Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday - Part One - Emma Bridgewater

Stitching continues apace on "Star Spangled Sampler."

Did anyone figure out my clue in the last post?  Our 'friend' Emma B. is the Emma Bridgewater company.  So off to Stoke-on-Trent we went.  We were appropriately greeted by a statue of Josiah Wedgwood.

Stoke-on-Trent and the surrounding area was once known as The Potteries. Wedgwood, Spode, Coalport, Doulton, and Minton all were produced here.  Local availability of clay, salt, lead, and coal made it the perfect place for the production of pottery.

We got to take a tour of the Emma Bridgewater factory.  The clay is by far the most important 'ingredient'. 

Clay from 3 or 4 different areas is mixed together. 

The clay is then either put in molds to be shaped...

...into mugs. 

Or the 'tubes' of clay pictured earlier are cut and flung (much like pizza dough) onto molds... create bowls and plates.

After the first firing the pieces are carefully worked to remove any rough spots or imperfections. 

They then get a rough base glaze.

Then the sponge patterns are applied by hand. 

As are details like a painted rim or base.  Such careful and precise work!

Some of the patterns like the birds, are applied with a lithograph pattern sheet.  Careful, careful, careful - it must be straight and true with no air bubbles!

Factory production is normally around 21,000 pieces a week.  Right now, however, the factory has geared up to produce 80,000!  Everyone is on mandatory overtime.  The reasons: The birth of Prince George, a license to produce Beatrix Potter pieces, and the introduction of six new patterns for the fall / winter.  If you look above you can see some of the new patterns: penguins, 2 owls, citrus, and a Christmas pattern.

There was a very nice cafe which was decorated with wonderful ceramics and an example of the Emma Bridgewater Aga stove/oven which one might order if feeling extremely flush! 

We took a look around both the shop and the outlet.  I bought six more bird mugs - but cannot show them as I had them shipped back home.

I was so impressed by the number of steps involved to create the pottery and all the skill needed too.  Emma Bridgewater is to be commended for taking a 'historic' for of employment and making it relevant in the 21st century.


Chris said...

Wow! Another stop that I would have loved. So I will be looking forward to seeing the mugs when you get home. I really love the ones with the bird eggs and feathers :)

Vickie said...

Oh Beth! I think it would be really awesome to work there. Did you possibly spot any poodles?

Margaret said...

Oh my gosh, what a treat!!!!! Wow, I didn't know they did factory tours! So cool! Lucky lucky you! What fun to see the new patterns too!

The Inspired Stitcher said...

Oh my goodness, I'd love to tour that factory! I've loved her designs for years and never knew you could tour the facility. What a treat!

Melissa said...

Oh wow, I would love to see that factory! Did you buy much to take home? I must say since you've had a long vacation it must be hard not to buy everything you love in sight!

Maggee said...

You must be done with Star Spangled by now... love that one especially! Pretty cool factory! Love each design! Just my style! Remember my watering can? Oh that makes me smile! Growing up, my parents did ceramics. We had liquid clay, molds and a kiln. Then they (and once or twice, us kids) painted. I think I have a couple of pieces here...Nothing like the Bridgewater place, but a memory nonetheless. Hugs!

Melanie said...

80,000 pieces a week! Crazy!!!
It's all beautiful work. Love it!