Flight

I just watched a programme about pottery on the TV. It’s set at the Gladstone Pottery Museum in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent. I like it because people have to do challenges, tonight’s was to create three low relief birds, in a small medium and large sizes. Each one had to represent a real bird. One person did three macaws, another kingfishers, a third falcons. Each contestant made really interesting birds, the standard was very high. One person got Potter of the week, one got eliminated. Its good to see an art based programme with real skills.

The drawing above is a digital finger painting I dis in ArtRage oils a few years ago. It’s meant to be a multicoloured pigeon.

Spitfire gallery

We also visited the new Spitfire Gallery at the Potteries Museum and Art gallery today. Our local council spent millions on the gallery to house a Spitfire E (with shortened wings for low altitude flying). But then earlier this year they decided to reduce the museum opening hours. This means it will be closed two days a week. The Gladstone Pottery Museum will also be closing for five months a year due to council plans to cut budgets. There is outrage in Stoke on Trent. We realise that this will affect tourism in the city and that it is cultural vandalism. But that is what you get when you are ruled by ‘bean counters’ knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing as the saying goes.

Mural at Florence

Based on the Florence colliery this is a mural I painted on panels several years ago. It’s emulsion on marine ply and it was covered in perspex to protect it from the dirt and fumes from the road. I think it’s been relocated from here but I’m not sure whether it’s now inside the building. I haven’t been there for a few years. One day I will go and have a look.

Bathroom ceramics

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Photo from the Gladstone pottery museum which we visited earlier in the year. The fashion these days is for white ceramic sinks and toilets, but look at the colours that used to be made. There is a rainbow of colours on the shelf above the full sized examples. Style changes as times change. Perhaps the world will go back to bright colours, humans are strange creatures!

Enamel kiln

DSC_0026Enamel kiln at Gladstone pottery museum, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. These burn hotter than a normal pottery kiln. This is to create enamel from powdered glass, fired about 1400°C. There is a working enamel kiln at Stevensons in Middlewich on the banks of the Trent and Mersey canal. Enamels are used from jewellery to bathroom ware. This is because it has to be stronger and not chip or crack.

The industrial heritage of this country is hanging on. Places like the Black Country museum in Dudley in the West Midlands give us a place to see how the past was. Manufacturing changes and evolves. Soon robots and AI might be the only way things are made. But despite the old dirty polluting past may have been bad, it still stirs memories and romantic ideas of the way things were.

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Raku and sawdust..

While we were at Gladstone today we saw a couple of interesting ceramic techniques. The first was by a lady called Tez. She was firing some raku Pottery. She had some pots in a metal bin with a gas jet heating it at the base. I didn’t find out what temperature she was firing at, but she said it takes about 40 minutes for a firing plus the work on the pots afterwards. Once they had been fired the pots were taken out of the bin and put in another one to rapidly cool causing crazing in the glaze. The lady put lots of beech shavings on top of the pots so that it smothered the fire. We were told that the wood sucks the oxygen out of the air around the pots and is a reduction reaction causing the copper in the glazes to shine through in a wonderful sheen.

The other technique we saw was more subtle. This time another potter put her pots in a box of burned sawdust ash. The pot was then covered in fresh sawdust mixed with white spirit. She sprinkled some of the burnt ashes on the pot to mask some areas then set light to the sawdust. As it burned it gave a mottled effect on the pot. It looked like it was being aged.

Finally there was some traditional stone ware pottery for sale. Fired in an ordinary kiln but also lovely to look at

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Today at Gladstone

I’m in a group called urban sketchers. Today we braved the wind and cold and went out to draw and sketch there. I got quite chilly and damp but it was worth it. There were about 8 or 9 of us there.

There is so much to see at the Gladstone Pottery museum. Plus there is a nice little shop with Pottery for sale and a good friendly cafe upstairs.

Sited in Longton, Stoke on Trent, the Gladstone Pottery museum shows you the history of ceramics. There is a flushed with success section about toilets and a display of ceramic flower making, pot throwing, an old engine house, a doctors house and surgery. A selection of historical tiles and much more.

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