Saturday, 23 November 2013

Mudlarking Mosaic - a quarter of the way through.

There are around 90 sections in this mosaic and I'm about a quarter of the way through. Fortunately it continues to be a pleasure and I become so absorbed I enter into what the psychologists call 'flow', the road to a happiness.

Beginning with another of my favourites, Chinese export porcelain. So as not to feel too much of a vandal I tried to keep snipping to a minimum so it was a a jigsaw puzzle task. The first are my larger pieces.

The second much smaller ones. 

This stuff was imported to Europe from around 1550 and declined in popularity from the late 18th century when Staffordshire ceramics became de rigueur. A longer post can be found here. The first handle less tea bowls were made of Chinese export porcelain and captured in several eighteenth century family portraits. Did they end up in the Thames?
An English Family at Tea 1725 (Joseph Van Aken)
Chinese export porcelain also features in those lovely dutch still lives.

Still Life With Turkey Pie by Pieter Claesz 1625(Rijksmuseum) 
Chunky shards with the seaweed patterns of Mochaware produced from 1792 - 1850 are squashed into the next section. A previous post on Mochaware can be found here.

A popular ceramic for jugs, bowls, chamber pots and salts. 

Mochaware Mustard Pot 1800s (ebay) 
The first pottery I spotted along the Thames was Staffordshire Combed Slipware. I assumed it was Victorian and amazed when I found out it could originate from 1690 - this was the pottery that started my fascination with the Thames and the secrets it holds. 

Utilitarian it was primarily used in baking dishes, although I've also included a marble ware piece, probably from a cup. 

Staffordshire Combed Slipware Baking Dish 1790-1800 (John Howard) 
Another ceramic from Georgian England, banded or annular ware from 1770s - 1840 covered in more detail here.

The  relief mouldings lift this section of creamware. First produced in 1750 and remaining popular until 1840 it was a cheaper substitute for Chinese export porcelain. 

Tucked in the centre are a couple of floret and leaf terminals which may well have decorated the base of jug handles such as the one below. 
Creamware Water Jug 18th Century (John Howard) 
No mudlarking mosaic would be complete without the ubiquitous clay pipe>

And finally a few shots of what at the moment is the tour de force, remembering virtually none of this is my own design, just a pure copy of someone else's masterpiece.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Another early mudlark

Here's a few finds from my last mudlark. It was good to meet two other early mudlarkers Teri and Jason. This little transfer picture from the bottom of a  bowl was my first find. I believe brown was used in transfer ware from 1809.

Mudlarking Find: Transfer ware bowl bottom.
A bit battered and worn, but you can still make out the birds with open wings which decorate either side of this clay pipe from the nineteenth century. Apparently this design is called the spread eagle, although presumably referencing the stance rather than the species as the neck, beak and legs seem far too long for an eagle. 

By the mid nineteenth century there was a least one maker of iron tobacco pipe moulds in London, so the same designs were produced by different pipe makers across the county. This one was a popular 'type' and produced in many forms especially in Sussex.

The spine is perhaps the best preserved, the wing tips and tail feathers meeting the splayed run of leaves. 
Mudlarking Find: Spread Eagle Clay Pipe 19th C. 
There is a very distinctive pipe makers mark on the spur, which I haven't been able to match with a specific producer. 
Clay Pipe Star Makers Mark 19th C. 
A rather lovely hand painted tree, probably late 18th Century. 

This little object (around 2cm square) appears to be a small mould, not quite sure whether it is clay or stone. What was it for I wonder?

Mudlarking Find: Small mould?

I don't usually put up pictures off all the ceramic shards I squirrel away, but thought I would this week

Mudlarking Finds: Worcester Porcelain Dr Wall period 1751-1783
and the rest of them from left to right 
Bartmann Beard  and then a bit of Bartmann face German salt glazed stoneware 1550- 1700, black transferware
Delftware, Imari Porcelain from 1650, Westerwald Stoneware Lion probably around 1675.
Delfware probably from a drug jar 1600-1700, hand painted pratt ware colours, Westerwald 1675 and two other hand painted shards. 

and  find of the day, which was Jason's not mine, large (around 15cm in length) carved stone with what seems to be the remains of render or plaster. Is it medieval? One for the Museum of London to look at. 

Mudlarking find: Medieval carved stone? 

The reverse
Lastly my favourite, balanced on the tip of my finger, a very small  mudlarking china man 
Mudlarking Find: Mudlarking China Man

Friday, 8 November 2013

Mudlarking Mosaic - progress

Every spare hour I've had I've skipped out into our shed, flicked on the fairy lights and CD player and lost track of time pondering, snipping and shuffling ceramic. Pleasure is deepened when the rain hits the corrugated iron roof and the wind gusts outside. 

And here are the first results.  

I started off with the relief moulded surrounds of Staffordshire white salt glazed stoneware plates, first produced in block moulds in 1740. They were the first home made refined tableware which didn't chip (unlike delftware). Expensive but I assume cheaper than the imported Chinese porcelain and very fashionable in their day.  Standards patterns were used to decorate the edges,  'barley' or 'basket' and the 'dot, diaper and basket' all of which are in the section below, the 'feather' design I've used elsewhere. By 1750 white salt glazed stoneware  caused the demise of the delftware industry, but by 1760 it was itself superceded by creamware and pearlware. 

