Tag : yorkshire-tea

The Emma Bridgewater Factory

IMAG0483Yesterday was a bit of a ‘road trip’! One of my closest and dearest friends had her birthday recently – and as she is also very creative, and we mentioned AGES ago about doing something like pottery making, or decorating – my gift to her was to visit the brilliant, and iconic Emma Bridgewater factory in Stoke-on-Trent. We were booked in for both a factory tour to see the makers and creators in all their skillful glory… and then to go and decorate our very own pieces in their studio. Exciting!

It was a horrible drive up – the weather was typically Britishly grey, rainy, horrid visibility – but when we pulled up at the factory the clouds were on the turn – with blue skies and glorious sunshine just around the corner. A sign that our day was about to be on the up!

Despite the horrid journey, we did arrive quite a bit earlier than planned. But – this actually was a genius move – plenty more time to spend in the factory shop! Winning.

 

Although marked as ‘Seconds’ you sometimes struggled to work out exactly why it was just that – and ‘Seconds’ – the odd mark here and there that perhaps was ‘out of spec’ but nothing that didn’t stop each piece certainly being a delightful piece of exquisitely handmade piece of pottery here at the very factory in Stoke. Bargains galore – I really did have to reign in my desire and the true definition between ‘want’ and ‘need’… Beautiful mugs normally £19.95 – instead… £11.90 for two anyone?? A true sign of the high quality standards that the factory obviously strives towards.

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They are very proud of the fact they are in Stoke – and, that everything is made on site – and so they should be! They are one of the largest employers in the area – around 185 people – and it is just so exciting to see such an industry still in good old Great Britain.

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Although I knew they were made in Stoke, and yes perhaps hand decorated – I had no idea, that Every. Single. Piece. is TOTALLY handmade. Hand moulded, hand finished, hand checked, hand well – everything – from beginning to end – each mug, bowl, tureen is completely hand created. And, due to that – on the finishing at least, one will never be exactly the same as the next. Each very talented painter – will of course, have to keep to a certain spec, but it will always be their own. Our delightful factory tour guide ‘Julie’ explained that some people that collect Emma Bridgewater pottery – will ONLY collect certain artists pieces. What a compliment! You may be thinking – but how do they know!? Well, underneath each item, the artists leave their little ‘mark’ – usually their initials, and in the romantic eyes – it gives credence to the artist – which, of course it does – but, also it is a part of the quality control system – but either way it certainly shows it was hand created by a person, and not a machine!

 

IMAG0492Next we headed over the cafe for some well earned (ok, not really – but well desired) tea and scrumptious-moist-really-not-needed carrot cake. What a place! With (as expected!) everything served on in house wares – a now famous ‘polka-dot design’ adorned Aga in the middle, the walls covered with quirky posters and shelf upon shelf of mugs, plates… Just lovely! A fun, relaxed environment akin to the branding and designs of the Bridgewater pottery.IMAG0502

 

We didn’t actually have long, so we wolfed down our treats – and headed on over to the decorating studio.

 

We knew we were doing this – but it wasn’t until we were actually inside that we thought about a) what we wanted to decorate and b) what we wanted to decorate it with! Blank pieces started from as little as £6.00 and luckily there were a wide selection of stamps and paint colours – so it wasn’t long before we were inspired and raring to go!

Those girls in the factory are really so talented – they make it look ‘easy’… I had grand viIMAG0490sions of all sorts of complicated designs – but in the end settled for some lovely and very ‘The Crafty Lass’ hearts and stars in a repeat pattern around the edges of the iconic Bridgewater mug – in green and pink too, of course.

I love those mugs – we were bought the also iconic ‘Mr & Mrs’ mugs when we got married – and although they have a special meaning of course – they are such lovely mugs to drink from. Heavy, but still actually useable. Thick and solid, but still somehow delicate. It’s crazy – but my morning cuppa of Yorkshire tea, always tastes better in that mug than any other.

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Anyway – back to the decorating – we soon learnt that the paint dries very quickly, and that’s quite handy – as if you make a mistake, you can sandpaper it back off! We were fortunate that the scheduled groups after us – weren’t so large, and so with plenty of space – we managed to hang around longer than the normal allocated time. We were so absorbed in our new found love of pottery painting – we hung around in the studio for 2.5 hours…! And due to that – not only did I complete two IMAG0500mugs – one for myself, and one for The Husband but also a ‘Crafty Lass’ inspired matching plate with my now well used ‘Make. Create. Inspire.’ “catchphrase”! I have delightful and rose-tinted visions of my morning tea and toast with them to literally inspire me onwards in my The Crafty Lass days. The only deadline that curtailed us short of moving in and staying there all day and night and decorating pretty much everything – was that the cafe stopped serving lunch at 3.30pm… so we managed to put the paintbrushes down, pack-up, pay and get over there for some more delicious food. (A pesto, mozzarella and tomato toastie and a Ham, Cheese and Piccalilli bloomer – both with salad and plenty of homemade coleslaw incase you were wondering. Delicious!)

