I thought I knew all of the tin-glaze potters in England, but at Art in Clay at Hatfield a couple of weeks ago I discovered one that was new to me, Isis Ceramics, who have been around for thirty years. Tin-glazed pottery is difficult (the glaze can be troublesome and not all potters have a talent for decoration) and it’s not particularly fashionable among collectors. You have to love it to persist with it.
I found out about Isis because one of the people who works there introduced herself to me at my stall – she had won one of my pots in a raffle for Clay College Stoke, the new training course for studio potters. Later, I looked at the Isis website and realised why I hadn’t heard of them: they are not part of the studio pottery circle, which can be exclusive, and they work only to commission by hotels, restaurants and private buyers, not selling through shops, galleries or fairs. Their inspiration is 18th century English delftware.
They make by slip casting and jigger and jolly, which studio potters sometimes describe as “industrial” or “mass production”, but these categories are debatable. Although pottery making can be mechanised, much of the pottery industry is craft based. Both slip casting and jigger and jolly are skilled craft operations. On the other hand, you can mass produce on the potter’s wheel, as did Sidney Tustin at the Winchcombe pottery. The decorating at Isis ceramics, which has only four employees, is done by hand and brush, which only the top potteries, like Wedgwood and Herend, do now.
I was please to be introduced to this charming pottery.
The New Toffee Factory
West Hill Farm
Oxford, OX33 1AP