Burslem Port

At the far end of Luke Street, Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent, are steps down to a footpath along the line of a long filled in canal and towpath.

The overgrown shrubbery and weeds have recently been beaten back to reveal a pathway to lead up to Burslem in one direction and down to the Trent and Mersey canal in the other.

When the canal was open there was a bakery next to it that supplied thousands of loaves to the potteries. This is being celebrated by the Baker boys choir next weekend during a festival which will see an art installation being erected down on the canal at Middleport.

Hopefully I will be singing with the choir at the festival. X

Local industrial archaeology

Pottery bottle oven, Longport, Stoke-on-Trent. Next to the Trent and Mersey canal. I can’t remember the name of the pottery sorry. I think there are only 32 of these old pottery ovens left in Stoke-on-Trent. A few, like at Middleport pottery and the Gladstone Pottery museum are preserved and in good condition. Others are derelict or semi derelict. A few are just the bases of them left on the ground. Some are being rescued and repurposed, but others are dreadfully neglected as this one is.

Bottle ovens/kilns and enamel kilns burn at different temperatures. They were different shapes, the enamel ones are thinner. The outside bottle shape has a doorway into it and surrounds a cylindrical kiln where the pottery is placed. The pottery itself is stacked in ‘saggars’- round or oval shaped covers that protect the ceramics as the kiln is ‘fired’. These old fashioned kilns were heated with coal. The clay and fires lead to lung diseases, which were also found in local miners. As coal firing was stopped because of the clean air act many of these potteries closed or converted to gas firing in modern kilns. Old photos from the turn of the 19th century show many bottle ovens all over the city and the pall of smoke they created.

Stoke-on-Trent has clay, water and coal in abundance which is why the pottery industry set up here as well as a few other places in the UK. There are many books about the industrial archaeology of the area are available. Other information can be found at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in the city centre (Hanley), Stoke-on-Trent.

My Emma Bailey ceramics cat

It’s a lovely little cat with yellow and black decoration. It’s only small, about 7 inches tall. He’s smart and adds to my ornaments on the mantlepiece. Emma does larger cats and lots of other objects. The ceramics have designs that are reminiscent of Clarice Cliff pottery from the 1930’s.

Emma Bailey ceramics is based at Middleport pottery in Middleport, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. Check opening times as the pottery is open at the moment.

Collected mugs

This is one of the mugs I bought from Emma Bailey Ceramics. She’s done a run of them to celebrate Penkhull Winning the #WorldSeriesOfFlags from the #theflaginstitute. Great fun. Bonus, if you live in Penkhull you get a discount!

So pleased with them. Its also good because we won the #FACupOfFlags. I helped design the flag as part of a competition a couple of years ago. That’s some Christmas presents sorted out.

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Reflected water

From ssummer two years ago. A reflection and mirrored image of the canal surface at Middleport. Taken when we went to see the ceramic poppies that were used to decorate the bottle kiln at Middleport pottery. The art work of thousands of ceramic poppies travelled round Britain in 2018, to celebrate the centenary of the end of the First World War in 1918. If I find a photo of the poppies I will share it.

A drawing of a steam engine

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I like to try and sketch things when I’m visiting places, and this is my attempt at a steam engine when we were visiting. Middleport pottery in August 2018.i don’t know why I thought it was bad, it doesn’t look too awful now in hindsight. I can be too critical of myself sometimes. It’s a bit wonky but when you are trying to draw a moving bit of machinery it’s not easy. Anyway I’m publishing it, so I’ve forgiven myself for my mistakes.

Black ink pen on cartridge paper, it’s probably in one of my numerous sketchbooks, somewhere in the pile of drawings and sketches I have built up over the years.

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This time last year.

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Sorry to reminisce again, but this time last year I was in the process of aintingvthis teapot. The pattern eventually covered the pot. It’s based on the burleigh pattern that they use at middleport pottery.

Middleport, by the way, is where they film the Great Pottery Throw down which has just started on TV again. Its very creative and interesting, maybe I can get some ideas for some new paintings from there? I’m thinking based on the various colours of their glazes. There were some really beautiful results in the first episode. Must ty and hat out of this slump.

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Just doodling

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What to do when you are watching TV and you want to draw? Wait for the ad break and draw something quickly.

I’m watching something called the Great Pottery Throw down where twelve potters compete each week to make the best ceramics. This week the challenge is to make a six piece coffee set with a caffitierre, two expresso cups and saucers and a toast rack. Really enjoying watching people design, make and fire pots. Watching clay dry and drawing… Fun!

Craft fair

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Help! After a day painting I called in at the waiting room gallery to set up my craft stall for the weekend. I didn’t remember to take a photo, so this is from the previous weekends stall. I’ve added more Christmassy pictures to it.

So if you happen to be in Longport, Stoke-on-Trent, this weekend you might like to come along. You could also visit a Middleport pottery show and Cherished Chimneys in Longport.

Memory

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If you can’t read the writing it says (bit truncated) weeping window, 31. 8.18, middleport pottery.

The drawing is of thousands of ceramic poppies which were displayed on the bottle oven at Middleport pottery, middleport, Stoke-on-Trent in August last year. These poppies had travelled round the country to commemorate the men who had fallen in the first World War.

At one stage the poppies were not going to come to Stoke-on-Trent despite thousands of them being made here. I for one am glad they came.