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Inside the Factory and The Great Pottery Throwdown

By Nigel Leak posted 08-02-2022 16:31

Over the last week, TV has provided use with a fantastic insight  into how great decorative effects are achieved on ceramic items.

On Wednesday evening, 2nd of February, BBC2 featured Denby Pottery on Inside the Factory.   The programme took us through the manufacturing process for the best selling Halo mug, from start to finish, ably explained by the Dean Barlow the Operation Director.  This is modern industrial scale tableware manufacture at its best.  To produce reactive glazed pieces to a high level of consistency, on an industrial scale, is a major technical achievement.

The programme reviewed the life and work of Claris Cliff, who in the 1920's and 30's pioneered Art Deco in the ceramics industry - blocks of bright coloured glazes being a key feature.  Final we were given a look at tissue printing at Burleigh Pottery, one of the few factories left who carry out this difficult process.   This process, if mastered, enables high quality under glaze print to be deposited and when glazed some outstanding effects to be achieved in a single colour.

On Sunday 6th of February The Great Pottery Throw Down on channel 4 took us to the 1960's where bold shapes, blocks of bright colour, not unlikely the Art Deco wares, repeat patterns and leopard skin decoration was in vouge. The Mary Quant look.

In this programme we saw how important it is to achieve the correct glaze formulation for a specific look and shape of item, correct glaze thickness and firing schedule.  As with the Denby wares, you are never certain of the outcome until the firing process is completed.   The uncertainty is minimised by careful process control at all stages of manufacture.

I would commend any one involved in ceramics to watch these two programmes on Catch-up TV.