Etruria Artists

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Etruria Artists logo by Robert Cochrane.

Etruria Artists is on tonight. Starting an hour early at 6pm. If you want to come and have a go at painting, drawing or pottery come to the warehouse by lock 40 (summit lock ) of the trent and mersey canal.

Most art materials are provided or you can bring your own.

I’ve had some good times there creating art. It is an old building though and we do close over the winter as it’s only heated when we are in the building so the water has to be turned off in case it freezes and bursts the pipes. I’ve also helped people with advice for using different paints like Acrylics, Watercolours and Gouache…. I’m not trained as an art teacher but I do have some knowledge.

Bottle oven / pizza oven….

A replica bottle oven is growing on the grounds of Spode at the moment. It’s going to be a pizza oven at the hotel on the Spode site.

Around the other side of Spode near the Church Street side is the base of an original bottle oven which had been demolished years ago. There are very few real ovens still standing in the city. Many were knocked down or fell into disrepair over the years. Where hundreds once stood and smoke stained the city sky less than fifty are still standing and many of these are in danger of being lost to the history of the city, county, and country.

Even now buddleia and other shrubs are growing in between their bricks, pulling the ovens down in continued dereliction. Hopefully some can be conserved.

For those who don’t know bottle ovens are bottle shaped buildings containing a central kiln which the oven surrounds. Pottery was stacked inside the kiln and fired by stoking fires under the ovens with coal.

Minton exhibition

Tonight we went to the opening of an exhibition based on Minton tiles.. This is being held at the Winkhill Mill at Swan Street in Stoke, Stoke-on-Trent.

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Bret Shah and Hans Van Lemmen on have produced a book of patterns based on designs by Minton tiles. Also in the exhibition are examples of tiles. There are 3d printed tiles where the different patterns are built up as layers. You can wear glasses that obscure your vision so you see as if you are visually impaired  The 3d tiles give you an idea of the shapes used on the flat tiles. There is also a chance to see tile presses where dry clay dust is used to produce blank clay tiles. However the mill is also looking ar producing encaustic patterns on the tiles.DSC_1862.JPG

Later we visited St Thomas’s Church at Penkhull. The floor of the church is covered in minton tiles in the area by the altar.

Minton Tiles

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I had the pleasure of being invited to a behind the scenes visit to our city archive today. I had been asked if I wanted to go along by a friend who is doing an art project about the pottery manufacturer.

We went up to the third floor of the city library and were shown round the back of the reception desk into the staff only section. There the city archivist showed us some of the fading pages in the ledgers. They were images of pots that various pot banks made in the history of Stoke-on-Trent.

There were pattern books for tableware and tiles  ledgers with the cost of making the ware and details of workers. The old pottery firms did not collect a lot of details and a lot was thrown out when they closed down. But once we had been in the air conditioned archives we were allowed to sit and (very carefully) look at selected pattern books including prints of tiles to surround hearths, doorways and floors. Some were mundane but others were breathtaking. Art nouveau and art deco masterpieces.

I’m very pleased I was invited.

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International Women’s Day 2018

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I just found this sketch of International Women’s Day from about a year ago. I had a stall with art for sale at Burslem school of Art. I think this was the first time I ever drew the main gallery and I also tried to draw the banner that was on display there.

The school of art is very crooked. Burslem is old and suffers from subsidence or is undermined by coal mines. The whole of the city is built on clay and coal and the coal field under the city has caused a lot of damage over the years. Parts of the city also have geologic faults running underneath them so it’s not surprising that the buildings are affected.

There is also a volcanic plug  where I live, the very base of an ancient volcano that was worn away by erosion over thousands or millions of years. The hill that is left dominates the valley of the river Trent, but the ground rises in other places too. There are coal tips (slag heaps) where the spoil from the collieries was dumped as the coal was hewn from the ground.

The wonder of Pottery and artistic design was the result of the geology in Staffordshire.

Got my plate

I’ve just had a plate delivered. It was one I designed at a “have a go” session at the Wedgewood factory in Barlaston, Staffordshire. You had to draw the design on a piece of paper then it’s photographed and printed on a plate and sent out to you. I’m a little disappointed because its a bit paler and duller than I was expecting. Also the cat, Gracie, is not as central on the plate as I was had drawn and was expecting. That may be my fault. The second image is where I have upped the contrast, and actually looks closer to the original. And the photo of the back tells you when I drew it.

If you decide to do something like this beware using felt pens and pencils that are a bit worn down or dried out. This will effect the outcome. On the whole I enjoyed the experience and its nice to have something of your own to bring back. Its a souvenir of a good day out.

Tea kettle?

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We saw this amazing peice of ceramics today.  It was on top of a cupboard so hard to get a close look, but I think it was over two foot high. Ceramicists will probably know a lot about it? It seems to have red calligraphy on the front, and what is the branching handle supposed to look like? Perhaps like a chopped tree branch.

There are drips of coloured glaze over the body of the pot the handle and the spout, it appears to be some type of lustre ware.

Sitting next to it are some figures on a boat? This plate seems to be a based on Chinese landscape painting.

I love the accessories people choose to decorate places. I know the fashion is to declutter but I think having interesting objects can make the world a more varied place. I would love to give this space in my home.