Wednesday, 25 November 2009
For three weeks in July 2009, I undertook a work placement at Royal Crown Derby, a fine bone china manufacturer whose products have been made in the UK since 1750. The following projects were self-initiated and completed during that time with the extremely generous support of staff at the factory, in particular the Design Director, Louise Adams.
Expectations of quality are exceptionally high at RCD. Every object, at every stage is checked by someone. Where imperfections are found, they are corrected and refired. A piece may go round and round a process, but remain second best. After the glaze firing, the pieces arrive at a line of three tables with a lady at each. Sharp eyes and quick hands mark each imperfection in synthetic-bright marker pen. These odments were stacked all around them, and I found them exciting. So refined, so ‘fine bone china’ but with bold marks that have no artifice. Marks that would be burned away until I asked the lady to use a different pen.
Then quality control became decoration.
Glazed fine bone china tray, dinner plate and mug with minor imperfections and permanent bake on decoration.
Envisaged for unlimited batch production of ‘mix and match’ items.
When the awkward spots are sprayed with glaze, the glaze must be coloured with vegetable dye so no bits are missed. These bright sprays of colour reminded me of the dyes sprayed onto farm animals to distinguish one flock from another.
Near the Design Studio are the ‘Standard Shelves’. These contain all the shapes in RCD’s range, with a generic name, basic measurements (a mean figure based on measuring one hundred of the same shape), a date and the initials of the person who measured it. This is to aid surface design and pattern fitting. The thing that draws you in is that this information is written in gold, adding a spark to the purely practical.
These two images within the factory appeared to me to have a connection with the collectors market at RCD. Collectability means each piece marked for ownership and belonging within a group. Each piece is made to the correct specification.
Glazed fine bone china with airbrushed enamel and goldline pen.
Envisaged as a limited edition group.
A CUP IN BIRD'S CLOTHING
The budgerigar paperweight has layers of printed and hand painted decoration, fired on in stages. Each layer is printed on a sheet together with the subsequent layers printed in ‘soot’ (it's not real soot anymore, but a lovely bright red vegetable dye) to enable correct positioning.
The budgerigar’s essence is in this skin, it’s form is smooth and simple. If this skin is on something else it is still recognisable – can a cup 'pass' as a budgerigar? If it wants?
Glazed bone china with unfired inglaze and vegetable dye decoration (this would be replaced with red enamel).
Envisaged for general production and development across a range of forms.
GYPSY MOTH TUREEN
Opulence and gold are hallmarks of the RCD style and the acorn tureen shape is emblematic of this. This project was about learning techniques including traditional enamel painting, gilding and hand raising. It is not without its own narrative though. Inspired by a piece in Derby Town Museum, I wanted to include a painted insect. Always wanting justification for everything, I researched insects that live on oak trees and came across the ‘Gypsy Moth’ Lymantria dispar. There is a centuries old connection between gypsies and RCD, the former collecting RCD ware to the point where it is like a currency to them and the latter actively catering to their taste. The Gypsy Moth lead to a twilight scene with the traditional stars falling down the tureen.
Glazed fine bone china with hand painted inglaze, enamel, raised paste and gilding.
Envisaged for special orders.
You can learn more about Royal Crown Derby here
Posted by BETHAN LLOYD WORTHINGTON at 13:21
Tuesday, 18 August 2009
In the bar, in the run up to this year's RCA SHOW, I met Jasper. He's just graduated from MA Fashion Menswear. To cut a long story short, I made some ceramic bow ties for his collection. I hand formed them in bright white Southern Ice porcelain from NZ, some were delicately painted with hand-prepared Japanese enamel and traditional English enamel. We strung them low like a necklace. Then we got a little more ambitious. With two weeks before the show we thought it would be fun to make another of Jasper's motifs, the bobble-hat, in porcelain. Ha. We were elbow deep in porcelain slip, carefully tweaking the sodden hat until it was just so... I'm really very pleased that we tried.
He talks about his work like this...
'Here it is. One more, one less another wasted love story.'
It always fascinates me how people go from loving you madly to nothing at all. Nothing.
This is the journey of my past- present- future of love. Ideas come from relationships, the first feeling of love and the colours associated with it, blue for man, yellow for woman, mix the two you get purple, but then what happens after love when a relationship breaks down? There is a moment in life when you cannot recover from another break up. Is love really that simple?
