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!

Hedgeflora and beyond

Introducing a new set of bone china wares that I’ve been sketching, colouring, getting printed into decals and firing onto some beautiful Stoke-on-Trent bone china ware. Here are some shots of the finished pieces, followed by an explanation of the work in progress.

The flexibility of being able to accurately reproduce detailed drawings on ceramics using this method really inspires me – it’s a completely different approach from the handmade pieces and I love it as it allows me to produce consistent products that all work together.

This little lot has been in the pipeline since July so it’s great to be getting it ready in time for all the Christmas events this season.

Here are a few snapshots of how the designs begin, on paper. Sometimes in the garden with tea and sunshine, sometimes in the studio using blooms and seedheads gathered while walking.

nasturtium-wipdand-wipcow-pars-wip

I love this process. It makes me feel so connected to the work I do. It also allows me to be creative with the raw materials. Currently I am creating a couple of tea towels to go with the above designs. Because I can manipulate the images in whatever way I want to I am free to put them together in new ways. I got really inspired by the Fifties in the colouring and style of the drawings so I took it a step further for the Dandelion tea towel and turned elements of the sketch into a colourful repeat pattern.dand-tt-crop

It’s at the printers right now, so here’s hoping it looks good on unbleached cotton!