The Cottage Orné Quilt

The Cottage Orné Quilt
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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Happy Easter

After having a lovely sunny week here in Wales, today when my next door neighbours are having a family egg hunt in their garden, it's cool and cloudy with rain to come.  Such a shame! 

Sending you all a few Spring and Easter like pictures from inside and outside my house -

Have a Happy Easter Day everyone.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Little Welsh House Quilt

I can't quite believe it, but it nearly three years since I showed you the beginnings of this little quilt.  On the 23rd July 2011 to be exact and for those of you who either can't remember or who have starting reading since, here is the link.

I have always found that some quilts are easy and some are a struggle and this one has definitely been the latter, but here it is at last -

Why has it taken so long?  Well I broke off several times to do other things and lost the initial focus.  Initially I thought that instead of doing a planned quilting outline, I would quilt within each patch.  However, this didn't work and most of the time I was improvising continuously.  Nothing wrong with some improvising, as that is following Welsh quilting tradition, but a basic outlining of areas is needed as a guide.  Once you have marked out these areas you can then improvise within these borders.

I am certainly not going into free fall like this again as I thought I would never finish it!

Friday, 4 April 2014

An early 19th Century Coverlet

My apologies for being absent for so long. I have been away and it has taken a little while to get back to writing, mainly because this post is a special one!

Remember in my last post I mentioned that there were two great happenings that week?  Well after visiting the EB Book Launch at Stoke on the Tuesday, on the Thursday I had an appointment at St. Fagan's, the Welsh National History Museum.  In January I had received a call from the Curator of Textiles telling me about their latest find.  It's an early 19th  century patchwork coverlet which as far as we know hasn't appeared in any publication before, so I am greatly honoured to be the first to make it public and share it here with you.

These pictures were taken and are posted here with the museum's permission and I am so grateful to Elen for contacting me about this patchwork.  She said she knew it was my sort of thing and she was absolutely right about that!

These early 19th century British quilts are much admired by the quilting world and very often copied and adapted by designers with no commercial gain for the original owner, very often a museum who would benefit from some extra revenue.  However, I think that perhaps this coverlet relies not so much on it's design, but on its fabrics, especially the unusual number of printed panels used in its making, which would make it difficult to reproduce. 

This post is just a taster as in the next one I am going to show more close-ups of fabrics and talk a little about them and also about how it was sewn.  I will also share with you what we know so far about this patchwork, where it was made and who made it, so watch this space!

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Book Launch

Two interesting happenings this week, the first being my visit to the Emma Bridgewater factory in Stoke.  It was a special gathering for collectors to mark the launch of Emma's book "Toast and Marmalade and other stories".

I travelled there by car with two friends, leaving my house at 7 am. and arriving in Stoke three hours later!  Good timing,  as the event started at 10aam. As we entered the cafe area at the factory, we were invited to draw a numbered ticked from a large 6 pint jug.  This determined the order in which we could choose from a selection of sample pieces to buy after lunch!  I quickly scanned the selection and spotted what I wanted and as I had drawn number 5 I felt I had a good chance of taking it home!

The samples and the lovely staff in charge!
Emma signing her book - my two friends are the background, Sharon and Joy.
The signing queue!
Seated for lunch.

The next two pictures are of the very relaxed surveillance and the choosing process -

We also had an opportunity to do a tour of the factory which was an enlightening experience with a chance to see what was in production and a peep at the work of the decorators and to have a chat with them.

This is a new pattern being worked on by Lynsey, the decorator who works on special pieces and who trials new patterns.  She was working on these pieces called Christmas Rose, a dark red Hellebore.  This may or may not be available next Christmas?

These next two pictures are what might be the next Year Jug for Collectors.  I found this design much more to my liking than recent ones, I might be tempted?

Needless to say we also did buy a few things in the factory shop and came home feel very happy after a really lovely day!

Yes!  I did get the piece I wanted.  A half pint jug in the Pomegranate pattern made in 2012 for Persephone Books to mark the publication their 100th book. This has only been produced in two shapes, a 1.5 jug with matching bowl, so I was really pleased with this small sample jug!

Here it is integrated into my collection -

Oh, I did have a lovely day!

Monday, 17 March 2014


I am very excited at the moment as I am going to Stoke on Trent to the Emma Bridgewater factory tomorrow for the Special Book Launch Day for Collectors!  Fifty of us from all over the country will be converging on the factory to indulge our passion for EB pottery and have a good old chin wag about pots!

I am sure many of you reading this may not know or understand what all the fuss is about, so I'm going to try and explain a little of the fascination. 

Spongeware has been made here in the UK since the early 19th century and not to bore you with too many facts, here is a link which explains it much better than I could do.

Below is a wonderful dresser filled with old spongeware and I would love a chance to open those doors and have a root around inside!  