The final pieces need to be glazed, fired, cooled – and so they will be sent on to us in just a few weeks time. I cannot wait for the knock on the door the day that parcel arrives!!!

 

A final mooch around the shop to buy more items that I probably don’t need, but feel that my kitchen is greatly improved by – before back in the car, and off home. A long day – but happy, content and I actually feel like we had a therapeutic, creative and world-away from the day to day stuff – just, put simply – a truly lovely day trip out with my dear friend.

I left feeling inspired. Emma Bridgewater started the company simply because she couldn’t find the right present for her mum. Spotted a gap in the market – and et voila! They now produce 1.2 million pieces of pottery every year.
If you hadn’t already guessed by my above review – I would highly recommend a visit here to anyone. So, if you are ever Stoke way, or fancy a bit of a road trip – head on up there! Your bank balance won’t thank me for the recommendation, but your soul and kitchen certainly will.

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Categories: Birthday, Crafty Kids, General Craft, House & Home, Places to Go & Things to See

The Crafty Lass visits…The Women’s Institute Centennial Fair!

What a gloriously sunny day yesterday was! Well, it certainly was in the beautiful spa town of Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

I love Yorkshire – I am fortunate to have married a Yorkshire lad, so we do get to visit this beautiful part of our country fairly regularly – but it never ceases to amaze me when we return just how stunning the scenery is – picture perfect rolling green hills, idyllic little villages, the lovely Yorkshire stone buildings.  Just delightful.

I don’t of course need an excuse to visit Harrogate – but, what better reason to than to go and see The Women’s Institute Centennial Fair – 100 years of Women’s Institute history!

With plenty to see and do – demonstrations, talks, book signings, workshops, places to eat – and certainly BUY (the Christmas shopping has begun – and yes, I know it is only September!) I would like to detail all the purchases I made – but certain people who I know read this blog may just be getting something, and I know they would know it was for them! Ha!

Anyway, apart from having a lovely look around lots of lovely stands – I also booked myself in for the ‘Origami Teacup’ workshop with Clare Gage later in the afternoon.

It wasn’t actually what I expected – but not in a bad way, as I am not actually sure what I did expect! However, it was brilliant! Very inspiring – and really got me thinking about what creative skills I, and we all do, have, and how these can cross into new ways of looking/making/doing/trying new things. Clare used the term creative ‘hacking’ – which is just a perfect explanation really. For example knitting – well instead of using ‘normal’ wool – why not giant wool, or tiny needles – or knitting with something entirely different, like wires – or plastic! Thinking outside the box.

We started out with just a few squares of sugar paper, ready to be ‘origamied’ (is that even a word?) into a little, simple cup design. Next we translated this into different scales – seeing whether it was easier to make the same shape with a very small piece of paper, or very large. I actually enjoyed the tiny pieces of paper, having to try and make super delicate folds to keep the cup design shape. Once we had the hang of that… we moved on to different types of materials – tissue paper, crepe paper, cellophane, fabric, stiffened fabric… and finally clay! Each one responded slightly differently to the folding techniques and the final outcome of a little shape, some better than others – but all unique and individual.

My clay attempt – was actually the hardest part – and, I know it looks a little ‘clumsy’ (you can see in the photo’s below) – but, I had fun – which, I think with craft – it is often the most important part?? – making a little handle, decorating it by stamping out button shapes… We actually only had an hour to make all of these little trials – and so I think quite a lot achieved! I would love to give the clay another go actually – try a bit more creative hacking!

After the workshop – I was desperate to buy a beautiful mug from Clare’s stand in the fair – and, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to pick my favourite…but with the aforementioned already purchased Christmas shopping – I decided not to. However, it was this morning – when I made my morning cup of Yorkshire (of course!) tea, I stood there thinking – how much nicer would this have been in a beautiful textiles inspired piece of delicate porecelain? So – it is on my Christmas wish list for sure (please take note friends and family members – and just to be extra clear – Clare’s website is HERE. And after much deliberation, my piece of choice is THIS stunning Patchwork teacup. I love just how gloriously delicate it is in the pure white – but really feels like a mug you could have a proper brew in! Deeply textured ‘fabric’ porcelain. In Clare’s own words from her website “It’s comforting, passionate and nostalgic”.

