Old window, light pouring through. Old packing room at Middleport pottery. It’s now the cafe. How different it must have been. I presume that plates and pots would have been packed in straw or hay so they didn’t move about too much. It would have then been put in packing cases so that the pottery could be transported on barges. The packs would have been lifted onto the boats using an old wooden crane which sits on the side of the canal. The crane was hand cranked and used a set of gears, a ratchet and a band brake to slow down the boxes of pottery as they were lowered down into the holds of the barges. I’m imagining the packing room bustling with people as the orders went out.
One advantage of the canals was that larger amounts of ceramics could be transported safely, with less breakages than would have happened on a rutted and uneven road in the back of an old horse drawn cart. It also helped speed up deliveries.
The smoke around the potteries must have caused a dark and gloomy atmosphere as the people worked there. The sunlight would not have shone into the window as it did today and the glass was probably filthy with soot and clay. The air was poor and people suffered from breathing difficulties and illnesses. The mortality rate was very bad. Life was difficult and short. I would like to suggest the book ‘When I was a child :Growing up in the potteries in the 1840’s’ by Charles Shaw, which gives an idea of the reality of the time.
When I was out sketching a few weeks ago there were lots of other people drawing. After I finished I took this photo of my friend drawing the same view I’d done. He was working in charcoal and pencil I remember. The day was overcast with patches of blue sky. The ground is covered in concrete, but the way it is breaking up I think there are probably cobblestones underneath. There is a large area of cobbles around the corner where you enter the Middleport pottery complex. In the backdround you can see a small wooden crane which was used to load and unload barges. Forty years ago my hubby worked at another pottery, he actually used one of these to lift packed pottery ware to load onto a lorry. He said you could lift a big weight easily because of the gearing on it. The one he used was cast iron. It had a band brake and a pawl and ratchet to hold the load in place as it was swung over the lorry.
We are not that far away from the past, history is not that long ago. A lot of the old industry in the area was using old machines and equipment, because they had always done things that way and it probably saved a lot in investment. Even now there are lots of pottery molds to be found in the area. Sadly a lot of them get smashed. Losing our heritage. Do we really want to wipe our history out completely?
I was looking for this drawing because there was a prompt on one of the Art groups I’m on that asked people to post #thisisme. I looked and looked for this and could not find it, and yet its on my WordPress media gallery! It was originally drawn for a college project ‘I’. As you can see it includes a self portrait, a canvas and pencil and brush, some poppies, an x-ray, books, an old pottery, a cat and finally the willow pattern on a plate. Each thing means something to me. It was drawn in 2020 so I have changed slightly since then. No bits have dropped off but I’m not as well as I was. Life eh? Gets to us all….
Three pottery paintings I did a few years ago. The one of the jug is going to a new home soon. ❤️
I took them to a joint performance of our Clay chorus and the Starfish choir because we were singing a song about the Willow pattern (this is based on a Spode platter) and also a ship called Hispaniola bringing pottery clay from across the seas that had been written for us by Mark Whitter. I was very proud to have my work appreciated.
I am making cards from these if I can so I need better photos to show them clearly .
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.
In a display case, trapped like a tiger in a cage. Black and brown tabby sculpture. Little legs, massive tail. Iove this piece of cat sculpture at Salts Mill in Saltaire, Yorkshire. I think the technique is scraffito? Where you have a thin layer of slip pover a different colour. When it’s dry you can carve through it to reveal the underlying colour. A purrfect decoration for this wild tabby!
Jug I decorated at a Stoke on Trent pottery for a Christmas present I did a few years ago. I think that this was done at Stafford Pottery in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent. It’s about half the price of the Emma Bridgwater pottery in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent. I tend to paint flowers and cats on things like this. I decorated it as a tortoiseshell cat, black tabby and white. These tend to be female cats if I remember rightly. Something to do with their genetics.
I did this a few years ago. Living in the city of Stoke-on-Trent means there are places where you can pay to paint pottery with glazes and then collect the finished piece a week or so later. I found a place in Burslem which was about half the price of other potteries and the vase was double the size. I think it was called Stafford Pottery, its on the opposite side of the road to Burslem Town Hall. I gave the resulting jug as a Christmas gift. I usually paint cats but have been known to paint horses too… I know it’s mainly a kids thing, but it is fun.