Bristol Potteries

Inspired by the Ian McIntyre lecture I set about my quest to discover more about traditional Bristol ceramics and pottery.

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery have a wealth of exhibits ranging from tin white delftware to slip cast tableware from the 1960’s. However, I was mostly struck  by a range of functional stoneware produced by W. and T. Powell throughout the 19th century, due to the explicit similarities between the brown local glaze I hand dug and a decorative band present on most of the wares.

Traditionally functional stoneware would have been salt glazed, reducing cost with only one firing. However, the Powell brothers developed ‘Bristol glaze’  which permitted the inside as well as the outside resistant to water.

Reflection on action:

  • Brown decoration
  • Solid, sturdy functional ware
  • Either limited decoration OR sprigs detailing a narrative
  • Text, stamp, dates
  • Containers for liquid
  • Emelements of the hand at work
  • Function over form (mostly)
  • One firing

Reflection for action

  • Strips/bands/areas of brown – to accentuate features
  • Simple form, contrasting areas of detail/decoration
  • Revisit to examine themes of the narratives
  • Emphasis on function
  • Further info on W. and T. Powell
  • Borrow the ‘one firing’ process –  (the local clay turns to a glaze at 1240c  – offering the option of self-glazing products)

Developments: 8 March 2017

I have coated the plaster moulds in a thin layer of local clay and used stoneware (as used by the Bristol potteries) and earthenware slips in order to provide a comparison.

Fired at bisuqe the clay takes on a speckled sandy-red colour, gorgeous to the eye but not on the hand – the clay is still rough. When fired to 1260 the glaze is silky smooth to the touch, but a dark oaty brown. It is a colour I am falling for, but others remain quite hesitant about. However, this is an authentic glaze none the less.

Importantly, it was through layering the local clay on the exterior that made me realise I could also layer in on the interior, with the stoneware/earthenware sandwiched in between. And I f could do this three times, I could do It multiple times, creating a layered effect.

Further developments on this process will be shared later.


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