Joan Brailsford – C

Canals – Cogs, Cups and Chimneys

Inspiration: scenery surrounding Middleport pottery, from the canal to the old skyline, and hints of the factory between the two.

Continuing my pottery series, this time I chose to depict the surrounding areas and the sights that were once there and now only remain in hints. The canals would have brought clay to the factory and were used to ship the finished ware, and the machinery depicted was used to hoist the cargo on and off the barges. The skyline was once dominated by chimneys, including the iconic bottle ovens (which are in fact specialised chimneys), and of course the attendant smoke. Nowadays the potteries and bottle ovens are gone. Middleport pottery is still has one bottle oven and the hoisting machinery still remains, although now rusting and disused.

I created a stencil to depict the skyline and used that to stamp the smoky sky. I coloured some sheer fabric with transfer paint and applied this over the top of the stencil to give it a more faded and ‘remembered’ feel. On the right-hand side of the piece I used the bottle oven shape that I have used throughout this series, to emphasise the chimney motif. I used shapes from the hoisting machinery to form the cogs and the outlines, and used the same shapes in photo images which I added. I also added photo transfers of cups, canal boats and other factory images. Finally I included some cobble/brick quilting in places.

I wanted to demonstrate the contrast between the pretty, delicate cups and the heavy industry and grime that is needed to produce them.

Detail views:


Original photos:


  1. I’m a great fan of your factory and love to see more of the story revealed.

  2. carolinehiggs

    A really lovely continuation of your story, the contrast between the grime and the delicate cups is great. Despite having studied for three years in the area I still think of it as a grey area…

  3. I just love how each piece continues the story. The smoky atmosphere is really well done and contrasts perfectly with the delicate potteries. Another beautiful piece !

  4. bravo joan, i love the atmosphere most of all!

  5. Maryte Collard

    Joan, I admire how you manage to include so much information into such a small piece in such an artistic way.

  6. Joan, your S, P and C quilts are exquisite. Love your stories behind the works and admire your very professional and most personal way of expressing images from the place. They exude your love for the place! Wish I were closer to learn some great techniques that you use! Can’t wait to see the next one.

  7. What a wonderful interpretation again of the Middleport pottery and surroundings. I love how you got the faded feel with the colored sheer fabric. So much to see and admire in this piece.

  8. A lovely third piece of your series. I love the contrast between the old rusty parts and the faded yellow and pink. It really gives the right atmosphere.

  9. I really appreciate the history you provide for your work. Your methods are so interesting and make me want to go and try them all!

  10. With the layering of techniques and transparencies you’ve created depth and a nostalgic feel to your design. The contrast of the delicate and the industry is spot on. A lovely addition to your series!

  11. This series is a work of dedication and everyone of them holds the viewers interest.

  12. Great work again Joan. You have such a nice style in your work, and it is to recognize immediately as yours. Love the contrast that you created and the idea of heavy work for small cups. Lovely!

  13. Another intricate piece in your series. You use such a range of techniques and the result reflects the theme so well.

  14. studiociboulette

    I love the way you work the photo images in the fabric and the colors and detail quilting and incredible. Beautiful.

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