Nasturtiums

I’ve posted before about my evolving use of dandelions and how they have featured in so many ranges of my ceramics and homeware, both current and archived. Here I’m going to explore the many ways I’ve used nasturtiums in my work. Their shape, form, colour and vibrancy are an endless source of inspiration and fascination. As with all my botanical design work I begin with observed drawing.

Drawing nasturtiums in the garden, with tea in my bestselling Colour Peacock mug 😊

Drawing the flowers from life is my starting point for a whole host of designs across different media: transfer printed bone china ware; hand illustrated wheel thrown porcelain; colourful printed tea towels. You can see how just a handful of drawings can be put into so many different contexts and with such variety of end results.

Initially, using a drawing as reference, coloured underglazes are applied to each bisque-fired vessel.
The next stage is to draw in the precise lines using a very fine-nibbed bottle of black underglaze, this crisply picks out the coloured motifs.
The wheel thrown vessels are then dipped in translucent glazed and fired high at 1280C to achieve a bright close.
A trio of my Nasturtium Ware porcelain – inspired by 1930s Art Deco period china ware.

In contrast to this individually hand thrown, hand illustrated range – where each vessel is similar but unique in the exact placement or combination of flowers, buds and leaves – is my range of transfer printed bone china ware. For this I use a professional ceramic transfer print studio to digitally print my designs for me, which I then apply and fire on to Stoke-on-Trent bone china ware in my studio.

This design uses my black ink drawing, overlaid on a water coloured background.
This design uses a watercolour sketch of some nasturtiums.

The outcome is so different from the hand thrown ware, and is infinitely quicker to produce which is quite a relief. Popular thought the hand made range is, I don’t produce much of it as it is a very lengthy process with the layered colours and drawing which also makes it quite expensive. I do have a secret admiration for the uniformity of the bone china ware version too! My other major output with the nasturtiums is textile-based: bright, colourful tea towels in three different colourways.

The first iteration of the nasturtium tea towel – letting go with outrageously vibrant colours!
A recent update of the design with a stylish navy background and altered motif colours.
My latest addition Autumn 2020 – a first attempt at a proper repeat pattern with colours referencing typical 1930s transfer decorated china ware with contrast orange highlights.

And from the archives here are a couple of shots of my first ever nasturtium designs, produced using the traditional technique of slip decoration with sgraffito (scratching into the clay) to describe the outlines.

Bright earthenware soap dishes after their final glaze firing.
Raw soap dishes – the earthenware is illustrated before any firing takes place so that the slip can be applied and the clay can be scored into.
Earthenware nasturtium dish full of it’s eponymous flowers, this entry into the village flower show sadly did NOT win 😂
Irresistible!

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