Friday, 1 July 2011

Gladstone Pottery Museum

 After a morning of class, our coach headed for the city of Stoke-On-Trent, which houses many of the most well known potteries in the UK.  Our time there was spent at the Gladstone Pottery Museum learning about the history of producing ceramic pieces for daily use.

Beginning our tour of the pottery
The ceramic process seemed to fit in with our studies of the industrial revolution thus far - long working days, intensive physical labor, and the regular use of children as cheap manpower. 

Justin demonstrating manually powering the pottery wheel - a job often held by children
 Our guides led us through the ceramic process from making the clay out of slurry to stacking and firing the enormous bottle kilns. 

A bottle kiln partially stacked with saggars (the containers that protected the ceramic from debris during firing)
Here again we saw the broad reach of coal power, keeping the steam engine humming and the kilns hot.  Along the tour there were a number of excellent demonstrations, shown by highly skilled craftspeople.  The artist working on the wheel talked of the fastest potters being able to throw a large vase in just 40 seconds!  We also spent some time watching a woman make bone china flowers, she was able to replicate in clay over 100 different types of flowers - again producing them at a dizzying pace.

We watched our demonstrator produce a rose
Another highlight of the tour was the exhibition, Flushed With Pride that took us through the history of the toilet.  It was extremely informative and an excellent reminder of how important this component of life was to improving our standard of living.

Heading into the exhibition hall

A bit of interesting history...
Toilet trivia
Leif and Justin testing their knowledge

More ladies in the tub!

 Even though our day was full with class and touring the museum, we did have a little time to check out a local haunt - the Gladstone Snooker and Pool hall.  A number of the students tried their hand at British pool (which is surprisingly different - much smaller tables and balls than in the US) and the competition was swift.

Carls take over the pool hall!

Vishal setting up a shot
Even the director got in on the fun!
The pool hall was a fantastic way to finish out our time in Stoke-On-Trent and might require another round during our summer abroad...

1 comment:

  1. How about this for a design for a wall painting, in the tried-and-true Art Nouveau style?:, by the famous English artist, Audrey Beardsley himself. You can also order a canvas print of the picture from