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A great theme for this week as I have been out and about in all this hot sunshine in the fields that surround the studio and they are looking wonderful. The cow parsley is tall, beautiful poppies are out in force and the grasses are allowed to grow that week longer. I have to also say at this point that it is incredible how you see so much more with a toddler in tow! Thea is our pace maker, this means you do have to admire most petals, leaves, twigs and buds in existence. It is lovely to see her discover them but equally great for me to find new little treasures before my eyes.
It is these fields that inspired the Somerset Meadows range. I thought that this week it would be fun to show you what went into the design.
I started drawing the plants when I was walking Maggie. We would plonk ourselves down amongst them and she would happily lie with her ball whilst I took out my camera or biro and notebook. I always draw with a biro. Habitually I guess, but I like that it stands out when the watercolours are applied over the lines and marks - not to forget that the ink 'rolls' nicely continuously. I would draw quickly, a dog only has so much patience when she knows there is still a mile or two to go on our route, and then it was back to the studio to finalise the design.
I needed to create different drawings for different purposes. We always wanted the meadows range to have a complimentary gift wrap and so plants were drawn individually (as below) or interwoven in a group as the main image shows.
For our fine bone china I am working to a specific template that varies per item. This precise template makes applying the main transfer (which is often in just one piece) that bit easier and quicker. In order for the interwoven plants to differ in length and depth, according to each template, it was important that they could be chopped up in sections to allow this. If you look closely at the design you can see where the opportunities I created are. Take the main image and find that fourth in from the left there is a break before the poppy heads and then just before the dandelions there is another.
The main quandary I often have is what to put in the base of the china. Those who are familiar with the pieces I make know that I hide a little something at the bottom of the pieces, to be discovered after the contents are emptied. This is something that often makes us different to other companies. The application of these transfers is not easy, I guess that is why many don't pop them in the bottom, rather they are often placed nearer the rims if at all. I like that it is not easy. For example, my fingers stretch down (just about) to the bottom in the half pint jug and it is a real wiggle with my finger tips to get the transfer straight and correct. Equally, I can only make a certain amount in a day as it starts to hurt. Dedication or madness - you decide. But I have to say that I love it when customers come to the stand it becomes a fun game, just what is hidden in each range! For this design I thought it was important it was something that lived alongside the plants. And then oddly, a number of ladybirds decided to play on the window sill when I was putting the kiln on one day and that decided it for me. So it is a lovely deep red ladybird that is the star of our china. Better than a spider for me!
The only other little something I wanted to mention is colour choice. Obviously they are not all realistic depictions of the plants. It is something that I find fun to play with based on a colour scheme. I think in my head I just wanted a bit of universal appeal with this range, that they would look at home in most kitchens - no matter what the colour stove or cupboards. The added yellow just makes the mint and purple tones 'pop' and I think it adds to the Summery feel of the design.
I think that just about sums it all up but I love that this has a comments section so if I can answer any questions do ask and I will write replies at the start of next weeks blog!
And finally... The winner is...
Drumroll - the winner of the small mug from last week's blog post competition is Laura Cobbe. As chosen by my daughter Thea.
(Apologies for the blurry pictures - should not trust my husband with these tasks!)
Congratulations from all of us, your prize is in the post to you tomorrow.