The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Book Launch

Two interesting happenings this week, the first being my visit to the Emma Bridgewater factory in Stoke.  It was a special gathering for collectors to mark the launch of Emma's book "Toast and Marmalade and other stories".

I travelled there by car with two friends, leaving my house at 7 am. and arriving in Stoke three hours later!  Good timing,  as the event started at 10aam. As we entered the cafe area at the factory, we were invited to draw a numbered ticked from a large 6 pint jug.  This determined the order in which we could choose from a selection of sample pieces to buy after lunch!  I quickly scanned the selection and spotted what I wanted and as I had drawn number 5 I felt I had a good chance of taking it home!

The samples and the lovely staff in charge!
Emma signing her book - my two friends are the background, Sharon and Joy.
The signing queue!
Seated for lunch.

The next two pictures are of the very relaxed surveillance and the choosing process -

We also had an opportunity to do a tour of the factory which was an enlightening experience with a chance to see what was in production and a peep at the work of the decorators and to have a chat with them.

This is a new pattern being worked on by Lynsey, the decorator who works on special pieces and who trials new patterns.  She was working on these pieces called Christmas Rose, a dark red Hellebore.  This may or may not be available next Christmas?

These next two pictures are what might be the next Year Jug for Collectors.  I found this design much more to my liking than recent ones, I might be tempted?

Needless to say we also did buy a few things in the factory shop and came home feel very happy after a really lovely day!

Yes!  I did get the piece I wanted.  A half pint jug in the Pomegranate pattern made in 2012 for Persephone Books to mark the publication their 100th book. This has only been produced in two shapes, a 1.5 jug with matching bowl, so I was really pleased with this small sample jug!

Here it is integrated into my collection -

Oh, I did have a lovely day!

Monday, 17 March 2014


I am very excited at the moment as I am going to Stoke on Trent to the Emma Bridgewater factory tomorrow for the Special Book Launch Day for Collectors!  Fifty of us from all over the country will be converging on the factory to indulge our passion for EB pottery and have a good old chin wag about pots!

I am sure many of you reading this may not know or understand what all the fuss is about, so I'm going to try and explain a little of the fascination. 

Spongeware has been made here in the UK since the early 19th century and not to bore you with too many facts, here is a link which explains it much better than I could do.

Below is a wonderful dresser filled with old spongeware and I would love a chance to open those doors and have a root around inside!  

Below are some examples of old spongeware pieces which are now difficult to find -

It would take quite a lot of money to fill the dresser now, even if you could track down such a variety of examples. The fact that it was originally made for the lower end of the market to be used and then discarded, means that fewer whole pieces survive, making it correspondingly sought after and expensive.

Given the price of the old, those of us who love spongeware and the fact that it is individually made, now turn to companies who produce new spongeware and there are still a few that do.  Emma Bridgewater factory makes spongeware in the old fashioned way, that is, it is made by hand by a team of people and each piece is hand sponged making it unique.  Of course they are not the only company that do, but they are one of the few that make it here in the UK.   Others such as Brixton have moved abroad and the look is different.  I always look for their old back stamp if I buy a piece, which I occasionally do!

Early Bridgewater and Brixton are very similar.  Here are some mugs which I display together and have difficulty telling which is which -

Though they look very similar the difference in value is extraordinary, Bridgewater being at least five times the price.  Not sure why, but maybe because they produce a greater variety of designs and shapes which give collectors the opportunity to specialise, sometimes collecting one pattern in all its many forms, or others like me, who collect many different patterns but only certain shapes. 

The diversity of different collections makes sharing pictures and discussing values an interesting occupation and we will be doing lots of that tomorrow!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Spring in Lampeter!

Last Saturday I travelled to Lampeter with Vivienne Wells, my friend and publisher, to visit the Welsh Quilt Centre and their new annual exhibition!  We picked a wonderful day to travel through the Welsh countryside, the sun was shining and it did really feel as if Spring had come at last!

The Centre never disappoints and this visit was no exception.  This year's exhibits have a folk art theme to chime with the lovely pieces made by Janet Bolton which are exhibited alongside the quilts and I was delighted to see a few of my favourite quilts, some of which I haven't seen for a very long time.

This is the Sennybridge quilt which was featured in our book Making Welsh Quilts.  I last saw it eleven years ago when it was photographed in my house, so it was great to see it again in gallery conditions, beautifully hung and lit so that it could be examined at leisure -

Vivienne and I stood in front of it for quite a while trying to work out how the blocks were assembled!  Were they sewn together in strips, vertically or horizontally?  We couldn't see how it was done as there were so many inconsistencies - it was really puzzling!  This all added to its charm as it has such presence and the quirks in its making enhance its appeal.  Why are we so forgiving of irregularities in old quilts and yet so determined to get everything matching up when we make things ourselves?

Another old friend was the Cow Quilt -

which again I haven't seen for a while and which was looking very fresh and just as charming as I remember!  I have done a version of this quilt so I feel that I know it well, but it was lovely to see it again as studying pictures can't compare with standing in front of an actual quilt!

There were so many delights in this exhibition.  It was Vivienne's first visit and she was bowled over by it even though she had heard me singing its praises for years now!  She was particularly pleased to see quilts on beds there in the gallery, after all that's where they are meant to be!

After a tasty lunch in the Deli Cafe adjoining the Centre we travelled the few miles to Jen's cottage/quilt shop in Llanybydder.  When I walked in I immediately spotted the Welsh Blanket I have always dreamt of owning and so, well what would you have done?  Here it is looking quite at home in my living room -

A day to remember indeed!