There have been few potters as influential as Bernard Leach. Widely regarded as the ‘father’ of British Studio Pottery, Bernard Leach was born in Hong Kong in 1887, studied art in England and moved to Japan in 1909. Leach was first introduced to ceramics at a Raku party and went on to develop his craft under Japanese masters before returning to England in 1920 to establish The Leach Pottery in St. Ives with Japanese potter, Shoji Hamada. Originally, Leach created one-off pieces but by the 1940’s he had produced his Standard Ware range – a collection of kitchenware in standardised shapes and sizes, produced in high quantities at affordable prices. The long preserved spirit of the Leach Pottery is to uphold a constant fusion of Eastern and Western influence. Leach managed this by conducting a flow of local apprentices and visiting students from around the world, who mostly went on to become potters in their own right.
100 years on The Leach Pottery still takes visiting potters and in 2014 American born Ian Morrison spent many long hours studying and perfecting his skills as a visiting resident production potter. Ian studied Ceramics from 2000-2004 and has been making pots for over 20 years, studying and working in the USA, China and the UK.
In 2015, Ian put his ideas of starting up a pottery at Knighton Mill into action and began the necessary renovations and work on the barn, stables and dairy buildings. After six months of clearing and constructing the workshop and studio spaces, the kiln was designed and built and first fired in August, 2016. Set halfway along the Chalke Valley in Wiltshire, where the River Chalke flows into the River Ebble, Broad Chalke is the ideal location for Knighton Mill Pottery.
Salt Firing is the process of introducing salt into the kiln chamber whilst firing at an extremely high temperature. This creates a textured glaze on the surface of the wares, often an ‘orange peel’ effect or visible vapour trails that give each pot a unique finish depending on their position on the kiln shelf. Ian designed the kiln so that a maximum range of surface patterns could be achieved with every firing. The pots at Knighton Mill are fired to 1300 degrees centigrade over 24 hours then rapidly cooled to strengthen the clay, the kiln is then left to cool for a further 48 hours before it is opened.
The pots produced at Knighton Mill continue the traditions of making beautiful and functional, British made ceramics for modern tastes. Not dissimilar to that of Bernard Leach, the standard tableware range from Knighton Mill is intended for everyday use. The real beauty of functional ceramics is that the pots exert their influence quietly, they offer modest practicality but also beauty and comfort without fighting for attention. Hand made tableware renders an intimate relationship; we raise a mug to our lips, cradle a bowl of warm food and wash them with care and we do this daily, often several times a day.
Acquiring its’ name from the Greek theka and Latin tica both meaning covering, ticking fabric is a tightly woven simple stripe. Traditionally a dense herringbone or twill weave, used through previous centuries to cover mattresses and pillows to prevent the straw or feather filling poking through. Ticking fabric has earned its place as a strong staple in the textile world; primarily utilitarian, its’ most common use was the encasing of mattresses but the sturdy cloth became more widely used as sacks and bags, butchers’ aprons and even army tents. However, it began to gain merit for its’ simplicity and durability in the design world and in the 1940’s and was made chic by American interiors genius Sister Parish who used ticking for curtains and upholstery in her own home.
The versatile stripe was an affordable way of creating a great look in most settings. It is not rare to find ticking fabric used in one way or another in most interiors, looking wonderfully at ease in classic townhouses, quaint cottages, farmhouses and industrial renovations.
Ticking was a key part of the first fabric collection held at Tinsmiths when we opened in 2004 and we have since built up an extensive range of ticking stripe designs. Loved by us for their ability to look great in most schemes, as they are not too loud and allow other designs to come forward, but also for their longevity. It is unusual to find a design that is so timeless and does not age as soon as the next trend comes along. A core belief at Tinsmiths is that you can buy well and so only have to buy once. Investing in good quality fabrics and well-made soft furnishings in colours and designs that one really loves is something that we believe in so as not to have to do up the house every other year!
