to the ‘couch’ for drying out…


Building up layers of paper as you use up the processed pulp


An additional little squeeze out of extra moisture….


And then leaving it to dry….


All our hard work was worth the effort and patience of making when the final paper was dry….