27 February 2012

Bridgewater Diamond Jubilee Open Day

I love Emma Bridgewater tableware, so when I received an email inviting us to Emma Bridgewater's Diamond Jubilee Open Day I absolutely jumped at the chance. On previous factory tours I've been able to take some gorgeous photos, so another chance to snap away while also getting a sneak peak at the new Diamond Jubilee collection was too good an opportunity to pass up!
It's no surprise that I'm a fan of Emma Bridgewater tableware. Though they are expensive, these gorgeous pieces are hand made in Stoke-on-Trent. This commitment to local manufacturing means pieces don't need to be transported as far, thus reducing their environmental impact. Bridgewater are also supporting local skills, and creating British jobs. The factory also includes a small garden, chickens and green houses on the roof. The green houses make use of the kilns excess heat, a really clever idea that reuses this wasted energy.
The new Diamond Jubilee Collection marks the 60th year of Queen Elizabeth's reign. Persinally I love the detailed illustrations on the Jubilee Teapot (£75), but there are pieces for fans of both Bridgewater's spongeware and lithograph patterns.
I love the vintage feel of this tin Jubilee Tea Caddy (£10)
Another new Bridgewater pattern on show was the popular Sweet Pea, which has been causing quite a stir amongst the Emma Bridgewater collectors. I love the busyness of the pattern which captures the wild beauty of gardening.

To join my mini Bridgewater tour follow the read more link:

One of the things I love about the Bridgewater factory tour is seeing rows and rows of plain pottery. I love photographing the repetition of shape. Here teapots are drying after being cast.
After drying they move to the Fettlers, where they remove any extra flash and smooth down each piece by hand. This makes them ready for their first firing, which will harden the clay and give it strength.
After firing the spongeware pieces are sent to the decorators. Here's an example of the new Diamond Jubilee 1/2 Pint Mug.
Inspired by the popular Sampler pattern, the new Collector's Club Teapot uses at least ten different sponges to create the fun patriotic pattern.
Pieces destined for Lithographic patterns are glazed before decorating. Here you can see a French Bowl being dipped in the glaze. The blue colour is a vegetable dye that will burn off during the firing process, leaving a crystal clear glaze.
Each lithograph is printed on a yellow transfer and applied by hand. These will be sent back to the kiln, at which point the yellow transfer will burn off revealing the true colours below. (Diamond Jubilee Pint Mug £39.95)
Here you can see the new Jubilee Crown (£100) with the transfers used to make it in the background.
After the factory tour we had a delicious lunch in the Emma Bridgewater kitchen. Mr Goldfish & I had a lovely time chatting with Nicky from From Britain with Love and Arabella from The Good Web Guide. We got to sit by the polka dot double Aga and feast on a delicious vegetarian Shepard's pie. I wish I'd asked for the recipe for their roast parsnips, they were so soft and lovely! They nearly melted in my mouth.
We were in for a special treat when Matthew Rice joined us for lunch. Matthew, Emma's husband, is responsible for the Lithographic illustrations, which are my favourites. From the bright and cheerful Flowers Collection to the detailed Bird Patterns, these charming illustrations bring a modern style to classic china.
I was even more surprised when Emma herself sat down to chat. I was impressed with the attention they both offered on such a busy day. It was just a few minutes, but it was lovely to meet the personalities behind the company.
We were also given the chance to try our hand at painting our own pottery. Here Nicky and Mr Goldfish show off their artistic talents.
After my previous experiences at a pottery cafe hen party, I decided to keep things simple. I chose a Bridgewater teacup as I love the shape and decorated it in simple stars. Mr Goldfish on the other hand decided to try something more challenging and recreated my new fishy logo on his plate. He did an amazing job, and I really hope it comes out well - I'll post another photo when it's delivered.
My only disappointment on the day was that while surrounded by gorgeous tableware I just couldn't justify adding another piece to my collection. So instead I've had to make an early start on next year's Christmas wish list!