Joan Brailsford – S

Strangers – Signs, Sinks and Saggars

Inspiration: Images from a local pottery; its buildings and ambience. As the pottery industry declines, Middleport pottery for me still has echoes of the workers and the way they worked.

I live in the potteries and for a long time have wanted to create a series of pieces based on the pottery industry. I particularly like Middleport pottery which retains many of  the buildings and features of its Victorian origin, and over the years I have collected many images from around the factory. I think it still demonstrates the ghosts of the people who worked there and their working practices. For the ‘S’ challenge I started with an iconic sign that hangs at the entrance to the building and which starts “Strangers are not allowed on the Works”. I expanded my design to incorporate images of more old signs, some sinks from the factory washroom, and some saggars (which are the vessels which held the ware which was to be fired in the old-fashioned bottle-ovens).

I chose four images which contained the details I wanted, the transferred some of these onto white cotton using transfer paper, and printed some directly onto ExtravOrganza. I then collaged and bonded my selections onto a cream backing that has an aged look that suited the piece. I used a mixture of hand and machine quilting to pick put some of the shapes within the images. I used hand-stitching to add old uneven brick shapes, scattered throughout the piece, to echo the colours and shapes of the factory and its cobbled walkways. I added a few darker squares which are based on the ironwork at the top of the factory gates. On the right-hand side of the piece I quilted the shape of a bottle-oven (used for firing the ware), which still exists on the site.

Detail views:


Original photos:

  1. What an interesting theme for a series of works! And the vibes of old pottery factory captured perfectly!

  2. You were able to perfectly reproduce the environment , mood and feeling of the old pottery industry. Well done.

  3. Very interesting ! you are working on the pottery industry and I am working on the potteries themselves ! in your piece you have translated the true ambiance of the place. I really like how you have mixed transferred photos and your work on the surface by hand or machine.

  4. I love the way you have collated the signs and given an overall picture of the pottery industry. The extra detail in places has made this piece!

  5. Love the story behind your piece.To me it recreates the mood you describe, and gives me the feeling that I see ghosts of people who worked in the industry. Love the texture too.

  6. What can I say, this is truly the beginning a fantastic journey this year, I love the use of photo transfer and the muted colours are what brings this quilt to life.

  7. What a beautiful reminder of the Middleport pottery. You really captured the “old” atmosphere in your subdued colors. I love how you added the hand-stitched bricks. Looking very much forward to the rest of your series.

  8. Thank you for the process explanation. You have managed to place so much detail in your quilt, yet it doesn’t have a cluttered feeling. Wonderful!

  9. You captured the eerie and forgotten feel of the building and the declining pottery industry. The layering of images, hand stitching and quilting brings it all together perfectly!

  10. studiociboulette

    I like how you collaged the images and the transparency of it. Beautiful effect and feel and the embroidered details enhance the quilt.

  11. Abandoned places, like this old pottery always are intriguing. You captured the atmosphere in a perfect way, you feel like walking around right there when you look at it. The combination of photo transfer, machine and hand stitching is wonderful, beautiful piece. Curious to see the rest of your series.

  12. This really says “old and abandoned”. I like the range of techniques you have used and the stitched details added.

  13. Your piece gives the feeling of old ages. I like the different techniques you used for adding the photos.

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