As you know all our wooly products are made in the UK, but about 3 years ago we started selling ceramics- A couple of weeks ago we had a lovely visit to the factory in Stoke on Trent, England and took a few photos of a few of the wonderful processes that the wares go through before they get to us.
These are moulds for our beakers, the clay is mixed to the right consistency and then poured into these. They are left for a specific amount of time then the excess clay is poured back out- leaving behind a dry layer the thickness they want for the beaker. The waste clay isn't wasted, it's poured back into the mix, which has to have the right percentage of chemicals, clay water etc. They are then left to dry.
when they are fully dry they are in biscuit stage, and feel quite rough, so they are put one by one into a weird old juggidy machine ( not it's technical name) with lots of round pebbles. As it jumps and vibrates it smooths the surface of the ware- amazing to watch as you think of these being so fragile!
After their first filing they have to be glazed - they use vegetable dye in with the glaze so that you can see if you've missed a bit! the vegetable dye burns off in the kiln... my guess is beetroot!
These are spacers and are used to hold plates apart, so that nothing is touching in the kiln.
You might recognise these- These decals are screen printed and the yellow will also burn off in the kiln.
We checked some colours for our new designs while we were there.
This is a screen with 'Graces hair' about to be printed.
and the results!:
What amazes me is all the skills involved in making these pieces, There about 20 processes that these pieces go through, each requiring different skills, it's so great that we are still able to do this in the UK, There are still a few remaining factories in Stoke. I think we are getting more and more aware of where things are made we should try to support our British manufacturers if we can!