It was time for a field trip, so we started our day walking to the tube at daybreak, hopped on with the morning commuters to the train station, and off we went by train for a 2 hour trip to Stoke on Trent, in the Staffordshire area of England, where we then hired a taxi for the day. This area, known through recent time as the home of the pottery industry, today still boasts quite a few working potteries, and where there are potteries, there are factory shops with bargains to be found. I had made this trip a dozen years ago, when the economy was stronger and all the big names, Wedgewood, Royal Doulton, Royal Albert, Minton, Spode and Portmeirion had very active factories and shops. Alas, today many of the factories have closed or been bought by other groups, so although there are not as many shopping options as in previous years, it's still fun to see what you can find at the "seconds" shops.
Stoke on Trent became the center of ceramic production in the 17th century because of the availability in the area of clay, salt, lead and coal--all necessary ingredients in production.
We started our day at the Burleigh factory--probably best known for its blue floral prints. Burleigh claims to be the last working Victorian pottery in England. It has been using the 200 year old decorating process of underglaze transfer printing for over 150 years.
Since its foundation in 1851, they have been using this labor intensive method.
I fell in love with the whimsical red prints last year when I was there,
when I picked up one of their cow creamers, a few bowls and a serving platter. This time, I picked up a another serving platter in the check print seen on the left to go with my floral print platter. Most of the pottery is still pricey, even though they are seconds, due to this specific hand decorating process. I did find a couple of small Christmas dessert plates for 50 pence that they had made for Williams Sonoma.
Maybe the pink pattern catches your fancy,
or the very unique purple. Other popular colors are black, brown, and
green. What would you be your favorite? They are so fun to mix and match, as you will see if you take a peek at their lovely website.
Be watching for the next post which was also focus on another fun pottery line.