Below are some examples of old spongeware pieces which are now difficult to find -

It would take quite a lot of money to fill the dresser now, even if you could track down such a variety of examples. The fact that it was originally made for the lower end of the market to be used and then discarded, means that fewer whole pieces survive, making it correspondingly sought after and expensive.

Given the price of the old, those of us who love spongeware and the fact that it is individually made, now turn to companies who produce new spongeware and there are still a few that do.  Emma Bridgewater factory makes spongeware in the old fashioned way, that is, it is made by hand by a team of people and each piece is hand sponged making it unique.  Of course they are not the only company that do, but they are one of the few that make it here in the UK.   Others such as Brixton have moved abroad and the look is different.  I always look for their old back stamp if I buy a piece, which I occasionally do!

Early Bridgewater and Brixton are very similar.  Here are some mugs which I display together and have difficulty telling which is which -

Though they look very similar the difference in value is extraordinary, Bridgewater being at least five times the price.  Not sure why, but maybe because they produce a greater variety of designs and shapes which give collectors the opportunity to specialise, sometimes collecting one pattern in all its many forms, or others like me, who collect many different patterns but only certain shapes. 

The diversity of different collections makes sharing pictures and discussing values an interesting occupation and we will be doing lots of that tomorrow!

Monday, 10 March 2014

Spring in Lampeter!

Last Saturday I travelled to Lampeter with Vivienne Wells, my friend and publisher, to visit the Welsh Quilt Centre and their new annual exhibition!  We picked a wonderful day to travel through the Welsh countryside, the sun was shining and it did really feel as if Spring had come at last!

The Centre never disappoints and this visit was no exception.  This year's exhibits have a folk art theme to chime with the lovely pieces made by Janet Bolton which are exhibited alongside the quilts and I was delighted to see a few of my favourite quilts, some of which I haven't seen for a very long time.

This is the Sennybridge quilt which was featured in our book Making Welsh Quilts.  I last saw it eleven years ago when it was photographed in my house, so it was great to see it again in gallery conditions, beautifully hung and lit so that it could be examined at leisure -

Vivienne and I stood in front of it for quite a while trying to work out how the blocks were assembled!  Were they sewn together in strips, vertically or horizontally?  We couldn't see how it was done as there were so many inconsistencies - it was really puzzling!  This all added to its charm as it has such presence and the quirks in its making enhance its appeal.  Why are we so forgiving of irregularities in old quilts and yet so determined to get everything matching up when we make things ourselves?

Another old friend was the Cow Quilt -

which again I haven't seen for a while and which was looking very fresh and just as charming as I remember!  I have done a version of this quilt so I feel that I know it well, but it was lovely to see it again as studying pictures can't compare with standing in front of an actual quilt!

There were so many delights in this exhibition.  It was Vivienne's first visit and she was bowled over by it even though she had heard me singing its praises for years now!  She was particularly pleased to see quilts on beds there in the gallery, after all that's where they are meant to be!

After a tasty lunch in the Deli Cafe adjoining the Centre we travelled the few miles to Jen's cottage/quilt shop in Llanybydder.  When I walked in I immediately spotted the Welsh Blanket I have always dreamt of owning and so, well what would you have done?  Here it is looking quite at home in my living room -

A day to remember indeed!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Emma's written a book!

There's great excitement and anticipation on the EB front at the moment as Emma's written a book!

All we know about it is what you see in the above picture of the cover - it is due to be published on 14th March.

The publishing publicity machine has swung into action and Emma is due to appear at various book festivals around the country, but first there is to be a special launch day for Collectors at the factory in Stoke.

When I heard about this my heart sank then skipped a beat.  I knew that trouble lay ahead as there were only 40 tickets available with successful applicants able to order  two.  The instructions for ordering were a bit confusing with conflicting information on the Members' page as to when and how to order.  On the day, due to the high demand, the computer crashed and there were a great number of disappointed fans!  This is putting it mildly, complaints flooded in and Customer Services were inundated with very annoyed pottery people!  So much so that they did issue 10 more tickets to randomly selected applicants! 

I have never participated in anything like this and had absolutely no interest or intention of going to the event. Stoke is quite a long way from where I live and I have met Emma and Matthew before at the Hay Book Festival, so I enjoyed watching the consequent pleas of unfairness and begging for tickets!  Not really very nice to enjoy this, but hey I'm human!

Well let's get to the point of this post, without telling me, my friend Sharon managed to secure two tickets and has invited me to go with her!   Other Welsh EB friends nearby have managed to get tickets too, so there will be quite a Welsh presence in Stoke on the 18th March!  Oh I'm so looking forward to it as it will be a chance to put names to faces and talk pots to our hearts content and hopefully buy some and of course meet Emma!