Significant contributions by brilliant potters revolutionized English pottery. Let’s look at some of these notable potters and the history of ceramics.
English Pottery is a form of art that has been a part of this world since early civilization. This craft revolves around sculpting objects, such as plates, bowls, and beautiful clay figures. Historians believe that the earliest clay objects date as far back as 29000 BC.
A Brief History of Pottery
Mesopotamia was home to the first potter’s wheel, founded between 6000 and 4000 BC. Soon after, this form of art sprouts its roots. Even then, pottery makers were not restricted to molding clay by hand. Hence, they had the freedom to explore new designs and forms.
Pottery soon became an intrinsic form of art, allowing humans to create clay utilities since the early ages. From beautiful designs that tell the story of our ancestors to elaborate clay figures, ceramists have attained a remarkable skill.
Today, we can see many of our ancestors’ household items. For example, jugs from before the 16th century are displayed in many of the world’s museums. Back then, ceramists worked with simple shapes, producing articles that served practical purposes.
Sometimes, makers added opposing colors to rub or dribble the patterns into wet clay. Also, they often used a pad of clay as a design stamp. The more artistic jugs feature transparent glazes with a pinch of green, brown, or yellow.
Pottery flourished in England from the 17th through the 19th century, and it does so even today. Prominent pottery centers include Wrotham, Kent; London; and Staffordshire, home to the renowned potters Simpson, Malkin, and Toft. Also, North Devonshire’s potters used a unique technique referred to as sgraffito.
Prominent English Pottery Makers
The evolution of English pottery saw the rise of many legendary artisans who left their mark. Whieldon, Astbury, and Wedgwood are three of the most prominent names.
Thomas Whieldon (1719 – 1795) was a highly reputed and successful potter in Britain. He worked with earthenware and stoneware, combining them with different kinds of ceramic glazes. He was also an expert in agate and tortoiseshell pottery. Thanks to his creations, these two types became even more popular.
In his time, Whieldon collaborated with other prominent figures in Staffordshire pottery. These include Josiah Spode, who founded his own ceramics factory; Aaron Wood, a famous ceramic block-cutter from the early days; and Josiah Wedgewood, Whieldon’s partner from 1754 – 1759. Today, his remaining wares reach very high prices, confirming their one-of-a-kind status.
John Astbury (1688 – 1743) is famous for the innovative design of his earthenware figures. However, there is some uncertainty regarding identifying his work among his contemporaries. Hence, museums refer to these types of items as the “Style of John Astbury.”
Josiah Wedgwood was an English potter and businessman who lived from 1730 to 1795. He briefly worked with Whieldon for five years. Then, in 1759, he founded the Wedgwood company, pioneering the industry surrounding English pottery.
As an entrepreneur, he knew how to meet society’s expectations and demands. Wedgwood produced several brilliant inventions, such as creamware, jasperware, green glaze, and black basalt. In England’s high society, news of creations spread like wildfire. Hence, he increased his production efficiency, increasing his pottery’s availability.
Also, he established showrooms in London so that the public could view his range of tableware. In turn, this further established his presence in the market.
Wedgwood took a keen interest in every new invention that might have helped him hone his pottery skills. A scientist himself, he kept on discovering new ways to enrich his work. Thus, he developed unique glazes that many tried to reproduce but failed. In that way, he said, a standard with only a handful of associations.
By 1763, he began receiving orders from Queen Charlotte herself. Then, in a stroke of genius, Wedgewood managed to convince the Queen to allow him to name the pottery she had purchased as the Queen’s Ware. This applied a symbolic aura to his life’s work, ensuring his palace in history.
English pottery Conclusion
English pottery is famous for its beautiful and intricate designs. Throughout history, many notable names and figures have contributed to English pottery. Wedgwood incorporated scientific advancement into his pottery, producing unique wares that still look new even today.
Astbury improved earthenware designs, while Wheildon’s forte was agateware and tortoiseshell ware. Each individual makes significant contributions that change the course of history. We have come a long way from the early advent of the simple potter’s wheel to improved machinery and designs