The top picture shows the cutting process for the tiles and the lower photograph is of the shelves upon which the tiles are fired. Each tile is identified and numbered on the reverse and each group is kept together when fired. Although it must be a logistical nightmare the factory managers seem to have worked out a very good system of management.
On our trip to North Wales we were taken to visit the Craig Bragdy Design factory where they make the most spectacular ceramic tiles for swimming pools. Production of ceramic tiles will never be the same for me after having seen what these people can do. Enough tiles to line an Olympic sized pool weigh about eighty tonnes with the necessary adhesive weighing in at around sixty tonnes.
Piles of clay slabs awaiting processing through the pug mill. The lower picture is not the usual pan mill but an adapted coffee roaster, which does a much better job of blending clay. Their kiln building department was producing large and small kilns to customers orders and the firm was helping subsidise a "Kilns in Schools" programme, something we need in New Zealand, as teaching clay work in schools has been neglected for a long time.
Many years ago we purchased clay and some equipment from Potclays in Stoke and it was great to be able to visit their factory. I was introduced to the factory manager and he showed David, Stuart and me over the factory which is something not done very often apparently. The top picture is of a small section of the factory with its distinctive sign while the lower image is a a massive pug mill used to prepare clay bodies.
At the Stoke Pottery Museum there is a very large sculpture of a peacock which I found to be rather un-lifelike. The glaze application, however, was spectacular. The Leach Pottery pots were sadly behind glass so were difficult to photograph well. The jug was really beautiful.
In the Gladstone Museum these old pieces of equipment were on show. The early potters wheel was turned by the potters wife or children as mentioned in my last blog. The jigger and jolly looked as though it was still being used.
Another very interesting place to visit in Stoke is the Gladstone Museum. It was once a working pottery and still has six or seven bottle kilns which are, of course, not being used now. Although the hand made saggers were stacked as if ready for use. The workshop had displays of how the saggers were made, a large jigger and jolly as well as an old potters wheel where the potter's wife or child was the power source.
The Japanese Tea Bowl must have been very respected for it to have been repaired with gold lacquer and now be in a museum. I do not know the names of the makers of any of these works but the porcelain vase looks very modern. Someone had fun sculpturing the mouse photographer and his model.
Not very good wildlife photographs but we had an interesting walk around a reservoir in Mansfield, UK, where I took these pictures. The top one is of a Coot which is similar to ones we have in New Zealand. The other is of a Pochard which, as far as I know, does not exist here.
The Heron Migrates is the story of how a Japanese anagama kiln came to New Zealand. From Estelle and Bruce Martin's diaries from their trips to Japan and the building and firing of the Kamaka anagama. Soft cover with 400 photographs and drawings. 160 pages.
New Zealand orders: NZ$45 plus NZ$7.50 postage. Total: NZ$52.50 for one copy NZ$97.50 for two copies
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