Despite the fact that we would encourage a visit to Ledburyshire at any time, for it is arguably the most interesting mix of counties in the UK, we have compiled a selection of things to do and see through the coming months. Including unmissable annual events as well as exciting things to do and see at your leisure. Of course, we would recommend one starts their visit with a stop at Tinsmiths and the wonderful town of Ledbury; with a great selection of independent shops, cafes and historical buildings to investigate.
The first event of the Royal Horticultural Society’s programme of Garden Shows is RHS Malvern Spring Festival. Set against a backdrop of the Malvern Hills, this show marks the start of the growing season and is packed with plants, craft, food and fun for any keen gardener. Easily accessible by car or train and shuttle bus service, this show is a fantastic event to have in the diary.
RHS Malvern Spring Festival 5th – 8th May 2022
The following weekend offers Hellensmusic – a festival that strives to bring the finest music-making to the heart of rural Herefordshire and to create an environment where everyone – concertgoers, local schoolchildren, aspiring musicians, world-class artists – is warmly encouraged to explore, be curious and enjoy music to the fullest! Located at Hellens Manor in Much Marcle, one of the oldest historic houses in England and remains a lived-in family home rather than a grand stately house museum.
Hay Festival 26th May – 5th June 2022
Hay Festival has attracted people from all over the UK for 35 years, bringing together writers and readers for inspiring conversations, debates, workshops and performances. The literature event spans over 11 days and promises a thrilling line-up of over 500 events, launching the best new fiction and non-fiction, while offering insights and debate around some of the biggest issues of our times in a programme of conversations featuring more than 600 award-winning writers, policy makers, pioneers and innovators.
Wye Valley River Festival, Symonds Yat 27th May – 5th June 2022
Coinciding with the Hay Festival is The Wye Valley River Festival, an open access community festival across the Wye Valley region from Hereford to Chepstow. 10 days of vibrant and innovative shows, workshops, performances and installations; it is a wonderful time to see Symonds Yat and the River Wye in all its glory!
Hellens Garden Festival 11th – 12th June 2022
If music is not quite your cup of tea but plants are, Hellens Garden Festival is for you! Set in the gardens and meadows of Hellens Manor the festival fills a mid-June weekend with practical and creative demonstrations, exquisite flowers and plants, skilled artists and craftspeople, delicious local food and drink, live music, sculpture and much more. All profits from the event are donated to St Michaels Hospice and Back to the Wild CIC.
Ledbury Poetry Festival 1st – 10th July 2022
Ledbury comes alive in the middle of June as it hosts a 10 day poetry event. Ledbury Poetry Festival is the pre-eminent poetry festival in the UK and has been running for over 25 years. Taking place in various venues throughout the town and spilling out onto the Malvern Hills, this festival brings together some of the greatest poetic voices from around the globe.
If you happen to be passing or you are just planning a blissful excursion to Herefordshire, there are a number of things to do and see all year round. Whether its a ramble with a pub lunch to welcome you at the end or a day of journeying through the county’s past, uncovering grisly tales of bygone times. See our suggestions and ideas for your stay in Ledburyshire at any time of the year.
British Camp Hill Fort behind Eastnor Deer Park
River Wye at Hoarwithy
Sellack Suspension Footbridge, a Victorian bridge built to replace the ferry crossing.
Download and print out Visit Herefordshire’s fantastic Hideous Histories Guide. Including four routes to get to know the ‘dark’ side of Herefordshire…beyond the pretty black and white houses and lush green fields, you’ll find ruined castles, spooky caves and centuries of bloody deeds, ghastly ghosts and fearsome folklore!
Discovered during its restoration in 1988, the Painted Room is one of the best examples of Elizabethan Wall Painting to date. The Painted Room can be found on Church Lane in the heart of Ledbury. The wall paintings were found during building work and experts from English Heritage were called in and spent 4 months carefully removing the layers of plaster and wallpaper that had been added over time.