Mudlarking Mosaic White Salt Glazed Stoneware from Staffordshire 1740 onwards
Dot, Diaper and basket English Saltglazed Plate C 1760 (Spode 
Staffordshire Salt Glazed Soup Tureen C 1760 (live auctioneers) 
The age of this stuff is brought home when you realise the people eating off these plates wore wigs, corsets, lace caps and big satin dresses. 

A British Family Served with Tea 1745 artist unknown (b-womeninamericanhistory)

and that they were used in a London which was far smaller 

John_Rocque's_Map_of_London 1746 (Wiki)

In keeping with mosaic design I'm plagiarising, on the right I laid out a more textured section using the bottoms  of bowls and plates, a mixture of white salt glazed stoneware, porcelain and creamware. My first veer away from the mosaic I'm following is the central section which is comprised of one of my favourites, debased scratched blue stoneware produced from 1765-95. Inky cobalt dissolves across the edges of the incised abstract leaves and flowers. Again very fashionable but it seems only for a short period. The bottom shard on the left has just a weenie bit of a medallion, a little secret tucked away in the corner of a rectangle. 

Mudlarking Mosaic from L to R Mocha ware, debased scratched blue and plate bottoms

Then onto modifying my original wave of blue shell  edged pearlware, easy to find along the foreshore as it was produced in volume from 1780 -1840. It was relatively cheap and consequently owned by most reasonably comfortable households across England and the States. The name derives from the scallop like edge mouldings which in earlier versions were carefully painted with blue in downward brushstrokes, in later cheaper versions pottery workers cut corners and just painted a stripe of blue along the edge. 

Mudlarking Mosaic Shell Edged Pearlware 1780-1840

Blue Edged Pearlware Dish Joshua Health circ 1790 (Martyn Edgell) 

Unfortunately I haven't enough of the white and blue slip bands which sometimes decorated mocha ware jugs, what a shame -  I'll have to keep mudlarking. Mocha ware is less old dating from between 1792-1850, taking us into Victorian London.

Mudlarking Mosaic Mocha Ware Bands

By 1850 London had expanded hugely

London in the 1850s (Wiki) 
and fashions were rather more relaxed and comfortable although still look so different from our times - it seems strange they would be in possession of a 1950s looking jug. 

An English Merry-Making, a Hundred Years Ago circa 1846 William Frith (V&A)  

Family Portrait in a Conservatory
H.R. Miller, 1850 (V&A) 

and then on to the a far more trickier section of bowl bottoms, sitting above the 1950s shed carpet. 

Friday, 1 November 2013

Werra slipware, from Germany 1550-1650

I thought I’d identified most of the decorative pottery you can find along the Thames, so I was thrilled to find a new type. It was a treat to be back in detective mode, the UK finds database gave me the first lead  - ‘werra slipware’. It was this unusually large shard which prompted me to search 
Mudlarking Find: Werra Slipware 1550-1650
and interesting to find a dish which had a similar boarder design. 

Werra Slipware with Rabbit 1607 (Dr Fischer)
Werra Slipware was produced in Germany in potteries along the Werra River between 1550 – 1650. It was widely exported from the port of Breman and has been found in quantities in the low countries, North America and East and Southern England where finds are  concentrated in coastal and urban areas. 

Red bodied earthenware was decorated with a distinctive pale greenish yellowy slip - a thin clay mixture. The decoration tends to follow a standard format divided into zones. 

Dashes and lines were quickly struck around the rim of the plate. The potter then expertly looped thin bands of slip spiraling inwards. A wide band of swirls and squiggles forms a boarder followed by another set of bands which frame a central motif. Rather random  bright green splashes of copper oxide provide highlights in the centre and surrounding areas. 

Werra Slipware Plate with Pig/Boar 1615 (Museum Rotterdam) 
The central drawing is skillfully etched into the slip, a technique called sgraffito. Being a Werra potter was a tricky business, there was no room for error or second goes. Any mistake would be obvious. 

Animals or figures usually filled the centre. I love these confident, naive, bold, quirky pictures. I can't help think of our wonderful Grayson Perry (whose current Reith lectures on art are not be missed, link here.) when I look at these masterly drawings on pottery. 

Werra Angel 1613 (Museum Rotterdam)

Detail of Werra Slipware Horse (Museum Rotterdam) 

Werra Slipware Nobel Man on Horse back 1621 (Museum Rotterdam) 
Werra Ware with Dove 1585-1625 (Museum Rotterdam) 
I had picked up a few small pieces of these drawings over the last few months and noticed one or two appearing on other mudlarkers sites. I'd realised how different they were from anything else I'd found but thought they just came from one eccentric plate. My favourite is what I hope is a little bit of angel. 

Mudlarking Find: An angel? wing Werra Slipware 1550-1650. 
They were very keen on their angels

Werra Ware 1615
a couple of indecipherable shards I've found, but now I look at the second one, I wonder if the top right markings are 'I8' the second half of a date. Most plates seem to be dated and  it appears to be in the right place. 

Mudlarking finds: Werra Ware 1550-1650
Werra Slipware with Adam and Eve 1595 (Dr Fischer)

I was prompted to look through my box of slipware shards and pulled out a few more pieces of Werra Ware.
Mudlarking Finds: Werra Slipware 1550-1650

Mudlarking Find - Werra? slipware 
There is no doubt that Germany was the European ceramic market leader in the 16th and 17th centuries, it was where stoneware was perfected along with those deep cobalt blue and manganese purple glazes of Westerwald together with these ambitious slipware and sgraffito beauties.

 And finally a couple of Grayson Perry pots