Recently, the brilliant Tudor Revels organised an enjoyable workshop on Tudor pottery and tiles as part of their ‘Making Ends Meet Tudor Style’ series. The workshop took place at The Hawthorns Centre on Southampton Common and was run by talented husband and wife team, Eric and Val Freeman, from New Forest Pottery Time. I have had a go at pottery before but confess to not being very good at it, I don’t have the magic touch when it comes to clay. Several years ago I made a bowl at St. Fagans Museum in Wales. It wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great either.
I was thrilled to have another opportunity to ‘throw a pot’ as well as a chance to create a couple of ‘scratch design’ tiles. Eric was very patient and clearly explained to me the basic technique behind throwing a successful pot. My first attempt went well, followed by a couple of disasters where impatience to finish a Tudor-style drinking vessel, resulted in my clay having to be put in the recycling box! Finally, after a break of several hours in which I made a couple of scratch design tiles, I returned to the wheel. This time I successfully managed to produce my drinking goblet. At the end of the workshop, Eric and Val took our creative offerings away to be twice fired in their kiln. When I collected the items last week, I had such a nice surprise, all my pieces had turned out surprisingly well. Traditional Tudor Green slip had been added to my pot and goblet, creating a striking overall result.
Eric and Val displayed a selection of pottery and tiles inspired by Tudor designs, a number of items Eric had created himself. Alongside, were images of original Tudor wares and text panels outlining the history of Tudor pottery and tiles. Explanations also included information on techniques used by Tudor potters. Below are a few fascinating facts on Tudor pottery gleamed from Eric and Val’s mini-exhibition:
- clay that was rich in sand and grit made very rough and sturdy ware, such as cooking pots. These pots could withstand high temperatures on an open fire;
- early decoration consisted of liquid clay (slip) in different colours, applied to the pot by brush or pouring over part of the pot with a simple design scratched through the slip;
- later in the Tudor period ground lead ore (galena) was added to slip which melted at firing temperature. This type of slip produced a rich green colour known as Tudor Green.
- when two different colours of slip are poured over a pot and shaken vigorously while still wet, a marbled pattern is created and this is known as ‘joggling‘;
- pots were wood-fired in simple kilns, made out of bricks fashioned from the same clay as the pots. The process of firing twice didn’t become common practice until the end of the seventeenth century;
- the legacy of medieval and Tudor pottery is very highly regarded within the history of ceramics.
- For further information about Eric and Val’s pottery business, New Forest Pottery Time, CLICK HERE;
- For further information on The Hawthorns Centre, CLICK HERE.
- For further information on Tudor Revels’ events, CLICK HERE. For those of you who are more technologically minded, do try the new interactive version of their events Brochure, CLICK HERE;