The paintings are a repeating design, reminiscent of Elizabethan Knot Gardens. There are bordered areas of biblical text which helped with more accurate dating of the paintings, placing them around 1560-1570. The paintings are likely to have been added by the occupants of the house in keeping with fashions at the time. Members of the merchant gentry would paint imitations of the elaborate and hugely expensive leather wall hangings and tapestries of the aristocracy.
In 2019 Tinsmiths launched the exclusive range of fabrics based on the Painted Room. Consisting of the Elizabethan pattern printed in two scales and a stripe design. All three designs are printed in the north of England onto 100% Linen. The designs were reimagined into a repeat pattern for furnishing fabrics and sent to the printers.
We have since used the Elizabethan Print and Ledbury Elizabethan Stripe through a variety of past products: cushions, box files, notepads and a display curtain for our Ledbury Homewares Shop. Both designs have soft colourways that would be charming in any interior; the fabric has been finished so that it has a fabulous drape and is suitable for both curtains and blinds.
Wonderfully as ever, the painted room has been translated into linocut for the final page of our 2021 Ledburyshire calendar. Anneliese Appleby has used the repeating knot garden motif with her take on the Ledbury skyline and the page sings in festive gold and green.
We look forward to working on broadening our range of in-house designs in the new year and are excited about the possibilities that come with designing textiles.
If you are coming afresh to the work of visual artist Mark Hearld, it can be said that he is something of a polymath. Taking inspiration from nature, and with a collector’s encyclopaedic knowledge of British antiques, art and design, Mark’s energy and joy of making remain unbridled. Known for his distinctive collages and linocut prints, Mark’s work has the verve of spontaneous creativity whilst being underpinned by deeply considered visual understanding.
Following in the footsteps of the likes of Bawden, Piper and Enid Marx, Mark relishes in collaborating with makers in other fields and delights in the opportunities that gaining insight into new media and techniques provides. He has designed a number of fabrics and wallpapers for St Jude’s which all portray his fascination with the flora and fauna of the British countryside while demonstrating his skill at creating flowing patterns which carefully mask the pattern repeat. Over the years he has worked on everything from fashion designs to tapestries to a collaboration with Leach Pottery. It is through these collaborations and the opportunities to become familiar with different approaches and skills that new creative possibilities are sought.
Over time he has built up a long-standing association with Martin Clark at Tilley Printing, Tinsmiths and Ledbury having worked together on numerous projects, pieces and exhibitions. In preceding years, Mark has spent time at the printworks cutting lino, mixing colours and bouncing ideas off Martin and any other artists who happened to be around at the time. However, during lockdown in the summer of 2020, Mark and Martin worked remotely to develop Mark’s contemporary interpretation of the eighteenth century decorative paper technique known as Papier Dominoté. Eventually coming together as restrictions were lifted to print the final designs in Ledbury, exclusively for Tinsmiths.
A predecessor to the modern day wallpaper, Dominoté papers are small, wood-blocked and hand-painted decorative prints originating from France during the 1700’s. Mark’s linocut versions feature the traditional ‘raspberry ripple’ Ferdinand Pichard rose in a striking red or bounding hares and Mark’s beloved Whippet depicted in royal blue, both printed on a linen-fibre Zerkall antique paper selected by the artist.
The wonderful decorative papers were then further evolved into a beautiful collection of stationery and desk accessories. For the boxes to come into fruition, Mark worked closely with Phoebe Clive of Tinsmiths to design the pieces; experimenting with colours, making the lining papers, considering the pattern placement and typesetting the positively regal labels. Many happy mistakes and possible samples later, the final designs were sent off to be made. The collection comprises of Waste Paper Bins, Pen Pots, Box Files, Curio Boxes and a truly covetable A3 Portfolio with a fabric bound spine and grosgrain ribbons.
As ever, it was a real joy to work with Mark and Martin on such an exciting collaboration and a real highlight during a testing year. Shop the collection exclusively at Tinsmiths, online and in our Ledbury Homewares Shop.
Read more about Tilley Printing and The Importance of Wood Engraving here.