Understanding pottery technology
22 May 2012
The field trip began with a visit to the Potteries Museum for an overview of pottery made in the region from 17th century slipwares and the Industrial Revolution to present day (as well as a chance to look at some of the Staffordshire Hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold-work).
The students then went to the Gladstone Pottery Museum: a Victorian bone china pottery factory with bottle shaped kilns (see image) and a real sense of the many different specialist jobs that contributed to Britain’s large scale pottery production. The students also saw the memorable ‘Flushed with Pride’ exhibition dedicated to the history and development of the toilet! They stayed the night at 'Etruria Hall', Josiah Wedgwood's family home which has now been subsumed within a modern Hotel.
The following day the students went to the Wedgwood Visitor Centre, starting with a tour of the current factory to see modern mould-casting, detailed decorative and finishing work and firing. In the visitor centre they were able to talk to some of the artisans at work, and each had a go at some aspect of pottery making (throwing, painting and applique decoration).
The visit to the Wedgwood Museum allowed the group to see the history of Josiah Wedgwood’s developments of Cream, Basalt, and Jasper Wares as well as his four-year struggle to recreate the ‘Portland Vase’.
Everyone enjoyed the trip and gained a better understanding of modern pottery technology and how large-scale pottery production was organised.
The Interpreting Pottery course offers an in-depth assessment of the archaeological and anthropological potential of ceramic-based studies with particular emphasis being laid upon pottery production, trade and consumption, and the role of ceramics and potters within society.