Who knows what's next.
You can get in touch with Jasper here
Posted by BETHAN LLOYD WORTHINGTON at 17:38
Sunday, 26 April 2009
For the past couple of months I've been working on The Oberon Illustration project at the RCA. It's tested me and made me look closely at the way I draw. The project culminates in an exhibition from 1-5 May. I'm very excited as I've never exhibited 2D work before. It should be excellent, with around 30 participants from various disciplines within the school. More information can be found HERE
I hope you have the time to visit.
Posted by BETHAN LLOYD WORTHINGTON at 12:06
Monday, 8 December 2008
I'm getting a great many queries at the moment as to where you can find my charm bracelets and related trinkets - my own fault for not having the two sites properly linked up!
The miniature treasure is kept at www.bethan.bigcartel.com
I'll be sending things using special delivery up until the 19th of December, when I'm going to live in the woods.
Posted by BETHAN LLOYD WORTHINGTON at 22:13
Wednesday, 25 June 2008
In the current (July/August) issue of Ceramic Review you can find an article about the collaboration between myself and Alex McErlain. It was very kindly and insightfully written by Helen Bevis.
"It is and effective collaboration. Both understand clay but from different ends of the spectrum, with Worthington seeing the form playing with her story and McErlain curious to see how his skill interacts with the visual intelligence of her work."
The article is not available online, but to order the latest issue, or set up a subscription, please visit
Cup pictured is from the revisited 'Machine!' series. Collaborative pieces such as this are available to purchase, with prices starting at £50.
Wednesday, 11 June 2008
The Wallace Collection currently possess a selection of bracelets and pins to accompany their new exhibition.
Boucher and Chardin: Masters of Modern Manners.
'A tea pot and tea cups feature prominently in the background in Boucher’s interior, while drinking tea is the main focus of Chardin’s painting. The common subject of tea drinking is further explored in French and English works of the same period. In England, William Hogarth (represented in the exhibition by his Western Family from the National Gallery of Ireland) takes an ambivalent approach, depicting tea drinking as wholesome but also as a symbol of the dangers of luxury.
While the exhibition focuses on French genre painting and depictions of tea drinking, it also evokes the background of tea drinking through a small selection of objects and books. A gallery trail in the Wallace Collection will guide visitors to objects in the permanent collection, linked to 18th-century tea drinking.'
12 June – 7 September 2008
Friday, 25 April 2008
A little while ago, I had some quite wonderful news. I have been offered a place at the Royal College of Art, on MA Ceramics and Glass.
Over the Summer, its business as usual. I'll be exhibiting and making work in the idiosyncratic manner to which I've become accustomed. Come October though, its all change. My work will always be 'me' but I may never work in the same way again. A slightly sad but altogether edifying thing.
Saturday, 15 March 2008
I currently have a showcase at DCA, which will run until 27th April. Please visit www.dca.org.uk for visitor information.
Work for sale includes 'The Ship That Ploughs The Fields' (pictured), 'Double Exposure', 'Baba Jaga', 'I have never seen a Bowerbird...' and 'Jakarta', as well as a selection of bracelets.
Some images of a mural recently completed for Urbis, an exhibition centre in Manchester. Visitor information can be found at www.urbis.org.uk
The mural depicts the communication network that binds the building. It imagines a world on the other side of the radio. A pushing, pulling, errant sequence populated by creatures too too fabulous for their call-sign. One thing impacting upon another to the tune of coded nattering.
Feel free to get in touch if you're interested in commissioning a similar project.
Tin Shed: Contemporary Crafts from New York to Cumbria. Easter Weekend 21st-24th March 08
The talented pair behind www.theshopfloorproject.com present this fabulous Easter Fair. They'll be showing recent pieces from the 'Malice In Wonderland' series and plenty of charms too. Check their site for more information.
Saturday, 3 November 2007
I'm ever so pleased to say that a sparkling fresh batch of pea-green charm bracelets is now available at www.bethan.bigcartel.com
I'm aiming to post out every Wednesday (Special delivery/International signed for) until Christmas.
Posted by BETHAN LLOYD WORTHINGTON at 01:25