Tag : decorate
Yesterday 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.
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.
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!
Next 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.
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 visions 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.
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 mugs – 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.
One of the most special times for me at Christmas, is the decorating of the tree.
As a child – I really used to love the magic of it all – it meant if we are putting the tree up, the big day must be nearly here! Untangling the lights, looking over each bauble, the handmade decorations made and collected over the years, placing each one carefully on the branches! Mum and dad always kept everything as well – even now, I am sure they have some pinecones wrapped up in some red wool that I made as a toddler at nursery…clearly very crafty from a young age!
I love putting the tree up – but NEVER the taking down. Poor Mum used to always get that job, and Dad to put everything back into the loft.
For the last few years, we actually have had a potted tree – and yes, the same one! – we bought it one early December from the side of the road for only £15 (I haggled the seller down from £25!)… We took it home, prettied it up, and then come the New Year – we just put it in the garden to see what would happen. At some point later in the summer, I noticed – it was GROWING – new sprouts had appeared, so we thought let’s see if it will make it til Winter… Sure enough, it did – and as a special treat for us not having to buy a new one – we even bought it a new lovely ceramic pot! Now part of the family of course – it even had a name…Ned! We didn’t think it would surely get to the following Christmas but sure enough – it did – and it survived for 4 years!
However, last year – either it decided to be naughty, or we were very unloving parents and didn’t look after it well enough, but… well, it had 1000’s of bugs growing on it, that we didn’t know about until they were all over the floor in our house. I tried to remain calm, but they were EVERYWHERE – and that was it – poor Ned – banished to the garden on Christmas Eve! Naughty Ned.
Having held a few lovely craft workshops at Claydon Christmas Tree Farm this year, I was determined to get a nice shiny and new, and certainly real one… there were so many to choose from! Part of me wanted to get a HUGE tree (for our not so huge house, so that wouldn’t have really worked) but another part of me wanted to get a potted one and try and keep this one again for a few years. As much as I wanted loads and loads of lovely huge branches to decorate, we went with a lovely small potted one. And yes, this one also has a name – Buddy!
Every year, I try and keep a ‘theme’ to the decorating – and I always think I will try something new – but invariably, I always end up with ‘Skandi’ type Christmas with reds, whites and a few golds, just continually adding to the collection every year. However, this year – I have finally done something different – new year, new start – and gone with some lovely naturals – greys, whites, and some beautiful gold birdies and large gold stars. When I went to put the tree up this week – I realised we didn’t have our normal lights – they also went into the great Christmas tree sky with Ned as they were COVERED in sap, and bugs (eww, gross!) so although I could have waited, gone out and bought some more – I didn’t of course, it had to be decorated straight away! – and so I managed to dig out some actually ‘Moroccan’ themed ones from a few parties back…which actually kind of work – so, there aren’t as many lights as normal, but Buddy looks beautiful (even if I do say so myself!). I keep referring to ‘I’ and ‘Me’ in all of this – it is of course mine, AND ‘The Husband’s – and although he doesn’t like Christmas perhaps as much as me – he is just happy that I am happy, and having a potted tree in our living room does seem to make me happy!
On that note – when you actually stop to think about it…why do we bring in a living tree into our front rooms, shove it in a corner and adorn it with lights and baubles?! There is some great history on it it all – here at www.history.com and also, all the different traditions of it all – all around the world.
This isn’t my last blog post before the year is it out, I am sure – but wherever you are, and whether your tree is real, or fake, and whether you like neutrals or reds, or crazy multicoloured, or anything and everything in between – I hope you have a magical and crafty Christmas and a creative New Year!
Every Halloween as a child – we used to always do the traditional pumpkin carving. We used to have pumpkin soup, sometimes trick or treating, and sometimes even apple bobbing! Did anyone else used to do this??
We did however with the pumpkin carving – used to stick to the jagged mouth/diamond eyes, triangle nose type design (not very different/forward thinking!) However – check out some of the links below to inspire a new way of using pumpkins this Halloween…! It has made me want to go out and buy lots of squashes to get creating!
1. Painted Pumpkins
2. Lace carved pumpkins
This would take a LONG time – but, totally worth the effort! Beautiful delicate lace patterned pumpkin carving.
3. Lots and lots of pumpkins!
These don’t look difficult to carve – but in the collective they look amazing together! This would be fab at an Autumnal wedding or party!
4. Colourful wax crayon pumpkins
Wow! Bright and colourful – this wax crayon coated pumpkin! Certainly a different way of decorating 🙂
5. Don’t waste those pumpkin seeds!
Finally, nothing to do with design – one thing I didn’t realise until a couple of years ago – you can eat the seeds inside… now don’t get me wrong, I had of course heard of/eaten/used pumpkin seeds – very regularly! – but as these are white, and covered in the gloopy pumpkin goo – I naively and stupidly – thought perhaps they were different?? Anyway – this link is how to get a ‘perfect pumpkin seeds’ snack. Delicious and nutritious!