Monday, 10 September 2012

Devon Cottage and Cottage Industry

So, it's been a while.
The children are now back to school and I can have just a bit more headspace...oh yes, and my son isn't attached by an umbilical cord to this computer all the time. So there may be a few more regular posts from me!
This little piece of stitching I did last week whilst we were having a short break in Noss Mayo in Devon. 
I prepared some cotton fabric to take some paint dye (Koh-I-Noor) by painting it with some watered down gesso and then drew the cottage opposite our window with Pigma pen. The painting dyes are the ones I often use in my sketchbook as they are quite vibrant and very easy to transport. I don't think they are colour fast though, so this little piece will remain in a book maybe.
I then added some stitch with embroidery floss. I think this is a nice way to work and will explore it further. The finished item measures 4" x 4"

This is a picture of the creek that is Noss Mayo. We stayed in the wooden bungalow to the right absolutely on the water's edge. The lapping of the water against the wall below was very soothing at night if the tide was in.
I thought these bright gig boats would be a good subject for a further piece of stitchery or a painting.

Last week I visited the Emma Bridgwater factory in Stoke-On-Trent. For anyone who doesn't know - there are now only two full time producing factories making hand made pottery in Stoke I think, which used to be Britain's centre for china until fairly recently. The tour was superb and showed how skilled the makers are at the individual phases of making the finished pieces, many of which have become collector's items. They are really up against the clock, too. I learned a lot about piecemeal work.

As you can imagine there is  a lot of lively banter on this shop floor where the men work with the castings.

The women's area is where the sponged designs are applied and is quieter - most listen to personal headphones. Speed and accuracy are vital to their pay. They don't compramise quality but they have to work each piece in a given number of seconds to get full pay, otherwise it's a percentage. The men on the top photo have a quota to get through on their shift otherwise they have to stay on to get the job done.
These items await glazing. Everything is hand dipped and hand painted. There isn't a conveyor belt or a piece of computerised or automated manufacture anywhere.
And still the Stoke sense of humour shines through me duck!

What's more...lunch in the cafe was gorgeous!!


  1. Lovely little piece, it's worked out so well. Interesting to see the pottery production. I hadn't realised that they still worked on the old piece work idea. My mother worked at several potteries when we lived in Stoke.

  2. yes Maggi piecework it is. They are having trouble finding apprentices as kids don't want to work so hard, get up early and commit to a long term trade. It's sad isn't it?

  3. Clare, you are on to something good with this small piece. I would love to see more - the gigs are indeed a great subject! Thanks for sharing your process and your travels with us. -sus

  4. Great to have you back, dear Clare - lovely little piece of art and your factory report was very interesting to read as well!

    Yes, school started here last week too and now it feels OK to start everyday's routines again, even if it does include very early mornings (05.20) and a lot of driving up and down the hill at almost all times of day. (But as long as there is no snow, I won't complain too much!)

  5. I love your painting of the cottage Clare. I have been looking for fabric with West Country cottages on without success and have been toying with drawing my own. You have spurred me on to have a go.

  6. Yes Julie...try it. I think it could be quite addictive. I'm not sure about the light fastness as I say but fabric paints don't seem to behave in such a nice way. Let me know your results!

  7. I truly adore your little cottage. Very lovely and just right in every way!

  8. Hey Victoria thank you. Wouldn't you just like live in it?

  9. Get to stay at beautiful Devon Cottages and have the most awesome holiday experience. Their location is very convenient to the famous attractions of the place.

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