Why start a blog about Ceramics and The Potteries? 

Hello there and welcome to my blog. I’m Andrew and over the course of this blog post I will talk you through why I have started this blog and a bit of an insight into me as well.  

So why start a blog and why start a blog about Ceramics and The Potteries? Well, the answer is several fold and I have listed them for those who like lists and might not want all the details. Essentially, I like to write, and I would like to know more about ceramics and the ceramics of the potteries. I’m not expert by any stretch but I would say I am an enthusiastic beginner.  

  1. I like Ceramics 
  1. The beauty of Ceramics 
  1. I’m a scientist at heart 
  1. I’m from the Potteries 

And now for a more detailed explanation of the list. Some getting to know you details and a bit more on Ceramics and the Potteries.  

I like ceramics… 

Ozzy the Owl 

Firstly, I think of ceramics fondly and as of intrinsic artistic value in and of themselves. Somone or a group of someone’s have taken what cannot be underestimated amount of time and effort to mould shape and create a new thing from what is essentially some mud. Now, there can be better or worse versions of this and some practical and some not so practical. But there is a certain charm and beauty in knowing that the finished article represents the maker in some way, and this has always intrigued me. Whether it’s a bowl, an abstract or a functional industrial ceramic creation there is always a story behind it one way or another and that is a big part of the magic of ceramics for me. 

The beauty of ceramics…  

Ali Tomlin vase 

Secondly, I believe that some ceramics hold beauty and charm beyond the fact they are made from mud. For instance, Ali Tomlin and her simple but very effective lines and colours and shapes all made while on the wheel are understated but very pretty. They capture my eye and I enjoy looking at them very much. I also fine the shine in the glaze slightly amazing as well. The way the light can catch it and separate into a thousand beams to dazzle your eye again giving the illusion of just a touch of magic within or from the creator.  

I’m a scientist… 

The science and technology of the creation and industry of ceramics is also something that fascinates me greatly. I am a scientist at heart and have always excelled in maths and the physical sciences. At school they were about the only things that I paid any attention too and my dear Grandfather was a craft design and technology teacher. Again, this personal history for me has meant that my identity is mixed up with science and the subject of ceramics is heavily influenced by some very interesting science. For example, when I was a lowly laboratory technician working in the ceramic industry many many years ago, I used to use an x-ray crystallography machine to test the crystalline structures of the ceramics used in the casting of aeroplane parts for Rolls Royce. The way that the crystals are aligned and created by the heat treatments of ceramics can influence the way they react when casting takes place. The structures and formation of the crystals in ceramics for this purpose must therefore be monitored for their structures and quality control completed. This really blew me away and is the kind of science I love to geek out on. Back in the day this was also part of my job so how awesome was that? For me anyway it was super amazing and one of my fondest memories of that job. In reality it was a boring, long and dusty job that no one really wanted to do but I relished the chance to use the machine and completed this job on a regular basis.  

Another aspect of the science for is if for the pottery that is very large or very small or very intricate, the technical knowledge required to produce something so different and structurally challenging is to be commended and marvelled at indeed. The process of firing that creating ceramics is not forgiving and errors can be catastrophic as seen in the results. To be able to take this into account and to produce very large wares and very small wares where the margin for error is tiny is a high skill indeed. 

I’m from the Potteries… 

Bottle kiln near my house 

I am from the potteries, I live in the potteries and I have worked in the pottery industry in the past. I feel like I have a connection to ceramics through this and I want to understand this more and strengthen my bonds. Being from the potteries means that there is a built-in part of my identify that identifies with this industry. There are constant reminders about the way the industry has impacted my area and how it will continue to do so in the future. I feel like I have an opportunity and the inclination to get more involved in this and so that’s another reason. I of course have the unexpected urge to lift every single piece of pottery that I ever pick up to see where it was made and what the back stamp says. If it’s a brand from the potteries or even better made I the potteries I then start to wax lyrical about the pottery industry. I think everyone from the potteries does this, or maybe it’s just me, ha ha ha. 

So finally…  

Well thanks for taking the time to read this kick off piece on the creation of this blog and the whys. I hope to learn more about ceramics, how they have impacted the potteries and share my journey with anyone like-minded. I really can’t wait until the pandemic starts to have less of an impact on daily life so I can get out and about and see some of the great work made and created in the potteries.