Tag : shop
Tag : shop
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.
Ho ho ho! Meeeerry Christmas!
Ok, it is only October… however, why not get ahead and get your The Crafty Lass ‘Graphic Brights’ Christmas Cards…on sale via my Etsy shop NOW!
All cards printed on thick, luxurious ‘Omnia’ board.
**Special price for Christmas!**
Cards only £1.80 each (normally £2.20)
Multipack of 6 (1 of each design) only £9.50… therefore only £1.58 per card!
The moment you have all been waiting for… well, what I have been waiting for pretty much my whole life.
Today is a big day in The Crafty Lass journey.
It has always been my absolute dream to (a) start my own business (b) this be in craft and/or design and finally (c) have my own online shop selling greeting cards.
Greeting cards are a really important thing to me – we all send/give them regularly – and they mean an awful lot! Just how special do you feel when a little brightly coloured envelope lands on your doormat and you know that someone has taken the time and effort to 1. select a card, 2. hand write it and 3. send it to you – maybe for a special occasion, or perhaps just to say ‘hey’, ‘sorry’ or ‘I miss you’. Even better when it is hand delivered! Whatever the reason, whatever the words inside – it is always special to receive a card.
With today’s multitude of ways to communicate – texting, emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, WhatsApp (to name just a few!) – there is still a love and desire to send a REAL bit of post. A hand chosen card, with a lovely little note inside – it means far, FAR more than just sending a quick text message.
The GCA Greeting Card Market Report 2014 reinforces what a huge and successful industry this is with £1.29 billion spent on single cards in the last year – more than tea and coffee put together. More cards are bought per person in the UK than in any other country – 31 per person an astonishing 884 million single greeting cards were bought from retailers of all shapes and sizes in 2013.
For more simply amazing Facts and Figures about the UK card industry, check out the Greeting Card Association’s website!
The Crafty Lass greeting cards are simple, (but effective!) modern designs, all lovingly created (over the last decade!) on Adobe Illustrator, by myself and printed on heavy, white Omnia board within the United Kingdom.
All cards are left blank for your own lovely message – your own words always mean far more!
In addition to my new online store – The Crafty Lass greeting cards are also now stocked at The Old Hall Bookshop, Brackley! Exciting times. 🙂
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! 😉