Anyway, enough of my Christmas wishlist – the time spent with Clare making the lovely little cups – made me really think about my own craft and creative workshops- and how to best deliver them – and of all the exciting The Crafty Lass things to look forward to…and of course Christmas, and my new cup! (ahem!) 🙂

Categories: Places to Go & Things to See

Top 5… Creatively biscuity things!

Is biscuity even a word?? Either way – Friday 29th May 2015 was apparently ‘National Biscuit Day‘… in fact – every day in our house is ‘biscuit day’. My personal absolute favourites are chocolate hobnobs, with a glass of milk or a cup of Yorkshire tea… Mmmmmm.

According to an article on the Telegraph, I am not alone in my biscuit loving:

“Research to mark National Biscuit Day on Friday revealed that the average Brit enjoys at least two biscuits a day.”

To celebrate biscuits and all their lovely happiness making delight, here are my top 5 all things creatively biscuity!

 

1. Family Favourites Tea Towel.

I always think it is nice to have fun tea towels in the kitchen, to give you something to smile about while you are having to do the drying up! And, you couldn’t need much more than this lovely ‘Family Favourites’ tea towel from Charlotte Farmer. It doesn’t have hobnobs on, but with such beautiful design and delicate drawings, I can forgive…!

 

2. Biscuit Cushions.

Continuing on the house and home theme these, are simply beautiful. What could be better than fantastically giant over-sized biscuit cushions for your house from Nikki McWilliams!

 

3. Biscuit Pocket Mug.

We all need somewhere to keep our beloved biccies – and so what could be better than this ‘biscuit pocket mug‘!

 

4.Button Biscuits.

Now this, I want to try. Beautiful lemon button biscuits from ‘A Normal Mum’. Fun, crafty and a simple to bake and make recipe!

 

5. Biscuiteers.

If baking isn’t your thing, more the actual eating part – take a look at Biscuiteers – their range and creativity never fails to amaze me. Absolutely stunningly beautiful biscuits, hand piped to perfection!

 

Right, I am off to put the kettle on for a cuppa and biscuit or three!

Categories: House & Home, Sweet Tooth Scrumptious Stuff!, Top 5

The Crafty Lass does… Greeting Cards!

Well, a life long dream is in progress of actually happening…Publishing my own greeting card ranges. 🙂

I have always loved design, stationery design in particular – and love nothing more than sending and receiving a traditional hand written card. Don’t get me wrong, I love Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and all other social media as ways to communicate almost instantly with the world what you are up to, what you have seen that inspires you. However, it does not beat a brightly coloured envelope landing on your doormat and reading a heartfelt message whilst curled up on your sofa with a cup of (Yorkshire) tea.

The cost of stamps, is continually on the rise and part of me recently started to question will people eventually stop sending cards if it just becomes too much money? With another recent price hike to 63p for a first class stamp, and with the average cost of a greeting card around £1.44 you are factoring in at least £2.07 per card. However, to make someone smile, to make someone know you remembered, you are thinking of them, as the Mastercard adverts say… is “Priceless”. It’s less than the UK average price of a pint of beer! If you hand deliver, you can of course save some pennies AND have a beer with the recipient! 😉

The next steps for ‘The Crafty Lass’ greeting cards:

Approve the proofs, order the envelopes, cellophane bags, and then the online shop and…sales!

The first sale of ‘The Crafty Lass’ greeting cards, will be a big moment for me – let’s hope I get some ‘congratulations’ cards to celebrate! 😉

Categories: Business, The Crafty Lass does...

The Crafty Lass does… Royal Birthday Celebrations!

With a V.I.B. (Very Important Baby) on its way within the next week or two – what better way to celebrate than a cup of (Yorkshire) tea and a cupcake (or three)! And so, why not get crafty with some creative baking?

Royal blue, pillarbox red, and brilliant white to represent the gloriously patriotic Union Jack with bunting and flags a-go-go!

I made these cupcakes three years ago now in 2012 for the Queen’s Jubilee – but with the fourth in line to the throne about to be born, I thought it would be a welcome return for some spiffingly British crafty inspiration!

PS – Be warned, too much of the blue icing and it’ll leave your tongue turning blue, so easy on the colouring 😉 !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Sweet Tooth Scrumptious Stuff!, The Crafty Lass does...

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